By Leighton Ginn
Timothy Bradley was juggling jobs while trying to maintain a boxing career fighting in ballrooms at hotels around Southern California’s Inland Empire.
But in 2008, Bradley went from ballroom fighter to champion. And over the years, he’s gone from champion to star.
Here’s a look at Bradley’s championship years.
May 10, 2008
Bradley vs. Junior Witter
This is the first time Bradley has ever fought outside of Southern California as a professional, and this was for the WBC light welterweight title against one of the top champions in the division in Junior Witter. So to go into England to try and beat Witter was a tall task. As Bradley took on the fight, he only had $11 in his bank account. But Bradley had a perfect strategy, to feel out Witter through the first six rounds, and then turn on the heat in the second half against the older champion. In the sixth round, Bradley knocked down Witter with an overhead right. It would be Witter’s first defeat in eight years.
Sept. 13, 2008
Bradley vs. Edner Cherry
It was Bradley’s first defense, and he was more worried about Cherry, who was a top star before suffering two losses in his biggest opportunities. Bradley proved too fast and too strong for Cherry, knocking him down in the eighth round before scoring a dominating unanimous decision in Biloxi, Miss. It was the first time Bradley’s grandmother got to watch him fight live.
April 4, 2009
Bradley vs. Kendall Holt
This was the first time Bradley headlined a fight on Showtime, and it was a unification bout against the WBO champion Kendall Holt. However, Bradley was only in his fourth year as a professional fighter, and Holt got into his head early. While getting instructions in the middle of the ring, Holt was taunting Bradley. In the first round, Holt caught Bradley flush, sending him to the canvas. However, Bradley provided relentless pressure throughout the fight to overcome the first round, and another knockdown in the final seconds of the fight.
Bradley vs. Nate Campbell
Fighting for the first time at home at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino and Spa, Bradley’s return was a disappointment. Despite dominating the first three rounds, the fight was called after three rounds when Campbell said he couldn’t see out of his eye following an accidental head butt. Afterwards, Campbell’s camp protested and got the loss reversed to a no contest at a hearing. Bradley’s promoters failed to show up at the hearing. Prior to the fight, Bradley relinquished his WBC title so he could fight Campbell, who held three lightweight belts after beating Juan Diaz.
Bradley vs. Lamont Peterson
This fight changed everything for Bradley, who returned to his home turf at the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa. Peterson was the mandatory title and represented a dangerous fight. But Bradley dominated the fight, knocking down Peterson in the third round and controlling the fight throughout. Peterson was promoted by Top Rank and Bob Arum and Bradley left an impression. The fight also propelled Bradley into several pound-for-pound lists, which represents the top fighters regardless of weight class.
July 17, 2010
Bradley vs. Luis Carlos Abregu
This would be Bradley’s final fight at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa, and was a non-title bout. Bradley moved up in weight classes to face Abregu and dangerous Argentinian slugger. It would also be the first time Bradley would fight in HBO. The plan was to lay the ground work for Bradley to someday fight Pacquiao, who had moved up to the welterweight class. Bradley dominated the fight and had no issues moving up in class. Abregu had complained about a hand injury after the fight.
Jan. 29, 2011
Bradley vs. Devon Alexander
This was supposed to represent the future of the sport as two young champions faced each other in a unification bout in the Pontiac Silverdome. In 2009, Alexander was Bradley’s mandatory title defense, but he refused the fight to fight Campbell and relinquished the WBC belt. Alexander would beat Junior Witter for the vacant title. Bradley controlled the fight that was stopped in the 10th round because of a head butt. The fight was touted as an eliminator and the winner could have a shot at either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. This would be Bradley’s final fight with his two promoters, Gary Shaw and Ken Thompson as he would move over to Top Rank to position himself for a fight against Pacquiao.
Nov. 12, 2011
Bradley vs. Joel Casamayor
Bradley would fight on the undercard of the third Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. It was Bradley’s debut fight and the first time he fought in Las Vegas as a professional. During the press conference, Casamayor began taunting Bradley while he was speaking, telling him to sit down. Bradley replied he was going to “Blow him up.” At the end of the press conference, promoter Bob Arum said “I’m getting off this damn stage. I’m not going to get hit by anybody, thank you very much.” Bradley dominated the fight against Casamayor, who struggled to make weight. Bradley knocked Casamayor down three times, twice with body shots, to pick up an eight-round TKO victory. The victory would set Bradley up for his dream fight.
June 9, 2012
Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao
The dream fight turned out to be a nightmare for Bradley. During the fight, Bradley injured his foot and ankle by the fourth round. But Bradley fought on, dodging many Pacquiao punches. When it was announced Bradley had won by split decision to claim the WBO welterweight title, it created a swirl of controversy as many felt Pacquiao had dominated the fight. After the fight, Bradley said there were death threats and even thoughts of taking his own life. Bob Arum, who promoted both fighters, asked for an investigation into the fight and the WBO had five judges to re-score the fight.
March 16, 2013
Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov
After Pacquiao refused the rematch, and other top names passed on Bradley, he decided to take on the dangerous Provodnikov, who had only fought on ESPN. In the first two rounds, Provodnikov was able to pound away at Bradley, knocking him down one in the first that was ruled a slip by referee Pat Russell. Bradley said he did suffer a concussion and didn’t remember most of the right, and his wife Monica left her seat ringside after the third round. In the sixth round, Bradley appeared out on his feet, but continued to fight back. Despite the punishment, Bradley continued to apply pressure and won every other round until the final, when he went down for a second time in the closing seconds. Bradley won a close unanimous decision in a war that was named the fight of the year.
Oct. 12, 2013
Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
Marquez just came off a devastating knockout victory over Manny Pacquiao, where the Filipino star was out for about two minutes face down. After the brutal fight and concussion Bradley suffered, many close to him didn’t want him to take the fight. But Bradley boxed and befuddled the future Hall of Fame star in what would become one of his signature victory, and some say his best performance as Bradley got a split decision.
April 4, 2014
Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao
In the rematch, Bradley decided to swing for the fences and went for a knockout victory, trying to take a page out of Juan Manuel Marquez’s playbook. Through the first half of the fight, Bradley and Pacquiao were even, with Bradley hurting the Filipino star to the body. However, Bradley tore his calf muscle in two places, and by the second half of the fight, was fatigued from swinging for the knockout repeatedly. Pacquiao would claim a unanimous decision victory to hand Bradley his first professional loss.
Dec. 13, 2014
Bradley vs. Diego Chaves
Another rugged opponent, Chaves was coming off a fight where he was disqualified against Brandon Rios. But Bradley said he was unconcerned if Chaves elected to fight dirty “because I’m an eye-for-an-eye” kind of guy. During the fight, there were numerous head butts and Bradley’s eye was swollen. It appeared Bradley had dominated the fight, but when the decision was announced, it was a draw.
June 27, 2015
Bradley vs. Jessie Vargas
The fight was for the interim WBO welterweight title after Floyd Mayweather relinquished his titles following his victory over Manny Pacquiao. The younger Vargas was confident going into the fight, but Bradley was in control for the whole fight until the final round, when he got staggered by a big right hand. What followed was confusion as referee Pat Russell confused the 10-second warning with the final bell, stopping the fight prematurely. Vargas, thinking Russell stopped the fight because Bradley was in trouble, jumped on the rings to celebrate. But Bradley won a unanimous decision. A few weeks after the fight, Bradley elected to end his relationship with Joel Diaz, the only trainer he had as a professional. Together, Bradley and Diaz were 32-1-1 and claimed world championship belts five times.
Nov. 17, 2015
Bradley vs. Brandon Rios
In his first fight with new trainer Teddy Atlas, Bradley put together a very impressive performance against one of the toughest boxers in the fight game in Rios. Bradley dominated from the start and dropped Rios twice with body shots in the ninth round to end the fight. It was Bradley’s first knockout victory since 2011, and the first time in his career that Rios was knocked down, let alone knocked out. Promoter Bob Arum said that was the best performance he’s seen from Bradley. After the fight, Rios said he would retire, but backed off that.