Will tune-ups make Bradley tune out?

Wed, 27 Jul 07:03:00 2011

US boxing expert Kevin Iole says that Timothy Bradley could be missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

- Will Bradley tune out?

Timothy Bradley used the one word during an interview that should make boxing fans nauseous: tuneup.

Bradley is one of the world’s best fighters and one of the nicest guys you’d ever hope to meet, but he’s destroying what could be an incredible career.

While trying to explain why Zab Judah, instead of himself, would be fighting Amir Khan in a 140-pound title unification bout Saturday in Las Vegas, Bradley said he plans to fight Khan, the World Boxing Association/International Boxing Federation champion, in 2012 after taking a tune-up fight.

It’s his career, so it’s his right to completely mess it up if he so chooses.

Bradley holds the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization 140-pound belts, as well as a 27-0 record and the No. 7 spot in the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound poll. But he’s also next to unknown outside of the hardest of hard core boxing fans. He’s not a draw, not at the gate or on television, and, belts or not, no one is clamoring to see him fight.

He’s a guy who needed the house to be papered to sell out a 2,000-seat venue in his hometown.

And he is talking about a tune-up fight instead of simply facing Khan for all the marbles at 140 pounds? Ugh.

There is a lot that goes into making a boxer a star, and boxing ability is only one part of the equation. Bradley has all the elements except big-time punching power, yet he languishes in near anonymity and continues to make bad decisions.

He chose not to fight Khan when the bout was offered to him, largely because of a dispute with promoter Gary Shaw. Shaw subsequently sued him. Look for Bradley to file a countersuit before long.

Whether or not Shaw promoted Bradley well or not is beside the point. A fighter has a very short window of time to succeed, and sitting on the sidelines waiting for the legal system to run its course can’t help.

Bradley said during an interview that the timing is not right. But if Bradley waits until the time is right – when the general public is clamoring to see the fight, and revenues would be maximized – it might be five years from now.

There is nothing that would, or should, keep Bradley from looking to fight the top guys more than once. If he had taken the Khan fight last week, it wouldn’t prevent them from fighting each other again down the line when the stakes had gotten higher. The greatest fighter who ever lived, Sugar Ray Robinson, fought Jake LaMotta five times. He once fought him twice in a three-week span and had another fight in between.

Bradley needs to fight good fights against well-known opponents. His strategy of waiting makes no sense.

Khan is likely to fight in December in the U.S. at super lightweight, then plans to move to welterweight in the spring of 2012. There’s a good chance that by the time Bradley gets around to wanting to fight Khan, Khan will have moved up to 147 pounds.

There is no time like the present, and Bradley needs to grasp that concept quickly lest he fade into oblivion.

Kevin Iole / Yahoo

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