Timothy Bradley was on the other end of the telephone yesterday and he sounded high strung.
And why not? He’s sequestered himself away in another arduous training camp preparing to meet Manny Pacquiao again. Time is short now and in only 15 days he and Pacquiao are going to get down to business in Las Vegas and settle once and for all who is the better man in the squared circle.
Bradley sounded far away. He sounded alone. He also sounded ready. His words came quick and his voice was sharp. Were the fight today he insisted he would be all set to go.
And just like "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler before him, Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley is engaged in the same battle for respect and recognition.
Bradley's trainer Joel Diaz was also on the phone and sounding a lot like one of the Petronelli brothers (Hagler's managers and trainers) he said, “We don’t really feel the support. Everybody goes to the Wild Card to see Manny Pacquiao train, he’s in great shape, he’s in great preparation… but nobody comes around to Tim Bradley’s gym to see how he’s doing. But in a way I like that because curiosity, it sometimes puts a little bit of fear. Nobody knows how Tim Bradley is training and he’s very ready to come to Vegas and ruin the party for a lot of people again.”
Where they are of course is at Bradley’s new gym in Indio, California. In the middle of the desert, Bradley is wedged between Palm Springs, the Joshua Tree National Park and the Salton Sea. So you can probably understand the lack of company. Pacquiao, of course, trains on Vine Street in the middle of Hollywood. On a near daily basis, celebrity guests are pictured visiting to wish him well.
I’ve been around the fight racket a long time. For my money, Timothy Bradley reminds me an awful lot of Marvelous Marvin Hagler and it's not just because of the bald head and perfect physique. Like Hagler, Bradley fights for respect and recognition and he does it the only way he knows how – by winning titles and beating other guys up. In virtual solitude, he works himself into tremendous physical condition and quietly goes about his job as champion.
Hagler used to do the same thing by locking himself away on the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in Provincetown. Marvin would run on the deserted beaches first thing in the morning, beat the heck out of sparring partners in the afternoons and spend the evenings dining alone in his room at the Provincetown Inn. His only consistent companions were Goody and Pat Petronelli. Marvin even carried his own gym bag. When he became rich and famous, he sometimes trained at the Canyon Hotel in Palm Springs which is just 25 miles or so up the road from where Bradley is now.
So when Bradley was making his case for respect and recognition on the telephone, he sounded just like Marvin Hagler did 27 years ago before he met “Sugar” Ray Leonard.
“I’ve got a lot to prove in this fight. I’ve gotta prove that the first fight wasn’t a fluke,” said Bradley. “There’s a lot of things that happened in the first fight that weren’t right. This time I’ll be 110% ready. I’m a different fighter now, a different beast, a different animal and this time around I’m gonna prove it to the fans and everybody. The last time around I got the win but it felt like I lost because I didn’t get any credit from the fans and it’s very important to get the credit from the fans. I definitely gotta’ win by a wide margin.”
Hagler once took to wearing a hat emblazoned with the word “War” and he entered the ring on fight night to Edwin Starr’s song with that same title. He used to wear a T-shirt with the words “Destruct and Destroy” printed on the front. It was to remind himself of his mission and the struggle it took to get himself to where he always wanted to be.
There was a certain boot camp/military theme to all that Hagler did and if you go to Timothy Bradley’s official website it has a Hagler-esque feel to it. If you want to buy a T-shirt or hat on his website, Timothy Bradley has them - in camouflage.
Pick up a copy of T.K.'s new book, The Fight Racket: Inside the World of Professional Boxing
Follow T.K. on Twitter
Friend T.K. on Facebook
Find out more about T.K. at about.me