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Is Bradley courting Mayweather?

MANILA, Philippines - Deposed WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley appears to be posturing for a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. as it doesn’t seem likely the Desert Storm, fresh from tasting his first defeat, will get a rubber match with Manny Pacquiao.

Bradley, 30, admitted he lost to the better man as Pacquiao regained the 147-pound title via a convincing unanimous 12-round decision in Las Vegas two weeks ago. It was in stark contrast to the unpopular split verdict handed to Bradley in their first meeting in June 2012. The outcry was so resounding that Bradley contemplated suicide. He said a “dark cloud” hung over him for beating the “People’s Champion.”

A third Pacquiao-Bradley encounter would be a tough sell at the box office. There is nothing left to prove for Pacquiao. Besides, Bradley isn’t a crowd pleaser and not even Pacquiao alone could prop up ticket sales. Asked about a possible rubber match, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach shot back, “What for?”

Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz, a former lightweight contender in his heyday, recently played the ethnic card in trying to warm up to Mayweather. “They don’t get the credit because they’re African Americans,” he said, referring to Bradley and Mayweather. “They’re great fighters, man. You need to give these guys some credit. The name of the game is boxing. That’s why I love Mayweather and I love Andre Ward. They’re great fighters and great people.”

Diaz went a step further by calling Mayweather the best fighter by far in the world. “These African American fighters, they’re the best guys out there,” he said, quoted by Lem Satterfield on ringtv.craveonline.com. “They’ve got their style, which is boxing, and boxing is a sport where you hit and don’t get hit. They’re smart, they’re elusive, they’re very skilful, they use great angles, they give the sport of boxing its name: boxing. A lot of fans, they want to see blood, cuts, knockouts and stuff like that and we see them. But you know, boxing is a sport where you hit and don’t get hit. You want to see a fight, go to a bar.”

Bradley himself said he’ll fight Mayweather any day and any place. Dan Rafael of espn.com, however, said it’s unlikely to happen “because Mayweather is under contract to Showtime and works with Golden Boy Promotions while Bradley fights on HBO and recently signed a contract extension with Top Rank … none of those entities work with each other.” It’s the same reason why sceptics claim the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will never happen although with money on the table, the opposing parties may set aside differences and swallow their pride.

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“At the end of the day, Mayweather is his own boss and if he wants to see me, he can come see me,” said Bradley. “If he wants the fight to happen, then so be it. I will never shy away from the best and Mayweather is the best right now. Everyone is going to want to see the fight but the business side of boxing is totally different and it’s not our fault, it’s just the way it is. It’s not how badly I want to fight Mayweather. It’s how badly Mayweather wants to fight me. Whether or not I fight him, my career is going to go on and my legacy is going to keep on building. Whether he is there or not, I am going to keep on winning against the best opponents out there.”

After losing the WBO title to Pacquiao, Bradley has no bargaining leverage left for a big money fight. He has no belt to dangle as bait. Besides, it may not make commercial sense to pit Bradley against Mayweather because not too many fans will pay to watch a ring version of “Dancing With the Stars.” There will be little action in the fight and even Diaz must admit it will be unexciting, tactical and boring.

Bradley has tried to create an intriguing image by replacing manager Cameron Dunkin with his wife Monica Smoot, publicizing that he doesn’t shower until after the weigh-in, going on a vegan diet, showing off his impressive abs, sparring 10-minute instead of three-minute rounds and disclosing that he entertained notions of committing suicide in the wake of public abuse for defeating Pacquiao. None of that turned him into a media magnet. In boxing, it’s the fists that do the talking and Bradley found that out after losing to Pacquiao two weeks ago.

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