Bradley cited for tough defense
By Joaquin Henson Updated Friday June 08, 2012 - 12:00am

Timothy Bradley Jr.

MANILA, Philippines - Timothy Bradley Jr. is known as a head-butting menace with negligible power but what sets him apart from Manny Pacquiao’s previous opponents is his ability to slip punches by bobbing weaving and turning his head like a top on a swivel.

“Bradley showed why he is probably one of the most underrated defensive fighters in the game,” wrote Paul Salgado in Boxing News Magazine reporting on the unbeaten Californian’s technical decision win over southpaw Devon Alexander last year. “While his attack is aggressive and sometimes appears reckless he demonstrated unusual skill in reading Alexander’s punches while deftly eluding them with head movement.”

In the ring Bradley uses his head in more ways than one. He is a chronic head-butter charging in with his shaven skull up front like a battering ram. Three of his fights ended in technical decisions because of head-butts and one was declared a no-contest for the same reason. Alexander was butted so badly that he complained of not being to see out of his right eye. “I couldn’t see for real,” said Alexander. “Something was burning. I have never been head-butted like that and he’s got a big head. He came in full force. I’m upset.”

What makes Bradley even more dangerous if not scary is he fights with a purpose. He out-strategizes opponents with his technical skills honed in 145 amateur bouts. Against Alexander Bradley unleashed a slew of combinations and a quick jab along with thundering body shots. Salgado said Bradley rendered Alexander’s jab “ineffectual” and “his considerable power completely nullified.”

David Mayo writing in The Ring Magazine said “Bradley leads with his head as a regular habit” and as the more aggressive fighter “assumed the role of a puncher without a big punch while Alexander assumed the role of the cute southpaw.”

In sizing up Pacquiao and Bradley The Ring’s Doug Fischer gave the “Desert Storm” the edge in intelligence and strategic dexterity. “Pacquiao follows strategy well and is able to think on his feet to an extent but doesn’t have a great track record of making adjustments in difficult fights such as the first (Erik) Morales fight and his trilogy with (Juan Manuel) Marquez,” wrote Fischer. “Bradley a bright and articulate man outside of the ring seems to make the right decisions and moves at the right times in all of his big fights.”

Fischer graded the fighters even in ability to slip and block punches. “Both fighters are occasionally caught because of their busy aggressive styles but they also manage to avoid many punches by using their legs and upper-body movement,” he said. “Pacquiao likes to block punches with his high guard which limits his ability to slip shots from the outside. However he does a good job of sliding under punches when in close. Bradley does a better job of bobbing and weaving than Pacquiao and he’s also adept at blocking and parrying punches.”

Bradley’s self-confidence is either delusionary or based on substance. The WBO lightwelterweight champion believes in himself as a fighter no matter whom he’s up against. “It’s Timothy Bradley time,” he said quoted by Bob Velin of USA Today. “I’m in the best shape that I could possibly be in. There’s nothing that I fear. No one that I fear. I don’t fear Manny Pacquiao. I don’t fear Floyd Mayweather. I’m ready for anybody.”

While Pacquiao has a lot more experience as a pro with 31 more fights Bradley has the advantage of a rich amateur background. “I started boxing when I was about 10 and had 145 amateur fights,” said Bradley. “I really don’t even have a clue about how many wins and losses I had just a lot of fights. I fought the best out there. I fought Anthony Thompson Rondell Mason Andre Berto. I fought Andre Ward when we were like 14 or 15. It was in a national invitational and I ended up losing a split decision.”

Bradley lost a 35-22 verdict to Vanes Martirosyan in the US Olympic trials in 2004 and felt he was robbed. For a while Bradley gave up on boxing. But he eventually gathered himself propped up by his parents and turned pro. Now Bradley has a chance to showcase his skills against the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter and prove he’s for real.

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