By: Sean Cross
I’ve been writing about sports for a long time and I’ve never seen a wrestler go from being unpopular to being as famous and respected as Tim Bradley. Nicknamed “Desert Storm,” Bradley is best known to serious fight fans for his shock decision win over the great Manny Pacquiao in 2012. Controversial to say the least, the win earned Bradley and his family a backlash that no professional fighter — much less the relative of a professional fighter — deserves. Still, Californians persist. The following March, Bradley went up against the feared Ruslan Provodnikov – and fought his way to a brutal victory.
It was as if all was forgiven in the twelve grueling rounds. People may not think Bradley deserved a win over Pacquiao, but no one can deny that the man had the blood and guts of George Patton. From there, Bradley faced the great Juan Manuel Marquez. And after that, it was time to face Pacquiao again. Bradley went down hard in the Filipino legend of the time, but the days of Bradley stripping have passed. Here, lose or draw, was a man who kept everything in the ring. Bradley was certainly respected by boxing fans. And he remained honored.
Later bouts included a controversial match against Diego Chaves – although this time Bradley wasn’t accused of being an unqualified referee – decisions against Jesse Vargas and surprise stoppages against Brandon Rios. Finally, in 2016, Bradley faced Manny Pacquiao for the third and final time. Once again, Bradley lost decisively. However, Pacquiao’s second loss in a row still hasn’t tarnished the man’s image. Suffice it to say, Bradley never fought again, choosing instead to become a broadcaster – a career he was revered for.
Now, ten years after his shocking and controversial victory over Pacquiao, Bradley has vowed to be inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2023. Apart from facing the likes of Pacquiao, Provodnikov, Marquez and others, the man has never failed a challenge holding multiple world titles in two weight divisions. There’s a reason fans of the sport are fans of Tim Bradley.