Sunday, December 25, 2011

The SNB Interview: Timothy Bradley -- Part II

Saturday Night Boxing recently talked with junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley in a wide-ranging interview that touched on many key aspects of his boxing career. To read Part I of the interview, click here. To read Part III of the interview, click here.

In Part II, Bradley discusses the finer points of his personal ring theory. He talks about his relationship with his trainer, Joel Diaz. He reveals what he thinks is his best weapon and how he can improve in the ring. Bradley also goes into detail about setting up game plans for opponents. In addition, he addresses head butts, which have been significant factors in several of his past fights.

Interview by Adam Abramowitz

SNB: I have a question about Joel Diaz. You’ve been trained by him as a professional. How would you describe your relationship and how has that [relationship] been able to work to this point?

TB: Our relationship, he’s like my big brother. Our relationship is great because he knows his job. He knows exactly what his duties are – definitely to train me, definitely to mentor me as well. Business is business but we keep a great relationship. We trust one another. That’s the reason why I don’t have him on contract and he doesn’t want to be on contract. So he trusts me and I trust him. It’s great. We’ve been working together since I turned professional. We grew up together. I grew up watching Joel. I went to some of his fights out here in the desert [the Coachella Valley in Southern California] when he did fight out here.

We just have a great chemistry because he knows me very well. He knows how much I can handle. He knows pretty much what I’m doing in the ring or what I’m trying to do in the ring. He knows me very well and it’s hard to find trainers like that – that have that type of chemistry with their fighters. It’s like how Freddie Roach knows Manny Pacquiao very well. He knows what he’s trying to do in the ring. He knows what he’s trying to set up just by the way he moves, the way he shifts. Joel is the same way with me. We just have that bond and he knows exactly what I can handle.

SNB: I want to bring up something that is said about you and get your opinion about it. It’s often said that Tim Bradley wins his fights based on his intangibles. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. What does that mean to you?

TB: I really don’t think that a lot of people understand my fighting style. I think they are still trying to figure it out. Boxing fans – even the media – don’t really get my style. I pretty much fight to beat my opponent. If there are adjustments, I adjust to my opponent’s style. If they can’t stop me from coming forward, then I’m going to keep coming forward. It’s working. If they stop me from going forward, then I guess I better go to boxing.

I’m very well-rounded in the ring. I’m a student of the game so you can’t fake me in there. I know what’s going on in the ring. I’ve seen so many different styles. I’ve been in the ring with some of the best fighters in the world. I know pretty much what to expect and that’s a reason why I can compete with these guys at the higher level, like a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd, or any of these top guys. I can compete with these guys because I’ve been in the ring with thousands and thousands of people and I’ve never been dominated. I’ve never been completely destroyed. I don’t think these guys could completely destroy me. I honestly don’t. It’s never happened before in my whole career.

I love boxing. I’ve been boxing 18 years and I’ve never been in the ring where someone just completely destroys me, and laughs at me and handed it to me – and I was like, “Wow, what just happened?” I can compete with anybody in the world. I’m world-class.

You know my will, my grit – they can’t out-will me. There’s no one that can out-will me. I definitely feel that. Once I get in the fight, something just clicks in me and I just want to fight. You can’t stop me. I’m like one of those fighting roosters. (laughs) I’ll fight to the death. It’s hard, man.

SNB: About your style in the ring, I’ve watched a lot of tape of you. I’ve seen a ton of your fights. What would you say is your best offensive weapon and then what’s one that you think you need to work on?

TB: My best offensive weapon? I don’t know. I really don’t know…I think my best weapon is my right hand. Yeah, it would be my right hand. That’s definitely my best punch – my looping right hand. Everybody knows that's my best shot. That’s the shot I put Witter on the ground with. Everybody, every time they fight me they definitely remember that overhand right, or that looping right hand. I think that’s my best punch.

SNB: And what’s something, or what’s a punch that you are continuing to work on?

TB: My uppercut. I don’t throw enough uppercuts in the ring. My father and my trainer – they are always getting on me because I don’t throw enough uppercuts in fights.

SNB: I’ve seen a left uppercut sometimes.

TB: I do sometimes. We’d been working on uppercuts in the gym for my last fight. The uppercut did some damage against Casamayor, as soon as I landed that right uppercut, I believe, and then I came over the top with some shots, and dropped back down to the body with a double left hook. That’s what finished him off. But that uppercut set up everything.

You know, I’m a work in progress. There are a lot of areas where I feel I can definitely improve on. I’m definitely trying. It’s very hard because I’m kind of set in my ways. I just like to tell my trainer, “I’m going to get the job done.” I’ve done that all the time. “Don’t worry. I’m going to get the job done.” I’ll find a way in there to win.

SNB: Some fighters watch a lot of tape on opponents and some claim they don’t watch any at all. How much do you watch of your opponents and how important is that for you?

TB: Well, I studied Junior Witter for a year and I figured out how to beat him. The only man that ever beat him was Zab Judah. I watch these guys. I’m watching everybody. I’m watching guys a weight class above me and I’m watching guys two weight classes below me. So, if you’re on TV fighting, I’m watching you.

I like to study fighters. I like to study fighters’ weaknesses. I like to see what they like to do, what they don’t like to do. I told you I’m a student of the game, and I’m a professional. I think that’s ridiculous not to study an opponent.

You go in there with a game plan and a mind frame of what they actually are going to try to do to you. You pretty much know their best weapon. You know how to beat them. Every time I go into a fight, I know how to beat these guys. If you have the ability and the mind frame to follow the game plan and do exactly what you are supposed to do to these guys, you beat them. That’s what I’ve been able to do in my last 28 fights. Follow the game plan and beat these guys.

I have a game plan for Manny Pacquiao. I have a game plan for Floyd already. I have a game plan for Khan already. I have a game plan for all of these guys already. I haven’t even fought them yet. I’m not even trying to fight all these guys, but I have a game plan for them. You name them. I got a game plan for them.

It’s just something I learned in amateurs – how to study fighters. Training with Al Mitchell, up there in Marquette, Michigan [the site of the U.S. Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University], he taught me how to study fighters and what to look for.

SNB: Can you scout yourself for a moment? What would a future opponent say about you? How does one scout Tim Bradley from the outside?

TB: They would just say he hits hard. He’s durable. Opponents would just think that this guy comes in tremendous shape, so I better get my butt in the best shape that I possibly can.

I think that’s the first thing that they look at – besides the whole head butt thing. That’s a little bit overly used in my fights. “Oh, well he won because of a head butt. Oh, he won because of this or that. “

But I think opponents are definitely stressed by my physique and by my will to win. I come in shape. They’re going to have to go 12 hard rounds with me. 12 hard rounds. I think that’s the biggest factor in a fight [with me].

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