High-flying Bradley stays grounded
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Those expecting success to get the best of Timothy Bradley may have a long wait.
The precocious 24-year-old, who stunned fans on both sides of the Atlantic with an upset defeat of WBC 140-pound champion Junior Witter three weeks ago, turns suddenly adamant when asked whether newfound success has triggered a change in lifestyle.
"It's just my team, my people and me," he said in a Thursday evening FitzHitz interview. "That's the way it was before and that's the way it'll stay. I don't like to live a flashy life. I'm comfortable living below my means, and I'll keep doing that because it'll keep me hungry.
"Broke fighters are the ones who make it."
Bradley had never made it outside his native California before the fateful trip to England in early May, when he faced an incumbent champion in Witter who was loudly looking ahead to a future showdown with fellow local hero and rival 140-pound belt-holder Ricky Hatton.
The talk changed dramatically after a smashing right hand sent Witter to the canvas in round six, and reached a crescendo 18 minutes later when Bradley surprisingly escaped hostile territory with a narrow split verdict and the WBC crown Witter had worn for 20 months.
Timothy Bradley stunned fans with an upset defeat of WBC 140-pound champion Junior Witter three weeks ago.
"(A hometown decision) never entered my head at all," Bradley said. "I do a lot of meditation and I blocked all of that stuff out. I was all cheery when I went over there and I believed we could win. If you don't believe good things can happen, then there's really no sense in making the trip."
Not surprisingly, he returned home to a constantly ringing cell phone and a bevy of requests for interviews and personal appearances, but has since maintained a level head by relegating all supplemental boxing-related business to 5 p.m. or earlier.
Afterward, he staunchly defends time blocked out to spend with girlfriend Monica and drive his still-average vehicle -- a 2007 Toyota Tundra pick-up truck still equipped, as he was quick to point out, with "the regular stock rims."
"She keeps me grounded and definitely sees that I don't get big-headed," he said. "She's always pointing out that if things start going downhill the only ones left will be me and the people who were here with me all along. I haven't really accomplished anything yet."
But even Bradley admits that could change.
The 5-foot-6 right-hander didn't hesitate in calling for a bout with the aforementioned Hatton, who defended both his IBO title and his status as the division's top money draw with a unanimous decision over Juan Lazcano last weekend in Manchester.
Also on hand was IBF claimant Paul Malignaggi, who outpointed challenger Lovemore N'dou.
Meanwhile, Andreas Kotelnik holds the WBA title after defeating Gavin Rees in March, while Ricardo Torres has held the WBO crown since 2006.
"I want Ricky Hatton. I would love to fight Ricky Hatton," Bradley said. "He's definitely the pound-for-pound guy at 140. I'm not going to come out and say I'm the best in the division, but I beat Witter and I think he could've handled a lot of these guys."
If I could deal with him, then I think I should be able to handle a guy like Malignaggi, who's pretty much winning fights with one hand. I've got speed, defense and I definitely love to bang. I think that makes me a double threat."
While rumors claim Hatton and Malignaggi may meet to unify their belts later this year, Bradley expects to bide time with a September title defense while waiting for a big-money match to be engineered in 2009 by his co-promoters -- Thompson Boxing Promotions and Gary Shaw Productions.
"They're the best. They've definitely helped me get to where I am," he said. "And where I go from here is going to depend on the schedules and the TV exposure and the money. I want to do whatever I need to do to make myself a household name."
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Ukrainian-born incumbent Wladimir Sidorenko risks his WBA bantamweight championship for the seventh time Saturday, when he'll face once-beaten youngster and No. 1-ranked challenger Anselmo Moreno in Dusseldorf, Germany.
A 31-year-old now living in Hamburg, Sidorenko has reigned since outpointing Julio Zarate for the vacant title in February 2005. He's defended three times via unanimous decision and once by seventh-round knockout, in addition to a pair of majority draws with Panamanian veteran Ricardo Cordoba.
Moreno, who'll be 23 in June, made his pro debut in March 2002 at the age of 17.
He was 6-0-1 before dropping a four-round split decision to fellow Panamanian prospect Ricardo Molina just seven months in, but has since rebounded with 15 straight victories -- including both a ninth-round TKO and a 10-round decision over Molina in 2005.
Elsewhere on Saturday, No. 3-ranked Oscar Larios can get within one step of another championship when he faces Feider Viloria for the WBC's interim featherweight title in Chetumal, Mexico.
A former long-term title-holder at 122 pounds, Larios was beaten in 10 rounds in a try for the then-vacant 126-pound crown against Jorge Linares in July.
Linares was scheduled to meet Viloria, the WBC's No. 10 contender, but had to pull out with a shoulder injury. The WBC allows champions who'll be out between six and 12 months to retain their titles, but mandates an immediate meeting with the interim champion upon their return.
If Linares does not return within a year, the interim claimant will be declared full-fledged champion.
Lastly, Fernando Montiel makes the seventh defense of his second reign as the WBO's 115-pound champion when he faces fellow Mexican product and No. 10- ranked challenger Luis Maldonado in San Luis Potosi.
Also a former WBO titlist at 112 pounds, Montiel initially captured a belt at 115 when he stopped Pedro Alcazar in Las Vegas in 2002. He defended the title once before losing to Mark Johnson a year later, then regained the crown with a seventh-round stoppage of Ivan Hernandez in 2005.
His lone loss since came at bantamweight, when he dropped a split decision to Jhonny Gonzalez in a try for a third WBO title in 2006.
Maldonado, now 30, is making his third try for a world championship.
He fell in eight rounds to Vic Darchinyan in a bid for the IBF and IBO flyweight titles in June 2006, then failed again to last beyond the eighth in a TKO loss to Nonito Donaire for the same belts in December.
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides 'In The Ring' boxing commentary for Speeding Bullet Network (speedingbulletnetwork.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.