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March 18, 2013

By Stephen "Breadman" Edwards

                                    DARK PLACES

Very seldom does a performance or topic in boxing motivate me enough to write a story. In fact I donít consider myself a writer, I consider myself a ďboxing guyĒ nothing more. But the place that Tim Bradley went on Saturday night needs to be talked about. The Dark Place.

The backlash that Bradley received following his controversial decision win against icon Manny Pacquiao put him in a dark place. But thatís not the dark place Iím referring to in this piece. Iím talking about that place where you are dog tired and the lactic acid in your muscles is so great you wish your limbs were cut off. That place where you are being hurt every time you are being hit and your legs look like flat tires on a pick up truck. That place where the glory outweighs ALL repercussions because your pride tells you so. The Dark Place.

Bradley is most often compared to Marvelous Marvin Hagler because of their similar physiques and bald heads. But most donít consider him the prize fighter Hagler is, at least not yet anyway. But for as great as Hagler was and Hagler was truly great, Bradley went in an exclusive club with his performance against Ruslan Providnikov that Hagler is not a member of. I assume Hagler could go to that place, but because his chin was so impenetrable he never had to go there.

Very few fighters in the history of boxing and even fewer over the last 30 years were able to succeed under the duress and violent discomfort Bradley endured. Bradley was severely hurt and almost knocked out in the first and second rounds. I personally believed he was concussed that early in the fight. I say this because simple jabs would knock Bradley around the ring and you could see him fighting to stay conscious, like the tired husband on a movie date.

But Bradley pressed on. To a point where he threw 1000 punches. Thatís an insane amount considering the incoming punishment. Tim Bradley was simply ďtiredĒ. And Iím not talking about physical fatigue that was obvious. He was tired of people blaming him for the decision he got against Manny Pacquiao. Bradley didnít judge the fight. Nevertheless he received death threats about a freaking boxing matchÖ.

So Bradley did what a fighter does. He fought a fight he didnít have to fight just for approval. The sad thing is he was still booed after the fight. Bradley probably didnít get any new fans who love him. But thatís ok. If you donít love him you have to respect and admire the man. He forced his will on us in the fight. At the end of the day I would rather be respected than loved anyway. Respect last longer and we will talk about what Bradley did for a very long time.

The amazing thing about Tim Bradley is most members of his CLUB, are punchers. Evander Holyfield, Arturo Gatti, Bobby Chacon to name a few. But Bradley is consistently forced to go the 12 round distance, which makes it more amazing. He doesnít change the course of his fights with his power. Power usually bails out a fighter in fights like Bradley vs Provodnikov. But Bradley bails himself with will power. He willed himself to throw 1000 punches in the eye of a storm named Ruslan. Watching Bradley fight a puncher is literally like watching a two guys have a shootout, but one guy has a gloc and the other has a tech nine, and the guy with the gloc wins just about every time. Amazing.

On March 16th, 2013 we witnessed Tim Bradley willingly go to a dark place for respect. He didnít have to come out slugging with a bigger puncher. When the puncher obliged and hurt Tim, all Tim did was turn it up dig deep. All Tim did was meet the puncher and greet the puncher. I had no vested interest in this fight and I found myself wide eyed and filled with anxiety although I didnít really care who won. Tim Bradley took me there. Tim Bradley went to the darkest of places a prize fighter can go. Death or severe damage comes after that and Bradley had no problem going there. You need a willing partner to be a part of such a great fight so Ruslan Provodnikov deserves his props. But this is about Tim Bradley fighting to be adored. Bradley will never be adored thatís just the way it is sometimes. Bradley is not the ďtrendiestĒ black guy on the block, like say a Mayweather or Broner. Heís not Mexican with matinee idol looks like a Canelo. But letís see if those guys are willing to go where Timmy volunteered to go, they havenít been there yet. Ö.

Tim is all fighter. He went to a place that few men I have ever seen go. The darkest of dark places. I wrote this article in honor of a man who seeks appreciation and respect. He did it for us, so I wrote it for him. Stand up Timmy Bradley and thank you. I know what I saw and what I saw was special.

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