By Greg Beacham, AP
LOS ANGELES — Timothy Bradley no longer cares whether anyone thinks he won his fight with Manny Pacquiao last year. At least that’s what he’s telling everybody who keeps asking about it.
Bradley knows what he thought in the ring when the split decision stunningly went his way. He hasn’t changed his mind after receiving criticism, ridicule and death threats for simply ending up on the right side of two judges’ scorecards.
“It was like I stole something from somebody,” Bradley said. “A lot of people were affected by it. That was a really low point in my life. It just spread like wildfire: ‘You didn’t win! Give the belt back!’ It just went around and around.”
Bradley still thinks he beat Pacquiao in one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history, even if he gained almost nothing from it. He couldn’t land a rematch with Pacquiao, and he turned down other fights while struggling to entice the world’s best welterweights to face him.
Nine months after that shocker in Las Vegas, Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) returns on Saturday under the softer lights of Carson, California, defending his WBO 147-pound (67-kilogram) title against unheralded Ruslan Provodnikov (22-1, 15 KOs). He’s ready to move on with his career, even if the fight will haunt him for a bit longer.
“I worked my butt off for 18 years to get to this point, and then it hit me: I didn’t gain anything from the Pacquiao fight except experience,” he said. “I didn’t get any credit for beating him. It wasn’t what I expected at all.”
Even while insisting he’s ready for the next steps in his career, Bradley knows he’ll always have to discuss his win over Pacquiao. He doesn’t know if many fans even realize he finished the fight on two bad feet: He pulled ligaments in his left foot in the second round and sprained his right foot in the fourth round, but managed to finish even when his corner wondered if he should sit down.