Bradley moves up for welterweight fight vs. Abregu
Updated: July 16, 2010, 17:39
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LOS ANGELES(AP) Timothy Bradley realizes the path to boxing superstardom is narrow and unforgiving. A fighter can get lost with even one misstep.
This Palm Springs product has stayed right on the road so far, and most everybody believes Bradley is only a few fights away from reaching his destination.
The WBO 140-pound champion (25-0, 11 KOs) temporarily will move up to welterweight on Saturday night to meet fellow unbeaten Luis Carlos Abregu, but this meeting likely is just a prelude to bigger bouts and burgeoning fame for the Desert Storm.
"I'm fighting on the big scene now,'' Bradley said with a grin while getting his hands taped before a recent workout in a Sunset Boulevard gym. "I worked my way up from the backyard. After this fight, a lot more people are going to want to fight me at 140. It's a chance to get more opportunities.''
A victory over the free-swinging Argentine (29-0, 23 KOs) would keep Bradley in position for bouts against the world's best 140-pounders and put him in the discussion for fights with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao down the road. He also realizes a loss to Abregu, a less-disciplined boxer with dangerous power, would undo much of his work over the past six years.
It's a risk Bradley was eager to take in his HBO debut and his first fight since getting married May 15 - two days before training camp. His wife, Monica, doesn't mind that she probably won't get a honeymoon until Bradley is done with his next bout after Abregu, likely against another elite 140-pounder: Marcos Maidana, Amir Khan or even Devon Alexander, the two-belt titleholder and Bradley's biggest target.
Bradley will be the overwhelming crowd favorite at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, Calif., right next to his hometown. Alfredo Angulo also will meet welterweight Joachim Alcine.
"There are a lot of boxing fans that need to know Timothy Bradley better,'' said Joel Diaz, Bradley's trainer. "I would rather have him at 140, but this fight was a great opportunity to get more people talking about him. If you want to be the best in the world, you have to win with class, and this is a chance for Timothy to do that.''
Bradley's last two fights were in the same cozy arena, where he thrashed previously unbeaten Lamont Peterson last December and punished Nate Campbell before the fight was stopped on a third-round head-butt.
Bradley hasn't been back in the ring since December, but not by choice: Two prospective bouts with Maidana were scuttled by the Argentine slugger's management problems.
Bradley doesn't watch tapes of his opponents, believing he can impose his own strategy on anybody. He claims to know relatively little about Abregu, compared by many to Arturo Gatti, the late brawler who always took two punches to land one.
"I'd like to test that power,'' Bradley said. "I'll feel it right away. If he hits as hard as they say, I'm going to be looking at my corner, saying, 'What did you get me into?' I'm still going to have my speed, though. If I adjust, keep moving, and wait for him to make mistakes, I'm going to be all right.''
Although his future likely is at 140 pounds, the 5-foot-6 Bradley is grateful for a fight in which he doesn't need to cut weight - although he still went on a strict vegan diet of brown rice and vegetables. Instead of burning calories, he's adding strength through weightlifting.
"I just feel like I've got more energy,'' Bradley said. "I feel natural. I feel like I haven't even trained for the fight. I still should have all of my explosiveness, and now there's a little more power behind it. I've been eating more for this fight, because I don't want to come in and have this guy try to manhandle me. I want to be right at 147.''
Bradley also took the fight to entice Mayweather or Pacquiao with his welterweight readiness, but he knows he's more likely to fight next in some form of a 140-pound tournament with WBC and IBF champion Alexander, WBA champ Amir Khan and perhaps Maidana.
While Bradley says he'll fight Alexander in his native St. Louis, he would prefer to "eliminate some of these other fighters'' before getting in the ring with Alexander, the other big dog in the division. With particular contempt for Khan, who he calls "the most protected fighter in the division,'' Bradley envisions two fights on the same card in November or December, with the winners meeting early next year.
Beyond that, the desert kid is still dreaming big.
"If I can get in the ring with either Pacman or Floyd Mayweather, then I will have accomplished everything I want to accomplish in boxing,'' Bradley said. "That's the goal for me.''