As he readies for his June 9 fight with Manny Pacquiao, undefeated challenger Timothy Bradley will share some thoughts with us each week.
In the first installment, Bradley talks about his best and worst memories of his boxing career.
Q: Discuss your best and worst memory as a fighter, and which wins — amateur or professional — have been the most satisfying or memorable?
Timothy Bradley: I have been blessed to have been in many memorable fights which have contributed to great memories as a professional fighter. I get asked a lot which fight stands out the most, and I would have to say my victory over Junior Witter. It was my first world championship fight. I’ll never forget it.
Witter was the champion and I was the challenger. I had to travel to his backyard in England to fight him in front of his hometown fans. I knew I had to train hard in camp and execute perfectly against him. No one was going to do me any favors over there. Every point I won I earned.
There is something very special when you defeat an opponent on his home turf. But in this case, I was facing a world champion on foreign soil. I didn’t think about it much while I was training, but when I landed it really struck me. I was fighting for me and I was fighting for the U.S. of A. It may sound corny, but I really felt I was representing my country throughout fight week. And the fans in England were great. They all came in as fans of Witter, but they left as fans of boxing. Everyone was so nice.
Winning that first world title from Witter was not just a turning point for my career, but for my life, too.
My worst memory in boxing was when my amateur trainer O.J. Kutcher passed away. O.J. was the one person who always believed I had it in me to become world champion. When O.J. suffered a stroke I was with him through his last days. It was very sad. Losing O.J. was like losing my right arm, and to this day I think of him or something he taught me on a daily basis.
I held on to a pair of handwraps and gauze O.J. had given me when I was a child, saving them for something special. I wore them the night I fought Junior Witter. I just knew O.J. would have wanted to be there that night, and as I wrapped my hands I really felt he was with me, even when I was in the ring. Though O.J.’s passing is my worst memory as a fighter, you can count my experience with O.J. as a memory every bit as sweet as winning the title from Witter.
Pacquiao vs. Bradley takes place June 9 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.