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Bradley Risked Health to Win Fans, Get Marquez

Bradley Risked Health to Win Fans, Get Marquez

(AP) Bradley risked health to win fans, get Marquez
AP Sports Writer
Timothy Bradley remembers the first and final rounds of his last bout. The rest has vanished into a foggy haze.

The welterweight champion candidly acknowledges his brain took a beating in his victory over Ruslan Provodnikov last March. Determined to prove his ring bravery to a doubting public, Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) consciously abandoned years of technical discipline and waded into a fistfight with the Siberian brawler.

He paid for it with a swollen skull, ugly injuries and two months of pain and slurred speech. Yet it’s a transaction he would make again.

That visceral display in an outdoor ring in Carson, Calif., set him up for a lucrative pay-per-view fight against vaunted Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Bradley is determined to be smarter against Marquez, but he also remembers how he got to the Thomas and Mack Center.

Bradley’s strategy stemmed from his fury and confusion after his victory over Manny Pacquiao in his previous fight.

The decision was among the most criticized in recent boxing history, and Bradley took it all very personally. The online comments on Twitter and Facebook would start at 5 a.m. and wouldn’t stop until about 3:30 a.m. the next day, leaving Bradley baffled by the trolls’ tenacity.

Nine months of simmering anger culminated in a decision he announced to his wife, Monica, the night before his fight against Provodnikov.

Bradley remembers getting knocked down by Provodnikov in the first round, and he recalls the brutal 12th round. He has watched the other 10 rounds on video.

The fighters traded huge shots throughout the night, including a dynamic sixth round. Bradley also returned to his usual sharp boxing for long stretches with prodding from his infuriated trainer, Joel Diaz, who threatened to stop the fight if Bradley didn’t stop taking crazy risks.

Bradley is imprecise about the nature of his injuries, just saying everything “felt weird for a while.” At Monica’s insistence, he consulted with brain doctors in New York and Long Beach, embarking on a program of therapeutic exercises to bring his brain back to proper function.

Doctors couldn’t decide whether Bradley had an actual concussion, as he suspected from the first round on. The visible injuries were more than enough to frighten his family.

Bradley knew his son was correct _ and yet it worked.

He had changed the perception of the wide majority of boxing fans who love all-action fights, even if they inevitably shorten their fighters’ career. A headfirst, technical fighter with little knockout power had turned himself into an action hero.


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