There are boxers who opt to play it safe. Timothy Bradley Jr. isn't that kind of boxer. Bradley has shown a willingness to fight and brawl with the best of them and that's exactly what he may need to do Saturday night, when he faces Diego Chaves live (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Chaves (23-2, 19 knockouts) is known for his rugged, dirty ring style and Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs) is ready to slug it out, instead of box, if need be. Here, Bradley talks to BET.com about the challenges Chaves's aggressive style presents, what he learned in his only loss to Manny Pacquiao and the possibility of a Pacman-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight being the biggest boxing bout of all time. Ring the bell.
BET.com: What challenges does Diego Chaves present?
Timothy Bradley: Diego Chaves is a tough challenge because this is a kid who is heavy-handed, very determined to being on top and this is an opportunity to shine here in the States. This is a kid that knows how to fight. He’s very talented, but has a lot of skill in the ring as far as being a dangerous fighter.
Do you think you get the respect you deserve in boxing?
Absolutely. I’m one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. People do recognize me as a true elite fighter. I’ve definitely got the respect of the true boxing fans. I’m definitely growing as a fighter and getting better every year.
What did you learn from your loss to Manny Pacquiao, the only defeat of your career?
I learned I basically need to stay in my element and do the things that got me to the top and never buy or get sold into the hype. I say that because I went in there with the mentality that I needed to knock Manny Pacquiao out. Looking back at the fight — as I was doing well in the first half of the fight — I suffered an injury and I think I might have suffered the injury in trying to knock Manny Pacquiao out. I gassed out at the end because I was trying too hard. In boxing, everything has to happen naturally in the ring. I was forcing everything. Going into this fight, I don’t have to force anything. I know Diego is going to bring it to me and I just have to stay smart in there.
After you beat Pacquiao the first time, your career took off. Are you disappointed that you never got to face Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
It’s just the way the business works. Mayweather stays in his lane and I stay in my lane. Our paths haven’t crossed yet. I’ve learned over the years to do me. If I’m worrying about this fighter or that fighter, I’m taking energy away from what I can produce. My focus is me, and I don’t need anyone to make me or my legacy. I’m just going to continue to fight the best available opponents out there. My legacy will be fulfilled just by doing that.
Do you think the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will finally happen?
I think that anything is possible and it would make for really good business sense for these guys to fight. It would be the biggest fight in the history of boxing. The biggest. I’m talking going back to the Thrilla in Manila. I think it’s smart that these guys are finally talking and they need to make this happen.
After this fight, what’s next for Timothy Bradley?
The junior middleweight division is intriguing me as we speak. I hear Pacquiao is going to 140 [pounds], so the WBO [light-welterweight title] could go vacant. I wouldn’t mind facing anybody to get that belt back. If that doesn’t happen, I’m thinking about taking on another challenge and facing some of the best at 154 pounds.
Why should fight fans tune in Saturday night?
Diego is one of those fighters that loves to bring the pain and everybody knows that I love to fight. Once I get in there and I get hit upside the head, it’s payback time.
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(Photos from Left: Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images, Ronald Martinez/Golden Boy/Golden Boy via Getty Images)
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