By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —Tim Bradley thought he reached the pinnacle. The dedicated, rugged welterweight from Palm Springs, California—a road warrior who built his career from scratch—cashed in by doing something no one thought he could do by beating Manny Pacquiao Saturday night in Las Vegas for the WBO welterweight title.
Only “Desert Storm” hasn’t exactly had a chance to savor it. A shroud of controversy continues to plague the split-decision the undefeated Bradley received—and it continues to cloud what was supposed to be a great moment for Bradley.
“You know, I’m trying to keep my head up above water; I fought my heart out that night, and granted, I had two injuries occur that night, I’m not the one to blame, I fought my fight, the judges thought I won the fight,” said Bradley in an exclusive interview speaking for the first time publicly since the controversy exploded. “The crazy thing about it was the judge’s scorecards were all very close.
“Every time Pacquiao threw a punch, everyone was ooh and ahhh, and it was just seemed like everyone was focused on Pacquiao and what he was doing, even the TV commentators, and that was ridiculous. Not what I was doing. The judges were looking at the fight and what I was doing. Going into the last couple of rounds, my corner kept telling me I have to pick it up, I have to pick up, and I knew the fight was close. I was making him miss and knew I was catching him with some great counter shots. Manny Pacquiao was fighting only 45 seconds of every round. I don’t know, I’m not the one to blame here. Everyone is blaming me. I’m the new welterweight champion of the world, and honestly, I don’t feel like it.”
Bradley revealed he suffered ligament damage in his left ankle in the second round, and sustained a sprained right ankle in the fourth round. The bad wheels forced Bradley into a different mode Saturday night, in there against the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world on two bad wheels.
“The whole time I was focused on my damned ankles; my main focus was trying to survive and trying to land my shots,” Bradley said. “My left ankle had ligament damage in the second round and the fourth round was the right ankle. I fought hard and through pain. You can look through the footage and see how it really was.
“My corner asked me after the second round what was wrong, and I told them I think I broke a bone in my foot. I told [trainer Joel] Diaz let’s fight through it. Granted, I was injured, and I still felt I won the fight. I’m not to blame. I’ve gotten a lot of heat coming on me, rude comments and it’s terrible. I can’t enjoy myself. This is supposed to be a happy moment in my career and it’s not.
“It’s really hard on me. I worked extremely hard for this and I can’t really enjoy it. These people are telling me I should be ashamed of myself and that I’m this and this. That I’m a coward. Yea, man, they called a coward. I don’t understand it. I’m hearing everything. It’s just another thing that I have to go through, but it’s okay, it’s alright. At the end of the day, I’m the new welterweight champion of the world regardless of what anyone thinks or says.
“I don’t know how much longer I want to do this. I fight my best, my very best, and tried very hard to fight my heart out, and it never seems like it’s good enough. I don’t understand it.”
There was also something else Bradley felt compelled to address. After the fight, Bob Arum, Top Rank’s president and Bradley’s promoter, was quoted as saying: “Can you believe that? Unbelievable. I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said [to me], ‘I tried hard but I couldn’t beat the guy.'”
Bradley disputes that.
“I never said that to Bob Arum, I never say that to Bob Arum, I said, ‘I gave it my best,'” Bradley said. “That’s what I told him. I never said he beat me. I would never, ever say that, ever. I’ve heard that and I was wondered what planet was he on when he entered the ring.”