Tim Bradley: My 5 Toughest Opponents

Over the course of a professional career that began with a second round TKO over Francisco Martinez in 2004 and ended with a 2016 decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, Timothy Bradley Jr. compiled a record of 33-2-1 (13 KOs), won world title belts at 140 and 147 pounds, and fought many of the top talents of his generation. Two days before he was officially inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a member of the 2023 class, Bradley spoke with ProBoxTV to look back on his career – and the five toughest opponents he faced.


1.  Manny Pacquiao

“I gotta start with the man that beat me, Manny Pacquiao. I would say he's the number one guy. The toughest fighter I ever faced, for a lot of different reasons.” Bradley won a decision against the Filipino in their first encounter in June 2012, despite almost universal belief that Pacquiao had prevailed. At what should have been the high point of his professional career, the man from Palm Springs, California, found himself on the receiving end of a torrent of abuse, as if he had been the one scoring the fight.

“That really changed my outlook on everything. I understood that everyone has an opinion … It was like a blessing in disguise. Yes, I hated that moment at that time. But I'm glad that I went through it because I'm stronger now than ever. Thick skin, baby.”


2. Ruslan Provodnikov

Coming off his disputed win over Pacquiao, then then-undefeated Bradley was a big favorite against little known Russian Ruslan Provodnikov, but soon found himself dragged into a brutal war that was voted the 2013 Fight of the Year. Bradley was badly hurt early and was dropped late but emerged with a unanimous decision victory. He would subsequently speak openly about the concussion symptoms he suffered for some months after the battle.

“He definitely challenged me. I mentally wasn't prepared for that fight. But physically, he challenged me. Took me to my limits. I was walking literally in the land of the dead during that fight.”


3. Kendall Holt

Bradley had to pick himself off the deck in the first round to win this 2009 junior welterweight unification bout at Montreal’s Bell Centre.

“I remember going down to Atlantic City, seeing him fight for the first time and I saw how fluid he was, how big of a puncher he was, how big he was, how quick he was. And I said, ‘Wow, I'm gonna have my hands full against this guy. He's a dangerous fighter.’ And when I fought him in Montreal, he kind of got under my skin a little bit. I came out a little bit too aggressive, and he hit me with a bazooka left hook and floored me. I remember getting up. I remember taking a knee and I remember having a few seconds there to talk with God and say, ‘God, this ain't the way supposed to be.’ And I remember surviving that round. And I remember coming back out and my trainer said ‘The knockdown happened. But you know what the plan is, you know what you got to do. And you have to continue to do it. And that's continue to press forward.’ After I just got knocked on my behind. I had to bite down on my mouthpiece, grab my set of onions. And keep marching forward after I got floored by this guy.”


4. Junior Witter

In May 2008, Bradley, then 21-0, headed to Nottingham in Witter’s native England to challenge for his first world title, Witter’s WBC 140-pound belt. Witter was favored to keep his strap, but Bradley dropped him in the sixth round en route to a split decision win.

"Junior Witter was my coming out party. I studied that guy for over a year. I watched him every single night. I knew that one day I was going to get to that point. I saw my rankings going up. I saw he’s climbing the rankings. And I knew he was a champion. I knew he was that good. So, I really studied him, and I was looking for weaknesses. Because as you know, he could fight many ways: he had speed, he had punching power. He was extremely intelligent in the ring as well. Great counterpuncher. Physically strong. And I had to find a weakness. 

“And I knew Junior Witter like the back of my hand. I knew everything about the guy. I knew when I pressured him, how he would react. I knew when he got in certain situations, how he would change his style. Once I floored him, I knew what style was coming next. But he was a great fighter, a terrific fighter. A lot of people consider Ricky Hatton number one [in the division] at the time, but Ricky never wanted to face him because of how dangerous he was.”


5. Miguel Vazquez

Despite having a list of opponents that includes Juan Manuel Marquez, Devon Alexander, Lamont Peterson, and Joel Casamayor, Bradley plumps for the Vazquez, then 18-1 and now 44-12 and still active. In July 2007, Bradley won a wide decision over the rangy and awkward Mexican to set himself up for his title shot against Witter. 

“Miguel Vasquez found a way to break my rib in the second round of the fight. And so now I was not only just battling his awkward style, trying to hit a guy that doesn't like to get hit; I was also dealing with myself and dealing with wanting to quit, with wanting to give up because my ribs are damaged. And that pain was unbelievable, man. When I think back, I don't know how I got through that fight.”