By Lyle Fitzsimmons | Boxingscene.com
Reintroduction time has arrived for Timothy Bradley.
The popular Californian is a former champion in two weight classes and has a slew of familiar names on his resume, but it’s been nearly two years since he emerged from a ring with a decisive victory.
His most recent fight – against Diego Chaves in December – ended in a disputed draw, but even those who thought Bradley deserved the verdict weren’t overwhelmed with the quality of his work.
He’ll step in on Saturday with Jessie Vargas, another ex-champ at 140 pounds looking to climb.
The bout is being billed by Top Rank as a WBO championship match, though the validity of that claim has been called into question by the belt’s most recent holder – Floyd Mayweather Jr. – who suggests rumors of his voluntarily surrendering the strap have been greatly exaggerated.
Bradley was a WBC and WBO champion at 140, then became the WBO’s welterweight claimant after his controversial decision win over Manny Pacquiao. He defended twice, outpointing both Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez, before losing the title back to Pacquiao in 2014.
Bradley sat down for a fight-week interview to discuss Vargas as a foe, the urgency to reinvigorate the “Desert Storm” brand and the quest he’s on to get fights with names at 147, 154 and 160 pounds.
Q: Give me a sense of your preparation and how you feel at this point?
A: I’m just relaxed. Very relaxed. This is just another guy that I’ve got to beat. This is for the world championship, so it’s added fuel, added motivation for myself. Camp went really good. I’m injury free. I feel great. I feel confident going into the fight. There’s nothing else to say. I’m ready to go and I’m ready for this challenge.
Q: After all the guys you’ve been in with, is Vargas a foe you have to fuel yourself to get up for?
A: I’m fighting for the world championship. When the belt is on the line, everybody can fight. Anybody can fight. This is something that Vargas has been waiting on his whole entire life. He’s going to come ready, but like I say all the time, every time I get prepared for a fight, I don’t prepare for my opponent. I ain’t got to prep for my opponent. I’m prepared for Vargas. You go into training camp, and yeah, you have the sparring partners similar to his style, whatever, but that’s the only important thing about Vargas. Other than that, as long as I wake up in the morning and I look at myself in the mirror and I dedicate myself to my craft, I work hard, I run, I do everything I’m supposed to do, I don’t fear Vargas whatsoever. I don’t fear any of my opponents whatsoever. I don’t ever think about them. I’m just trying to prepare myself to be the best I can be, so that night the fight will be easy.