Throughout his 10-year professional boxing career, Timothy Bradley Jr. has won world titles in two weight classes and has faced a who’s who of top opponents, so even though he is coming off his first defeat — a time when many fighters would look for a soft touch — he isn’t about to change his mentality.
Bradley will return to the ring to face hard-punching contender Diego Chaves of Argentina in a scheduled 12-round welterweight fight Dec. 13 (HBO) at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. The fight has been agreed to by both sides, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com that contracts have been sent out for signatures.
“I’m excited to get back into the ring and showcase myself,” Bradley told ESPN.com on Thursday night. “Chaves is not that well known but the boxing fans know him. The boxing fans know that this guy can fight and that it won’t be a walk in the park for me. I think it’s going to be a great fight. I can’t wait.”
Bradley and Chaves both are coming off losses, giving them even more urgency to win. Bradley lost a decision and his welterweight title to Manny Pacquiao in their April 12 rematch of Bradley’s hugely controversial split-decision victory to claim the belt from Pacquiao in June 2012.
“My mindset is I can’t sit here and beat myself up over a loss to Manny Pacquiao,” Bradley said. “He’s one of the greatest fighters of this generation. I can look back and see what I did wrong and say, ‘I shoulda done this or I shoulda done that.’ But I know I’m a world-class fighter.
“I went 24 rounds with Manny Pacquiao, and he never really hurt me. I took Ruslan Provodnikov’s best shots [in a decision win], I took Manny Pacquiao’s best shots, and I took [Juan Manuel] Marquez’s best shots and beat him, too. I know I can take Diego Chaves’ best shots. I know I can hang with the best of them.”
On Aug. 2, also at The Cosmopolitan, Chaves was disqualified in the ninth round of a highly competitive fight against former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios. The fight had been foul-filled throughout as referee Vic Drakulich lost control. At the time of the stoppage, Chaves was down by one point on two scorecards and ahead by one point on the third scorecard.
“It’s an interesting fight. We know Tim Bradley is a great fighter, and I think with Rios-Chaves, things got out of hand, but Chaves proved what a worthy warrior he was in the fight,” said Arum, who represents Bradley. “We made a deal with his people in Argentina. We established a good relationship doing the Rios fight and we were able to make this deal.”
Top Rank, with help from Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, was able to get Chaves’ visa processed in the nick of time for him to get to Las Vegas for the fight with Rios during a time when a computer problem kept thousands of travelers from getting visas to enter the United States.
Chaves (23-2, 19 KOs), 28, arrived only two days before the fight but still put on a spirited effort against Rios in a competitive fight. Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti said he believes Chaves will be even more on his game against Bradley without the uncertainty he had about whether he would be able to fight because of the visa issues, not to mention the long trip and having to adjust to the time change at the last minute.
“Thankfully, we’ll have no visa drama this time around, which I think will allow Chaves to give a better performance,” Moretti said. “Physically and mentally, we all expect to see a better performance. For Tim, well, he’ll be ready as he always is, but I think there’s some pressure on him to perform like he did against Juan Manuel Marquez, not [like he did against] Pacquiao. Given that, I think he will.”
Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs), 31, of Palm Springs, California, said he has not yet seen the fight between Chaves and Rios, adding that he got a DVD of the bout Thursday. But he has seen Chaves’ other high-profile fight, when he lost his interim welterweight title to Keith Thurman by 10th-round knockout in San Antonio in July 2013.
“Chaves is definitely a world-class fighter,” Bradley said. “He showed it when he stepped up against Keith Thurman, who, in my eyes, is also a world-class fighter. Chaves lost that fight but he lost to a helluva fighter. Diego Chaves is no slouch. He is a real fighter and he can slug it out with anyone. A lot of people thought he was winning the Rios fight before the disqualification.
“I’m going to watch the Rios fight but I have seen the fight with Thurman and he has a lot of skills and is a really good puncher. It’s gonna be another tough fight. I think it could be another Provodnikov fight. This is another tough challenge for myself. But I want challenges and I want to fight top fighters and give fans exciting fights. You know me — I’ll fight anyone. Just pay me. I don’t give a crap. Bring it on. They said, ‘Diego Chaves.’ I was like, I’ll fight him. Don’t care.