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How a fight manager guided Timothy Bradley to Manny Pacquiao

June 06, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Timothy Bradley listens to a question during a news conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Timothy Bradley listens to a question during a news conference at the MGM… (David Becker / Getty Images )

LAS VEGAS -- In the bowels of the abandoned Pontiac (Mich.) Silverdome in January 2011, boxing manager Cameron Dunkin steamed.

Dunkin had just reviewed a financial breakdown of undefeated fighter Timothy Bradley's bout against  unbeaten Devon Alexander and took note that Bradley promoter Gary Shaw was pocketing $600,000 while Bradley would receive his guaranteed $1.1 million.

"Don King wouldn't even do this!" Dunkin barked.

For Bradley, it was the final straw in his relationship with Shaw and co-promoter Ken Thompson, who had previously directed Bradley's career through bouts at a Corona lumber yard and the Ontario DoubleTree hotel ballroom.

Small time was over now, with Bradley proceeding to defeat Alexander on the HBO-televised card, and a jump to the big leagues needed to be navigated.

"He wasn't being promoted right, and they kept telling Tim he was one fight away from the big enchilada," Dunkin said Wednesday at a news conference at the MGM Grand before Bradley's $5-million guaranteed Saturday night world welterweight title date against Manny Pacquiao.

"The big enchilada wasn't coming with them."

So as Shaw and Thompson negotiated for a final fight on their deal with Bradley against England's Amir Khan in July 2011, Dunkin viewed it negatively.

"They were saying it's going to make Timmy a superstar," Dunkin said. "Timmy had already beaten Lamont Peterson and Alexander. How would beating Khan make him a superstar?

"Tim was going to be just the opponent. I thought he was much greater than that."

So despite an offer that ultimately grew to $1.5 million, Bradley failed to agree to the Khan fight. He was criticized as afraid, torched as a ducker, but stayed committed to Dunkin's plan. Dunkin had previously worked closely with veteran fight promoter Bob Arum's company, Top Rank, and Dunkin assured Bradley, "If we get the Pacquiao fight, great, but if not, at least we're getting you a promoter."

Dunkin summoned Bradley to Pacquiao's May 2011 fight against Shane Mosley and gave him a tour of the press room, the arena and everything else associated with a big fight, contrasting it with Bradley's previous biggest bout at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage.

"Nothing against Agua Caliente, but I asked Tim, 'Is this like fighting at Agua Caliente?' " Dunkin said. "He said, 'Wow, this is where I belong.' "

Dunkin advised, "Have faith, your time will come."

Months later, Arum signed Bradley and put him on the November undercard to the Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight against veteran Joel Casamayor. When Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.  failed again to strike a deal this year, Arum summoned Bradley for Pacquiao.

Dunkin, accidentally identified by Arum on the news conference dais Wednesday as "Cameron Diaz," is a boxing lifer who has directed the careers of brawlers such as Johnny Tapia, Diego Corrales and James Kirkland.

Reflecting on the turn of fortune with Bradley, Dunkin said "pay-wise," it was his greatest stroke of managing.  

"Should we fight Amir Khan now?" Dunkin asked Wednesday. "I believe in Tim Bradley. He's a winner."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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