PALM SPRINGS, CA – It was a decision Timothy Ray Bradley Sr. almost regreted 22 years ago.
As a football player, he was yearning to see his son, Timothy Jr., follow in his footsteps and become a third generation athlete in their family.
Besides football, the elder Bradley had also been into baseball and basketball, but said boxing for him was ‘unheard of.’
But the younger Bradley, the middle child in a brood of three, just got hooked to the sweet science.
Unknown to him, Tim Jr. had been boxing in the gym for three months already.
“He told me, 'Dad, my friend brought me to a boxing gym, and they said I got skills, I got fast hands,'” Tim Sr. recalled.
Although hesitant at first, the elder Bradley eventually gave in to his son’s wishes and decided to formally enroll him in a gym.
The very first gym trainers they spoke with saw something special in Tim Jr.
“They shook his hands, and the way they spoke to him, they felt this guy’s gonna be a world champ,” said Bradley’s father, who also works his corner. “He’s gonna be a world champ, just the aura about him and the way he carries himself.
“I told them, 'Wow, you all saw that in a kid?'”
Initially, Bradley Sr. thought the trainers were just pulling his leg, but got convinced his son could be special because he said the younger Bradley walked around with class and with intelligence.
“And the way he shook my hands, he’s like a man. He’s like a man, but he’s a baby,” he added.
Bradley Jr’s age at the time? Only 10.
That started it all, according the elder Bradley.
“It set in, (that) maybe it’s time to break the trend (third generation football player),” he said.
Bradley became a world champion at 24 after winning the World Boxing Council (WBC) light-welterweight title with a split decision win over Junior Witter in England. He would go on and win four other championships, including one as a welterweight.
On Saturday night, the 32-year-old Bradley (33-1-1-, 13 KOs) will again climb the ring against Manny Pacquiao in a 12-round fight that guarantees him another US$6 million prize purse.
He earned a total of $11 million in his two previous outings against Pacquiao, including the first one which he won by a disputed split decision in 2012.
Bradley has gone a long way since he first took up boxing at age 10, so much so he was able to built his own gym in Indio, California two years ago that served as his training camp for his last three fights.
None of these would've happened had his father insisted that he become a football player 22 years ago.