Everyone loves an underdog.
Last June, boxer Timothy Bradley fit the bill in his fight against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas. All three judges scored the fight 115-113; two in favor of Bradley. The crowd booed. People were pissed. Whether they're over it or not, Bradley is still champion.
Ahead of his title bout against Ruslan Provodnikov this Saturday, March 16 on HBO at 10:15 ET, VIBE spoke to the champ about a potential Pacman rematch, knocking gloves with Ruslan and his eating habits.
How does it feel to be WBO Welterweight Champion?
It feels great. It’s definitely wonderful to see your hard work pay off. I’m happy to be defending my title this weekend.
You're defending your title against Ruslan Provodnikov. What is it going to take to defeat him?
It’s going to take skill. It’s going to take will as well. He’s a tough opponent. He’s going to bring the fight to me. I’ll be ready to go if it goes to 12 rounds because he’s going to do his best to stick around all night.
When the judges announced that you won the fight against Manny Pacquiao, were you surprised that you won?
I knew I won it before they announced it. There was definitely some uncertainty because the fight was in Vegas. It was a close fight. I wasn’t sure if the judges were going to give it to me or not, but in my corner, my team and myself felt like we won. The judges got it right. Once I heard the decision, it was an unbelievable feeling. It was tough also because I wasn’t being accepted as the winner by the fans since they were booing the decision.
How long did it take for you to deal with the critics saying you didn’t win?
It took a while. Even though I did win, everyone was making it seem like I didn’t. A few months later, I was able to gather myself and realize what’s important and what’s not. I realized that everyone has an opinion and not everyone is a judge. There are three judges scoring the fight and they make the correct decision.
Is there a Pacquiao rematch in the future?
I have no idea. I’m just focused on taking care of what’s in front of me. Ruslan is who is in front of my face, but as far as a rematch with Pacquiao, anything is possible.
Talk about the HBO 24/7 experience you had last year.
It was a great experience for myself and my family. I enjoyed the show and being a part of it. It gave fans a chance to see my life and see how I am a person, husband and father. It also showed athletes that you can train at home and be at your very best. People got to really see how important family is to me.
You're undefeated. What keeps you motivated?
Wanting to be the best. I’m a competitor and I love to compete. When there is a guy saying he can beat me, he needs to make that true because I don’t believe him. It’s very easy for me to get motivated. Every fight is a threat. Ruslan is trying to take food off my table and that’s not going to happen.
You've gone back and forth between Light Welterweight and Welterweight. Do you see yourself going up to middle welterweight or super welterweight?
It’s always a possibility. The highest I’ll go is 154 lbs I won’t go any higher than that because 160 lbs is too big. Right now, 147 lbs is a great weight for me. I’m comfortable and I feel strong.
I read that you go vegan before fights. How does that help your training?
It’s a great way to drop weight and have energy during training. I normally only do it while I’m getting ready for a fight. I started off vegan with this training camp, but I ended up having to consume some fish and chicken for protein. Going vegan allows you to give your body nourishment, minerals and vitamins. Your parents used to tell you to eat your vegetables and they were right. If you’re going to do it, just make sure you get good amounts of b4, vitamins, minerals, iron and zinc.
What fighters, other than yourself, are you a fan of?
I like Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward. I’m a huge fan of Roy Jones Jr. I like Evander Holyfield, and Marvin Hagler is my favorite boxer of all-time. I like small fighters with big hearts that show it in the ring.
What advice do you have for younger boxers who want a successful career?
It all starts with hard work. You have to set little goals and make sure they add up to your long-term goal. Working hard is the main thing to do. While people are sleeping, make sure you’re working, whether it’s running that extra mile or training that extra hour. That’s what gets you success.
Tell our readers why they should tune into your HBO fight on March 16 at 10:15pm ET.
They should watch so they can see me display my skills and talent. I’m going to show them that Pacquiao fight wasn’t a fluke. I’m a real champion. I have skill and can adjust to any style, pressure fighter or boxer? I’ve been training hard and I’m at my best.
For more from Richard Boadu, checkout 6Magazine.com.