By Rebecca BRYAN
LAS VEGAS, (AFP) – The vitriolic abuse that Timothy Bradley received after his controversial triumph over Manny Pacquiao had him contemplating not only ending his boxing career but even his life, Bradley said Wednesday.
The unbeaten American should have been on top of the boxing world after claiming the World Boxing Organization welterweight world title with a 12-round split decision over Filipino ring icon Pacquiao.
But most observers thought Pacquiao clearly won the fight, and the controversy that erupted left Bradley living through what he called the “darkest time in my life”.
“Did I consider suicide? Hell yeah,” said Bradley, who is looking for redemption in Saturday’s rematch with Pacquiao.
“I was thinking I don’t want to box anymore – I don’t even want to live anymore,” said Bradley, who recalled receiving hate mail, even a death threat, letters “belittling me, saying ‘You’re not a true champion.’”
He recalled strangers at gas stations, flinging insults as they drove away, and was still bemused by one so-called fan who asked him this year who he was fighting next.
When he told her he’d face Pacquiao this month, she said she hoped he won this time.
“And that was one of my fans!” Bradley said.
Bradley credited his wife, Monica, now his manager, with helping him climb out of the abyss.
“I realized the important things in my life, realized who was important,” Bradley said.
He notched two impressive victories in 2013, absorbing brutal punishment but emerging with a 12-round unanimous decision over Ruslan Provodnikov in his first defence of the title, then winning a 12-round split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez – who had knocked out Pacquiao in December of 2012.
Along the way, Bradley said, he’s learned to let the criticism roll off him.
“It doesn’t affect me,” he said. “I know who I am. I’m a great fighter.”
Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz, believes his fighter has what it takes to send the 35-year-old Pacquiao into retirement with another defeat on Saturday.
“That is what we’re here for,” Diaz said. “I think it’s Manny Pacquiao’s last fight.”
Pacquiao, who has built a record of 55-5 with two draws in a pro career that began in 1995, says he’s used to that kind of talk.
After losing both of his fights in 2012 – to Bradley and Marquez – Pacquiao revived his career with a unanimous decision over American Brandon Rios in Macau last year.
“It’s not new for me,” he said of a prediction that this fight could be his last. “I heard that in my last fight with Rios. They have to prove it in the ring.
Pacquiao, who has parlayed his sports fame into election to Congress in the Philippines and has expressed ambitions to run for president, says he doesn’t believe his journey as a fighter is close to being over.
He doesn’t expect anything Bradley does to change that.
“My journey will continue beyond Saturday night,” Pacquiao promised.