By Bill Dwyre
It is conceivable that Monica Bradley has the second toughest job in the world. Give Barack Obama the nod for No. 1.
Bradley is the wife of word-class boxer TIM BRADLEY. She is also his manager. She has given birth to his children and felt a different kind of pain, no less intense, as she watched him get hit in the face, time after time, until she wasn’t sure, at the end of the fight, she’d even have a husband.
There have been women in prominent roles in the macho sport of boxing over the years. For five decades, Aileen Eaton ran boxing at the Los Angeles Olympic Auditorium like no male could. Every male she worked with says so. Kathy Duva has battled through cancer and the death of her husband, Dan, to carry on successfully at Main Events Promotions. She is tough and smart, a true survivor.
But Monica Bradley has, somewhat quietly, moved into a position of both control and emotional connection not often seen in the sport. It’s not that her situation, and success in that situation, has gone totally unnoticed. She was one of four nominees by the Boxing Writers Association of America for 2015 manager of the year.
Her current focus is on the April 9 third-fight rubber match at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, between her husband and MANNY PACQUIAO.
For Monica Bradley, the road to this big fight has been trying, complicated and emotional.
Harken back to the night of May 16, 2013, and to the boxing ring at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., where Bradley was fighting Ruslan Provodnikov. It would become the fight of the year, which usually means much blood and more mayhem.
“I could only watch three rounds,” Monica Bradley says. “I went to the locker room. I couldn’t watch it.
“I didn’t talk during the fight. My stomach was a mess. It was the longest 36 minutes of my life.”
Her husband appeared to be out on his feet several times. The fight finished with him hanging on for dear life. But in between all this, Bradley fought both effectively and heroically and, in the end, won a close unanimous decision. He told reporters later that he remembered little of the fight and that it took him several months to recover from Provodnikov’s concussive blows.
After that, change was in the air for Team Bradley, and Monica was flying the plane. It was a position she never wanted, didn’t even consider in Tim’s early years of boxing. She took it on with more a feeling of need than one of lust for control. She speaks softly and has no desire to carry a big stick. Her approach is both candid and refreshing. Also effective.
“I need to respect what he loves,” she says. That is her keynote statement, the summary of how and why she does this.
She also says, “Tim thinks like a fighter. I think like a business person.”
Most revealing, she says, “I’m never going to tell him when it is time (to stop). That’s because, to me, it was time long ago.”
So she manages on, working on her husband’s behalf, in his defense and for their family’s future.
“I have been a pest,” she says, “only because I care about him, about us. There is another Tim Bradley to be, another lifetime for a loving father.”
In her early years of just being around as he fought, of being the caring and uninvolved spouse, she was haunted by things she saw and couldn’t understand. She says neither Tim, nor the people around him, had even read some of the contracts before they went into a fight.
“I was always curious,” she says. “I’d tell Tim he was way too trusting. I’d beg him to just ask questions. I’d tell him, this is your life, your career, and you are trusting other people with it.”
She says that she was constantly amazed at things that went on in boxing and went virtually unchallenged.
Bradley had a fight scheduled in Mexico with veteran Jose Luis Castillo. They flew to Mexico, Castillo didn’t make weight, the fight was canceled, and they flew home.
“We got nothing, not a penny,” she says. “It wasn’t Tim’s fault, but there apparently was nothing in the contract to protect us. So we just few home. Paid for everything. Hotel. Airline tickets. Took a big personal and financial loss.”
Curiosity about such things led to protectiveness of her husband, which led to her simply taking over.
Before Monica, Cameron Dunkin managed Bradley. She says that, after the controversial and historic decision Tim took over Pacquiao in 2012, Dunkin seemed to disconnect from Tim. She says that, no matter what popular opinion had been on the outcome of that fight, Tim’s own manager should have been his biggest booster, his loudest advocate. Instead, she says, they got mostly silence.
Tim Bradley told his wife, and close friends, that he didn’t feel his manager thought he had won.
“That really hurt Tim,” Monica says. “We had, nor have, any hard feelings about Cameron. He taught us the business of boxing. He was great to us. But he just seemed to go away. And when we thought about it after the (first) Pacquiao fight, we realized he probably felt it was more important to protect his interests with Top Rank (Promotions) and his other boxers than to go to bat for Tim.”
Monica says her husband’s contract with Dunkin expired in August, 2013. There were no renegotiations with Dunkin for the October fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Sort of by default, Dunkin was the manager of record. Bradley won the fight and Dunkin got paid.
But in early 2014, Monica officially took over. She had already done so in one unofficial, but important, way after the Provodnikov fight in the spring of that year, when Tim spoke of his loss of memory and even confessed that he had slurred his words for a few weeks.
She took Tim to a concussion clinic in Pittsburgh, then later to a neurological specialist in New York. She had to make sure her husband was all right after the Provodnikov beating. Once they were assured all was well, the Bradley’s had a hyperbaric chamber installed in their home, for further ongoing treatment and prevention.
And then came the final piece in the puzzle, the addition of Teddy Atlas as Tim’s new trainer. The implication was clear, and remains so today. The Bradley’s opinion, certainly influenced by Monica, was that Joel Diaz had trained Tim in a way that allowed him to get hit way too much. There could be no better example than the Provodnikov fight.
Atlas came, saw and trained. Last fall, Bradley put an impressive beating on Brandon Rios in their first fight together. Rios’ manager was Dunkin.
Atlas talks family and lifetime goals and teaches both winning and sound defense in doing so.
“He is like family now,” Monica says.
The process goes on. The wife/manager/advisor/lover/mom role continues to be refined and polished. Also complicated.
“I say no a lot,” Monica Bradley says. “Tim accepts or negotiates.”