Pacquiao-Bradley III: "The Log in the Ocean"

January 18, 2016

By Bill Dwyre

So much of sports these days is image-building.  Not for world champion boxer Tim Bradley.  He spends exactly zero time even thinking about that.

He is fond of saying, “I’m happy to be a C-Class celebrity.”

It is a Thursday noon in Indio, lunchtime at a deli across the street from where Palm Springs native Bradley has his training gym.  Today, there is no training.  That will begin Feb. 15 for his April 9 rubber match with Manny Pacquiao.
Bradley drives up in a big white van.  His wife and business manager, Monica, is along.  That’s it.  No entourage.  No security guards.  No hangers-on, wearing caps that proclaim Bradley as the greatest or the richest.  Just Monica and Tim, ready for lunch.
“I can go to dinner with my wife and a couple of people might stop by and shake my hand or say hello,” he says, “but nothing more.
“I can go to Disneyland with my kids and we are fine.  Imagine Manny Pacquiao showing up at Disneyland. He does that and it’s over.”
Bradley isn’t dissing Pacquiao or comparing himself to the superstar, eight-division champion.  He is merely doing his Howard Cosell, telling it like it is.
Tim and Monica Bradley give new dimension to the word “normal.”
It could be so different.  They are multi-millionaires.  Tim’s winnings -- including his shocker in the controversial decision over Pacquiao in their first meeting in 2012 -- and Monica’s managing of those funds, have made them so.  They live in a nice house in one of the nicer Palm Springs suburbs, Rancho Mirage, and they have the means to flaunt their success.
Neither has the desire nor inclination.
Lunch is equal parts discussion about Pacquiao, new Bradley trainer Teddy Atlas and the five Bradley children.
The conversation broaches the premise that it must be nice to have the means to send all five kids to college, if they want to go.  Monica’s jaw tightens.
“It’s not a matter of whether they want to go,” she says.  “They will all go.  They know that.  They know they have to do the work, because they have to get there.”
A story of the oldest son follows.  He is smart, but has learned to get passing grades without doing the work.  That doesn’t cut it with his parents.  He got a C in an Algebra class by mailing it in and now, at mom’s order, will retake the class because, as Monica says, “You don’t get into college with C’s.”
Tim confirms that mother knows best.
“They call her Mama Hitler,” he says, with a grin.
Promoters who have dealt with Monica Bradley also know her resolve and determination.
Bradley says that, even with the beginning of training camp still a month away, there is a game plan for Pacquiao, who beat him fairly convincingly in their 2014 rematch.  He and Atlas even have a name for it:
The Log in the Ocean.
For the next three months, we will all be trying to figure out what that means. Bradley and Atlas will never say until afterward, if then.  But the fascination and intrigue are hard to beat.  Usually, bigtime boxing matches are labeled obvious stuff, such as “Time For Revenge,” or “Slugfest II.”
But “The Log in the Ocean?”  What a kick.  What a great puzzle.  The first sportswriter to figure it out will get free thirds at the buffet.
Bradley says the shock and awe of fighting Pacquiao, who hadn’t lost a fight in seven years when he stepped into the ring that June night in 2012 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is over.
“That first time,” Bradley says, “when I went out there, I thought I was fighting King Kong.  He wasn’t King Kong.
“He was very good, very fast, his punches were heavy and they were all that way.  Some fighters start with softer jabs in their combinations, but none of his punches are soft.”
Of course, as all boxers do, Bradley has a plan.  Make that, Bradley will follow Atlas’ plan.  Atlas trained him for the first time in his most recent fight, a domination of Brandon Rios.  Now, there is no question who is in charge in the Bradley camp, who will map out the strategy, call the shots, be the man with the megaphone.
“I’m not worried about Manny Pacquiao,” Bradley says, keynoting the weeks of work and discipline ahead.  “I’m more worried about Teddy Atlas.”
Lunchtime buzzes around the Bradleys.  Everybody in the place knows he is there, knows he is a celebrity, even if it is only C-Class.  But this is his place, the TKB Bakery and Deli, and it represents so much of what he is.
There is nothing showy here.  It is 100% unpretentious, like the Bradleys.  The TKB stands for The Kids’ Business.  The kids are the three Sippels, with mom and dad making it a five-person operation.  The family, originally from St. Cloud, Wis., hard by the banks of the Sheboygan River, bake and ship cookies, as well as handling more than 400 people each noon-hour.  Bradley went to school with the Sippel kids.  When he fights, they come.
The TKB Bakery and Deli is located in an industrial park.  You have to know about it to find it.  One national poll for 2015 ranked it the “4th Best Restaurant” in the country.  No other Palm Springs area restaurant was ranked in that poll.  When you eat the pastrami, you think more like No. 1.
Thursday’s “Special” is listed on a chalkboard: “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
Bradley walks in and, with 25 people in line and the sitting area in the adjacent room already packed, somebody behind the counter, spreading butter on bread, yells out, “Tim is here.  Tri-tip.”
The C-Class celebrity grins and nods, then gets in line like everybody else.

Bill Dwyre will be writing a series of weekly columns  on the Pacquiao vs. Bradley world championship event.  Bill was sports editor of The Los Angeles Times for 25 years, ending in 2006.  He was a sports columnist for 9 1/2 years at The Times, ending Nov. 25 with his retirement.  Boxing was among his most frequent column topics.  Bill can be contacted at or via Twitter at @BillDwyre.

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