- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- The return of welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., tentatively scheduled for an HBO main event on Dec. 15 at the Marlins Park baseball stadium in Miami, Fla., probably won't take place.
Considering who the likely opponent was going to be -- junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson -- that's not a bad thing.
In 2009, when Bradley was a junior welterweight titleholder, he manhandled Peterson. He dropped him and won by virtual shutout in an uncompelling fight that barely drew any fans in Bradley's own hometown. So a rematch that no one was asking for at a big ballpark made no sense, unless you like watching an uninteresting fight in front of tens of thousands of empty seats.
For whatever reason, HBO wanted to do the fight and is pretty ticked off that Bradley is balking, according to a source at the network and Top Rank's Bob Arum, Bradley's promoter.
Now, keep in mind that Bradley's return on Dec. 15 isn't 100 percent dead yet, but it's close. And if he does fight, it won't be against Peterson. To Bradley's credit, he agrees with the sentiment: What's the point of a rematch? There is none.
"We're going to have another talk and discuss other options besides Peterson and see if there are any other options at HBO for Dec. 15," Cameron Dunkin, Bradley's manager, told me Friday.
Bradley last fought in June, when he got a gift decision -- one of the most controversial ever -- against Manny Pacquiao. Arum, for his part, didn't seem happy about Bradley's change of heart about Dec. 15.
"Cameron and I are mystified. We're mystified," Arum said. "What do you want me to say?"
"He hasn't given [Dec. 15] up yet, but he might," Dunkin said of Bradley. "He told me that he might want to go in February instead. He's not excited about fighting Peterson again. He said he's already been down that road and doesn't want to go there again. He wants to see if there is fresh, new blood -- something new or different. That would make him a lot more excited, if there was another opponent that HBO would do."
The problem is, the pool of good opponents is thin. There was some talk of a match with Andre Berto or Robert Guerrero, both very good fights. Alas, they aren't happening. Guerrero is with Golden Boy, so the Golden Boy-Top Rank feud killed that. And Berto is de facto with Golden Boy now, thanks to the machinations of adviser Al Haymon (who forced Berto's career-long promoter, Lou DiBella, to the sideline in order to set up a supposed one-fight deal with Golden Boy). Bottom line, Bradley is left with slim pickings, which is the reason why Peterson was even brought up in the first place.
The relationship between Bradley and Arum is also further strained because Bradley has hired attorney Gaby Penagaricano, with whom Arum had a recent falling out over Penagaricano's most famous client, Miguel Cotto.
"They put this Gaby on the phone, and I won't talk to Gaby," Arum said. "Let him talk to my lawyer. I'm not talking to him. So Dec. 15 is up in the air. HBO is really pissed."
At one point, the thought was that Bradley didn't want to fight in December because his feet -- both of which were injured in the fight with Pacquiao -- were still giving him trouble. But apparently that isn't the reason.
"Cameron told me he was complaining his feet were injured, and then he threw Cameron under the bus and said his feet weren't injured, so who the hell knows?" Arum said.
Who knows, indeed. More important, when it comes to the prospect of Bradley-Peterson II, who really cares?
MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- The return of welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., tentatively scheduled for an HBO main event on Dec. 15 at the Marlins Park baseball stadium in Miami, Fla.