Tim Bradley & “Boom Boom” at Laker Game!

May 28, 2010 by Michele Chong 

It’s not everyday you get to combine boxing with basketball. But at last nights Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns Western Conference Final matchup, this was a sports buff’s dream come true.

Promoter Ken Thompson, President of Thompson Boxing Promotions, hosted a playoff party in a private suite in the Staples Center arena in downtown L.A. The Southland entrepreneur invited some of his associates from his various companies to watch the game–and to meet two great champions of the ring: WBO Light Welterweight Champion and WBA and NABF titlist Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

This Game 5 battle was the hottest ticket in town since the two NBA teams tied the series at two games a piece. Kobe Bryant and his teammates really needed this victory and the huge venue was filled with rabid excited fans.

And guess who turned out to be a huge Laker fan? Timmy Bradley himself. The “Desert Storm” boxer from Palm Springs arrived with wife Monica (the two just got married on May 15) and their kids, Robert and Alaysia. Bradley’s co-promoter (along with Gary Shaw) explained the fighter’s love for the purple and gold.

“Oh, Timmy is a big Lakers fan,” Thompson enthused. “He really loves watching the games, his whole family does. Did you see what they’re wearing? Laker jerseys–each one of them!”

Indeed, in these exclusive snapshots from last night, check out Team Bradley and their game-ready jerseys: Timmy in #2 (Derek Fisher), Monica in #16 (Paul Gasol) and the kids decked out in both of Kobe’s digits (#8 and #24). And the children also showed me their fun footwear. Cute little Alaysia had special pink Kobe Bryant shoes and not to be outdone, and her older brother had some cool kicks of his own in his special-edition Laker tennies.

It was also family time for “Boom Boom” Mancini, who brought his son Leo with him. The handsome pair confessed to all of us other hardcore Laker fans that they actually were pulling for Phoenix and Orlando. As we razzed them just a bit, Ray explained that he’s been a Suns fan from way back in the KJ (Kevin Johnson) days and had a lot of friends, including former team owner Jerry Colangelo, the Van Arsdale brothers and other hardwood heroes from the Arizona team. He also said his second pro fight was in Phoenix so that adds to the connection. Mancini, an actor/producer/fight analyst, has always stayed busy and in demand since hanging up his gloves.

Even though the two world titlists were rooting for rival teams, they hit it off and took photos with the guests and also signed autographs. Timmy laughed and said during the photo ops, “It just comes natural in putting up the fist. It happens in every picture even when it’s not around boxing.” Mancini agreed that the clenched fist just comes second nature to the two pugs.

I also saw Bradley shadowboxing during a break in the action. He laughed again and said he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it! “Sometimes I’ll be walking and just break into shadowboxing,” he chuckled, as fellow fighter Mancini also agreed that it’s just a boxer thing that happens with such disciplined athletes. I guess it must just stay with those in the sweet science–boxing is embedded in their DNA.

“I’m getting ready for my fight in July,” Bradley said. “I can’t wait.” The puncher will be fighting Luis Carlos Abregu on July 17 at Agua Caliente in a welterweight clash. As he continued to shadowbox, someone suggested I try to join him in mimicking his moves. Let’s just say that Timmy Bradley is one classy champ as he indulged me in a mock shadowbox session! He’s so good he can make anyone look good as everyone around us got a kick out our little slugfest.

And of course, there was some boxing talk at half time. Everybody was buzzing about Thompson’s fighter Juan Carlos Burgos (nephew of former world champ Victor Burgos), #2 ranked WBC featherweight, taking on Ricardo Castillo (younger brother of former champ Jose Luis Castillo) this Saturday in Guadalajara. Thompson Boxing’s Alex Camponovo is in Mexico for this weekend’s anticipated brawl which should be a great fight.

We also checked out the suite decorated in boxing posters. Thompson, a Hall of Fame promoter and former President of the World Boxing Hall of Fame, holds his live boxing shows at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario and Omega Products International in Corona. There were several posters and photos displayed for the guests of his past fight cards.

Then it was back to Showtime. While there were other Suns fans daring to wear orange in the home of the reigning world champs, Laker fever began to take hold of the crowd filled to a capacity of 19,000 spectators. Two more from the boxing world, Jared Shaw from Gary Shaw Productions and referee/judge Gwen Adair, were also seen in the crowd cheering on the players.

And what we witnessed was for many of us the most exciting endings ever witnessed. I saw the Pacquiao-Hatton KO live, and also saw Mosley’s shocking destruction of Margarito that took place in the same building, but this Laker win at the buzzer was the best ever.

Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you had to appreciate the intensity and drama in the very physical game that took place over four quarters. As the boxing champs watched on and cheered, after a back-and-forth battle between the teams, the Suns tied the game with a three-pointer–and with only 3.5 seconds left on the clock. The fans really had to sweat this one out. Would it go into overtime? With those scant few seconds left, Laker superstar Kobe Bryant missed the next shot but Ron Artest banked in the game-winning basket at the buzzer!

Do you hear that sound? It’s thousands of happy fans singing “I love L.A.”

It doesn’t get better than that.

Bradley and his family really whooped it up when the Lakers won in such an incredible and dramatic fashion. And they better keep those jerseys ready for the next game. The Lakers now lead the series 3-2 so if they win the next one, the play Orlando or Boston in the NBA Finals for the World Champ title.

No doubt Bradley and Mancini appreciate what it takes to be a world champion as they both enjoyed watching the champions on the court.

And while there were other stars courtside like actors Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman, Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, soccer’s David Beckham, for us fight aficionados the brightest and biggest stars there were the two boxing champs!

Thanks to Ken and Vera Thompson, everyone had a memorable night being part of Laker history!

Photos by Michele Chong/Steve Harpst

www.SubstanceCollectables.Com Specializes in autographed Boxing sports memorabilia.  We only sell the most respected Boxing sports memorabilia found in the world. We sell items which are a unique piece of boxing Memories, a piece of boxing history and representing the greats in boxing. All captured on a great item to be displayed in your favorite place for viewing. Most of our boxing memorabilia are also signed in front of our staff members and pictures are taken of the fighter during the signing to insure authenticity. Our autographed sports memorabilia also includes a certificate of authenticity and tamper-proof holograms, Which can be verified online. 

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