by Charles Jay
Is Nike hedging its bets?
The monster sports apparel company and master of sports marketing has corralled Timothy Bradley, the former WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion, and signed him to a one-year endorsement deal a few weeks ago, in advance of his June 9 fight against Manny Pacquiao.
And why wouldn’t they?
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
Nike has been known to sign a lot of athletes, and this is their way of making sure that they will be on the winning end of that fight, which will undoubtedly lead to something bigger for the winner.
Nike also has a deal – a more substantial one, no doubt – with Pacquiao, who recently was in Portland doing a demonstration of sensor-filled shoes for the company, which intends to create some video content featuring Pacquiao for its phone app. You can buy Pacquiao-related Nike merchandise right now on the internet. Rumors about six weeks were that he was in discussions to team up with Jordan Brand, the Nike subsidiary associated with Michael Jordan that may be a better fit for PacMan with respect to his Asian followers. Roy Jones Jr. and Andre Ward are currently a part of “Team Jordan,” while many Asians refer to Pacquiao as the “Michael Jordan of boxing.”
As for Bradley, the money part of the thing is a bit unclear right now, but it is known that Nike will supply Bradley with training gear, along with this trunks and robe for the fight.
In Bradley’s words, “We’ll bleed Nike.”
He also says that if he wins, he’ll ask them to “Show me the money,” so he’s likely rolling the dice on himself in a big way.
Pacquiao-Bradley will be shown on pay-per-view, but the promotion leading up to the fight will feature the usual treatment from HBO, which include the “24/7” series that chronicles both fighters as they get ready. Nike will get more than its share of exposure during that time, for certain.
Bradley does not appear to be a potential problem athlete for Nike. He is free of scandal, as far as we can tell, while so much can not be said for Pacquiao, who is facing tax difficulties, among other things, in his native Philippines, although it is uncertain how much weight Nike really puts on this.
The answer to our question at the top; “Is Nike hedging its bets?” is that probably that is too dramatic a way to put it. They’re just signing up another athlete, and getting all their basis covered, so to speak, in this particular fight. Top Rank certainly is hedging its bets, as most promoters do, as they have both of the fighters under contract. If Bradley wins, Top Rank will win too, and if you noticed when reading some of the previous published reports, Lucia McKelvey, the Top Rank marketing executive who has been instrumental in expanding Pacquiao’s power as an endorser, was behind the deal for Bradley.
Bradley, who hails from Palm Springs, is 28-0 as a pro with twelve knockouts and has strayed from the junior welter division only a couple of times. He’s known in boxing circles, of course, but not with the general public. On June 9 he’ll have a chance to make himself a big star, and if that happens it’s almost a lead pipe cinch that he’ll “swoosh” himself into bigger money