In Bradley, Pacquiao is fighting his past

Champion Manny Pacquiao weighs in for his WBO welterweight title fight against Timothy Bradley. JULIE JACOBSON / Associated Press
Champion Manny Pacquiao weighs in for his WBO welterweight title fight against Timothy Bradley. JULIE JACOBSON / Associated Press
Posted: June 09, 2012

LAS VEGAS - Three times in a 30-minute sit-down with reporters Wednesday, Manny Pacquiao assured the media he is not underestimating Timothy Bradley before their welterweight world-title fight Saturday night.

"I know what Timothy is feeling now, how he's trained hard, thinking this is his big break," Pacquiao said.

The unsettling fact for the 33-year-old Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 knockouts), as he finalizes preparations for his 60th pro fight, is that the underdog spirit he relates to in Bradley is what helped push the champ to breakthrough victories years ago over Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Oscar De La Hoya.

Is it now Pacquiao's turn to fall from grace?

"I waited for this moment my whole life," Bradley, 28, said at Wednesday's news conference at the MGM Grand. "I'm ready to shock the world."

The unbeaten former junior-welterweight world champion from Palm Springs, Calif., said the disparity in this fight's significance to each boxer is a "competitive edge" for him. "This fight is not even in Pacquiao's top 10. Maybe he didn't get up for me. He better have, or he's in for a rude awakening."

Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs), who honed his chops with bouts at a lumber yard and a hotel ballroom in Southern California, will be fighting for only the second time at 147 pounds.

He's angled for a Pacquiao fight for more than a year, spurning a $1.5 million offer for a bout against Amir Khan in order to chase Pacquiao.

Bradley has become an astute observer of Pacquiao's fights. He has also studied the Filipino star's downward trend: a flat victory by decision over an aging Shane Mosley in May 2011, then an escape by decision over 38-year-old rival Juan Manuel Marquez in November, and now the admissions of upheaval in Pacquiao's life outside the ring.

Promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday that Pacquiao has required advances on fight purses as great as $4 million before his last two bouts to help pay off his gambling debts, which Arum estimated at $1 million to $2 million annually.

Pacquiao has also admitted to struggling through marital problems last year.

Bradley, who is almost a 5-1 underdog, said he aims to deliver a telling blow to Pacquiao. "I knew sooner or later it'd catch up to him," he said.

"The old has passed, the new has come," said Pacquiao, who in the last year has given away his 1,000 cockfighting roosters, closed his two pool halls, sold his Manila casino, and had a religious awakening.

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