Pacquiao-Bradley III is happening on April 10, Manila time. We almost forgot. The fight definitely doesn't have that blockbuster appeal of Pacman's earlier bouts.
What's to blame? His controversial statements on same-sex marriage could be one. It's also not a title bout. Timothy Bradley, for all his gifts, has never been a serious PPV threat. And perhaps most important of all: Few believe that a third fight between the two is necessary.
To many, Pac has already beaten Bradley twice, even though the two encounters they’ve had is an official one-one split. The first meeting led to a controversial win by the American fighter while the second was a decisive Unanimous Decision in favor of Pacquiao. All these have contributed to the disproportionate lack of fanfare in what's supposed to be a hero's farewell bout.
Does this mean we’re going to boycott it? Hell no. It’ll be hassle-free in EDSA once again come fight-day—bet on it. Unconvinced? Allow us to soften your stance.
It could really be Pacquiao’s last fight
Manny has always said that this is going to be his last bout. But a couple of weeks ago, he has backtracked a little by saying that it’s hard to completely shut the door on boxing. We all know boxers often eat their words when it comes to retiring. There’s almost always a comeback.
But how can we know for sure? Would you really pass up a chance to see an all-time great do his thing for the last time? Like Kobe, Manny is a sporting icon at the tail end of his athletic years. Every second the Pambansang Kamao spends on the ring, as long as he can still compete at a high level, should be cherished—and above all, watched.
Bradley ain’t bad at all
It has become customary in boxing for celebrated champions to choose patsies as opponents for their retirement bouts. Look no further than Floyd Mayweather’s last dance against an overmatched Andre Berto. In Pac-Bradley III though, we're getting the opposite.
In choosing the Desert Storm, Pacman will collide with a two-division, two-time welterweight world champion who can still box beautifully, and is still pretty much in his prime. The Palm Springs fighter is also a tougher match for Manny than what most people think. Review their first two fights, and you’ll see a lot of close rounds and tense moments. Pacquiao-Bradley III will be a better fight than expected because like Manny, Tim is an A-level fighter.
For proof, look at Bradley's last fight. He knocked out Brandon Rios under the watchful eye of his new trainer Teddy Atlas.
A surprisingly motivated and focused Pacquiao
We talked with Solar Sports Executive Producer Kristian Encarnacion who went to see Manny in General Santos during the initial stages of his training camp. According to our good friend, Manny was dead serious during workouts and was still a speed demon. It seemed to him that Pacquiao was preparing to give us something special. What lit a fire under our boxing idol’s butt? Four things come to mind:
1) The Mayweather loss was ugly, and he wants to make up for it by running through Bradley. At the back of his mind, a resounding win will slightly open the door for a rematch with Floyd.
Freddie Roach certainly thiks so...
2) He simply wants to leave the fight game in spectacular fashion and give the people a damn good show.
3) He wants a huge win, knowing it’ll help guarantee a place in the Senate more than a loss would.
4) With all the chaos surrounding Manny’s world lately, he may have more haters now than LeBron James ever had. A win might help his reputation recover the warm tint it had lost.
Manny coming in top form, physically and mentally, against Timothy Bradley will certainly be something to watch.
Another element that gives this fight story a lot of juice is Bradley’s alliance with Atlas. The boxing mentor from New York, famous for the work he did with former heavyweight champ Michael Moorer and his stint as an analyst for ESPN, immediately created friction when he entered the picture. Atlas has always been a Pacquiao detractor, implying in many of his past interviews that Manny is somehow involved in taking PEDs. Well, now, he’s going to take on the man he’s been criticizing for years.
Leading up to the fight, Teddy Atlas and Coach Freddie have been steadily providing the verbal fireworks, playing the psychological part of the battle and at the same time hyping the fight up.
Here are some of their sample works:
On Teddy Atlas’ role in Bradley’s win over Rios, Freddie had this to say: “So, who’s he? An announcer? I won’t give him credit until he beats a legit fighter. Let’s face it, you look at the guy he beat—fat and out of shape and looked like he wanted to retire before the fight.”
To which Atlas replied: “I don’t care what he thinks. I’ve been in this business 40 years, longer than him. I’m more than a passenger, more than a guy going along with something that I shouldn’t go along with.”
That HBO special
All HBO pre-fight specials are awesome. From every 24/7 they’ve put out to their Mayweather-Pacquiao documentary, At Last, their team has yet to fail us. No matter what the message is, whether they’re saying that the underdog is going to win or they’re persuading us to believe that the fight will be a classic, we buy into it.
It’ll be the same when you see HBO’s Legacy On The Line: From Bradley to Pacquiao, which we've posted below: