SAN DIEGO, April 11, 2014 – Perhaps he doesn’t rule boxing like he once did, when he was flattening opponents like Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto, the last man he knocked out in 2009.
Nevertheless, eight division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao remains one of the most famous athletes in the world, a hero in his native Philippines and a huge pay per view audience draw for the sport. His place in the Boxing Hall of Fame is assured.
WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. of Palm Springs, California remains undefeated, but only on paper and only with the two judges who handed him one of the most controversial split decision victories ever over Pacquiao on June 9, 2012.
Both Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) and Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) find themselves in “must win” circumstances for their rematch Saturday night from Las Vegas. The fight will be televised by HBO as a pay-per-view event. Communities Digital News will host a live online chat starting with the televised undercards at 9 p.m. ET.
The pair hit the scales Friday afternoon in Las Vegas in front of thousands of fans. Some lined up six hours in advance to get in. Pacquiao stepped up first, and made weight at 145 pounds. He flexed and smiled for the packed house of fans, to much applause. Boos started up when announcer Michael Buffer called Bradley to the scale. He clapped his hands and smiled in response. Bradley weighed in at 145.5 pounds. They are both in exceptional condition.
During the face-off, the pair flexed like bodybuilders, and then turned to face each other. Bradley kept up a steady stream of dialogue while Pacquiao laughed at him.
Bradley told HBO’s Max Kellerman after the face off the difference in this fight will be confidence. “I’ve been here already, it’s nothing. I’m ready for tomorrow. I’ve gotta knock Pacquiao out. I don’t want to go to the scorecards, I want to knock him out. You know, the fans are in for one heck of a night.”
Bradley said he knows Pacquiao is ready, fierce and determined. “He wants to take his title back, but I’m here to stop him.”
Pacquiao responded that Bradley will have to prove it in the ring. He said, “I’m ready for that, whatever his style is in the ring, I’m prepared.” Pacquiao said he will show Bradley no compassion in the ring. “This time around, I think I have to finish the business first before I become friendly to him. We have business to do in the ring.”
Either man can win, but much depends on which version of Manny Pacquiao steps in the ring Saturday night: the force of nature who blasted through great champions, or the humanitarian hero who doesn’t inflict any more damage than necessary.
Three years ago, Pacquiao, age 35, was the undisputed pound for pound best fighter in the world. Fans discounted his controversial split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. in 2011. Most objective observers believe Pacquiao was robbed. Then came his stunning knockout loss 18 months ago to Juan Manuel Marquez. It is still shocking now to see a replay of the punch dropping Pacquiao to the canvas.
Pacquiao shook off the Marquez defeat and came back with a strong performance against the tough but outclassed Brandon Rios in Macau last November. Rios couldn’t keep up with Pacquiao’s impressive speed. Though he took punches well, damage was done.
There is no better-conditioned athlete in boxing than Bradley. To say he trains hard barely describes it. Where Bradley’s performance has improved over the past year is his willingness to mix it up in a tough fight. His battle against Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 was the Fight of the Year. He put on the kind of brawl fans love. For his effort he suffered a concussion in the second round, and finished the bout fueled by sheer will. Bradley followed it with a beat down of the man who took out Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez. He won a lot of respect back from fans, but he wants what he believes he’s due with a victory Saturday.
The referee for this fight will be the well-respected Kenny Bayless, who has been the referee in seven Pacquiao fights, but none with Bradley. The panel of judges will be a fresh set; none participated in Pac-Bradley I. Both fighters’ camps agreed to the assignments. They are Glenn Trowbridge, Michael Pernick, and Craig Metcalfe.
On the undercard, fans will see a junior welterweight title bout between Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0, 9 KOs) and Jessie Vargas (23-0, 9 KO); Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KOs) vs. Raymundo Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KOs); and an interim WBA Super Featherweight Title between Bryan Vasquez (32-1, 17 KOs) vs. Jose Felix Jr (26-0-1, 21 KOs).
READ ALSO: Preview: Canelo vs. Angulo, Showtime
Communities Digital News will bring you all the action Saturday night in our Live Online Chat starting with the televised undercard fights at 9 p.m. ET. We provide blow by blow live commentary and real-time photos and invite you to share your reaction to all the action.
Before the fight, vote in our poll. Who will be the winner?
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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