Philippine fight king Manny Pacquiao wants to deliver something special against Timothy Bradley on June 9, to erase the taste of his narrow victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in November last year.
“It’s really important because, of course, everybody knows my last fight was very close,” Pacquiao said of the need, if not for a knockout, at least for a fan-pleasing show.
Pacquiao edged Marquez by majority decision on Nov. 12 last year, stretching his victory streak to 15 fights, but leaving his Mexican foe shouting robbery.
Adding more controversy to an already-heated rivalry, two judges handed Pacquiao the 12-round victory by margins of 116-112 and 115-113, while the third scored the fight a 114-114 draw.
In Marquez, Pacquiao had been taking on a familiar opponent, having beaten him in 2004 and 2008.
In Bradley, Pacquiao says he will be facing a younger, “hungry” fighter, who has said this high-profile bout for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight belt is the start of a new phase in his career.
“This is like my first fight all over again,” said Bradley, the WBO light welterweight champion, who boasts a record of 28-0 with 12 knockouts.
“In order to beat the champion, you’ve got to take it to the champion,” Bradley said last week. “We are setting out to win this fight and not sit around and look pretty. I am going to take it to Pacquiao.”
Roach said that could be just what is needed to draw the best from Pacquiao.
“I think the way Bradley is going to come forward and force a fight, we’re going to see a great Pacquiao,” Roach said. “Bradley’s a tough guy, very resilient, but being a tough guy doesn’t win fights.”
Pacquiao, who drew a throng of media to the Wild Card gym in Hollywood on Wednesday, promised he he was not underestimating the 28-year-old Bradley.
“He’s a hungry fighter,” Pacquiao said, although he made light of the age difference, saying that having built a record of 54-3-2 with 38 knockouts at the age of 33, he feels much younger.
“I’m still thinking I am 25, 26 years old,” Pacquiao laughed.
Trainer Freddie Roach said he had been impressed with the intensity Pacquiao has brought to his preparation.
Roach shook things up a bit by bringing in new sparring partners who did not know Pacquiao, were not friends and would not go easy on the champion.
“It’s worked out real well,” Roach said on Wednesday. “They’re aggressive, I think it’s helped.”
However, on a different tack, Pacquiao was also joined in the US by his wife and children, a further sign that the family troubles he said distracted him before his last bout were behind him.
“Manny’s happy they’re here,” Roach said. “It’s great.”
Roach said he had some concerns that Pacquiao’s new devotion to Bible study and spiritual matters might hinder him in the ring, with a newfound “compassion” somehow affecting his killer instinct.
“I was a little worried about that at first, but from the way he’s been sparring and the way he hits the mitts, nothing has changed,” Roach said. “He understands boxing is a sport, the sport he chose.”