Pacquiao so focused on BradleyBy Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
WHEN world boxing icon Manny Pacquiao recently gave up all his earthly vices—drinking, gambling, womanizing—in favor of the path of the straight and narrow, everybody chorused “hallelujah.”
At first there were skeptics who doubted his sincerity but Manny showed he was truly a changed man, giving up the night life and preaching the word of God to anyone who would listen.
Ironically, two weeks before his fight with Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Manny’s trainer Freddie Roach wondered if his religious transformation—despite all its positives—would have an adverse effect on the eight-division world champion.
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“I know he’s really doing well. The thing is, I was a bit afraid of him being too soft, being with God and so forth. I heard comments of God not wanting him to hurt people and so forth,” Roach was quoted in an Internet article.
The apprehension didn’t linger long.
When it came to boxing, Roach realized that Manny was still the same old Manny.
“I thought he might have gotten soft, but he punched the sh*t out of me the other day so I knew he had no problems in the mitts,” Roach said.
“He’s doing well, his sparring partners are getting beat up, so his focus is very good.”
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In a media conference call in Los Angeles last Tuesday, Manny admitted for the first time that he was plagued with family problems at the time of his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez last November.
“The fight wasn’t really that hard for me but mentally I was not a hundred percent,” he said.
“The week before the fight everything fell apart,” Freddie recalled.
“But I don’t think that will happen again. Manny got rid of the distractions that caused him to fight poorly last November. I think we’ll have a good fight against Bradley,” Roach said.
“Bradley is tough and undefeated but we’ve watched a lot of video of him. I see a lot of holes in his defense and I think Manny can take advantage of them.”
While Manny has never fought such a “muscular” opponent like Bradley, Roach said he has had much experience with bigger and faster foes and “he will have an advantage in speed, power and experience.”
As I recall, these were also the same words of Pacquiao’s fellow Filipino and world champ Brian Viloria.
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With Manny faster, more powerful and more experienced, he easily became the early favorite to win the June 9 match.
Bradley was rated as a long shot but ringside observers said as June 9 approaches, more people feel “Bradley may give Manny all he can handle.”
“Bradley is mad at me because I talk sh*t sometimes, but he’s a tough opponent. He’s made to order for us. I think Manny’s going to look real good in this fight,” said Roach.
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More than ever, Roach is fully convinced that only good can come out of Manny’s religious transformation.
He’s not as tired as he used to be, Roach said, “because he has no night life whatsoever. He goes to bible study. He and God are very close right now.”
Top Rank’s Bob Arum couldn’t agree more. “I think his religious awakening is all for the good,” Arum said.
As for the pound-for-pound king, he said his mind is focused on the fight.
“Bradley is not the kind of boxer anyone can afford to underestimate. He’s a champion. I don’t know what he’s going to bring to the ring on June 9 but I’m prepared for whatever he brings in that night. We’re ready for movement or boxing. I’m so ready to fight it feels good.”
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