Momentum siding with Pacquiao-BradleyBy Nicholas von Wettberg
LAS VEGAS—Enough with the subplots, even with its enticing tales of redemption and conquest, now is the time for the story’s dramatic climax.
Words, in essence, spoken by Top Rank CEO and president Bob Arum at the final press conference for this weekend’s WBO welterweight title fight between Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao and unbeaten junior welter champ Timothy Bradley.
Inside the MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theater on Wednesday the efficacious promoter said that most of the interest leading up to the fight has centered on “bible studies” and “vegan diets,” with only the occasional talk “about jabs and left hooks.”
Arum, however, emphasized the importance of the story devices for this Saturday’s Las Vegas ring battle, a 12-round championship bout to feature boxing’s main attraction putting his title and consecutive winning streak of 15 fights on the line against a raw and dangerous opponent in Bradley, who is primed for a peak performance.
The question is, can the 28-year-old from the desert pull off the fight of his career against the multi-faceted title holder in eight different weight divisions, the newly devout Pacquiao, who by all appearances still has the same speed and power that earned him the reputation as the sport’s most exciting knockout artist?
Arum believes the intrigue is sure to generate a ridiculous amount of pay-per-view hits, which undoubtedly would be bigger than anyone expected when the contract originally got inked.
“It’s all good,” Arum said of each fighter’s character portrayal recently seen in the HBO 24/7 documentary series. “Because by raising these topics, and talking about these topics, I think we’ve attracted so many people who haven’t followed boxing that closely to this event that we are looking forward to doing tremendous numbers on the pay-per-view and the closed circuit for this event.”
One of the topics Arum has to think will attract fringe viewers to the affair is Bradley’s insane fitness regimen, replete with a strictly vegan food intake that to his testament provides more energy and allows him to train like “a beast.”
A boxer with the build of an NFL running back, Bradley must be willing to dish out his own fair share of punishment in order to topple Pacquiao, who will be fighting in his overall 60th professional fight.
In riveting form, the evidence is there that Bradley has the training part down pat. But the real work will have to be put in between the ropes on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where the one they call “Desert Storm” will need to block out the sheer enormity of the moment from his standpoint and go blow-for-blow with a fistic legend whose punches are thrown from not only all angles, but also vary in rhythm through his superior ring command.
“Well, the fact that Bradley is, as they always say, ‘a hungry fighter,’ would make this event a competitive one, especially in the early goings,” said Philippine boxing sage Hermie Riveria, who was part of the ringside broadcast crew for the 1975 Ali-Frazier trilogy The Thrilla in Manila. “But Manny Pacquiao’s experience, him being so ring savvy, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… gives Bradley no chance at all.”
A commanding performance from the gloves of Pacquiao is what the public asks for, but the underlying theme to the entire buildup surrounding the fight has been the histrionics from his spiritual reawakening, a 180-degree turn that took place in late November of last year, when the husband and father of four gave testimony to receiving God’s will through a dream .
Manny essentially said that his lifestyle of impiety was put into question and that he subsequently was told to break free from worldly sin and obey by the word, which he now does with nightly Bible study sessions that often involves his spiritual adviser Pastor Jeric Soriano.
Whether it’s in General Santos, Baguio City or Los Angeles, Pacquiao can be seen holding religious court, leading with prayer, testimonial or song. Judging from the video clips and such, his inspiration looks genuine, sounds spirited, and reeks with passion – the same level of energy we see when he walks up the stairs to do ring battle.
Who knew that his mother Dionesia’s wish for her son to serve God would eventually come to fruition?
First it was VP Biden, followed by President Obama, then PH politician Pacquiao. All three, within the span of a few weeks, weighed in on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Pacquiao dissented from the top two Federal employees, coming out on the anti-LGBT side of the fence, a stance that brought an enormous amount of attention but provided ample proof of his current status as an influential earthly figure.
His opinions on matrimony, not withstanding, Pacquiao fortunately weathered the storm from a borderline case of libel committed by a published author, who falsely summated quotes made by the Philippine congressman through the insertion a biblical passage containing the words “gays” and “death.”
The party in question must have failed miserably as a little kid when it came time for his turn at the pass the word game. Rather than reporting what Pacquiao actually said in an interview, which was that in his translation the Bible speaks of marriage only between a man and woman, the guy camouflaged an interpretation of his own choosing as a fact-gleaming quote.
Returning to the business at hand, that being the actual fight, the boxing purveyor Rivera predicts, “The battle is cut out for Manny because of the dire need of Bradley to go and try to get the fight away from Manny.”
Rivera adds: “That will leave an opening for Pacquiao to unleash and unload his power punches…this fight won’t last the prescribed distance.”