Pacquiao feels ‘new’ Bradley won’t be ‘improved’ version
LAS VEGAS—The face in the other corner will look familiar, but somehow Manny Pacquiao is seeing him in a different light.
But different doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Pacquiao said Timothy Bradley Jr. is no longer the same guy he’d sent into a wheelchair during the post-fight conference of their first showdown in 2012 and one he dominated in their 2014 rematch.
“Timothy Bradley is a different fighter since he went with a new trainer (Teddy Atlas),” Pacquiao said after Tuesday’s grand arrival and official welcome. “Bradley is stronger and more aggressive.”
But don’t count on that to mean Bradley will be a better version of himself in the third installment of their duel.
“I’m not saying he’s improved. I think he has a new style, different from the last two fights,” Pacquiao later told reporters after ending his training session at Top Rank Gym here.
Pacquiao said he noticed the transformation when Bradley handed Brandon Rios his first knockout loss last November. That the five-time world champion did it with a body blow, further impressed Pacquiao, who decided to increase his abdominal exercises for this training camp just in case Bradley targets the same area.
“No one had ever had ever stopped Brandon Rios before and Bradley did it with a body shot,” said Pacquiao, who dominated Rios, but failed to knock the Mexican out in 2013 in Macau.
The knockout was a surprise since the 32-year-old Bradley isn’t known as a power puncher. He only has 13 knockouts in a 33-1-1 record. Pacquiao boasts a higher knockout rate (58 percent) in compiling a 57-6-2 record with 38 knockouts, although the Filipino icon’s last stoppage came in 2009 against Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto.
But whatever changes Bradley may have done over the past year, Pacquiao is confident that he can still figure his way past the American boxer. And even as Bradley continues to say that his team has familiarized itself with Pacquiao using Atlas’ trained eye as an analyst, the Filipino boxing star feels the same way.
“I’m excited for that [facing him again], because I also know him well,” Pacquiao said.
The eight-division champion, who plans to retire after Saturday’s bout despite his handlers looking to hook him up against the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Terrence Crawford, is looking to go out with another resounding victory over Bradley, whom he beat via unanimous decision in their second meeting.
“I want an explosive performance and to win convincingly,” he said. “I want to make fans happy and to add honor [to] the country, [because] that’s my legacy.”
That’s being modest. Being the only eight-division world champion is Pacquiao’s supreme achievement, followed by his choice as Fighter of the Decade from 2001-2010 and embellished by three fighter of the year awards (2006, 2008 and 2009) from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
According to Pacquiao his decision was largely influenced by his family, particularly wife Jinkee and mother Dionisia, who have asked him to retire for the last three years, especially during his loss to Floyd Mayweather in a super blockbuster bout last year.
Interestingly, Pacquiao claimed he dreamt of losing the fight to the unbeaten Mayweather, who has since retired, in a controversial manner. True enough, Pacquiao lost because of a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, sparking a post-bout controversy last year.
Though he still feels capable of at least a couple more fights, Pacquiao, who’s 37 years old, admits his body isn’t the perpetually in action machine that it used to be.
In fact, Pacquiao said it took him nearly a week to recover from jetlag following his flight from General Santos to Manila en route to Los Angeles. He used to shake off jet lag in a day or two.
While his speed, footwork and stamina are still there, Pacquiao noticed that his body now takes a longer time to rejuvenate.
But on fight night on April 9, Pacquiao assures he’ll be 100 percent and ready to impress.
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