Lovefest before slugfest for Pacquiao, Bradley
LAS VEGAS—From Marco Antonio Barrera sucker-punching Erik Morales to Fernando Vargas stripping to the waist after Ricardo Mayorga tried to slap him to Mike Tyson biting Lennox Lewis’ leg—a confrontation at the final prefight presser is one of the more snarky traditions of the boxing world.
It is a chance to sell the people on the fight, a shot at a bigger share of the media spotlight. And some of the strangest things have happened there.
But an even stranger thing happened when Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley stepped on the stage to meet the press one last time before they tangle on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at MGM Grand here.
Both fighters tapped into their emotions and were profuse in their praise of each other.
“We don’t need to fight each other [here] to promote the fight,” Pacquiao said at Wednesday’s presser.
“We’ll save that for Saturday.”
Bradley’s super woman
Bradley, meanwhile, waxed emotional, his voice cracking a couple of times as he thanked his wife Monica and trainer Teddy Atlas.
“Standing by me through thick and thin, managing my career, my family, our kids and [she] never complains, not a single day, about how tired she is,” Bradley said. “She [is] always giving her 110 percent, [she’s my] super woman.”
As for Atlas, Bradley thanked the loquacious trainer for reinventing him in more ways than one.
“I wanna thank Teddy for coming aboard,” said Bradley. “I just wanna thank him from the bottom of my heart because not only did I grow as a fighter but as a person. He’s an unbelievable person; his family is unbelievable.”
“Two months in a hotel by himself, away from his family, away from his wife, away from his kids, for me. You don’t find people like that.”
Pacman’s inner feelings
Pacquiao also bared his inner feelings when he spoke of his beginnings, reinforcing the idea that this could be his last fight.
“You know my life,” he said. “I came from nothing. The boy that’s speaking in front of you now once experienced days with no food. Sometimes, I was hungry and I did not have food. I just drank water to survive.”
Fight pressers weren’t always like this.
Art of talking trash
Floyd Mayweather Jr. had mastered the art of talking trash to his opponents in an attempt to grab a mental edge going into the fight. Sometimes, “Money” would do it to sell fights.
Fighters would do a lot of posturing and there would be a lot of verbal fireworks. And littered in the pages of boxing history were moments when all these antics would set off something more violent.
Before the second fight of their classic three-match war, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales faced the press. Barrera, in the heat of the moment, punched Morales in the face before running off, triggering a free-for-all.
Fight that needed selling
Ricardo Mayorga, meanwhile, was at the podium in a presser for his fight against Felix Trinidad when, in the midst of talking trash, he tried to slap Trinidad, who was answering back from his seat at the table. The two nearly came to blows, with Trinidad showing he was ready to fight there and then by stripping off his shirt.
And who could forget the Tyson-Lewis presser, one that ended bizarrely with Tyson biting Lewis’ leg. This came on the heels of a previous fight when Tyson bit off the ear of Evander Holyfield.
And if there was a fight that badly needed some selling, it was this one.
Top Rank chief Bob Arum has pegged a modest target for pay-per-view sales mainly because of the public’s cool response to the bout. Bradley has had a history of struggling to cash in at the box office while Pacquiao is coming off a yawner of a superfight against Mayweather.
And the Filipino ring icon’s unsavory comments about same-sex marriage certainly did not help this fight’s cause.
But neither fighter resorted to any gimmickry to sell their bout. Instead, they promised something that the sport should be known for in the first place: Brutal action inside the squared circle on fight night.
“[There’s going to be] more action compared to the last two fights we had because of [Bradley’s] new coach, Teddy [Atlas],” Pacquiao said. “Teddy did a good job with Bradley and we saw that in his last fight. Teddy added more strategy and that’s going to give us more action in the fight.”
Bradley also vowed to show up at his best if only to grab a rare opportunity for him to cement his greatness.
“This is about a legacy for me,” said Bradley. “I’m getting a third crack for me. I’m ready. If I’m going to win this fight, it’s now. If I’m going to beat Manny Pacquiao, it’s now. This is my only opportunity. This is my last opportunity.”
Though both fighters split their first two meetings, Bradley’s victory over the eight-division champion was roundly criticized, with an unofficial review made by a panel of judges showing that Pacquiao may have won that fight.
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