By Chris Robinson
It remains to be seen just how stiff of a challenge undefeated Timothy Bradley will be to Manny Pacquiao when they meet inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.
The latest foe in Pacquiao’s long line of pay-per-view attractions, Bradley is a fighter who is in his prime, young, strong, full of confidence, and not without some boxing ability. So impressed by Bradley is Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, that he is looking at the contest as nearly a 50/50 type of match.
“I think it’s an even fight,” Arum would tell me from the main lobby of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Tuesday afternoon moments before Bradley’s grand arrival. “If Manny performs the same way that he did in the [Juan Manuel] Marquez fight, Bradley will beat him.”
Arum’s reference was to Pacquiao’s recent struggle with Mexico City’s Marquez last November, a bout in which he was fortunate to win after getting off to a slow start. Pacquiao’s effort in that fight, his third with Marquez, makes the Bradley meeting all the more intriguing.
Having promoted then-undefeated Lamont Peterson in late 2009, Arum was sitting ringside in Rancho Mirage, California for the Washington D.C. fighter’s challenge of Bradley WBO junior welterweight title. What took place was an outstanding display from Bradley, who dropped Peterson in the third round on his way to handing him his first and only defeat as a professional.
So smitten was Arum with Bradley’s performance that he heavily pursued the Palm Springs, California fighter after his contract with Gary Shaw expired last year. And after a bit of a tune-up victory over faded former champion Joel Casamayor on the Pacquiao-Marquez III undercard, Arum felt as though the time was right to match Tim against one of the sport’s best.
“We wanted to get, for Manny’s fight, a young fighter who had a great record, who could give Manny a real fight,” said Arum. “That is always what we try to do, is try to get a competitive fight. Because if the fight is not perceived as competitive, you can’t sell. And Bradley was the guy out there, at 147 pounds, that we thought was most competitive for Manny.”
Pacquiao’s biggest rival, and a man he may never face, is Floyd Mayweather Jr. Last month Mayweather came out on top in a spirited battle with Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in a pay-per-view attraction that pulled in an estimated 1.5 million buys.
It’s going to be very hard for Pacquiao-Bradley to match those numbers but Arum pointed out the fact that Cotto, the sport’s third biggest attraction, had a lot to do with the success of the promotion.
“We did, with Cotto and [Antonio] Margarito, 600,000 buys. Cotto is a tremendous attraction. A lot of that, if it was [1.5 million], is attributable to Cotto,” stated Arum.