By Jake Donovan
Timothy Bradley began his own grassroots campaign for a rematch with Manny Pacquiao well before the two even stepped into the ring for the first time. The unbeaten former 140 lb. titlist was a considerable underdog in his challenge of then welterweight titlist Pacquiao heading into their June ’12 bout, but guaranteed not only a win but that he’s also beat him again later in November of that year.
The confidence stemmed from the belief that a win over Pacquiao would allow his career to soar to new heights and finally call the shots. Instead, the actual win achieved turned out to be the worst thing to happen to his career, taking a split decision in what many regarded as the biggest robbery to have taken place that year or in recent memory.
Bradley (31-0, 12KO) finally gets the rematch he’s sought for more than 18 months, taking place on April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas – the same hosting venue for their first encounter. Recent events have helped create the necessary demand for a sequel, thanks to Bradley’s strong 2013 campaign – gutty wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez – and Pacquiao’s fall from and return to grace with a knockout loss versus Marquez and a near-shutout of Brandon Rios last November.
Even with the recent runs by the two fighters, Pacquiao is installed as an early 2-1 favorite (bet $200 to win $100) to regain his belt and gain “revenge” over Bradley, who continues to fight for respect.
“This fight is basically redemption for me,” Bradley insisted Tuesday in Los Angeles, during the first leg of the two-city press tour to promote the event, which will air live on HBO PPV. “I know in my heart that I won the first fight. A lot of people out here don’t feel I won. I didn’t get any credit from that fight.”
The continued search for respect serves as additional motivation for Bradley, a matter his team has factored into their preparation for the forthcoming pay-per-view headliner.
“I just think we have unfinished business with them,” trainer Joel Diaz believes. “We are ready to make things clear. On April 12 we will present a version of Timothy Bradley people haven’t ever seen before.”
Bradley’s pair of wins over Provodnikov and Marquez served as a remarkable year in the ring that saw the unbeaten Californian’s name splattered throughout year-end awards season. His off-the-canvas 12-round win over Provodnikov was hailed by many outlets – including Boxingscene.com – as 2013 Fight of the Year, A close but clear win over Marquez – coming 10 months after the Mexican legend flattened Pacquiao in their epic fourth fight – hoisted Bradley prominently among the sport’s very best fighters in the world.
Still, he views April 12 as means to capture the one thing he believes is still missing from his career.
“I’m going to beat Manny Pacquiao to get the credit that I deserve,” Bradley vows.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBoxTags: Timothy Bradley , Manny Pacquiao , Pacquiao-Bradley Rematch , Pacquiao vs Bradley Rematch