By Keith Idec
Timothy Bradley couldn’t believe what he was watching the night of Dec. 8, 2012.
Like most of us, he was stunned as he looked at an unconscious Manny Pacquiao, face-first on the canvas at MGM Grand, with conquering nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez standing over him.
“I was shocked, just like everybody else,” Bradley said. “I could not believe it. My mouth was wide open.”
Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC), who’ll face Pacquiao in a WBO welterweight championship rematch Saturday night in that same ring, was less surprised Pacquiao returned to boxing after suffering such a devastating defeat.
“I didn’t think that he was going to quit boxing,” Bradley said. “Absolutely not. The way the guy came up, there’s no quit in him.”
Bradley was surprised that Marquez walked away from what would’ve been a lucrative fifth fight against Pacquiao. Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) battled Bradley instead, but Bradley out-boxed the Mexican legend and won a split decision in their Oct. 12 fight at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
“I honestly, personally, thought that he would fight [Pacquiao] again because of the money,” said Bradley, who’ll earn a career-high purse of $6 million Saturday night. “But my wife [Monica] said something interesting to me. She said, ‘It’s about pride. That’s what it’s about here.’ Marquez has a lot of pride, based on, ‘Hey, I fought your four times and a couple times I didn’t get the decision I thought I deserved. But now I just knocked you out cold. That’s the exclamation point on that story. That chapter’s closed. I’m done with you. I don’t want to go back and revisit it. I knocked you out cold. It’s done.’ ”
If Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) beats Bradley in their HBO Pay-Per-View main event at MGM Grand (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT; $69.99 in HD) and Marquez overcomes Mike Alvarado (34-2, 23 KOs) in their May 17 fight at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., Pacquiao and Marquez might meet in a fifth fight sometime in November.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.