By Rick Reeno
WBO junior welterweight Timothy Bradley (28-0, 12KOs) is very, very determined to become the first boxer to defeat Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38KOs) since 2005. Last week, Bradley signed a contract to challenge Pacquiao for the WBO's welterweight title on June 9th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Bradley sat down with BoxingScene.com to discuss the biggest fight of his career.
BoxingScene.com: You've noticed Pacquiao having some issues in his last couple of fights. Do you believe that he's finally slowing down?
Bradley: I don't know if he's slowing down, but he's had a lot of complications and excuses the last couple of times. Everybody is pointing fingers and saying 'Pacquiao didn't do this' or 'Pacquiao didn't listen to this.' I'm really curious though. I'm real curious [to see] if that's true or not.
I think right now is the best time to face Pacquiao, [who is] coming off a kind of controversial win with [Juan Manuel] Marquez. Marquez is a great fighter, a great counter-puncher and just a great fighter - but he's 38-years-old. He's not like he used to be 38. He's not fresh like he used to be, when he was in his 20's.
BoxingScene.com: The qualities that you bring to the fight.
Bradley: I'm very young, determined. I'm the young lion. I can box, as well as brawl, and I can counter-punch as well. I love to counter-punch. I'm quick; I can get in and out from danger. I have great defense. I feel like I'm a major step for Pacquiao. I think it's a winnable fight for me.
BoxingScene.com: Last year, everybody gave you a lot of heat for taking a pass on the Amir Khan fight. And now you've landed one of the two biggest names in the sport, for considerably more money than what you would have made for Khan.
Bradley: I’m excited that he's decided to challenge me. I'm excited that my manager Cameron Dunkin, the best manager in the game hands down - he definitely delivered. And of course I thank my wife and Team Bradley for always believing in me and always pushing me hard in training camp. We knew what we were trying to do. We always had a goal and that's to face the best in our minds. And I stuck to it and now look at this. Everyone was giving me [hell] about the Amir Khan thing. You know what, this is the real deal right now and we're fighting the best fighter in the world, Manny Pacquiao.
BoxingScene.com: Pacquiao seems to struggle with pure counter-punchers. That's not really your style of fighting. Do you believe that you might have to counter-punch more often in this fight?
Bradley: I really don't know. I haven’t been in the ring with him yet. I really don't know exactly on how it’s going to go. It all depends on how Pacquiao comes out and then I'll make my adjustments in there. I already have a couple of game plans in my mind. When I get into the fight, I should prevail, I should definitely prevail...land shots on Pacquiao that other fighters didn't land and get out of trouble....counter-punch when I need to. I know Pacquiao likes to come forward and likes to bang as well.
BoxingScene.com: Thoughts on Pacquiao's power.
Bradley: If he catches me on the chin flush and I don't go anywhere - it's going to be a long night baby. I have a really good chin. I have a solid chin. I've been down officially one time. I don’t count that second knockdown with Kendall Holt. I don’t count that bro. I didn’t even go down. The first knockdown of course, a punch that I didn't see. He has power. I know he has 13 knockouts or so, but he has power. I don't know if Manny can hit harder than that. Honestly, I don’t know. Kendall is a big guy, naturally bigger than Manny and he's very strong. When I fought him he was primetime. We'll have to see. After the first round...I'll know what I can do after the first round.
Boxingscene.com: When you previously made a move to welterweight in 2010, against Carlos Abregu, most people felt that you didn't look the same as you usually do at 140-pounds. Was there anything that you did wrong, maybe with bulking up, that you plan to change for this fight?
Bradley: At that time, I worked on one game plan for Abregue and he came in with a whole different strategy. I thought he was going to be aggressive and that he was going to come forward and bang me out, but then he came with a whole different strategy. He was the bigger guy, but he laid back and was trying to lure me in. I was like 'man, we didn't train for this.'
Abregua was trying to box a little bit. He was using his jab and trying to set me up for counters and jabs. I was amazed. It kind of threw me off. When I watched tapes, he came in like a wildman with other guys. I think by that, coming in and having to make the adjustments in the ring - it kind of threw me off. He was also a little awkward to hit, to catch his timing.