By Robert Morales
There is no truth to the rumor that Timothy Bradley attended the Evander Holyfield School of Head-Butting. Yet his reputation as a fighter who leads with his head was a hot topic when Bradley and Manny Pacquiao played host to a news conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, expressed concern about this even before the June 9 welterweight title fight between Pacquiao and Bradley slated for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view) was a done deal.
As Roach sat at a table scarfing down some food ahead of the news conference, the Hall of Fame-bound trainer went into detail about this. Interestingly, he didn't accuse Bradley of maliciously trying to open cuts on opponents with his head.
"You know, he does come in with his head quite a bit, but when you fight a southpaw, that happens more often than not," Roach said; Bradley is orthodox, Pacquiao a lefty. "I think he will come forward with his head first and so forth, but I think I have that covered with Manny.
"We have to beat that with punches and not our head. I don't think he's a dirty fighter and don't think he does it on purpose or anything; it's just his style."
As it was for Roach when he was fighting from 1978-86.
"They used to say I head-butted a lot, also," Roach said. "I never did it on purpose, it was just my style. I was just an aggressive young guy and that's what he (Bradley) is. I have concerns about it, yes. Do I think Manny might get cut in this fight? Definitely a possibliity. Do I have to get Manny ready for that mentally? Yes.
"I have to assure him we have the best cut-man in the world. And Alex Ariza won't be taking over the cut-man role as he has tried to do at times because I'm going to lay the law down that Miguel Diaz is the cut-man. That's what he's good at and that's what he's going to do."
Don't talk to Bradley about alleged purposeful head-butting. He doesn't want to hear it.
"Well, you have fights right here. You can watch Manny; he comes in with his head as well," Bradley said, pointing to a big screen showing clips of his and Pacquiao's fights. "So I really don't pay attention to all that head-butting stuff.
"You know, that's just trying to get me out of my game, trying to work the refs, trying to work the judges, work the fans, just in case a head-butt or something does happen."
Bradley is well aware that Pacquiao sustained a bad cut in his most recent fight, a controversial victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in November.
"Manny got a nasty gash over his head from fighting Marquez, 20-some-odd stitches or hatever, from a head-butt in that fight, so head-butts do occur when you have a right-hander and a left-hander," Bradley said.
"Their power hands line up together. When I shoot my right hand and he shoots his left hand, our heads line up on the same line. So, you know, head butts do occur in fights."
According to Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, it's up to Roach to figure out a way for Pacquiao to steer clear of Bradley's head.
"Well, I think Freddie's gotta have Manny ready for that," Arum said. "That's all I can say. I think Bradley fights coming forward and if you go side to side, you don't get head-butted."
Pacquiao agrees that it will be up to him and Roach to be ready for Bradley's head.
"It's something I will have to be prepared for," he said. "Freddie and I will be working on neutralizing that and I anticipate Freddie having the sparring partners giving me plenty of looks of leading with their heads."
Bradley had that, 'Are you guys crazy?' look in his eyes when he was being queried about having a realistic chance to beat Pacquiao.
"I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't believe so," said Bradley, 28, of Palm Springs, Calif. "I wouldn't even have called him out if I didn't believe so. It's not about the money, it's about the No. 1 spot and Manny Pacquiao. The money's great, but that's not the important thing; that's not important."
Pride and recognition are.
"I don't want to get in the ring and get humiliated in front of millions of fans and my family," Bradley said. "I'm getting in the ring to win, period, hands down. I always come to the ring prepared, I know how to win and that's it. That's plain and simple. I know how to win. That's what I'm coming to do."
As Roach said, Bradley is an aggressive fighter. But Bradley intimated that he is not stupid, that he knows he can't just go in there and throw caution to the wind. There will need to be some adjustments made.
"Absolutely, you can't rush in there on Manny Pacquiao; you crazy," he said. "You have an 18-punch combination in your face if you rush in there on him. There's no need for me to try to bully this guy.
"This guy's strong, he's physically sound, great conditioning, great puncher. You've gotta be able to think a little bit more against Manny Pacquiao. You've gotta think."
Roach Takes Roundabout Shot at Mayweather
During his stay on the dais Tuesday, Roach praised Bradley while at the same time ripping Floyd Mayweather Jr. without mentioning Mayweather by name.
"It's nice to fight a fighter who is undefeated and not worried about losing that zero on his record," Roach said.
Arum Confident Numbers Will Be Good
Pacquiao-Bradley figures to be an action-packed fight. But are fans of the same mind, to where they will either pay to see it in person or on pay-per-view or closed-circuit? Arum believes that is the case.
"Yeah, I think because people look at this as more competitive than the (Shane) Mosley fight or the Marquez fight, which they didn't look at as competitive (going in)," Arum said. "I think we will probably equal or exceed those fights."
Anyone else notice that there has been little in the way of hype for Saturday's junior welterweight fight between former champions Marcos Maidana (31-2, 28 KOs) and Devon Alexander (22-1, 13 KOs) in St. Louis? Few people are talking about it.
Fortunately, the HBO-televised card will include Adrien Broner (22-0, 18 KOs) defending his super featherweight title against Eloy Perez (23-0-2, 7 KOs).
Robert Morales covers boxing for the LA Daily News and BoxingScene.com.