By Rick Reeno
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38KOs) is not sugarcoating the reality of this Saturday's fight with unbeaten Timothy Bradley (28-0, 12KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao needs an impressive performance. The Filipino superstar openly admits "the pressure is there" to look impressive after lackluster outings against Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
When asked about the last time he felt this kind of pressure to look impressive, Pacquiao turned back the clock to his close decision loss to Erik Morales in March 2005.
"After the fight with Morales, our first fight, [I felt the pressure to look good]," Pacquiao said to BoxingScene.com.
Pacquiao returned strong and maintains a running streak of fifteen wins, including two knockout victories over Morales.
In his last two fights, although he won, the victories weren't impressive. He allowed Mosley to coast for the majority of their May 2011 twelve round fight. And during last November's majority decision win over Marquez, Pacquiao struggled to get a rhythm going.
While he blames Mosley for the lackluster outcome in the first half of 2011, he takes the full blame for the close points win over Marquez. The Mexican veteran, who held two lightweight titles at the time, moved up by nearly two weight divisions to face Pacquiao at a catch-weight of 144-pounds.
Pacquiao, like a lot of other people, felt Marquez would be too small to make it a fight. While Marquez was going to war with lightweight opponents like Juan Diaz, Pacquiao was fighting and beating much bigger boxers like Oscar De La Hoya, Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
"It just happened, I think we underestimated Marquez, but we trained hard for that fight. The training was still the same. We trained hard for that fight. We underestimated Marquez," Pacquiao said.
"I've been fighting at 150, 147 and then this guy [who is] 140-pounds, 135, is moving up. I've been fighting with bigger guys and then I fight a guy who is the same size, so I kind of understimated [him]."
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, stood firm by his recent statement - that if Pacquiao looks bad in the Bradley fight, win or lose, he would sit down with his boxer and the discuss the possibility of retirement. And Pacquiao made it clear that if Roach advised him to retire, he would hang up the gloves.