By Jake Donovan
From the moment undefeated super lightweight champion Tim Bradley signed with Top Rank earlier this summer, speculation ran rampant that he would immediately be groomed as a future opponent for pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao.
Many believed that the story gained legs when they placed on the same November show together.
Pacquiao headlines a November 12 pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with his third fight against longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez. The chief supporting bout features Bradley (27-0, 11KO) against former two-division champ Joel Casamayor.
Impressive enough performances by both would go a long way towards selling such a fight in 2012.
But that’s if they actually decide to face one another.
“First as everybody understands, people don’t believe me but I have been saying it for years, Pacquiao’s next opponent is up to him,” insists Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who now promotes both fighters. “Do I make recommendations? Yes, that is my job as a promoter. I have never discussed with Manny an opponent after Márquez.
For his part, Bradley is also keeping it close to the vest, claiming all focus is on November 12 and Casamayor. Any future plans will have to wait for the day after and beyond, all of which is contingent upon his winning and looking good doing so.
“I don’t have any particular names or a list of who I want to fight but I am with a true promotional team now that’s going to take me to the next level,” Bradley states. “I will listen to my manager (Cameron Dunkin) to see what is next after Casamayor. I have to destroy this guy and get him out of there before I can think of any other opponents.”
If nothing else, Bradley remains in line with what was told to him when he signed with Top Rank. The contract did not come with the promise of a fight against Pacquiao, or any other specific fighter for that manner.
That’s not to say that Arum won’t entertain the idea of such a fight – just that we shouldn’t expect him or anyone else from Top Rank to speak on that subject until all of the smoke settles.
“Until November 12th, I have no idea who Manny is going to fight and made that plain to Tim and Cameron that we have not discussed this with Manny and we’ll see. As far as Manny is concerned after this fight maybe four more fights, if he is successful, before he becomes the Governor of Sarangani Province and retires from boxing. There will be room, as long as Manny keeps winning, for these young fighters to test their skills against (him).”
Even if it doesn’t happen, Arum is still convinced he can produce a superstar out of what he has to work with in his most recent signee.
“We believe that because Tim is who he is – a great boxer and has a pleasing personality that we can make him a big star in the sport.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com .