By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Joel Diaz considers Timothy Bradley a better, more mature fighter than he was entering his first fight against Manny Pacquiao.
Freddie Roach disagrees with Bradley’s trainer. Manny Pacquiao’s trainer thinks Bradley’s brutal battle against Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov took a lot out of Bradley and expects Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC) to make similar mistakes in their rematch April 12 in Las Vegas that he made during a 12-round fight Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) seemingly won in June 2012, despite two judges’ scorecards.
“I don’t think he’s better,” Roach said. “He took a lot of punishment. Ruslan gave him a beating, gave him a concussion. I don’t think you can come back that quickly from concussions. He couldn’t even speak right for a couple weeks. He’s suffered much more damage [since their first fight] than we have. And Manny’s coming off a good win.
“I know before that he was knocked out severely. But I made him take [almost] a year off to make sure he’s healthy and everything’s OK. So we made sure of that. And having a year off made him a little bit more hungry. In the Rios fight, he fought three minutes of every round and fought a good fight. Then Joel Diaz says my guy has lost killer instinct. That motivated me and my fighter a little bit more to show him he’s wrong.”
Roach was impressed, however, by Bradley’s performance against Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley beat Mexico’s Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) pretty convincingly in Marquez’s first fight after knocking Pacquiao unconscious in the sixth round of their fourth fight 14 months ago in Las Vegas.
“He fought a very good fight,” Roach said of Bradley’s split-decision defeat of Marquez on Oct. 12 in Las Vegas. “But the thing is, when you get two counter-punchers in there, it was a little bit boring. But he definitely won the fight. I thought he won 10 rounds to two. Marquez thought he got robbed again, but he always says that. It was a very, very good performance by Bradley.”
After a two-city press tour last week, the 30-year-old Bradley has begun training camp in Indio, Calif., for the Pacquiao rematch. The 35-year-old Pacquiao will spend at least two weeks training in the Philippines for their HBO Pay-Per-View event, but Roach said he will move Pacquiao’s camp to Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., by the end of this month.
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.