By Chris Robinson
On Saturday night, HBO debuted their latest Faceoff segment, focusing on the June 9th Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight. Pacquiao defends his WBO welterweight title against the undefeated Palm Springs, Calif. fighter inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in one of the year’s biggest events.
Flanked by Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, and Joel Diaz, Bradley’s coach since his professional debut, the two sides addressed questions from HBO commentator Max Kellerman, as is the custom with the Faceoff series.
Asked what the opportunity means to his career, the 28-year old Bradley seemed to be chomping at the bit.
“It’s an honor that Manny is giving me this shot,” Bradley would tell Kellerman. “I was surprised when they took the fight. I just want to fight. Whether it was Manny Pacquiao or not, I just wanted to fight.”
For his part, Pacquiao admitted that he can’t take this upcoming assignment lightly.
“Tim Bradley is the kind of fighter you cannot underestimate,” said the Filipino star. “He loves to fight toe to toe and that’s what fans want, is a good fight. I respect that and I believe we can give a good fight and we can create a lot of action in the ring.”
Kellerman asked Bradley if he considered Pacquiao a greater fighter than Floyd Mayweather Jr. but he seemed unsure.
“I don’t know,” Bradley said after a pause. “We’ll have to see if that fight ever happens.”
But, as Kellerman pointed out, Bradley’s main goal is to make sure that a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight isn’t the main agenda for anyone after he emerges victorious on June 9th.
“Absolutely. I’m trying to put a fork right in it,” Bradley stated.
Asked about the vigorous challenge they are facing, Roach conceded that Bradley wasn’t exactly on his radar prior to the fight being signed.
“He wasn’t my first choice,” said Roach.” What are our options? We’re running out of opponents. Mayweather doesn’t come to the table, at least this undefeated fighter will.”
Kellerman suggested that perhaps Roach had reason to be concerned because Bradley is a different type of hurdle than recent Pacquiao opponents but the renowned trainer feels otherwise.
“He doesn’t intimidate me at all, because I don’t have to fight him,” Roach would state. “I know the ability of my fighter though. I have confidence in my fighter and I’m very cocky about my fighter because his work ethic is the best. The thing is, I think Manny Pacquiao wins a lot of fights because he’s better prepared than others.”
And no matter what game plans are devised in camp, Roach feels that once the leather flies that the truth will come out in each fighter.
“I’ve seen Tim fight many times, on TV and live,” said Roach. “I know what he’s about. I know his style. Will he adapt for Manny Pacquiao, will he change some things? I’m sure he will. We’re going to change a little bit also. But when they start hitting each other and the blows start landing, he’s going to revert back to what he is and he’s going to revert back to what he is.
“Explosive fighters and they’re going to go toe to toe,” Roach continued. “That’s why I like this fight so much. It’s not an easy fight, but entertainment-wise, it’s one of the best fights we could ever have. We’ll see how good his chin really is.”
And for Bradley, it’s easy to spot how much desire he has to finally test himself against a fighter the caliber of Pacquiao.
“I want to feel what it feels like to be in a fight with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game,” Bradley said. “I want to feel his punching power, I want to feel his speed. I want to feel what every opponent he’s ever faced, I want to feel that. I want to feel the pain. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. Bring it on. I’m up for the challenge.”
Pacquiao is coming off of a majority-decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in the third bout of their memorable trilogy this past November. In that contest, Marquez dictated the pace of the fight more often than not and convinced many that he had done enough to warrant the decision despite the final tallies from the three official ringside judges.
And while Bradley didn’t go as far as to suggest that he needs a knockout to upset Pacquiao, he does feel the need to inflict some damage.
“In order to be a champion you’ve got to take chances in the ring,” said Bradley. “You’ve got to take chances. I’m here to win. I’m not just here to lay down for a paycheck. I’m here to win. I’ve got to hurt him. Someway, somehow, I’ve got to hurt him.”