By Chris Robinson
We are less than a week away from the sport’s next big event, as eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao will defend his WBO welterweight crown against Timothy Bradley this coming Saturday, June 9th, inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
An undefeated champion himself at 140 pounds, Bradley seems to have a fearless mindset with his move up in weight in pursuit of dethroning one of the sport’s premier fighters. And despite being a clear underdog, there has been a special kind of aura coming from Bradley’s camp down in Indio, California for the past few months.
After speaking with Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz late Saturday night, he seemed eager to close shop and move their operation to Las Vegas in the coming days.
“Everything’s positive,” Diaz would state. “I feel very positive, especially after closing camp [on Saturday]. With his performance, I have no doubt and my confidence is really, really high. He closed camp really strong overall. Three different sparring guys. He closed the last round like it was the first.”
Bradley’s last sparring session saw him in with undefeated lightweight Luis Ramos Jr., Sinaloa’s Marvin Quintero, and former champion Julio Diaz. Diaz expects Bradley to have a light workout in Indio early Monday before the team makes the trek to Las Vegas later that afternoon.
Bradley will hit the main lobby of the MGM Grand on Tuesday around Noon for his grand arrival to Las Vegas and while in the city, Diaz will look to keep his charge sharp with some modest workouts at the Top Rank Gym as fight week creeps closer.
Diaz has been keeping up the recent 24/7 Pacquiao-Bradley showcases on HBO and admits that the exposure is a definite benefit.
“It’s a great experience,” Diaz continued. “People are getting to know Tim Bradley as a person, not just as a fighter. People, they start giving you a little more credit. When they don’t know you as a person, they just see you as a fighter.”
The reception from fans was even more evident last night, according to Diaz.
On the undercard of the Showtime-televised Antonio Tarver-Lateef Kayode bout at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Diaz led undefeated junior welterweight prospect Omar Figueroa into battle as he stopped Tyler Ziolkowski in one round.
And while perhaps being a bit of an unknown commodity prior, Diaz can now appreciate the fact that he is gaining a level of respect for his many years in the trenches with Bradley.
“Just walking out of the arena and getting all those positive comments from people watching 24/7,” stated Diaz. “Getting to know Tim, getting to know me, and you know it’s good. People see you different. They sort of pay more attention to what you do and they realize the kind of work you do.”