By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Promoter Bob Arum said Thursday that a deal is almost finalized for a Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley rematch and that an official announcement is imminent.
“We’re very, very close,” Arum said at a news conference in Manhattan for the Mikey Garcia-Juan Carlos Burgos bout Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. “The negotiations are getting down to the nitty gritty. We hope we’ll be able to announce it sometime before the end of this week.”
The unbeaten Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC), of Palm Springs, Calif., and rugged Russian Ruslan Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) were the two potential opponents Pacquiao was considering facing April 12 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But Bradley beat Provodnikov in one of the most entertaining encounters of 2013, recorded a highly controversial, split-decision win against Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) in June 2012 and is fresh off a convincing victory over Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs), who knocked the Filipino superstar unconscious in his previous fight.
“I think a Bradley-Pacquiao fight now is much more saleable than the Bradley-Pacquiao fight was when it happened, because Bradley has shined his credentials,” said Arum, whose company, Top Rank Inc., promotes Pacquiao and Bradley. “He had an exciting fight with Provodnikov and beat Marquez. We’re dealing with a different Bradley from the relatively unknown guy who fought Pacquiao the first time.”
HBO Pay-Per-View will televise the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch. A multi-city press tour to promote Pacquiao-Bradley II is expected to be scheduled for early next month.
The first fight between Bradley and Pacquiao drew about 900,000 pay-per-view buys. Pacquiao’s last fight, a predictably easy defeat of Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 in Macau, China, and the Bradley-Marquez match Oct. 12 in Las Vegas did less buys combined than Pacquiao-Bradley I.
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.