By Keith Idec
Manny Pacquiao didn’t look like the same fearless, ferocious fighter Timothy Bradley battled the night Pacquiao beat Brandon Rios.
According to Bradley, a more passive Pacquiao performed like a careful fighter who had been knocked unconscious in his previous bout.
“I didn’t see the killer instinct that I normally see with Pacquiao,” Bradley said Monday night, hours before a news conference Tuesday in Beverly Hills, Calif., to officially announced his HBO Pay-Per-View rematch against Pacquiao. “I didn’t see that ‘finish him’ type of style with him. I saw that he was more cautious. Some may say that he was boxing smart. That’s not Pacquiao. We’re used to the Pacquiao who just comes through, wrecking things and being destructive and just knocking out guys.”
In his first fight after rival Juan Manuel Marquez knocked Pacquiao out cold with one perfectly place right hand, Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) easily out-pointed Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs) in their 12-round welterweight fight Nov. 23 in Macau, China. Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs, 1 NC) still sensed that Rios had Pacquiao’s utmost respect right up until the final bell.
“Rios is a heavy-fisted puncher and he didn’t want to take chances,” Bradley said. “He didn’t want to get lured in and get possibly hurt or knocked out again.”
The 30-year-old Bradley believes he’ll encounter a more assertive Pacquiao than the version Rios opposed when they meet again April 12 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I’m expecting him to be very aggressive in this rematch,” Bradley said. “I’m expecting him to come out and try to knock me out, do something spectacular for his people.”
The WBO welterweight champion’s reason for expecting Pacquiao, 35, to revert to his old Hall-of-Fame form is simple.
“I’m a light-fisted fighter,” Bradley said sarcastically. “A lot of guys say that I don’t hit hard or whatever. But it’s funny how a guy that doesn’t hit hard and is not that good of a boxer, supposedly, keeps winning championships and keeps beating legends in the sport. These guys are not running straight through me and Pacquiao’s not going to run straight through me.”
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.