Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tim Bradley Knew He Was Next For Pacquiao

By Rich Mancuso

Manny Pacquiao quickly left the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers in New York City and met a throng of fans Thursday afternoon. This is nothing unusual for Pacquiao, who has a love affair with his fans from the Philippines. The WBO welterweight champion was in town with challenger Timothy Bradley Jr. that concluded a two-city press tour.

Pacquiao defends his WBO welterweight championship at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on June 9th against Bradley, the WBO junior welterweight title holder. The three-time champion who makes his debut at welterweight was the last to leave the Lighthouse and on his way to the ESPN studios up in Bristol Connecticut and accommodated every member of the media.

So, Bradley is enjoying and taking in every moment of this sudden burst of popularity. The business of not taking a lucrative title fight with Amir Khan at 140 and moving away from promoter Gary Shaw is in the past. Taking an opportunity with
Top Rank and Bob Arum provided this moment to challenge Pacquiao.“This pushed me to the next level,” commented Bradley. The 28-year old resident of Palm Springs California, 28-0, 12 KO’s, had a plan to take on Pacquiao. There was that premonition that signing with Top Rank would grant him the opportunity.

However, when Arum met with Pacquiao in the Philippines to discuss the next opponent, Bradley was not definite with Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto and Lamont Peterson as names in the mix.

“I wouldn’t be here if I did not believe so,” he said when asked about his chances of dethroning Pacquiao. “When I got the call that I was getting this opportunity to fight MannyI was as happy to be. I got what I wanted. I went to Arum to get the fights like this.”

And Bradley, now will be the center of attention in the boxing world. He defeats Pacquiao, which is not out of the question, then, maybe Bradley gets a shot at Floyd Mayweather Jr. “I want a shot at Floyd,” he says. “Manny has to get him first, I realize that.”

So there are numerous possibilities after this fight. Of course, Mayweather, who defends the WBC welterweight title against Miguel Cotto on May 5th, has some business to do. Bradley will be the underdog with Pacquiao, and Arum can only smile even if the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is not in the cards.

“The fight will have to be competitive,” said Arum. “I think we will equal or exceed those fights,” he said about the competitive aspect of Pacquiao-Bradley compared to the last two Pacquiao fights with Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez. To Arum, the Pacquaio-Mayweather fight is not on the agenda. This is about Timothy Bradley.
When asked about a 50-50 split of revenue, or a 60-40 split that Pacquiao and Arum have reportedly been discussing with Mayweather, or with Richard Schaefer CEO of
Golden Boy Promotions, Arum says, “What are you talking about.”

This is about Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao and not about Pacquiao against Mayweather. “No” said Arum with an adamant look in his eyes when it comes to the Mayweather-Pacquiao question, about a fight the boxing world wants to see. Arum walks away and leaves more doubt about a mega-fight that would surpass revenue for any the sport has seen.

Pacquiao continues to do business and as always leaves it to Arum. He immediately took a jet back to the Philippines to resume his Congressional responsibilities. He arranged the press tour within his schedule that began Wednesday in Los Angeles where he had a previous engagement.

That has nothing to do with Bradley. He is taking it all in and the attention of fighting Pacquiao is what is important. Based on his last two fights with Mosley and Marquez, there has been talk that the skills of Pacquiao are on a decline. Bradley will the first to dispute the talk and intends to take an approach at fighting perhaps the best pound-for-pound fighter.

“I do not see any decline in Manny,” says Bradley. “Marquez had his number. Styles make fights. Mosley was defensive. I know what I am capable of doing. I can do just enough to win. He’s strong and will push me to the next level. He is strong. If I can take his power, I can beat him. You have to think more when you get in there with Manny Pacquiao.”

Arum had visions of another Pacquiao-Marquez encounter. Pacquiao would have gone with the plan, but Marquez wanted a fourth fight in Mexico. Cotto was out of the picture. Arum was aware that Cotto, who made millions with Top Rank, needed one more mega fight and that was with Mayweather. When all the speculation ended, Bradley knew it was his time. “I waited for this breakout moment and it is here,” he says. “Mayweather is in front of me,” he says time and time again as to his rank now in the welterweight division, and to be placed in discussion as a best pound-for-pound fighter.

Arum also has Mike Jones on the undercard, another undefeated welterweight on the Top Rank roster who could be in the title mix. Jones has been showcased also on undercards of Pacquiao fights. But as Arum says, “Mike is not ready for a title shot.”

However, Bradley has been there and this is his time. He is enjoying every minute of the attention and he should. Because when you follow the protocol and oppose Manny Pacquiao it is your time.

This post is sponsored in part by Glen Cove Homes For Sale & Bay Club

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