SAN DIEGO, Feb 22, 2012 – Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley held the first of two pre-fight press conferences at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles formally announcing their upcoming world championship fight on Saturday, June 9, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Pacquaio and Bradley are among the more congenial personalities in boxing so the event offered no trash talk or smackdowns. After making the expected thank yous, acknowledgements to God, words of respect to each other and predicting a great fight, they engaged in a little fun. During their pre-fight “staredown” photo opp, the two could barely maintain their serious faces before starting to grin. Pacquiao then poached a photographer’s camera and took some shots of his own.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind isn’t the outcome of this fight, but whether it will be Manny Pacquiao’s final fight as a professional boxer. In an interview with the Philippines newspaper Minda News and repeated by American media, Pacquaio said he was seriously considering retiring after his bout with Bradley, in favor of his newly “Bible-centered” life.
“Hindi maganda na nagse-share ako ng salita ng Panginoon tapos nananakit ako ng kapwa (It’s not right that I share God’s word and at the same time hurt other people),” Pacquiao is quoted as saying. “I’ve gained more than enough blessings these past years so I think it’s time for me to return the favor.”
Pacquiao hedged in an interview with USA Today, saying that maybe he could fight one more after Bradley but wasn’t sure. But at today’s news conference, Top Rank Boxing reporter Crystina Poncher said via Twitter that she asked Pacquiao about retiring. “Pacquiao told me this will not be his last fight. He also said his son told him he has to fight Mayweather before he retires! Haha” she wrote. Boxing writer Steve Kim of MaxBoxing.com didn’t buy it when I asked him about it. “I don’t believe so, honestly, nobody takes that seriously,” said Kim via Twitter. He added that with the way Pacquiao spends money, “trust me, he’s fighting on.”
The swirling rumors fulfill two distinct purposes. Without question they help fuel interest in the fight by the fans, who might otherwise forego paying the money for the pay-per-view due to their disappointment in not seeing Pacquiao fight Floyd Mayweather. The more chatter before the fight, the better the take all the way around. The promoters will see to it these retirement rumors don’t die.
Second, if Pacquiao truly is running out of motivation due to his religious beliefs or the distractions of his political career, or if his skills are starting to decline due to age or too many rounds, the retirement talk will lower expectations for a spectacular performance against Bradley. Should Pacquiao perform poorly against Bradley in a close decision, or even doing the unthinkable and losing to Bradley, the reasons for it will already be out on the table.
It is clear that Pacquiao has a new gravitas about him. He has always been a practicing Catholic, but he has moved closer toward the Church. It recently named him an ambassador. He said he and his wife Jinkee now read the Bible daily.
Pacquiao has also quietly sold off businesses having to do with vices like gambling including a Manila casino, and a large cockfighting operation (which is legal in the Phillippines). He has also stopping drinking alcohol and closed his restaurant and bar. Pacquiao has hinted that boxing and his newfound religious beliefs are in conflict.
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said Monday he had heard these stories and admitted they concerned him. He also said he hadn’t seen him working out yet. Pacquiao will train with Roach for 10 weeks prior to the Bradley fight, putting it at the beginning of April. Roach said Pacquiao “overtrained” for his bout with Juan Manual Marquez last fall, causing him leg cramps during the bout.
Roach told USA Today if the day comes when his star boxer has lost his killer instinct, he will advise Pacquiao to retire.
Meanwhile, some Pacquiao’s many celebrity fans have weighed in. Filipino news service ABS-CBN News.com reported that singers Ne-Yo and Chris Isaacs say it’s too early for Pacquiao to retire, while chef Emeril Lagasse said he trusted Pacquiao to do what he thinks is the right thing.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank has talked about Pacquiao retiring at the end of 2013. Pacquiao’s mother has reportedly asked him to quit several times. But Pacquiao has also said he would only retire after his trainer Freddie Roach tells him his skills are no longer at their peak.
Tickets for the fight go on sale February 24 and will go quickly with or without the retirement rumors. Prices range from $200 to $1,200. HBO has secured the pay-per-view rights, and Tecate Boxing will offer a rebate with a purchase of Tecate Beer products, as it did for the Pacquiao-Marquez III fight.
June 9 is still many weeks away, and Pacquiao is known for forgetting about boxing in between training camps, gearing up and getting excited and motivated as the fight looms closer. If Freddie Roach truly has any concerns, rest assured Pacquiao will hear about it from him.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group
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