SAN DIEGO, May 30, 2012 – Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley held their respective media days in Los Angeles before doing the fine tuning over the last ten days of training before their fight on June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The two events were a study in contrasts.
Bradley’s media day took place Tuesday, with a respectable but not overwhelming turnout, far more media attention than he’s ever received in his career. News media found themselves greeted by a smiling Bradley along with a poster promoting the rematch between himself and Pacquiao on November 10 in Las Vegas with tickets on sale June 10. They were even handed press credentials.
It turned out to be a spoof, a poster Bradley custom designed himself to demonstrate his confidence in putting on a true challenge to the popular Filipino eight-time champion.
Bradley’s drive and work ethic are impressive. His confidence could win over even the biggest skeptic. Bradley is undefeated at 28-0 and he has been the underdog before. He says he is prepared for a southpaw fighter, and will have put in 160 rounds of sparring before the fight.
Bradley also knows this is the opportunity of a lifetime, handed to him in part by Floyd Mayweather’s impending jail term. It was brought home to him in a big way Tuesday, literally – the debut of his own tour bus with his face on both sides. Bradley said as he moved up the ranks of boxing, he dreamed about having such a status symbol, and now he does.
Twenty-four hours later at the Wild Card Gym, the usual feeding frenzy took place as Manny Pacquiao and Top Rank hosted its final media availability, with international news media jostling for a place along the ropes. They were warned before interviews began not “embarrass themselves” asking for autographs or pose for photos with Pacquiao, (54-3-2).
Pacquiao provided the usual answers to the usual questions, saying he was 100 percent focused for the fight. “I have enough strength because God gave it to me,” he said. When asked about Bradley’s unwavering confidence in his ability to beat him, Pacquaio smiled, and said “We will see. God bless him.”
A good portion of the interviews with Pacquiao inevitably drifted onto the subject of the boxer’s newfound devotion to his Catholic faith. His training camp regimen has included daily Bible studies, with his own pastor present. “I’m hungry for the words of God,” he told one reporter.
When asked if he had a favorite Bible verse, Pacquiao thought about it, and said, “Love your neighbor as your love yourself.”
It is hard not to wonder how Pacquiao’s religious devotion will affect him in the ring. Does he still have the desire to fight? Has he been able to focus? He now admits his lack of focus greatly affected his performance against Juan Manuel Marquez in November 2011, a decision he won on the judges’ scorecards but lost in the view of numerous observers.
Bradley will wage a tough fight. What would seem like bragging by any other boxer seems like straightforward, unadorned confidence in hard work and preparation coming from Bradley.
There is a rematch clause in Bradley’s contract to fight Pacquiao, a standard provision. What may surprise people is just who will be seeking to even the score. Bradley is a legitimate threat. He won’t allow himself to be pummeled like Antonio Margarito and he possesses incredible determination. Bradley has been an underdog numerous times.
There are many people in the fight world who want to see a good fight but not a Bradley win. If Pacquiao loses to Bradley, it won’t be by any close decision on the judges’ scorecards. It will have to be so decisive as not to be denied.
The sport of boxing knows a Pacquiao loss would deal a fatal blow to any hope of making a Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao fight of the century happen. The prospect of the money to be made on such a fight disappears in an instant like a losing lottery ticket.
Casual fans know only a few big names in boxing, two of the few being Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Timothy Bradley isn’t one of those names. He won’t earn his way into this small group even with a victory over Pacquiao on June 9. The uproar created by a Bradley win would cause a shift in the sport of epic proportions.
But these shifts can propel the sport forward. Longtime fans who know their boxing history may recall that a young fighter named Cassius Clay, now known as Muhammad Ali, was considered a 7 to 1 underdog against the powerful, punishing champion Sonny Liston. Prior to their February 1964 fight in Miami Beach, 43 out of 46 boxing writers picked Liston to win. But Liston didn’t come out for the seventh round, giving Ali the stunning upset.
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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 Media Migraine 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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