BEVERLY HILLS, California — Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley intend to leave no doubt this time.
Nearly two years after Bradley beat the Filipino congressman in a hotly disputed split decision, the welterweights both seemed uncommonly confident Tuesday as they began promotional work for their April 12 rematch.
That’s because each man is still unshakably certain he won their first meeting.
“I want to maintain my name at the top and prove I can still fight,” Pacquiao said. “My career is not done yet.”
The June 2012 decision was savaged by fans, media and even Bob Arum, both fighters’ promoter. They all believed Pacquiao’s power and combinations had beaten Bradley’s elusiveness and tactical approach.
Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) still feels wronged by the reactions to the biggest win of his life, ranging from catcalls on the street to death threats in the mail
“With all the controversy, this fight is about redemption,” Bradley said. “I want to redeem what I didn’t get, which is the credit. It’s important for me to make the win decisive in the people’s eyes this time. I’ve already got a win. This is so I can walk down the street and nobody says, ‘Hey, you didn’t win that fight, man.’ That hurts me.”
Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) and trainer Freddie Roach both believe Pacquiao won essentially every round in the first bout. But the Pacman still wants to prove he’s back on top of his game by avenging the loss that snapped his 15-fight winning streak.
“I’m not angry anymore,” Pacquiao said. “I was surprised by the decision, but I’m the kind of person that I respect the decision of the judges.”
But did Pacquiao agree that Bradley gave him “a boxing lesson,” in the infamous words of judge Duane Ford?
“I think I gave him a boxing lesson, and the judges gave him that,” Pacquiao said with a smile.
Pacquiao and Bradley will meet again for the WBO 147-pound title at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Bradley is opening camp in his native Palm Springs area on Monday, while Pacquiao will train in the Philippines before moving back to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym in Hollywood in March.
“To be honest, I wasn’t as motivated when I was training for our first fight,” Pacquiao said. “I guess I didn’t take him seriously enough.”
The split decision was so reviled that the WBO hired five independent judges to re-score the bout on video, and all five favored Pacquiao. The WBO didn’t overturn the result, but asked for a rematch — and after both fighters boosted their careers with victories last year, they were ready to do it again.
Pacquiao was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez a few months after the Bradley bout, and he took nearly a year off before returning to dominate Brandon Rios in Macau. Bradley watched both fights, but wasn’t impressed.
“He still has all the skill sets,” Bradley said. “I just feel like that killer instinct is gone.”
Bradley turned himself into one of boxing’s biggest names in 2013 with a sensational brawl against Ruslan Provodnikov and a classy decision win over Marquez.
Bradley acknowledges being a bit star-struck before he got in the ring with Pacquiao, but he was surprised how easily he could handle the man who was on top of the sport at the time. Bradley feels he won the first fight, but believes he can win the rematch clearly enough for everybody to see.
“I know what to expect this time,” Bradley said. “It’s like when you learn to ride a bike. The second time is easier.”