Pacquiao knows he needs to defeat Bradley

 Rich Mancuso

Let it be known, Manny Pacquiao knows he has to defeat Timothy Bradley tomorrow night at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. And he has to do it convincingly for redemption from a bogus decision that went to Bradley in the first fight, and Pacquiao needs a win or the marvelous career could come to an end.

 Yes, this could be the make or break fight for Pacquiao. There have been questions about how much longer, or how many more mega fights remain. Forget about Floyd Mayeather Jr, as that question continues to arise every time Pacquiao gets back in the ring.

A cold promotional war will prevent the mega-fight fans want. A fight also, that Pacquiao or Mayweather can make if they part ways with the promoters. However, there is too much at stake for Pacquiao and Mayweather to go solo with business. Network money plays a major role with that aspect and that fight will never happen.

For now all eyes will be on the return bout that had to be made. Because, as many times as one reviews the first fight of June 9, 2012, also at the MGM Grand, it is still difficult to comprehend how the judges gave the split decision and WBO title to Bradley.

There is every reason to understand how Pacquiao needs this win. For Bradley, the stakes are just as important as he never doubted what the judges said in that first fight.

So, there is tension with the fighters and their respective camps. Pacquaio, of course is more subdued, as he always is. Bradley is a gentleman and respects Pacquiao. But, there is that annoying reference that Bradley does not favor. And that is, the question:

Do you feel you really won that first fight over Pacquiao?

 “Everything’s been said in the media,” commented Bradley this week. “It doesn’t really matter what we say, it only matters what we do. This Saturday all that matters is, what we do in the ring and we’re gonna put on a great show for the fans and all the millions around the world.”

He added, “There’s not going to be a fan in the arena or a soul around the world that’s going to be disappointed. Me, and Manny Pacquiao basically went through hell in training camp to put on a great show for the fans. I’m excited for this challenge and this opportunity and I’m definitely going seize the moment.”

And, to the credit of Pacquiao, he has overcome that loss and knockout at the hand of Juan Manuel Marquez, in their fourth fight.

This fight is very important to me and to my boxing career,” said Pacquiao.” Of course, my opponent is also claiming that this fight is very important, so it’s going to be a very, very good fight on Saturday so don’t miss it.”

There has been one comment that Pacquiao will take with him in the ring. Bradley has said, the eight-division champion no longer has the desire or drive to be champion.  That comment motivated Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach said, “I haven’t seen Manny train this hard in years.”

 If his right and ability to stay inside with Bradley is effective, as it appeared to be in the first fight, Bradley may be eating his words. Brandon Rios was the victim of a Pacquaio onslaught late last year. That reminded everyone of the old Manny Pacquiao, something so many others have seen in his illustrious career.

Pacquiao would like to end this one without going to the scorecards. The Nevada State Athletic Commission made some important changes because of the so-called travesty of a first fight which once again put boxing under a dark cloud. There has been better scrutiny of ringside judges as a result of a formal investigation.

As far as a knockout goes, if it comes it comes but we are not going looking for it,” said Roach. “Bradley is a very dangerous opponent but anyone can get knocked out at any time. I had 150 amateur fights and 27 pro fights before I ever tasted the canvas so I thought I was invincible. Then reality set in.”

In the event Pacquiao does see the canvas, lose by knockout or decision, Roach will inform his fighter that it may be time to call it quits. Pacquiao will ask Roach his opinion, and will abide by what his one and only trainer says.

However, Pacquiao, ever so focused, does not expect to lose. This is a redemption fight and perhaps the most important one of his career. Bradley has the title. He wants to assure the skeptics that he won the first fight no matter how many times the tapes was reviewed. 

The promoter, Bob Arum, who controls both fighters, would prefer to stay neutral. In his mind, though, Pacquiao is the focus of Top Rank. And it will be that way until Pacquiao decides to hang up the gloves and await his enshrinement in the Boxing Hall of Fame.

Expect a good one Saturday night on HBO Pay-Per-View. Returns bouts always have that certain element of anticipation, more so this one because of the first outcome. Many Pacquaio will still be standing when this is over and stop Bradley in the 12th and final round.

In other words, Pacquiao will take care of business and not let this one go to the judges.

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