HOLLYWOOD – The Wildcard gym here is not as abuzz as it used to be the last time Manny Pacquiao was training for a title fight.
That last one was of course a big exception. Pacquiao had the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. for his opponent in a fight billed as the biggest and richest in the history of boxing.
Not that Tim Bradley, who the 37-year-old Filipino will be facing for the third time – and hopefully, the last – on April 9 at the MGM Grand, isn't a great and talented fighter in his own right. It just so happened he’s not in the same level and not as vilified as Mayweather.
“Nothing’s gonna top that,” admitted Fred Sternburg, publicist of Pacquiao and Top Rank Promotions and man in charge during the media workout held by the eight-time world division champion on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) at the confines of the famous gym owned by trainer Freddie Roach.
Sternburg said he’s happy with the turnout of the media workout, which he finds no point in comparing to the group that came over for the Pacquiao-Mayweather match.
“We had a lot of major TV and newspapers here, and it couldn’t have come any better,” he stressed.
But Ricardo Jimenez, the former member of Top Rank’s publicity team who is now working with upcoming fighters such as Oscar Valdez and Gilberto Ramirez, noted the rather smaller number of media present – and even fans who converged outside the gym. And he’s not just equating it in terms of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.
“I see it’s not as big as it was when he fought some people and I’m not talking of Mayweather, that was basic,” said Jimenez. “When he fought Marquez, when he fought some others, even when he fought Bradley the first two times, there seems to be a lot of interest from the media, but not as much this time.”
The disappointing outcome of Pacquiao’s mega-showdown with Mayweather had a lot to do with that, according to Jimenez.
“He didn’t look so great, more than anything,” he stressed of the highly-anticipated showdown that ended in a Mayweather victory via unanimous decision. “People want him to win badly, they want him to knock Mayweather. People expected so much of him in that fight that they’re disappointed and that carried over to this.”
Uncertainty on whether the Bradley bout would, indeed, be his last pro fight is likewise sending a wrong signal, said Jimenez.
“That’s another thing, they haven’t sold it like that,” said the former sports editor of Mexico newspaper La Opinion. “You don’t wanna put it on him (Pacquiao) if he wants to come back, but only if he was more definite.”
But Jimenez is not undermining the potential of the third installment of this rivalry which he said is a ‘good fight’ notwithstanding the seeming lack of interest being shown by boxing fans.
“I think Bradley gave him a good, interesting fight the first couple of times and I think this one is going to be better than those fights,” he added.
Rob Peters, in charge of security at Wild Card for a long time now, said people have started flocking to the gym this week and expects the crowds to grow.
“This week’s kind of busy, and it’s building up leading to the fight,” he said. “You know, he’s still Manny Pacquiao.”
On fight night, Sternburg expects major networks and publications to be present.
“We have a very strong contingent coming from all over the world. UK is coming in, Germany is coming in all over the US, a lot of Filipinos are coming in,” he said. “Yeah, there’s still of lot interest in it.”
They better do as Jimenez himself expects a lot of fireworks this time compared to the first two Pacquiao-Bradley duels.
“I think it’s gonna be the best of the three,” he said.