LAS VEGAS – It appears 24 rounds were not enough to settled everything between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley.
And so they go at it again one more time on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time) for another fight that is likely to go down as the final chapter in the storied career of Pacquiao.
Indecisive as he may be whether to finally walk away or not from his brutal sport once the fight is over, the iconic warrior from the Philippines said he’ll be going out there to have fun –perhaps for the last time - and give fans their money’s worth.
“I’m excited for tomorrow. Napaka-importanteng maipanalo natin ito because this is part of my legacy,” Pacquiao said, appearing as if he’s saying his farewell speech on the eve of the match to be held at the MGM Grand here.
Looking back, it will be the 26th time Pacquiao will be fighting in the US. He has logged a 19-4-2 record since coming to the U.S. 15 years ago and immediately made an impact when he destroyed the favorite Lehlo Ledwaba in six rounds to wrest the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-bantamweight crown.
But the Bradley bout will be the first for the 37-year-old Filipino southpaw (57-6-2, 38 KOs) in over a year since undergoing surgery to repair his injured right shoulder that was aggravated during the course of his 12-round unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Not even the long inactivity however, gives Pacquiao, who came in at 145.5 lbs. during Friday’s official weigh-in, anxious moments against an opponent he totally dominated the last time they met two years ago on the way to a unanimous decision victory.
“Yung sinasabi nating kaba wala tayong nararamdaman nyan,” said the Pacman, still a 2-1 favorite to repeat over Bradley as per the latest Vegas odds.
As confident as Pacquiao is Bradley, whose career has been rejuvenated following the entry of new trainer Teddy Atlas. The new partnership yielded instant results as the 32-year-old American (33-1-1, 13 KOs) scored a ninth-round stoppage of Brandon Rios in November to win the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title the first time the two worked together.
Bradley, now bigger and muscular, expects the same result against Pacquiao, the same man he beat four years ago when he stunned the boxing world with a highly-disputed split decision.
“There’s gonna be a lot of disappointed fans tomorrow night,” said the native of Palm Springs, California, who tipped the scales at 146.5 lbs.
“This is another opportunity to show that I’m a top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and that I can beat Manny Pacquiao.”
Freddie Roach is one person who’s hard to impress, and definitely he’s not hot about the 'new' Bradley under Atlas. He said ‘Dessert Storm’ looked impressive against Rios simply because the former lightweight champion was not in shape during their November encounter last year.
“You can’t give credit for that because there’s nothing in front of them,” said Roach, a seven-time recipient of the Trainer of the Year award.
Atlas remains unperturbed with the words of Roach, who he said ‘doesn’t influence me.’
“I mean, shame on me if I was to put weight and thought towards that,” said the former ESPN analyst and 1994 Trainer of the Year.
Third man in the ring will be Tony Weeks, while the three judges scoring the bout are Burt Clements, Dave Moretti, and Steve Weisfeld.