By Hans Olson
So it’s official. Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring on June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV against the undefeated Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao’s advisor, Michael Koncz, confirmed this in a story reported by ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael Monday.
“From our end, the fight is done,” Koncz quoted. “I just got off the phone with (Top Rank’s) Bob Arum and Manny, so we’re done. I don’t assume there will be a problem from the Bradley side. We came to terms with Top Rank on the fight and Manny has approved everything. This morning I had a number of conversations with Bob negotiating the June 9 fight and I relayed everything to Manny.”
One would assume Bradley’s end will seal the deal as well. It’s all but a formality. Why wouldn’t it be? Getting a mega-fight with Manny Pacquiao was the reason he signed with Top Rank last year.
“We are going to be having further conversations with Bradley and his management early this week and hopefully finalize the deal,” said Todd duBoef, the president of Top Rank. “But the truth is my (promotional) agreement with Bradley lays out certain parameters for a Pacquiao fight, so there is a framework already.”
It’s an interesting fight stylistically—but also one that is potentially hazardous. Bradley is notorious in the boxing world as not only being one of the best 140 pound fighters in the world…but also as that of one whose greatest asset is his noggin. The guy’s head is a problem, at times resembling a ram more-so than a boxer.
Which isn’t to say he isn’t a terrific boxer. He most certainly is. With a record of 28-0, Bradley has long waited for his chance under boxing’s brightest lights. Although universally criticized for calling out—and then fleeing from—a fight with Amir Khan last year, Bradley reduces some of that imagery having won the Pacquiao sweepstakes. Many (including myself) were very hard on Bradley for ducking Khan. This must be noted, and acknowledged. Now it’s time for Bradley to prove inside the ring why it was a smart decision to wait out the semi-big fights in hopes of landing the ones of the very-big variety. Because he landed it.
It’s not like Bradley hasn’t earned it, for to a degree—he has. In 2008, Bradley travelled to Nottingham, going into enemy territory against Junior Witter for the WBC welterweight championship. Bradley fought an inspired fight, and pulled out a split decision for his first world title. He went on to beat the likes of Edner Cherry, Kendall Holt…but most impressively (if not all that exciting) were his victories over Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander—each of whom were undefeated when Bradley faced them.
For Pacquiao, Bradley presents a challenge in a live sort of way…as ESPN’s Teddy Atlas put it a while back during a segment on Friday Night Fights (for the life of me I can’t remember when…but it was last year….sorry Teddy!).
There are some things to consider though…
First, the fight is being held at the welterweight limit of 147 lb—Bradley should be comfortable there even despite the fact that he’s naturally a 140 pounder. But as a guy who isn’t known for having bludgeoning power at 140, it’s hard to see him knocking out Manny (who has shown a terrific chin throughout the years). He hasn’t fought at the welterweight limit much, though a 2010 win over Luis Carlos Abregu ( also undefeated at that time) was a fine victory.
It’s just too bad.
It’s too bad because, although when you look at how good Bradley is, and how…yeah, he probably does deserve this shot…something seems awry.
It seems that way because this has been so entirely predictable.
Everybody wants to see Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. Everyone except those at Top Rank…and, based on his reluctance to make a stand and force the hand of those who control him…Manny Pacquiao himself.
I’ve said on record many times that Manny would wind up fighting Bradley all along. I did have a brief retreat from this idea when Marquez nearly (should’ve) defeated Pacman last November. I was then on board with those who believed Pacquiao/Marquez IV was on it’s way.
And then came Floyd Mayweather’s tweets calling out Manny…
But then the inevitable comes…and Bob Arum blocks the fight. Marquez loses out somehow. So too does Lamont Peterson, who was also in the mix.
It’s Tim Bradley.
For Manny Pacquiao, it’s hard to knock him for taking on a young, hungry opponent. It just doesn’t feel right…not right now at least. That’s not to say Manny hasn’t been an absolute beast dominating everyone he’s faced over the last few years…
In a way, I give Top Rank, and Manny credit for this fight.
It’s just too bad they’ve already maxed-out whatever credit they had with the games they’ve played avoiding the fight with Floyd Mayweather.
It’s a good fight, maybe more than decent….but I can’t say it wasn’t deceitful to the fans all along.
It was probably always going to be Pacquiao/Bradley…
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow on Twitter @hansolson