By Sean Crose
Bob Arum made it clear during a California presser for Manny Pacquiao – Tim Bradley Part Three on Tuesday that he really wasn’t sure if this would be PacMan’s last fight or not. It’s been said that it will be the Filipino legend’s final ring battle, of course, but one truly doesn’t know in boxing. One thing that was made obvious during Tuesday’s gathering is that this will be a relevant match, regardless. It might not be worth people’s hard earned pay per view dollars, true, but it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a major fight nonetheless.
This, of course, is largely due to the fact that Tim Bradley may well be the best welterweight in a still extremely stacked welterweight division. Thurman. Brook. Porter. Khan. They’re all very good, but it’s hard to imagine any of them being highly favored over Bradley. Indeed, Pacquiao is pretty much still the only man out there who most people might feel can beat the guy called Desert Storm. And that’s something worth noting.
“These fighters are Payton Manning and Brady,” said Bradley’s trainer, Teddy Atlas. “They’ve been to a lot of Super Bowls.”
And indeed they have. With that in mind, no one considers the first two matches between the two to be classics (unless the first one, in which Bradley won a highly controversial decision, is considered a classic robbery). All parties involved, however, seem to want to sell this third go round as something fresh. That’s certainly true for Arum, same as it is for Pacquiao.
“I choose Bradley,” Pacquiao said, “because I believe Bradley’s different than before.”
Sure enough, the theory that the Timothy Bradley who now trains under the famous Atlas is somehow new and improved has been making its way around the fight world recently. And not, frankly, without reason. While Brandon Rios may have been a shell of his former self when he finally met Bradley last year, he was so thoroughly handled by the former WBO champion that it’s only natural to suspect something is different about Bradley lately.
“I’ve been here before in this position,” Bradley admitted. But there was something else he had to say, as well. “I think it’s different now,” he claimed. “I honestly do.”
If things are indeed different this time around, if Bradley somehow convincingly beats Pacquiao and looks great doing it, then it may well be the beginning of the Tim Bradley era. That’s something no one’s talking about. For while Pacquiao-Bradley III may seem like a rehash at the moment, the fight world will be turned on its head if Bradley unequivocally bests his man this spring. Count on it.
“April 9th,” Bradley said. “It’s the only day on my calendar, man.”
And if it is indeed Pacquiao’s final ring outing, that might be something memorable in and of itself. “Maybe this is our last time,” Pacquiao told his fans on Tuesday.
Maybe. Then again…
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