WBO junior welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley says he’s ready for Manny Pacquiao’s straight left hand, that he can frustrate Pacquiao worse than his nemisis Juan Manuel Marquez has, and, ultimately, that he will rather easily dethrone Pacquiao as WBO welterweight beltholder in their HBO Pay Per View televised clash at the MGM Grand on Saturday night.
Bradley’s confidence stems from the fact that he is facing a southpaw for the third consecutive bout in Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 knockouts), having scored his past two wins over ex-titlewinner Devon Alexander and former four-time titleholder and Cuban Olympic gold medalist Joel Casamayor, by decision and eighth-round knockout, respectively.
“I’m more comfortable with southpaws than ever. This is my third one in a row. I’m 10 times better than in the Casamayor fight. I’ve had eight different sparring partners for this event, because these guys get into the ring, and they can’t hang,” said Bradley.
“They can’t hang with the champ, because I bring the pain. I’m paying these guys a lot of money, so I’m there to take them out. I have so many dang sparring partners coming in, because they’ll last a few days, or they’ll last a day.”
Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz, often has had to remove the fighter’s workout partners.
“I’ll figure their a–es out [snaps fingers] like that. Like that,” said Bradley. “I mean, takes two rounds. then it’s, ‘Joel, need another sparring partner. This guy is done.’”
Bradley admitted that Pacquiao’s speed and athleticism could not be duplicated.
“We had some speedsters come in, some amateurs come in, we’ve had some strong fighters, some big punchers and try to to knock my block off, and that wasn’t fun. I definitely got hit by a lot of punches by those guys, and they were big,” said Bradley.
“We had a lot of movers, guys that like to move at angles and throw shots. We’ve had a mixture of opponents similar to Manny’s style, but what we did was just had a guy for specifics.”
‘I’M NOT RICKY HATTON’
Pacquiao’s chief cornerman, five-time Trainer of the Year, Freddie Roach, has demeaned Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) as being similar to former titleholder, Ricky Hatton, whom Pacquiao knocked out in the second round with a straight left hand.
“I think that Manny has to worry about my right hand, and my movement. My movement is going to kill him. It’s going to throw him off. He needs a fighter that stands in front of him, you know,” said Bradley.
“Most of the guys that he’s faced, they stand right in front of him and they come forward. But when you’ve got a guy that can be right here one minute and be over there the next minute, and weave over here now, it’s a lot more difficult, because he has to find me.”
Bradley said that he has spent much of his preparation neutralizing Pacquiao’s left hand, and also dismissed Roach’s assessment of his abilities.
“I’m so built and so strong now, nothing bothers me. I laughed [when he heard the comparison to Hatton.] I just thought he was crazy. If that’s the way that he analyzes me, and he’s one of the best trainers in the world? If that’s the way that he analyzes me as a Ricky Hatton? Then that’s ridiculous,” said Bradley.
“He’s not the best trainer in the world if he’s thinking like that. Then again, that could be one of his little mind games. “But I don’t care. That’s just Freddie Roach and his antics and he’s trying to get into my head type of thing. But I’ve heard that sort of thing before.”
‘YOU NEED TO GET UP’
Bradley rose from two knockdowns to dethrone Kendall Holt as WBC and WBO titleholder by unanimous decision in April of 2009.
Bradley described the experience of being floored by Holt this way:
“My right leg was numb, and I was like, ‘why is my leg numb?’ And then I just heard, like, this buzzing noise in my head, and I figured that was just my brain bouncing back and forth off of my friggin skull. But, wow, I was like, ‘so this is how it feels to get knocked on your behind. Okay, well, I gotta get up,” said Bradley.
“So I get up really quickly, and I look over to my corner, and they tell me to take a knee. So I took a my knee. You know, we practice it in the ring. But the only thing that I thought about was like, ‘damn, you need to get up.’ And then after that, I just thought about, ‘damn, I need to survive.’”
Bradley got up and won the fight, but it was far from easy.
“It was hard for me to find my rhythm in the ring, because my leg was still numb. I couldn’t really feel my right leg, so it was kind of like, off balance. But, you know, I regrouped. It was no problem. No problem. Came back to the corner and it was like the knockdown never happened. It happened, and then we just got rid of it. Then it was like, ‘dude, you still got to go forward.’ You still gotta take it to this guy,” said Bradley.
“So I was like, ‘hey, grab my balls and let’s go.’ Let’s fight. Let’s fight. So I bit down on my mouthpiece and I went straight forward, applied the pressure that needed to be applied. That gives me experience. That allows me to know that I’m actually capable of getting up off the canvas and actually winning a fight. That’s shows you what type of determination I have, and my will to win.”
But if it comes down to it, can Bradley take Pacquiao’s power?
“That’s a question that is going to be decided on fight night. One of the biggest punchers I’ve faced was Kendall Holt. He has one-punch knockout power. He puts guys to sleep,” said Bradley.
“Manny doesn’t have that. Besides Ricky Hatton. You saw that fight. He put him out, cold. There hasn’t been a lot of fights like that where he has had one-punch knockouts.”
‘I CAN BEAT THIS GUY NO PROBLEM’
Bradley insists that his counter-punching skills are “10 times better” than those of Marquez, whom Pacquiao has battled through a draw, and victories by split- and majority decision.
“Marquez just has a skill-set that throws Manny’s style off. With that said, looking at that fight, I can definitely gain some knowledge from that fight and watching what Marquez actually did, because he didn’t do a whole lot,” said Bradley, who also believes that he can win close-range battles with Pacquiao.
“All that he did was counter-punch. When Manny stepped in, he just stepped back and counter-punched the hell out of him, and he’s going to freeze up? So I was like, ‘alright, that’s all I have to do? I can do that.’”
Bradley plans to pick with Pacquiao where Marquez left off.
“I’m a lot quicker than Marquez, and I’m a lot younger. I’m going to throw punches. I’m not going to just let this guy bombard me with all of these shots and punches,” said Bradley. “And I’m not going to be there to be hit the majority of the time, because I’m elusive. So I’m like, ‘I can beat this guy, no problem.’”
Marquez, says Bradley, failed to press his advantage down the stretch and let Pacquiao off the hook.
“Marquez slept on Manny, because his corner was like, ‘you’re winning the fight. Just moving around.’ But I’m like, ‘dude, you better take it to this dude.’ And he just finished the fight comfortably instead of going out there and showing the judges, ‘you know, I want this.’ I know how to win. That’s why I’m undefeated, because I know how to win,” said Bradley.
“I know how to fight aggressively, box, fight agressively, box, and to win over the judges. That’s the whole thing being a champion. You have to take it from the champion. You’ve got to take it from the champion. I’ve set out to win every single round. There’s no rounds off. I’m out to win every round, and that’s how I’ve done it my whole career. It’s not me to take a round off. I’ve got to win every single round.”
‘I’VE GOT TO TAKE THIS GUY OUT’
“Hagler is definitely a guy that I definitely admire. Evander Holyfield, I admire that guy too. I amire a lot of guys that have determination, and they fight with a different tempo than most fighters. Those are two fighters that I definitely admire. It’s their fire, man. Their fire and their will to win regardless of what the situation is and what it may look like,” said Bradley.
“It’s their desire, man, and you can just see the passion and it’s a lot different than most fighters. They just want to win, and by any means necessary. That’s everything. That’s the situation I’m in right now. I’ve got to win this fight, by any means necessary. I’ve got to take this guy out.”
THE NOTION OF DRUG TESTING
Bradley also discussed random drug testing, which was the subject of controversy surrounding the recent disruption of two major bouts in addition to having been a stumbling block toward a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Bradley said he and manager, Cameron Dunkin, briefly broached the subject of random drug testing for the Pacquiao fight, but that it was ultimately, dismissed.
“We said, ‘hey, what about drug testing?’ I was like, ‘I don’t care. He’s going to need it,” said Bradley. “He’s going to have to be on something to beat me. But it never has crossed my mind. It’s as simple as that.”
Would Bradley fight an opponent who was using PEDs?
“If I knew for a fact? If I saw him injecting something into his body? Hell yeah. Why not? He can take whatever he wants, it doesn’t matter to me.”
‘I’M GOING TO BE FACING AN ANIMAL’
During a press conference a few days prior to facing Alexander, Bradley sat on stage reading a biography of Pacquiao, who grew up poor in his native Philippines.
“I just got to understand him a little bit more. I got to understand his background, and where he’s come from, and the reason why he’s the way that he is,” said Bradley.
“It gave me a little more knowledge about him. That’s what I got from the book. How he came up. How he grew up.Why he fights the way that he fights.”
For that reason, Bradley knows that, in the end, defeating Pacquiao really won’t be easy.
“I think that he’s going to be definitely strong in this fight and very determined, and he’s got a lot to prove to everybody. His last few matches haven’t been as great. He’s got a lot to prove, so he’s going to come out blazing,” said Bradley.
“I think that he’s going to be well-prepared. I’m going to be facing an animal. I think that this guy is going to fight to the death. That’s just him. This guy is going to fight to the end.”
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com