LAS VEGAS — WBO junior welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley described his training camp “as hell” during a Wednesday press conference promoting Saturday night’s clash with WBO welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao.
“I’ve never, ever trained this hard in my whole life. I’m ready. I’m ready to shock the world,” said Bradley, who subsequently unveiled an oversized “Bradley-Pacquiao 2” fight ticket along with a poster touting a Nov. 10 rematch. “I’m ready to do whatever it takes to win this fight. It’s going to be a great fight. Let’s get it on, baby. It’s going to be a war. I’m ready.”
Pacquiao offered a different take of his preparation during his turn at the podium, saying that his training camp resembled “heaven.”
“Training is good. My training is amazing. It’s heaven,” said Pacquiao, drawing laughter from those in attendance. “Tim Bradley’s a hungry fighter, and he’s young, so I know what he’s feeling.”
But Bradley will be feeling the pain on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, according to Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach.
Roach said Pacquiao will beat Bradley, well, like an amateur, referring to an amateur bout against current junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan, who dominated Bradley.
“Vanes Martirosyan caught him with punches in the amateurs,” said Roach. “He knocked him down three times and he won every round.”
Although Bradley has said that his movement will “kill” Pacquiao, Roach is not impressed with the challenger’s footwork.
“Our advantage is speed, lateral movement with Bradley. When I say speed, I don’t mean hand speed, I mean foot speed. He’s in and out a lot, you don’t know when Manny’s going to come to you,” said Roach.
“It could be a feint or you don’t know when he’s going to attack you. That’s why he’s been so successful. He doesn’t necessarily have a rhythm. He’s always changing.”
As for emulating Bradley, roach said Pacquiao faced “sparring partners who were punchers and sparring partners who ran, and I don’t think that Bradley is that fast on his feet,” adding, “If Bradley does try not to engage, we’ll have to take the fight to him, and we’re prepared for that.”
Ultimately, Roach believes that Bradley will be there to be hit.
“I think that he’s going to attack us, but Manny thinks that he’s going to run. Manny thinks that Bradley’s going to run once he tastes his power,” said Roach.
“But we’re ready for both. He’s not really built to be a runner. If he does run, it’s not going to be fast enough. He’s very slow on his feet, so speed’s the biggest factor in this fight.”
Pacquiao will be after his 16th straight victory and his ninth knockout during that run against Bradley, having last suffered defeat against Erik Morales by unanimous decision in March of 2005.
During that time, Pacquiao has twice stopped Morales, earned split- and majority decisions over Juan Manuel Marquez, knocked out Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton, and decisioned Marco Antonio Barrera, whom he also had knocked out in 2003.
“I know Manny Pacquiao well. Maybe three or four years ago, we would pay the pay per view to watch Manny Pacquiao,” said Bradley’s trainer, Joel Diaz, who has studied many a tape of Pacquiao.
“We never knew that we were going to face him. But I know that Manny Pacquiao, with all of these eight different titles in all of these different divisions, early in his career.”
Diaz considers Pacquiao’s fights with Morales and Barrera as credible matchups.
“Pacquiao beat Morales, and he went back to fight Morales, and Barrera,” said Diaz. “Those were the fights when it was more of an even match. Those guys were in their prime. He was moving up because he became an icon.”
But Diaz dismisses Pacquiao’s fights against Hatton, De La Hoya and Cotto as well as his decision over Joshua Clottey as being those over fighters who were either past their prime, “had come from a previous beating,” or else were sapped by negotiated catchweights.
“He started getting those opponents where, okay, you’re going to get Ricky Hatton, that Floyd Mayweather just knocked out recently. You’re going to fight Joshua Clottey, who was just there all night taking a beating. But let me tell you something. If he would have let go of his punches, you don’t know what would have happened,” said Diaz.
“Because Manny’s face was more beaten than Clottey’s. And then he fights Cotto and Margarito and De La Hoya. He was fighting big names, but at a catchweight. He fights Oscar De La Hoya at 145, Oscar hadn’t made 145 since 10 years before that fight.”
Bradley, meanwhile, has proven himself against younger fighters who were on the rise at the time of their meetings. Bradley has dominated three standouts who held world titles at the time – Junior Witter, Kendall Holt, and Devon Alexander – and then-undefeated top contender Lamont Peterson.
“Timothy has fought fighters who are in their prime. He’s fought Lamont Peterson. Fought Junior Witter. Fought Kendal Holt. He fought an undefeated Devon Alexander. Still, he gets no credit.”
Diaz believes that Pacquiao has “a lot of wear and tear on his body from 60 fights,” adding that “Manny Pacquiao has a lot of mileage on his body,”, and Bradley “has the youth.”
Diaz said Pacquiao, who turns 34 in December, looked particularly vulnerable during his disputed majority decision over Marquez in November.
“Manny Pacquiao hasn’t been looking great in his last couple of fights,” said Diaz. “Not that I’m a big Marquez fan, but I had Marquez winning by a small margin. But he won the fight.”
Bradley, 28, will pick up where Marquez left off, according to Diaz, except that he will engage Pacquiao more in the trenches.
“I felt like Marquez won that fight, but that night, he was also fighting the judges. We’re going to go in the same way, knowing that we’re not only fighting Manny, but also, the judges. We’re not going to go in there and just look pretty and box. We have to beat him to convince the judges. Everything that Marquez did was right. He had the right plan, he just didn’t do enough to convince the judges,” said Diaz.
“He was coming back with one- and two-punch counters, and you need to counter in combination. You can’t just feel comfortable against a Manny Pacquiao and say, ‘I got this.’ You have to throw him off his game plan, finish to the body, and you have to come forward. If you have to win, you have to go forward, but you have to move in at angles. Timothy trained for this fight to make adjustments.”
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org