LAS VEGAS — After weighing in for Saturday night’s HBO televised clash on Friday, WBO welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao and challenger Tim Bradley engaged in a brief staredown as the estimated crowd of more than 4,000 partisan Pacquiao fans cheered their man and alternately booed and jeered Bradley.
Face-to-face with Pacquiao, Bradley swiveled and wound his head intensely.
When the smiling Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 knockouts) broke the staredown, turned away and faced his adoring supporters, Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) refused to take his glare off the champion, instead keeping his eyes locked on the prize.
HBO’s ringside commentator Max Kellerman called Bradley’s actions “mean-mugging,” adding, “upset’s in the air” during an on-stage interview with the fighter.
“I’ve been here before. None of these people are going to be in the ring with me and Manny Pacquiao. It’s just going to be me and Manny Pacquiao in the ring on Saturday night,” said the gloriously sculpted Bradley, holder of the WBO’s junior welterweight belt.
“This doesn’t bother me at all. Not at all. Bring it on, bring it on. I’m ready to prove everybody wrong. They know how hungry and determined I am. Look at my physique. Look at how I look. I’ve been training hard for the fight. They’re going to see tomorow, baby.”
PACQUIAO 147, BRADLEY 146
Pacquiao weighed in at a career-high 147 pounds for the fight, his previous-high being 145 and three quarters for a unanimous decision over Joshua Clottey in March of 2010.
Bradley’s chiseled 146 pounds is one less than what he tipped the scales at for his last welterweight bout in July of 2010, when he decisioned Luis Carlos Abregu.
Bradley is in Las Vegas for only the second time in his career, having debuted at the MGM with November’s eighth-round knockout of faded former lightweight champ Joel Casamayor on the undercard of Pacquiao’s disputed majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez.
Prior to Casamayor, Bradley, 28, vanquished Devon Alexander by decison for the WBC’s junior welterweight belt in January of last year. Bradley is confident of ending a 15-bout winning streak by Pacquiao that includes eight knockouts.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
When Pacquiao and head trainer Freddie Roach reached the stairs and were about to come up onto the stage for the weigh in, strength coach Alex Ariza, who trailed them, was shooed away by a Top Rank official.
The relationship between Roach and Ariza has become rocky as of late, to the point where Roach asked Pacquiao to dismiss him. Pacquiao refused, and Ariza will be a part of the corner on Saturday night along with cut man Miguel Diaz and Pacquiao’s longtime friend, Restituto “BuBoy” Fernandez.
On the undercard, WBO bantamweight titleholder and four-division titlewinner Jorge Arce (60-6-2, 46 KOs), of Los Mochis, Mex., will face Jesus Rojas, (18-1-1, 13 KOs), of Puerto Rico, in a non-title featherweight bout, and welterweight Mike Jones (26-0, 19 KOs), of Philadelphia, will take on Randall Bailey (41-7, 36 KOs), of Miami, for the vacant IBF title.
Arce and Rojas each weighed 123.5 for their 10-round bout, Jones was 146.5-to-146 for Bailey, and Rigondeaux and Kennedy each were at 122 pounds.
For their off-television bouts, Mikael Zewski (14-0, 10 KOs) of Canada and rival John Ryan Grimaldo (8-1, 5 KOs) each weighed 149, and Jesse Hart, of Philadelphia, who is in his professional debut, was 165 compared to 161 for opponent Manuel Eastman (0-1).
The fact that Hart, Kennedy and Jones are on the same card makes it a big night for Philadelphia, according to Jones’ promoter, Russell Peltz.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com