Manny Pacquiao/Photo courtesy of Top Rank Inc.
It may not be the most popular move Manny Pacquiao could have made, but it was announced Wednesday that the next – and, supposedly, final – fight of his fine
career will be a third go-round with Timothy Bradley.
Promoter Bob Arum told this newspaper and several others that the fight was done for April 9 at MGM in Las Vegas (on HBO pay-per-view). The contracts still have to be signed.
Bradley, of Palm Springs, holds one of the welterweight world-title belts.
The two first fought in June 2012 at MGM Grand. Bradley was scored a split-decision winner, but virtually every reporter covering the fight saw that as a terrible decision as Pacquiao seemed the clear winner.
They tangled again in April 2014, at MGM Grand, with ,Pacquiao emerging with a deserved unanimous decision.
Neither fight was electrifying. But Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) did not have Teddy Atlas training him then. He does now, and Arum figures that will make this the most exciting bout of the trilogy.
“I don’t think there’s any question, but that it will be,” Arum said. “And I don’t think there’s any question that as good as Bradley has been, that he’s a much better fighter now with Teddy Atlas than he was before. Without any question, he’s a different fighter and his style is different.
“So people say, ‘My god, you’re doing a third fight with Pacquiao and Bradley.’ I say, ‘But this Bradley is different from the other Bradley.’ It’s really like a new opponent.”
Bradley, 32, fought for the first time under Atlas in November, and he stopped Brandon Rios in the ninth round at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) is coming off a unanimous-decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May at MGM Grand. Pacquiao revealed after the bout he fought with a torn right rotator cuff, which has since been surgically repaired.
The other two opponents Pacquiao had been considering were junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford and former junior welterweight champion Amir Khan.
As for this possibly being the last fight Pacquiao, 37, Arum is not so sure.
“He told me that this would be his last fight, but I’ve heard that from fighters for the 50 years I’ve been promoting boxing,” said Arum, who began promoting in 1966. “So I take that with a grain of salt. So I’m not going to put myself in a position where im promoting this fight as Manny’s last fight when six months from now there’s a change of heart and he wants to fight again.”
The first two fights did approximately 900,000 and 800,000 pay-per-view buys, respectively, according to industry sources.