Bradley looks to prove himself again vs. Pacquiao
It is rare for fighters to have to prove themselves after a win, but that is what Timothy Bradley had to do following his 2012 split-decision victory over Manny Pacquiao.
Many questioned the decision, including legions of Pacquiao’s dedicated fans, who bombarded Bradley with hate mail.
Never one to be short on confidence, Bradley (31-0, 12 knockouts) admits the questions surrounding what should have been his most satisfying victory to date had an effect on him. He knew he had something to prove, and he did it.
He slugged it out with one of the most dangerous punchers in his weight class, Ruslan Provodnikov, and barely survived, coming out victorious despite taking several major blows from the Russian fighter. Then he out-boxed Pacquiao’s greatest nemesis and the man who knocked him out cold in their fourth fight, Juan Manuel Marquez.
Those fights redeemed Bradley, but there remains one monkey on his back. This Saturday (9 p.m. ET, HBO PPV), he meets Pacquiao again with both men looking for redemption.
In the first fight, Bradley injured his ankle. He believes two healthy feet plus the experience of facing one of the greatest fighters of this era once already will help him to victory again.
"Both fighters have to make adjustments. We know each other because we’ve been in there with each other," Bradley said. "I’ve changed my game a little bit, and I’m sure he has, too. We’ve added a few new training techniques for Pacquiao. I’m very motivated.
I don’t care if I ever fight again or win again, I must win this fight.
"This time around, the circumstances are different. If he loses the fight, he’s going to be another retired great. If I lose, they’ll say, ‘Well, Tim, you lost the first fight too.’ I don’t care if I ever fight again or win again, I must win this fight."
Since the loss to Bradley, Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) was knocked out by Marquez in the sixth round of their fight, then rebounded to defeat Brandon Rios. Despite Pacquiao winning every round against Rios, many say he still lacks the same aggressiveness and killer instinct he showed while tearing through eight weight classes.
Bradley is one of those who believes that instinct is gone. But always up for a challenge, he hopes it is not.
"Bring the best," Bradley said. "I’m sick of it. Everybody that fights me makes excuses. The first time around, he made excuses. This time around, hopefully, he’ll take his butt-whooping like a man. I fight the best, that’s what gets me up. I don’t care about records, accolades or what you’ve done in the past, what matters is April 12."
Bradley is undefeated in 31 fights but still feels doubted. He is not always the flashiest fighter but always seems to find a way to win.
"I’m a different fighter now. I’m happy fans have seen me grow as a fighter and as a person with everything that I went through," Bradley said. "I showed two sides of me in 2013. I brawled it out with Provodnikov, fans around the world loved that I put my life on line. Every fighter does when they’re in the ring, but I really did that fight. Then they saw my superb boxing lesson with Marquez."
Despite those wins, the prevailing feeling is that a motivated Pacquiao gets his revenge. That is fine with Bradley. He has gotten up from punches that might have ended careers of other fighters and gritted his way through every challenge he has ever faced.
"It’s not going to be easy for either fighter," Bradley said. "I’m grateful for this opportunity. I just don’t see how this could be a bad fight for any fan. My main focus is wining by all means. I will not take no for an answer."