The Pacquiao Fight Has More Meaning

Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley were together again Thursday morning in the theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City. They said little to each other and they know each other well having met two previous times in the ring. There is that mutual respect that Bradley gives to Pacquiao, the eight-division world champion.

And promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, who holds the rights to both fighters knows how much Pacquiao has meant to him. But this fight, a trilogy between the two at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on April 9th and televised on HBO pay-per-view, has more meaning for Pacquiao.

Pacquiao, as he stated on Tuesday in Los Angeles on the first of a two-city press tour made it known the third encounter with Bradley will be his last fight. And for Arum, his loyal promoter, that fight will mean the end of an era though with Bradley the significance is a win or loss will mean more to come.

So why did Pacquiao, coming off a disappointing unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. In May choose a rubber match with Bradley to be his last opponent? And like any fighter who hangs up the gloves there is always speculation about an eventual return, amid talk about there possibly being another Pacquiao- Mayweather fight.

Mayweather says his legacy was complete after the disposing of Pacquiao, a fight that did not live up to expectations. That win put Mayweather in the record books as the only fighter to tie the undefeated mark of the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. Mayweather, Pacquiao, and Arum went to the bank and into the record books with a fight that generated 4.5 million pay-per-view buys and over $400 million in television revenue.

Said Arum again Thursday, “I won’t promote this as Manny’s last fight. He said he is going to retire and maybe he will. Truth is you never know with any boxer but I haven’t known Manny to say things he doesn’t mean. But we all realize this could be the last time he fights.”

It is a trilogy, though the hype is not revolving around that theme. Pacquiao could have chose Amir Khan or took on Terence Crawford. But he chose Timothy Bradley who beat him in a controversial decision the first time and Pacquiao returned the favor with a dominating win the second time in their April 2014 rematch.

“I think it’s good to have the third fight,” said Pacquiao. “This is going to be a good fight better than the last two fights we had. Bradley is improving and learning new things.” That is the Manny Pacquiao we have all come to know over the years and frustration never seemed to be a part of his in and out of the ring repertoire.

Truth of the matter is, Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KO’s), a two division world champion who has held a world title every year since 2008, is a vastly improved fighter since having renowned trainer and ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas in his corner.

“I heard Manny Pacquiao chose me because he knows me,” Bradley said. “I think I’m different now. I honestly do. I think this fight will be different than the first two altercations we had.”

And if this third fight is different, well the skeptics who had doubts will indeed have a different opinion. A trilogy is always something to anticipate but after two fights that lacked drama, except for that first one that many believed Pacquiao clearly won, there was never any thought of seeing these two world class fighters do it a third time.

It’s not the Arturo Gatti/Micky Ward trilogy, and very few can match that. But it will be an intense fight with the added interest because this is supposedly the last time we see Manny Pacquiao in the ring.

Arum was deliberate in his words to the media Thursday. He realizes how significant that Manny Pacquiao legacy has meant to his company and how it possibly had more of an impact than his early dealings with Mayweather and the more happier times with Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya.

Yes this is the last training camp for Manny Pacquiao and his renowned trainer, Freddie Roach. They, with Arum, built a legacy and cemented their names in boxing history and a win or loss for Pacquiao will not change a perspective as to what the lone congressional representative from the Philippines has done for the sport of boxing.

Said Pacquiao, “I will do my best to prove that Manny Pacquiao is still in his prime before I hang up my gloves.” And if Pacquiao is not at his best in this final fight it won’t matter, because an eight-division champion mark on the resume is enough evidence to say what has been accomplished.

Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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