Tim Bradley questions Manny Pacquiao’s hunger, face-to-face
Toward the end of Saturday night's 15-minute HBO premiere of Face Off with Max Kellerman, Tim Bradley looked Manny Pacquiao directly into his eyes and questioned his rival's resolve.
"That hunger that he's looking for, it's no longer there. It's no longer there, and he can't get it back. It's gone. It's gone. It is, Manny. It's gone. Manny, you can't even sit here and say certain things that you would like to say because of what you believe in. It's not there anymore. I truly believe that. It's not there…The killer instinct. That's what I'm saying," said Bradley.
"I don't know how he lost it. Before, he was malicious. Before, he was blazing, like, 'I'm going to knock you out, I don't care.' But now, he's in a different place now. I'm telling you, he's not the same. He's not the same. I'm telling you. He's a tremendous fighter, like I've told you. He's a tremendous fighter. But I don't see it. I do not see it."
Pacquiao stared back at Bradley before responding.
"I pray that God can give me that fire," said Pacquiao. "Another fire. I will pray for that."
"Do you think that it's gone?" he asked. "Do you think that it's still there?"
"I believe that…Absolutely," said Pacquiao. "I can do that, in God's grace. Nothing is impossible with God."
Bradley (31-0, 12 knockouts) will face Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) in their return bout on HBO Pay Per View on April 12 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, site of Bradley's disputed split-decision that dethroned Pacquiao for the WBO's 147-pound belt in June 2012.
"This is like redemption. It's unfinished business," said Bradley. "This is like that dark cloud that's still looming over boxing. Like, confused about who won the fight and who didn't win the fight."
In his past three fights, Bradley dethroned Pacquiao, rose from a 12th-round knockdown to unanimously decision Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 and then won a split-decision over four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez in October.
"I continue, continue to beat the odds every time out every single time out. I don't understand. People don't believe in me. They don't think that I'm capable of doing it. I'm capable of doing anything that I want to do, as long as I put my mind to it and I work hard for it, I'm going to do whatever I want to do," said Bradley.
"I'm right in the forefront of greatness, and to being a superstar in the game. I'm a lot better then when I first faced Manny. I'm a lot better now. I'm a very smart fighter and a very intelligent fighter. He doesn't know what I'm going to do. He can guess, and train for whatever. You know what the hardest thing about me is, Pacquiao? Is that you just can't train for one thing. I can do it all in there. I can brawl and I can box."
After the Bradley fight, Pacquiao lost by sixth-round stoppage in December 2012 to Marquez, against whom Pacquiao is 2-1-1, before winning a unanimous decision over Brandon Rios in his most recent fight last November.
Against Rios, Bradley contended that what Pacquiao "lacked was the ability to finish like he used to," adding, the "power wasn't really there."
"I don't think that you're old. I don't think that you're not a great fighter. You're a great fighter. You're a tremendous fighter," said Bradley, who is 30. "But I just feel that it's my time, and that's it. That's all. That's all that it is. I have nothing bad to say about you, Manny, I just feel that it's my time."
"My time is not finished yet. My time is not done yet. I can say that," said Pacquiao, who turned 35 in December. "They should watch the fight to get rid of all of the question marks in their minds. This will answer all of the questions from the past. The last fight that we had, this is the answer on April 12."
On the night of the fight, Bradley defeated Pacquiao by scores of 115-113 on the cards of official judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, while Jerry Roth had it the same way for Pacquiao. An informal poll of 51 writers favored Pacquiao over Bradley, 48-3.
A five-member panel of judges convened by WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel unanimously scored in favor of Pacquiao after watching video of Bradley's win.
Bradley vehemently disagreed.
"I won the fight eight-to-four in Pacquiao-Bradley I," said Bradley. "I won that fight eight-to-four by out-boxing him. He missed the majority of the punches in threw in that one."
Bradley argued that he vanquished Pacquiao despite being hindered by pulled ligaments in his left foot and strained ligaments in his right that were suffered early in the fight.
"The first fight, Manny, I didn't have my feet under me from the second round on," said "," said Bradley, who attended the post-fight press conference in a wheelchair and with no shoes on his feet. "From the second round, I didn't have my footing. Fourth round, too. I hurt the other foot, Manny. This time, I'm going to be real healthy. Really healthy for this fight."
Bradley vowed to win the rematch more impressively.
"Manny, the only way that you're going to beat me is that you've got to knock me out. That's the only way that you're going to beat me, Manny. If you don't knock me out, Manny, you're not gonna win. I'm telling you that right now — you're not gonna win."
Having failed to score a knockout since stopping Miguel Cotto in the 12th round in November 2009 — he is 5-0-2 with no stoppage in his past seven bouts — Pacquiao, in turn, promised to return be more deliberate in their return bout.
"Sometimes, I'm so nice to my opponent. But this time, I need to bring back the aggressiveness. I have to focus and train hard and, not like before, underestimate him. I have to focus and get back the aggressiveness," said Pacquiao.
"I'm just too nice, sometimes…My plan in this fight is to throw a lot of punches. More than [in the Rios fight.] I don't care if the fight is stopped or not. This time, I have to prove that I can still give a good show. That I'm a hungry Manny Pacqiuiao. Aggressiveness."
The WBO has declared that the winner of Bradley-Pacquiao II must face that between Marquez and Mike Alvarado, who will fight on May 17.