Pacquiao-Bradley III: Winner fights another day, loser retires?
This is supposed to be Manny Pacquiao’s final fight. However, it appears that a window may be open for the Filipino to continue fighting should he look impressive against Tim Bradley on April 9 in Las Vegas.
This isn’t supposed to be Bradley’s final fight. But at Wednesday’s final press conference, he sure spoke like a man who was on his way out.
If the lines are blurred as to whose career is on the line when the trilogy is completed Saturday night, maybe it is because, in a strange way, both of their careers are at stake.
At 37 years of age, Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts) admits that he’s pretty much accomplished all that he can in the sport of boxing, except defeating Floyd Mayweather. There’s no doubt that he will be in the Hall of Fame as the only fighter who has won world championships in eight different weight classes. But at his age, nothing left to prove and with his eyes on a senate seat in his home country, Pacquiao stated that his next fight would be his last.
“You know my life: I came from nothing, experienced sleeping in the street with no food and had to drink water to survive,” Pacquiao said before crediting his religion with giving him the opportunity and gifts to become what he is today. “I love to help the poor people. All the pay-per-view and tickets you buy are not (being kept) for my family alone. I’m using that for the community who needs the help. I didn’t announce that but now I can because I am retiring. The money that you paid for boxing to support us, there are thousands of people you are supporting.”
While that sounds like an amazing way to leave the sport and become an ambassador of the people, there have been some signs of Pacquiao perhaps returning for another fight. Obviously, if Floyd Mayweather were to end his retirement, a rematch would be enough to get the Filipino to lace up the leather for one more fight. However, Freddie Roach has suggested in so many words that there could be an extension to Pacquiao’s career.
But in order for the idea of Pacquiao continuing past April 9 to become reality, he is going to have to impress against Bradley. Should he look like the Pacquiao of old, the calls from his supporters to continue fighting will be loud and clear. And Pacquiao isn’t one to ignore the people. But if he were to lose to Bradley, walking away would be a lot easier. It’s much simpler to blame retirement on not having “it” anymore rather than putting together your best performance in years and walking away. There will always be inquiries on what he could have done next and he would likely seek another fight if that were the case.
Conversely, things are a little trickier for Tim Bradley. At 32, Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) is certainly not on his way out. After his thrilling performance against Brandon Rios last November, one can argue that he is looking better than ever with Teddy Atlas in his corner. He hasn’t accomplished everything he has set out to do and getting the Pacquiao monkey off of his back is imperative to his career.
“This is about legacy for me,” Bradley said at Wednesday’s press conference. “If I’m going to win this fight, the time is now. I’m ready more than any other fight I’ve been in. This is my last opportunity.”
Bradley would spend a lot of time thanking all of his supporters and family. Although he’s never at a loss for words, something was different about Bradley this time around. He appeared on the brink of tears at times as his emotions tried to get the best of him. He kept them in check as he rifled off names that have helped him to where he is at today. It certainly sounded more like a retirement speech than anything Pacquiao said. And that may be for good reason.
Even though their series is tied at one fight apiece, Bradley knows that most people view him as 0-2 against his Filipino opponent. In order to prove his value as a top attraction and possible pay-per-view commodity, Bradley absolutely has to win his fight.
A victory would put him 2-1 in the series and give him bragging rights as the man who retired Manny Pacquiao. More importantly, his stock wouldn’t take a hit and he would be Top Rank’s best boxer. A loss would make him a Trivial Pursuit question as the guy who fought Pacquiao three times for no reason.
Bradley has never been Top Rank’s biggest draw despite his likable personality. But a victory against Pacquiao could go a very long way to helping him secure his legacy as one of the best boxers of our generation. He likely won’t retire if he loses, but what is there to gain if he continues fighting? This is his pinnacle and he needs to conquer it or risk being the guy who could beat everybody but Manny Pacquiao.
You see, Saturday night has a lot at stake for both combatants. The buzz may not be high for this fight but the stakes certainly are.