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Pacquiao and the man who isn't there

BOXING

As he prepares for June 9 bout against Bradley, he's still talking (and thinking?) about Mayweather.

February 22, 2012|Lance Pugmire
  • Manny Pacquiao, left, and Timothy Bradley pose at a news conference in Beverly Hills on Tuesday.
Manny Pacquiao, left, and Timothy Bradley pose at a news conference in Beverly… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

Spend enough time around hard-core boxing followers, and their opinions begin taking the shape of gospel.

Timothy Bradley is stronger and younger than Manny Pacquiao, the argument starts. Some say that Pacquiao was "exposed" as an older, less powerful fighter in his narrow November decision over Juan Manuel Marquez.

And that Bradley, 28, can beat Pacquiao, 33, in their June 9 fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Wait, what?

"It's a tough test, this is a young guy coming up to take on the established guy and being undefeated can make you highly resilient to losing," Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach said about Bradley during a Beverly Hills news conference Tuesday.

"But I don't think we're that old. And I don't think he can match Manny's speed. Bradley likes to come in with his head, but I'll have Manny put his fists where that head will be."

Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 knockouts) is more than a 4-to-1 favorite to successfully defend his World Boxing Organization welterweight belt against Cathedral City's Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs).

"Bradley's a strong boxer -- undefeated, very hungry to fight me -- the kind of fight you cannot underestimate," Pacquiao said. "I know I need to train very hard."

While Bradley is preparing for what he called "the fight of my life," Pacquiao has to find motivation to win what's effectively a replacement fight while keeping alive the diminishing hope of staging a November super-fight against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Pacquiao spent more time explaining Tuesday why the Mayweather fight isn't happening than discussing the Bradley challenge.

"I don't think he's ready to fight now," Pacquiao said of Mayweather, who instead chose to take on super-welterweight champion Miguel Cotto on May 5. "I told Floyd last month over the phone that we need to make this fight happen, that 'I'm OK with a 50-50 deal,' and he said, 'I'll give you $40 million guaranteed and no pay-per-view money.' "

Pacquiao laughed Tuesday as he recalled the conversation. His advisor, Michael Koncz, speculated that each man could make $70 million for the bout, and Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, had authorized extending $50-million guarantees to both men, Koncz said.

"I didn't want to accept the [Mayweather] offer," Pacquiao said. "It's embarrassing to me, like he's trying to take advantage of me. It said to me he doesn't want to fight now."

Pacquiao said he wants to honor the wishes of his 11-year-old son, Manny Jr., who recently asked him not to end his boxing career without defeating Mayweather.

Yet, Pacquiao also said Tuesday he anticipates taking only "a couple more fights" before retiring.

Roach bluntly said that a November Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-bout is "definitely possible" because "they both will have nowhere else to go."

As long as Bradley doesn't pull the upset.

"I have the skills and defense to compete with Pacquiao," Bradley said. "I feel it's time for a new face in boxing. And that's me. [Pacquiao] hasn't seen my caliber of fighter in a long time. Speed for speed, punch for punch, I'm right there with him.

"If he's thinking retirement, that's in my favor. I'm in my prime."

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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