Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley will meet on April 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in a rematch of their controversial 2012 welterweight title bout.
The deal was finalized mid-Saturday morning when Top Rank got Bradley to agree to terms. Top Rank president Todd duBoef said the deal will ensure the company "has a long-term relationship with Tim regardless of whether he wins or loses," on April 12.
Bradley won the first bout, on June 9, 2012, in Las Vegas, in a hotly disputed split decision. Most observers felt that Pacquiao had won the bout. Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank was so outraged that he called for the Nevada attorney general to investigate.
The WBO, which sanctioned the 2012 bout and will sanction the April match for its welterweight title, also conducted an investigation and determined that Pacquiao deserved to win. Its findings had no bearing on the outcome, though Bradley retains the WBO title and it will be at stake on April 12.
That outcome led to cries of a fix. However, an investigator for the Nevada attorney general's office found no evidence to support that.
Neither of the two judges who scored that fight 115-113, or seven rounds to five, in favor of Bradley are still active judges. Duane Ford and C.J. Ross both stepped away from judging. Ross resigned under fire after she scored the 2013 bout between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez a draw when most thought the fight was easily in Mayweather's favor.
"We both have a lot we need to get off of our chests," Bradley told Yahoo Sports. "There are still a lot of questions that need to be asked and answered. People wonder about me being the best and fighting the best. Pacquiao needs to show he still has it by fighting and beating one of the best in the game. This is an opportunity to seal the deal in everyone's eyes for both of us."
Despite the controversy, duBoef isn't concerned that the controversy will impact the rematch. He said Bradley's performances against Ruslan Provodnikov in the Yahoo Sports Fight of the Year and Juan Manuel Marquez have erased the sting of the scoring for many.
"Manny felt he won that fight and he wanted the loss off of his record, so to speak," duBoef said. "Tim felt he won and wants to prove that this time, so we made the rematch. Because of the way that Tim fought against Provodnikov and Marquez, the last impression the consumers have of him is as a star and that's going to ease people's vision of their first fight as a less-than-pleasant result."
The aftermath of the first fight wasn't pleasant for Bradley, but he says he's put it behind him. He said he wants to prove he's the best and beating Pacquiao without controversy will help him do that.
Pacquiao is coming off a Nov. 23 win over Brandon Rios in China, but Bradley expects Pacquiao to fight him differently.
"It's going to be a different fight because Rios and I are different kind of fighters," Bradley said. "Rios is not a slouch. He's a big puncher, and I'm a lighter puncher than he is. Rios stung him a couple of times in there, but Manny didn't try to finish. He seemed a bit timid and didn't want to engage. Me, I'm a lighter puncher, and I think he'll feel he has the advantage as far as power and will try to take me out.
"I'm a different kind of a fighter. I've been in the ring with him already and I know him and he knows me. I'm going to have to prepare a game plan that will help me eliminate the mistakes I made and to take advantage of the ones he makes."
Pacquiao is guaranteed $20 million and Bradley is guaranteed $6 million. Both have pay-per-view upside in their deals.
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