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Typical Team Pacquiao: Talking Mayweather, Looking Elsewhere

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COMMENTARY | Several media outlets are reporting that Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley have come to terms to face each other on April 12 in Las Vegas. The contest would be a rematch of their controversial 2012 encounter which saw Bradley take Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title via dubious split decision. Reportedly, all details have been hammered out and all that's left is the official contract signing.

The reports, originating from Nick Giongco of The Manila Bulletin, say that the formal announcement of Pacquiao-Bradley II will be made next week and that the media tour is set to kick off on February 4 in Los Angeles.

If these reports turn out to be true, it'll be yet another example of the bait and switch game Team Pacquiao has been playing with fans ever since Pacquiao first nixed a possible Mayweather bout in early 2010 over the issue of random blood testing.

Time after time, Mayweather is "called out," previous terms of negotiation are "agreed to," and the ball is said to be in Mayweather's court, coincidentally, right when Manny is just about to announce his next opponent. The timing of this routine challenge to Mayweather is always suspect and leads one to believe that Team Pacquiao has been merely engaged in issuing idle challenges at a conveniently belligerent Mayweather while all along making plans to fight someone else.

It could be argued that Team Pacquiao got four good years of cheap publicity from this tactic and, maybe most importantly for Manny, the Filipino icon got to keep his white hat in the good vs. evil Mayweather-Pacquiao power play.

From phantom negotiations to trumped-up deadline clocks to this latest full-on assault approach, Team Pacquiao has succeeded in controlling public opinion during this whole Floyd-Manny fiasco. And while able to convince a good chunk of the boxing world that Manny is bravely chasing after Mayweather, he also gets a free pass on fighting anyone he chooses because, "Floyd won't fight."

After four years of this, the pattern shouldn't be hard to see by even the most diehard of Pacquiao fans.

This time, though, the game was a little different. This time, Pacquiao actually went on the offensive and made plenty of public statements about his burning desire to give the fans the fight they want.

"Floyd, if you're a real man, fight me," Pacquiao recently told "Let's do it for the love of boxing and for the fans. Let's do it not for the sake of money. Let's make the boxing fans happy."

Manny even went so far as to say that he'd fight for free in a non-profit bout with Mayweather for the benefit of various worldwide charities.

Now, less than a week after this bold challenge, reports are emerging that negotiations with Timothy Bradley have finished and that contracts have been drawn up. All of this means, of course, that while Pacquiao was issuing challenges and questioning the manhood of Floyd Mayweather, the eight-division world champ's opponent for April 12 was already known by everyone in his team's inner circle. This also means that Pacquiao, once again, was issuing a challenge that he knew could not and would not be met.

None of this will likely change the fans' perception of who the villain is in this sad spectacle. Mayweather fans will stay loyal to Mayweather and Pacquiao fans will stay loyal to Pacquiao. History will likely favor Pacquiao in this mess, painting him as the one pursuing and trying to make things happen. The real question of culpability is a lot more complex.

Mayweather is not innocent in this ego-based, bout-killing feud; He's just not the one manipulating fans and keeping a dead fight alive for personal gain.

Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.

Sources: The Manila Bulletin, Inquirer, Boxingscene

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