Manny Pacquiao has, along with Floyd Mayweather Jr., lapped the field in terms of in-ring achievements. The world's two best fighters are generally regarded as beatable only by each other.
But Timothy Bradley Jr. believes otherwise. The super lightweight champion signed a $5 million contract to face Pacquiao in a welterweight fight June 9 on pay-per-view at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Pacquiao will be defending his World Boxing Organization title.
And Bradley believes he can win the bout. He won't be, he said, "spooked by the crowd," or by the aura of Pacquiao. Fighting at 147 pounds will also be an advantage for him, he said, because making 140 had become increasingly difficult.
Just days before he fought Joel Casamayor on Nov. 12 on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight, Bradley weighed 145 pounds and had just 2 percent body fat. This time around, he said he'll be able to eat better during camp and thinks he'll be as strong as he's ever been, while retaining his quickness.
He is insistent that he'll have his hand raised.
"I have really good footwork, even though I haven't had to use it the last couple of fights," said Bradley, who said he expected to weigh 144 or 145 at the weigh-in. "I have fast hands and I can throw my punches and get out of the way. I also have great eyes, I believe. I see things and I'm a student of the game. I can look at film and read the videos and come up with a game plan and strategize.
"He hasn't fought anyone as young and hungry like I am in a long time. I am rough in there and I'm not afraid to mix it up. I know he's physical, too, but he hasn't seen anyone like me in a long time."
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Pacquiao and his advisor, Michael Koncz, are in the Philippines and unavailable for comment. However, Top Rank president Todd duBoef said one of the attractions in choosing Bradley as Pacquiao's next opponent is that Bradley is one of the few men in the world who is a legitimate threat to defeat Pacquiao.
Bradley, 28, soundly defeated Lamont Peterson in a Dec. 12, 2009, World Boxing Organization super lightweight title match, winning 10, 11 and 12 rounds on the three judges' cards.
On Dec. 10, Peterson defeated heavily favored Amir Khan to win the WBA and IBF versions of the super lightweight belt.
"You saw how Bradley dismantled Peterson and then you saw how neck-and-neck Peterson was with Khan," duBoef said. "This guy is a threat to Manny, absolutely. Bradley's got the speed and quickness and the reflexes, kind of like Floyd. He's that kind of fighter. He's a more crude version of Floyd, but he has an aggressive style and he's going to go after Manny."
Bradley is 28-0 with 12 knockouts and has struggled to gain recognition despite being ranked among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and fighting a slew of top contenders.
Fighting Peterson, Devon Alexander and Casamayor, though, is entirely different matter than fighting Pacquiao. Pacquiao is not only at another level physically, but there is a mental component that goes along with fighting him.
Bradley, though, insists it won't be an issue and that he'll step up when the bell rings.
"This is nothing different for me," Bradley said. "Manny is a great fighter, no doubt about it. How can you not respect him tremendously? He's one of the best in the world and has been for a long time. But he's human. He has two hands and two feet. He's a man, just like me. He's not God and I don't fear him.
"I won't fear the crowd and I won't be intimidated. This is the moment I've worked my whole life for and I'm going to take full advantage."
DuBoef said Pacquiao has not signed, but he said the sides have agreed to terms and the contract is being drawn up for him to endorse.
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