Timothy Bradley crossed the threshold of pay-per-view fights when he faced Manny Pacquiao 20 months ago. Yet, instead of reveling in the experience of reaching premium fight status, Bradley had to deal with skeptics questioning the bout’s outcome.
Bradley won a disputed split decision to become the first fighter to defeat Pacquiao in seven years. For Bradley, the outcry toward the decision became a noticeable side-plot in his subsequent fights.
Only a rematch with Pacquiao would allow Bradley the occasion to overcome the doubts and respond to his naysayers. Bradley finally will have his opportunity after he and Pacquiao agreed to a return bout April 12 in Las Vegas.
“This is all about redemption,” Bradley said in a news conference last week, when both fighters officially announced the bout. “I need Manny. He needs me. I’m going to beat him again. I am the younger and better fighter.”
Although the majority of the fight public seemingly saw it differently, Bradley, 30, said he won eight of the 12 rounds in the first fight. Two judges scored it closer —115-113 — but enough to earn Bradley the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt.
One of the judges who scored the bout for Bradley was C.J. Ross, later criticized and eventually removed as Nevada fight scorer after her ludicrous 114-114 verdict in Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s convincing performance against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez last September.
“I know the first time around no one believed that I won that fight against Manny Pacquiao,” Bradley said. “But second time around I have to make it more decisive in everybody’s eyes, including [the media], that I won the second fight.
“I get excited because I embrace challenges. I love when people say that I can’t do something because I love to prove them all wrong like I have been doing my whole career.”
While he waited for a second bout against Pacquiao, Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) survived a late brutal assault from Ruslan Provodnikov and won a tight unanimous decision in March 2013. Bradley sustained a concussion from the fight’s punishing toll, but he rebounded and won a technically sound split decision against Pacquiao nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez seven months later.
In his first bout following the loss to Bradley, Pacquiao, 35, suffered a sixth-round knockout loss against Marquez. Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) took nearly a year off before returning to the ring with a lopsided decision win against Brandon Rios last November.
“This is nothing new to me now,” Bradley said. “I’m in a different position than I was the first time I faced Manny Pacquiao. I’m more relaxed. I’m more poised. I know I’m going to be the underdog even though I’m the champion. I want to be the underdog because I’m still set out to prove that I am one of the best fighters in the world.
“I really, really want this fight and I want to prove a lot of people wrong.”
Around the ring
Ten months after a technical knockout loss that marred his previously unblemished record, Miami resident Angelo Santana will make his anticipated ring return. Santana will face Hank Lundy on Feb. 21 in Cleveland.
The scheduled 10-round lightweight bout will be Santana’s first since Bahoodir Mamadjonov stopped him in nine round last April in Las Vegas. A native of Cuba, Santana, 25, had won his first 14 professional fights, including 11 by knockout before the setback against Mamadjonov.
The fight will be televised by Showtime as part of its ShoBox series.