The comeback performance and triumph against Brandon Rios last November enabled Manny Pacquiao to again experience the customary arm raised in victory.
Now that he is reacquainted with winning, Pacquiao seeks to avenge the first of two consecutive losses in 2012 that led to an 11-month ring absence and removed him from pound-for-pound hierarchy. The native of the Philippines will attempt to reclaim a welterweight belt with his rematch against Timothy Bradley on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
For Pacquiao, the bout against Bradley completes a 22-month wait and continues his efforts at cleansing the worst year of his career. Bradley ended Pacquiao’s World Boxing Organization reign with a controversial split decision in their first bout in June 2012.
Frustrations increased after Pacquiao was knocked out by nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez six months later.
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“I’m not angry after the decision,” Pacquiao said of the first Bradley fight in a recent conference call. “The officials did their best, and no one is perfect in this world, and sometimes they make mistakes. It’s part of boxing. I wasn’t really bothered after the fight.”
Although he sees it as motivation, Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) is not concerned about Bradley’s comments that Pacquiao no longer possesses the fight-finishing power which knocked out Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in three consecutive fights. Bradley especially emphasized how Pacquiao, 35, failed to finish a smaller and defensively limited Rios.
Pacquiao, a seven-division world champion, has not stopped an opponent since his 12th-round TKO win over Cotto seven fights ago.
“The more he says it, the more it inspires me to show the hunger and the killer instinct he is talking about,” Pacquiao said. “I am not angry or disappointed about what he says to me, but I’m happy that he has told me that because it inspires me to train hard and to focus in the gym on my game plan and focus on the fight. It is a benefit for me.”
Pacquiao might not subscribe to a knockout-or-bust strategy, but Bradley’s ring approach and the fallout from the first bout’s scoring could force Pacquiao to maintain a busy and aggressive pace.
“I do not think Bradley will fight toe-to-toe with me either, so I will have to hunt him down,” Pacquiao said. “I am prepared for that. I am not going for a knockout, but if the opportunity presents itself I am going for it this time.”
Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) displayed two different strategies in his two bouts following the first fight with Pacquiao.
Instead of using his solid boxing skills, Bradley won a tight decision and absorbed relentless shots against Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley sustained a concussion as a result of the bout’s physical toll.
Against Marquez, Bradley utilized boxing and speed to win another close decision.
“Bradley, obviously, fought the better fight and boxed Marquez,” Pacquiao said. “I assume Marquez could not overcome Bradley’s skills and youth, and there was no [way] Bradley was going to go toe-to-toe after his battle with Ruslan Provodnikov.
“We are focusing on being more aggressive and throwing a lot of punches, and if the knockout comes, it comes. I just want to prove that I can have the hunger that it takes to get the job done.”
Miami resident Luis Ortiz remained unbeaten and improved his status as a heavyweight contender with his fourth-round knockout win over Monte Barrett on Thursday night in Indio, Calif.
Ortiz, a native of Cuba, is now 21-0 with 18 knockouts.