We tick down to the final days before Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley renew in fairly violent fashion acquaintances.
This time things are different, with Bradley on an ascent, with a new master motivator in his corner, and Manny is coming off a loss to the best in the business, and wears a busted halo, after admitting he'd dreamt he'd lose to Floyd Mayweather and then after the loss cited a bum right shoulder for his so-so showing, and then dishonored himself by smearing gay people.
The vibe going into this one isn't over the top vibrant. Many fans would have preferred Pacman, if indeed this is his last tango in this realm, had been tested by young gun and maybe heir to the top of the Top Rank chain Terence Crawford. But no…names win out, familiarity doesn't always only breed contempt, it often gets you the gig, because people are comfortable with what and who they know.
The prinicplals gathered at the MGM for a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the last chance to vehemently hype the Saturday evening show, which will be offered on pay per view, with HBO's help.
The promoter Bob Arum, now 84, fresh off a victory lap celebrating 50 years in these shark filled waters of the fight game, presided. The Bobfather welcomed the press and told the assembled, and those watching on stream, that this would be the final chapter in the Pacman-Bradley rivalry.
He played nice with former rival Richard Sturm, who heads up the MGM properties, and with the enthusiasm of a vegan at a hot dog eating contest, said no joint does hosting big bouts as well as the MGM does.
Tim Bradley was introed by Arum. The Cali based boxer, who admitted he pondered taking his own life after getting flak for winning the first Pacquiao-Bradley scrap, thanked God for the opportunity. He thanked wife Monica, who helped hold the family together during his depressed spell, and offers him “everlasting love.” She is now his manager, and manages the family and never complains. “Monica Bradley, Super Woman,” he called her. He moved on to Atlas, and thanked him for coming back to the training side, and helping him grow as a human being. He thanked the Atlas family for being on board with having Teddy in Cali training Tim for two months. He offered thanks to his mom and dad and grandparents, and then Top Rank. He said he re-upped with Top Rank, so rivals can quit bugging him to come aboard. He drew laughs for pointing out that MGM gave him fruit and candy as a welcome, and had him wondering about sabotage. He ended with a nod to Team Pacquiao, and he appreciates the opportunity to get a third try. No, Manny doesn't need to KO him to win a Senate seat, as has been printed, Bradley said. Manny deserves full credit for being a stellar being, and is “the only one” who is capable of doing the best job for those citizens. It was to me uncomfortable to watch, because Bradley was offering a glowing endorsement. It was a strange moment, it must be said, because he said he wants Manny to win. Where was the growl and eff that sonuvabitch mindset? I guess well wishes can be separated and he can turn it up and be totally nasty and dialed in Saturday, but this sort of thing can happen when the stakes get so large and one guy is guaranteed $20 million and the other $4 million.
Arum then started lauding Manny. He noted that Filipino election laws limit TV time for a candidate, and that Bradley took some of the time. He shared that Pacman is a humanitarian, and brought the Fighting Congressman to the mic. Pacman thanked God, and MGM, and recalled his first fight here. “Please watch this fight because I believe there is more action than the last two fights” because of the addition of Teddy Atlas, Manny said. “Don't miss it, ” and he will do his best to give a good show. He thanked the press for covering him, and said he wanted to give inspiration to all people, and we should all stay humble, and weirdly, to me, he warned that all of us will face judgement day. He didn't offer a Leviticus quote, though, thankfully. He said the press conference is not for fighting, that will happen Saturday. After some tagalog, he said he came from nothing, from the streets, no food in his belly, and he thanked God for rising above. I love the poor people, and love to help them, he said, lapsing, slickly, into the political arena. “I might….this….this my last fight,” he said, and some of the moneys made from boxing have gone to poor people in his homeland.
Arum said most of the money he's earned, after paying taxes, goes to poor people. The promoter said the fighter gave poor fishermen over there motors, after he realized they spent more time paddling to where the tuna are than they did fishing. He said he's opened hospitals and schools and is their social welfare system. “I'm very, very proud of Manny Pacquiao,” he said, in closing.
Before Manny and Bradley spoke, Arum presented Team Pacquiao up on the dais, and brought Coach Freddie Roach to the mic. Dedham Freddie said camp was great, Manny is in great shape and he thanked all the helpers, and wished Bradley the best of luck. Nope, no talk of a knockout or a slap at rival Teddy Atlas.
Arum next welcomed Teddy Atlas, training Bradley for the second bout, to the mic. “Like the old timers would say, it's all over but the shooting,” he noted. He called Pacman “one of the greatest talents you're ever going to see.” He knows how good Manny is, and his guy also has a superior level of will and skill, so that will make for a great fight. He said Tim is on weight and he “feels as confidently as I can humanly feel in such a tough business.” Bradley will rise to the occasion and “find a way to win,” he finished. No slaps at Roach, no last minute inflammatory talk to snag an extra thousand buys.
Arum told all about the odds and said it's going to be a close match, not that you should believe him, because nobody believes promoters, he cracked, and how can you blame them? That's what you get from an 84 year old collection of fucks not given, lol.
The promoter did some sponsor smooching, of Tecate, and the forthcoming movie “Hands of Stone,” in theaters this August. Roberto Duran, Arum told us, will be in Vegas to help hype the fight. Also, the winner of the “American Idol” finale winner will sing the national anthem Saturday evening.
Bob Bennett, the former FBI man who is executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, took to the mic. He thanked Arum for choosing to have the event in Vegas and lauded Arum for his decades in the sphere.
Tony Walker represented HBO at the mic, and he thanked all for coming out, and noted that the undercard is strong, with outcomes in doubt. You can also watch, on the HBO Now app, the support programming leading to the climax.
WBO boss Paco Valcarcel spoke and smooched Bob, telling him he looked younger all the time. He pronounced the main event a pick 'em fight. The winner, he stated, will receive a majestic diamond encrusted WBO belt, and the main eventers hopped up and posed with the trinket.
The No Trump Undercard presser will unfold tomorrow, Thursday, for the record, Arum said.
“It's gonna be a great, great fight. Don't take it from me, because you can't trust me, take it from the oddsmakers,” said The Bobfather, “they told you that this is a close, close fight.”
And that was a wrap…