LOS ANGELES: Timothy Bradley knows that in the minds of many there’s a blemish on his ostensibly perfect 31-0 ring record.
He’s aiming to set that right against Manny Pacquiao in April.
“This fight is to clean up the uncertainty, clean up the controversy, to redeem what I didn’t get after the first fight—which is the credit for beating Manny Pac–quiao,” Bradley said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) as the build-up to the April 12 bout in Las Vegas began.
There was no war of words as the two met the press in a glittering Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom, just mutual respect and a determination voiced by both fighters to set the record straight.
Bradley snatched Pacquiao’s welterweight belt on June 9, 2012 via a split decision, with two judges scoring it 115-113 for the American and a third scoring it 115-113 for Pacquiao.
With the win, unheralded Bradley snapped Pacquiao’s 15-fight, seven-year winning streak, but the decision sparked outrage in the boxing-crazy Philippines and in the United States, where two senators pushed for the creation of a national boxing commission to regulate the sport.
The World Boxing Organization later said the special panel it asked to review the bout said the decision should have gone to Pacquiao, but Bradley kept the WBO welterweight world title that he has since defended twice.
“I know in my heart I won the fight,” Bradley said. “This is for the people. This for the world so I can walk down the street and people will say, ‘Damn, you beat Manny Pacquiao.’”
Pacquiao’s loss to Bradley was followed by another defeat, against Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez later in 2012.
The back-to-back defeats had many speculating that Pacquiao, who boasts a record of 55-5-2 with 38 knockouts would soon retire from the ring and focus on his political career.
He beat American Brandon Rios in convincing fashion in Macau in November, and the 35-year-old promised on Tuesday that on April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Bradley would see “the young Pacquiao” with the aggression and speed that helped him earn eight world titles in as many weight classes.
“Both of us, we have something to prove in this fight,” Pacquiao said. “I want my title back and I am prepared to endure my hardest training camp ever to win this fight, Pacquiao said.
“This is going to be a good fight, more action. I’m thankful I have another chance to fight and I’ll fight aggressive and smart.”
Since moving up in weight to beat Pacquiao in 2012, Bradley has delivered two impressive title defences. He won a brutal 12-round decision over Ruslan Provodnikov, suffering a concussion in the process, and in October gained a split-decision victory over three-division world champion and Mexican icon Marquez.
Bradley says he’s eager to face a Pacquiao fighting at his peak. But he believes the ring icon has lost some of his drive.
“He’s very compassionate,” Bradley said. “He still has all the skill sets, he still can punch, I just feel the killer instinct is gone.”