Pacquiao’s career to end with underwhelming Bradley trilogy
Lee Gormley | February 10, 2016
Manny Pacquiao’s last hurrah?
After bursting onto the professional scene back in 1995, Manny Pacquiao has since reached dizzy heights during his incredible career, captivating the boxing world with his ferocious Filipino approach and devastating knockout power.
Such ring talents have made ‘Pacman’ the first and only ever eight division world champion, securing him 10 world titles across such weight classes, but ‘the People’s Champion’ is set to leave his adoring fans feeling underwhelmed later this year, despite his achievements to date.
Pacquiao’s gallant climb from the slums to the top of boxing’s pound-for-pound rankings has previously seen him earn accolades such as ‘Fight of the Year’ for the 2000s, having overcome many greats like Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto in his time. Though the conclusion of a Timothy Bradley trilogy may not be the finale many were expecting, but it’s one that he is heavy odds-on 4/11 favourite with Coral to win.
Although, after two illustrious decades in the ring, and on the back of that high-profile humbling at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr last year, this long-standing superstar could soon exit the boxing stage for good with one more mellow performance.
‘Pacman’ following Mayweather out of ring
In what was dubbed ‘the Fight of the Century’, ‘Pacman’ was simply outclassed by a more clever, agile champion in ‘Money’ Mayweather, as the Filipino legend endured a unanimous decision loss in Las Vegas with the world watching on.
Since then, his undefeated conqueror has called time on his own long-standing, and flawless, career, with Pacquiao seemingly set to follow suit later this year, after colliding with ‘Desert Storm’ for a third time since 2012 on April 9th.
Mayweather, regarded as the finest technician to ever grace the ring, surprisingly chose Andre Berto as his last opponent last September, ultimately outclassing the two-time welterweight world champion before riding off into the money-laden sunset.
Following such a one-sided contest in what he claimed to be his last ring outing, Mayweather has since been quizzed at every opportunity as to whether he will return, and continues to keep everyone guessing with subtle hints and refusals to declare himself definitively retired.
Pacquiao will soon face a similar path, taking on a far from intriguing match-up for his apparent curtain call bout but, with Bradley having recently returned to form under the new guidance of Tony Atlas, ‘Pacman’s’ so-called finale may not run as smoothly as Mayweather’s.
Bradley bullish ahead of third showdown
The announcement that the 37-year-old’s last hurrah would be with the completion of a Bradley trilogy was met mainly with groans from fight fans, having already witnessed Pacquiao being robbed blind by judges in 2012 and then returning to categorically dominate the American two years later.
Although, ahead of the third showdown between the pair, the now 32-year-old Bradley declared himself an improved competitor since undertaking Atlas’ mentoring in his corner, having outpointed Jessie Vargas and stopped Brandon Rios last year.
“The question is for him because this is his last fight, not mine. My career goes on after this. It is his last fight, so what does that mean to him?” stated Bradley, who is 9/4 to avenge his only career setback to Pacquiao with victory in April.
“He’s done a lot for sports. He’s done a lot for boxing, just to share the ring with him and have that opportunity is certainly a privilege.
“I’m a different Bradley now, way more poise, way wiser, everything is different now.
“I think it honestly has a lot to do with my performance in the last fight. I think it opened a lot of eyes. Teddy Atlas thought of the same, and that change a lot of things too, the dynamics of everything, the dynamics of this fight.
There’s no doubt this contest at the MGM Grand will still generate a huge following, with it seemingly being the last time to witness Pacquiao in the squared-circle but, with two Bradley contests already having taken place, what is there to prove with a third instalment?
Inspirational ‘Pacman’ next entering politics
For a generation which was ruled over by the brash words and loud presence of Mayweather, it was pleasing to also have enjoyed the more level-headed career of Pacquiao, and the Filipino is set to put his inspiring journey and experiences to good use outside of the ring in retirement.
As well as being a 10-time world champion, the deeply religious champion has already begun work with politics in his homeland, having been elected to the Philippine House of Representatives five years ago.
“Freddie is not only my coach, but my brother and thanks to the fans and the media. The greatest achievements in life are not what we do ourselves, but for other people,” outlined a typically appreciative and humble ‘Pacman’.
“Life is short. It’s important we love each other and show unity. It’s a great opportunity to have this last fight. I chose Bradley because he has improved a lot. I think it will be a great boxing match in the ring. Thanks to everyone for all the support.
“I will feel sad hanging up my gloves. But you can’t go on forever in the ring. I started boxing all those years ago to help my family, my mother. I want to end my boxing career now because my desire in my heart is to help my people, my country.”
The defeat to Mayweather may have tarnished his fighting legacy somewhat in May last year, but it’s clear Pacquiao has further ambitions after his final showdown, swapping intense training regimes for parliamentary duties. Though there are those who aren’t buying his retirement claims.
Roach sees his main man continuing
Experienced trainer Freddie Roach has long been by Pacquiao’s side and is one man that is not fully believing talk of retirement this year, claiming that his fighter may fight on after another Bradley confrontation.
“I don’t think this is his last fight for some reason. I just don’t see it because he has a lot left in him,” stated Roach.
“His work ethic is still great. I’d be disappointed if this was his last fight. I’ve been with him a long time, we had a great run. I’ll support whatever he does.”
Pacquiao’s long-standing promoter Bob Arum has also been busy outlining potential fights for the Filipino after April’s possibly underwhelming contest, with the veteran Top Rank founder seeing upcoming star Terence Crawford as a high-profile future opponent.
“If he beats [Hank] Lundy, we’ll do one more with Crawford in June or July and then I want to a big fight for Crawford, a big pay-per-view fight,” Arum declared.
Plenty of options for Pacquiao
“We’ll look at what’s available. If Manny beats Bradley and decides that he wants to keep fighting, then Crawford is the perfect opponent.”
‘Pacman’ isn’t short on options if he does decide that he isn’t ready to quit the sport just yet, with a Mayweather rematch undoubtedly the most desired outcome worldwide, but Bolton’s Amir Khan could have a say if he can do the unthinkable and overcome Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (2/1 to triumph).
“The reason why Mayweather and Pacquaio did not want any part of me was because I was too dangerous for them,” Khan exclaimed after securing a WBC middleweight title bout with Mexican star Canelo.
“They felt that Amir was going to make them look bad. They are beatable and I have the tools to beat them at my weight. Canelo is going to be a much tougher fight for me.”
Final defeat could hinder Filipino’s legacy
Whether or not ‘Pacman’ does opt to soon embark on a new journey outside of boxing could depend on the actual outcome of his match-up with a rejuvenated Bradley.
The California bruiser was shockingly awarded a split decision victory in their initial 2012 meeting, before comprehensively losing two years later, with this third contest being regarded as a decider for the pair’s rivalry.
Many illustrious champions have made the wrong call with their careers throughout history, some going on too long and suffering for it, while others have simply left prematurely.
Pacquiao could easily fall into either category. A defeat to Bradley would leave his record reading seven professional defeats and, after falling short in three of his last six outings to Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez and next foe Bradley, the Filipino faces the prospect of tarnishing his boxing legacy in Las Vegas this year.
Questions will always be asked as to whether the outcome of Mayweather against Pacquiao would have ended any differently had they collided years earlier at the height of the latter’s powers.
Nevertheless, another tussle with Bradley was definitely not the finale that was hoped for this all-round boxing great, who will still go down in history as one of the best to ever enter the ring.