He returns to a familiar place, with an equally familiar opponent. Manny Pacquiao is taking no chances when he meets Timothy Bradley in what could be the last fight of his remarkable career.
There’s chatter in the background about a possible rematch with Floyd Mayweather, though that appears very unlikely. Their hugely hyped fight last May was a dud, and Mayweather has shown no interest – at least publicly – in changing his mind about retirement.
Pacquiao could be headed there himself, even if he beats Bradley in the rubber match of their series. He’s running for the Senate in the Philippines, a job that takes far more time than his current position of congressman in his native country, and polls make him a favorite in next month’s election.
Pacquiao might solidify his position in the polls with a win over Bradley in Saturday night’s welterweight fight at the MGM Grand, where he met Mayweather last May. Everyone loves a winner, though Pacquiao is already beloved by most people in the Philippines as the biggest sports hero the country has ever had.
Indeed, Bradley said he would be in Pacquiao’s corner if he had a vote.
‘He’s shown over and over that he is for the people and by the people and that he’s a man of his word,’ Bradley said. ‘He’s always shown that character and that integrity and I think he’s the right man for the job.’
Pacquiao has waffled about whether this is his last fight, saying he still loves boxing but his family wants him to retire. Trainer Freddie Roach said he believes Pacquiao has benefited from a year’s rest after the Mayweather fight and can go on at the age of 37, even though he hasn’t scored a knockout since 2009.
‘He hasn’t slowed down at all,’ Roach said. ‘He still has a couple fights left in him.’
Pacquiao weighed in Friday afternoon at 145 1/2 lbs to 146 1/2 lbs for Bradley. The welterweight limit is 147 lbs.
ALE OF THE TAPE: PACQUIAO
Height: 5ft 5½in
Total fights: 65
Wins by KO: 38
TALE OF THE TAPE: BRADLEY
Nickname: ‘Desert Storm’
Height: 5ft 6in
Total fights: 35
Wins by KO: 13