Manny Pacquiao appears to be in good spirits heading to Sunday’s rematch with American Timothy Bradley.
There have been few distractions, unlike in his previous fights. No elections to worry about, no taxmen breathing down his neck. No creditors knocking on his doors. No serious doubts about his ability to bounce back from a devastating loss. And the ghosts of 2012 already behind him.
With a Top Rank contract already renewed and locked down, all Pacquiao needs to take care of the man he will face in the ring on April 13 (April 12 in Las Vegas).
Bradley stole a victory from Pacquiao the first time they met in 2012, more than 22 months ago.
But as he said in his first ever privilege speech in Philippine Congress, he still has plenty of miles to go before he will call it quits. And it’s not just about the millions of dollars. Pacquiao cannot stop fighting with some of his legacies tarnished. He will have to clean up the messes that are Bradley and Marquez., and hopefully clinch that crowning glory of a fight with verbal tormentor Floyd Mayweather Jr. He has a few scores to settle yet.
But for the moment, it is Bradley, Bradley and Bradley between now and Sunday.
Pacquiao has admitted he took the American too lightly the first time around.
Bradley, too, has all the motivation to prove his victory was not the doing of the ‘goodfellas’ in Las Vegas.
While both have contrasting fighting styles, their thirst for a resounding victory may result in a different outcome.
Bradley took some considerable risks in engaging Pacquiao’s sparring partner Ruslan Provodnikov in a phone booth brawl in their fight in March last year. Bradley almost paid dearly but he showed his doubters he has what it takes to square up with Pacquiao. Then he conquered Marquez, Pacquiao’s long-time tormentor.
Bradley knows he may not get a decision in a close fight, a make-up call for his controversial split decision against Pacquiao.
Yes, Bradley will still try to use his speed in frustrating Pacquiao early in the fight, but he will jump at any opportunity that arises.
But more than Bradley, it is Pacquiao who needs a very conclusive victory to regain lost prestige and silence those critics who see him as a fighter already on the decline.
The fire in Pacquiao needs to come out. Pacquiao can no longer afford to fight in bursts and be contented with a decision victory.
He has to batter Bradley conclusively to set up a payback fight with Marquez. He needs a definitive victory to keep Mayweather from claiming the title of greatest in their generation. These are the two elephants in Pacquiao’s room, and he needs to show them the door.
But with two more years of boxing, Pacquiao needs to step up and be the Pacquiao of old.
After all, he has scores and debts to settle.