Today Post: MGM Grand” Eight-division- world champion Manny Pacquiao returned Tuesday to the scene of some of his greatest victories, and perhaps his two most crushing defeats.
Manny Pacquiao, 35, proved that despite two consecutive epic losses, his loyal following remains.
The fighting congressman from the Philippines was mobbed by hundreds of fans as he entered the lobby of the MGM Grand, where on Saturday in the Grand Garden Arena he will attempt to win his WBO welterweight belt back from undefeated champ Timothy Bradley (HBO pay-per-view, 9 p.m. ET). It’s the rematch of their June 2012 fight, which was won by Bradley in a split decision that became one of the most controversial in boxing history.
Bradley was awarded the victory against Pacquiao despite most experts, including HBO resident judge Harold Lederman, scoring it for Pacquiao by a comfortable margin. The decision set off a firestorm of controversy, including an investigation by the Nevada Attorney General’s office. Bradley, 30, has said he felt he won eight of the 12 rounds.
Pacquiao’s legion of fans were just happy to see the future hall of famer back in the U.S., where he has not fought in 16 months. His most recent bout, a unanimous decision victory against Brandon Rios in Macau, got him back on the winning track following bitter losses to Bradley and, of course, the stunning sixth-round knockout by nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012.
After his fans got to spend some time with Pacquiao, he and his longtime trainer Freddie Roach sat down with several reporters and touched on a number of subjects.
Roach on the relationship between the two: “Manny’s been the greatest guy in the world to me. It’s the best thing that ever happened when he walked through my (Wild Card Gym) doors. That’s why I built the gym, in case a Manny Pacquiao ever walked through the doors. We’ve had a great run. I don’t think it’s close to being over. His work ethic is so great, he’s training really hard, he’s not missing a step anywhere.”
Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) on his loss to Bradley: If you think about it, you’re going to feel sad because you’re winning and then you lose the fight. But that’s part of boxing and you have to accept that not all the time you’re on the winning side. Sometimes you go to the loser’s side. You have to offset that.
Roach on whether Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) has enough the power to hurt Pacquiao: Anybody in the world can throw a punch and knock somebody out. But the thing is, we don’t plan on getting hit that much by him.
Pacquiao on how he feels about fighting at roughly the same time his wife Jinkee is expected to give birth to their fifth child, a son who will be named Israel: “I miss my family; they’re not here, but I’m excited for the fight and after I have to go back home for the (birth of my son).
Pacquiao on his fight against Rios: I’m so happy because I (found I) still have that hunger and I still have that skill of boxing, even though I didn’t fight for one year. But I proved that I can still box and continue my journey.
Pacquiao on former President Bill Clinton telling him last week on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night TV show that he would someday be president of the Philippines: I will not comment on that because it’s going to be a big issue in the Philippines (then laughs heartily).
Roach on what they learned from the first Bradley fight: It was a good learning lesson for us, that when you get a guy hurt you get him out of there because then there’s no judges and no bad decisions. It was a good experience. Manny definitely had chances where he hurt him and could’ve finished him.
Pacquiao on how he knows he defeated Bradley: I’ve been in boxing more than 20 years, and I know who wins and who loses.
Roach on whether Pacquiao will try to knock Bradley out: If you look for a knockout, bad things happen. If it happens, it happens.