CEBU CITY, Philippines – WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley has won the lottery to face Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 12. It will be a rematch to settle the controversy that tainted their first meeting in June 2012. (Related story on A-25)
Bradley scored a split 12-round decision to wrest the WBO crown from Pacquiao when they first met. Judges C. J. Ross and Duane Ford saw it 115-113 for Bradley while judge Jerry Roth had it 115-113 for Pacquiao. Ross and Ford gave Bradley five of the last six rounds to seal the deal, raising a howl from unbelieving fans. The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times scored it 117-111 for Pacquiao while ESPN and Harold Lederman of HBO, 119-109, also for the Filipino icon.
The outcry was so resounding that to appease the restive public, the WBO appointed five independent veteran judges to re-score the fight on a tape review. All the five judges favored Pacquiao, 117-111 twice, 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113. The judges were from New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico.
Bradley, 30, has moved on to defend the WBO title twice, first over Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov and next to Juan Manuel Marquez. The Desert Storm knelt to take an eight-count late in the 12th round and held on to beat Provodnikov on points. He suffered a concussion in the fight and admitted it was like surviving hell to finish on his feet. Marquez looked like a ghost of his old self in bowing to Bradley last October but as usual, protested his loss by split decision. Now, Bradley is ready to take on Pacquiao in a rematch that could put the first stain on his record of 31-0, with 12 KOs.
Pacquiao, 35, was knocked out by Marquez in his first outing since losing to Bradley but rebounded to decisively beat Brandon Rios in Macau last November. He appears headed towards a collision course with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. but before that happens, there is unfinished business with Bradley and maybe later, Marquez. A win over Bradley will bring Pacquiao back on the throne. It could also lead to a fifth encounter with Marquez in November and the showdown with Mayweather next year. Both Pacquiao and Mayweather plan to retire in 2015 and the speculation is they’ll hang up their gloves after finally squaring off.
Pacquiao confirmed Bradley as his next opponent before boarding a PAL flight to this southern city yesterday. He said the appointment is on April 12 and it won’t be moved even as his wife Jinkee is expected to give birth to their fifth child, a boy, late that month. Jinkee will not travel with Pacquiao to watch the fight in Las Vegas because of her condition.
Pacquiao will train for the fight in Los Angeles. A new exclusive one-fighter-at-a-time training facility is waiting for him below the Wild Card Gym. Freddie Roach bought the space that used to be a Laundromat on the ground floor of the two-storey strip mall on Vine Street and turned it into a compact gym with a full-sized boxing ring, training equipment, exercise machines and a spacious dressing room and bathroom.
Pacquiao visited the famous dancing inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center here yesterday afternoon. He will conduct a Bible Study in his continuing religious crusade at the Hoops Dome in Lapu Lapu City tonight. Tomorrow morning, he flies to Tagbilaran City on former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis (Chavit) Singson’s private jet for a Bible Study and later that day, returns to General Santos City.
Pacquiao said he would’ve liked to attend the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards Night at the Manila Hotel tonight but couldn’t reschedule the religious crusades in Cebu and Bohol because thousands had been previously informed of his visit.
Pacquiao wasn’t able to meet with Sugar Shane Mosley who was in Manila from Tuesday to yesterday. Mosley said he looked forward to paying his respects to his tormentor. Pacquiao, however, spoke with lawyer Sydney Hall on the phone and sent his regards to Mosley. Hall arrived in Manila a day before Mosley and is involved in the United Boxing Relief Fund which the former champion is endorsing.