Politics fuels Pacquiao’s ring mission

(The Freeman) - March 28, 2016 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach wants Manny Pacquiao to make an impression against Timothy Bradley, surprisingly not to satiate his longing to see his brightest student back in his old deadly form but for political reasons.

In a wide-ranging interview with Bad Left Hook and Fighthub, Roach said he has never seen Pacquiao this motivated while prepping up for a major bout.

"Manny is motivated. He trains the same for anybody. He doesn't care who the opponent is. He's very motivated to win this fight, for sure," said Roach.

The sport's only eight-division world champion is set to face Bradley for the third time in the ring on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

During their first meeting in 2012, Bradley won by a dubious split decision that is perceived by many as boxing's biggest robbery in recent memory.

The Filipino ring star though scored a sweet redemption when he beat Bradley to the pulp in their one-sided rematch two years ago.

Roach expects a completely different fight this time, with Bradley showing a significant improvement under the eagle-eyed strategist Teddy Atlas.

Interestingly, Roach egged on Pacquiao to come up with a decisive victory, not to prove a point but to jack up his bid for a seat in the Philippine Senate in the forthcoming May elections.

"I think he has a new coach, and we're trying to change and try some new stuff. It could be a little bit different. ... I'm urging Manny to win by knockout, because the better he looks in the fight, the more votes he gets as Senator. And that's the truth," said Roach.

In making such remarks, Roach is perhaps unmindful of the politial circus that is going on in the country, where Pacquiao's fellow Senatoriable Walden Bello is urging the Commission on Elections to halt Pacquiao’s third bout with Bradley on grounds that it violates the fair elections law.

The Comelec even plans to block the fight broadcast in the archipelago, noting that it would give Pacquiao undue advantage over his fellow candidates in terms of media exposure.

The Comelec has not yet decided on the matter but as far as Top Rank chairman Bob Arum is concerned, the fight is already a go, stressing that there is no conflict of interest between the bout and Pacquiao’s bid to become senator.

"There's no chance the (election) commission will force him to postpone the fight. Our attorneys looked into this very carefully before we made the fight (with Bradley) and there was nothing there to suggest Manny's fighting constitutes a conflict of interest in terms of campaigning," Arum earlier told Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Now that both parties have already presented their sides, it's now up to the Comelec to resolve the ticklish issue. Let's just wait and see what happens next in this unique battle Pacquiao is facing where his pursuit of sporting glory tends to mix with his political aspirations. (FREEMAN)

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