LAS VEGAS – Timothy Bradley has said all along that Manny Pacquiao doesn’t want to be here. That his mind is elsewhere. That mentally he’s already moved on from boxing.
“He’s worn out, tired, I can see it in his eyes, the wrinkles,” Bradley said earlier this week. “This boy’s not ready for me.”
Whether it’s true, only one man knows. But the contrast in demeanor between the two welterweights at Friday afternoon’s weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was unmistakable — and did little to refute Bradley’s theory.
When champion and challenger met for the traditional staredown after hitting the scales – Bradley weighed in at chiseled 146 pounds, Pacquiao a career-high 147 — the intrigue underlying Saturday’s title fight only metastasized.
Bradley maintained a menacing glare when the fighters came together downstage right, while Pacquiao smiled bemusedly and seemed almost disinterested for 10 seconds until longtime friend/assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez pulled him away. The challenger continued to scowl as Pacquiao played to the crowd and turned to retrieve his clothes from Buboy.
“I’m happy,” Pacquiao said afterward when asked why he didn’t match Bradley’s business-like glower. “I’m happy because God is with me.”
Pacquiao’s weight came as a minor surprise, as he’s typically come in comfortably under the limit for fights at welterweight or above. Even when he fought Antonio Margarito for the super welterweight title at a contracted limit of 150 pounds, Pacquiao weighed in at 144.6. As trainer Freddie Roach explained it, preserving Pacquiao’s speed took precedent over a few extra pounds of muscle.
Whether the heaviest fighting weight of Pacquiao’s career affects his agility remains to be seen, but it’s now emerged as a talking point with the fight less than 24 hours away.
Approximately 4,000 fans, most Pacquiao supporters, made themselves heard throughout the proceedings. When asked whether a hostile crowd would affect his performance, Bradley remained defiant.
“Bring it on, the more the merrier,” said Bradley, who is unbeaten in 28 pro fights. “None of these people are going to be in the ring with Manny Pacquiao.
“It’s just going to be me and Manny at the end of the night.”
– Bryan Armen Graham