Report by Chris Cozzone
Photos by Mary Ann Owen/BoxinginLasVegas.com
You can’t go to a Manny Pacquiao post-fight press conference and not ask what it’s going to take the Powers That Be to put together the only fight that matters in this day and age – Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, for those who may have forgotten.
Saturday night’s presser, following Pacquiao’s retribution victory over Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, proved no different.
“It’s hard to talk about that,” said the soft-spoken Pacquiao, who, in a most Mayweatherlike way, kept the media waiting two-and-a-half-hours before making his (brief) appearance.
“It’s been so many years, months, days . . . but, like I said, the line is open, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If he wants to fight, the fight will be on.”
Top Rank boss Bob Arum was less diplomatic about the fight, and preferred to throw out Pacquiao fighting the winner of Juan Manual Marquez-Mike Alvarado on May 17.
The reluctance to mention the “M” name and top pound-for-pound fighter in the world could’ve had something to do with the King Kong-size images of said fighter the MGM had plastered on their exterior, framed by “Home of the Champion.” Or maybe it was the luncheon held by Marcos Maidana that very day at MGM’s Wolfgang Puck, to hype the May 3rd fight with Mayweather that is promoted and televised by competitors.
Arum may not be without justification for his ranting. For those driving past the casino, noting the billboards and giant Floyds, you’d never guess that Pacquiao – Bradley was even taking place.
Earlier in the week, Arum seethed about “Postergate,” criticizing the “brilliant MGM’s” alleged attempt to sabotage Top Rank’s Pacquiao-Bradley promotion. At the postfight presser, Arum went one step further by beseeching the press – nay, daring them – to fulfill their obligation and to inform the general public (“who’s paying good money to see nonsense”) to write about the noncompetitiveness of Mayweather-Maidana
“It’s thuggery!” exclaimed Arum. “Tell your readers not to buy it on pay-per-view on May 3! Boycott the fight!”
But as far as Pacquiao-Mayweather is concerned, Arum said, “We’re prepared to sit down with his people anytime and work out the conditions for the fight.” When it was brought up again, later on, Arum yelled, “All they have to do is pick up the friggin’ phone!”
The public, meanwhile, continues to hope, Mayweather-Pacquiao falling somewhere between unicorn sightings and world peace.
In other words, the lines are open, but the telephones ain’t ringing.
Pacquiao showed up with a freshly-stitched cut over his left eyebrow – the reason for his two-and-a-half hour tardiness. The multi-layer gash suffered in the later rounds required 32 stitches.
“My opponent was trying to knock me out, but I was trying to knock him out, also,” said Pacquiao. “He hit me with a hook [in the fourth] but I was okay. I managed his punches.
“All I can say is, I’m satisfied . .. The fight was really important. I had to prove that I would continue boxing.”
Though trainer Freddy Roach said he was startled by Bradley’s strategy to brawl instead of box, Pacquiao said he was not surprised.
“The Bradley I fought before was different,” he did admit. “He improved a lot. I tried to finish him a couple times but he threw a lot of punches. He was very tough.”
An hour earlier, Bradley had showed similar respect.
Limping to the podium and visibly wincing upon seating, or standing, formerly undefeated Timothy Bradley made it clear he did not to talk about calf tears.
Or calf sprains. Or strains. Or anything of the sort, though it was (more than) rumored that he had suffered a lower leg injury on his right side.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “I don’t make no excuses. I have to accept it like a man.”
Accept defeat, Bradley did, heaping props upon props on the man he (albeit controversially) defeated two years ago.
“The dude still has it,” Bradley said of Pacquiao. “He was a better man tonight. He never ducks an opponent. He’s willing to face the best – he faced one of the best tonight. He’s a true champion. An unbelievable fighter. I have much respect for him and his team. That’s pretty much it.”
Bradley did promise, however, that “the war is not over.
“I will go back to the gym. I will be champion again.”
When Arum hinted about an “aching leg,” Bradley held up a hand. “Bob, I’m good. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Bradley was willing to talk about the fight. He said his game plan was not to try and outbox Pacquiao.
“It was the only way I was gonna win the fight,” he said. “I was going for the knockout. I knew the rounds were close. So I gave it everything. I put myself in harm’s way because I was shooting for the knockout.”
Beltran eyes Crawford – or a world title shot
Stating his readiness to fight for a world title, Raymundo Beltran (29-6-1, 17 KOs) labeled late sub Arash Usmanee (20-2-1, 10 KOs) a “difficult” and “awkward” fighter. In their 12-round scrap for the vacant NABO lightweight belt, Beltran pulled off the unanimous decision.
“He was tough, and I was trying to be careful,” said Beltran. “I didn’t want to get caught with a clean shot. It was a good challenge but I was ready, so I took it right away [when Rocky Martinez pulled out.]
“If Terrance Crawford is the best, then I’m ready to fight him. He’s a good champion.”
Vargas happy with victory
“I wouldn’t say this was my toughest fight,” said Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs), who scored a hard fought, unanimous decision over over previously unbeaten WBA interim champion Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-1, 9 Kos). “It was a good fight, but I was in such good shape, it wasn’t difficult for me.
“I’m happy with this victory – I’ve accomplished the short-term goal of becoming a world champion.”
Vargas was noncommittal about a next opponent – just that he had “a lot of options” – but said he looked forward to defending his title.