Manny Pacquiao seemed on Thursday afternoon to handle the bitter temps in NYC with grace and dignity, no surprise since I've never seen the Congressman get bent out of shape in public, or become unglued when things don't go his way, or fates turn against him.
OK, so he did pull on a pair of leather gloves at the New World Stages, during a press conference to hype his April 12 fight against Tim Bradley, a rematch of their June 2012 clash which left Bradley the victor, and most watchers aghast that CJ Ross and Duane Ford were being paid to judge professional boxing matches.
But Pacquiao went with the flow, with the air temps–it was 25 degrees Fahrenhite outside and not that toasty inside–and the queries from fight writers, who are eager to get a sense if the “old” Pacquiao, the closer who got after you like a swarm of irked bees, would be reappearing, or if Bradley could cement his place as boxing's pound for pound number two guy, behind Floyd Mayweather, with a conclusive victory in this rematch.
Promoter Bob Arum got things off to an amusing start, when he cautioned all in attendance that they should never believe boxing promoters when promoters tell you about how close a contest they are hyping is likely to be. Usually, the Brooklyn-born dealmaker, who turned 82 in December, said he comes to events such as this “loaded for bear,” with reasons why the main event is likely to be a surefire Fight of the Year candidate, between two Herculean Champeens. No need for that this time, Arum said, because the oddsmakers in Vegas are proof enough that the forthcoming clash between the 35-year-old Congressman, coming off a fine outing in Macau in November against Brandon Rios, and the 30-year-old Bradley, coming off an even-better outing against Juan Manuel Marquez in October is an even-Steven scenario coming in.
Pacquiao, ever charming and equitable, complimented Bradley, telling TSS that, “He improved a lot since the first fight. When I see him, he's much different than before. He has more experience now in boxing.”
Indeed, I took note of the change in demeanor in Bradley from what I saw of him in the leadup to the first tangle, and this one. He is 100% more at ease with the process, and in NYC I saw a man who has come to full terms with his vocation, and all that it entails. At this presser, Bradley showed himself to be a more-seasoned player. We saw his incredible ring generalship against Marquez, after he displayed his absurd willpower against Provodnikov, and now he's able to rely on a stability of temperament, it looks like, outside the ring, too. “Now he knows how to move around and box,” said Pacquiao.
On the subject of temperment, Pacquiao told me that, “Sometimes I'm too nice in the ring. That's what happened (in the first fight against Bradley). With God's grace, in this one, I need killer instinct. I have it in me to do that, yeah, yeah. I'm just too nice with my opponents sometimes.”
Bradley brought that issue up at the Tuesday presser in LA, and Pacman agrees with the fighter from Cali. “It's a challenge to me to bring it back.
“Boxing is not just about killing each other,” the Congressman explained, for people who don't get it why he in recent years doesn't seem be fighting with anything close to murderous intent, somewhat strange since a watcher sees his foe trying to take his head off. He won't try to get into closer mode by manufacturing ill feelings, anger toward his foe, he told me. He simply wants to concentrate on aggressiveness during upcoming training in Manilla, General Santos City and then four or six weeks in LA, at Wild Card. He said he knows he can recapture old fury and didn't step on the gas against Rios late because he knew he had a comfortable lead. Pacman said that he hasn't had a KO of late because “all my opponents were bigger than me” and also because he's “too nice in the ring.”
Manny said he doesn't think he needs a KO to win on April 12, but does want to win “convincingly.” He sees the rematch as a 50-50 endeavor going in, he admitted to me.
Pacman told writers that he'd like to fight “a couple fights more” before he hangs up the gloves. He said he'd then be a “full time politician, full time businessman,” and I offered, “Full time President, maybe?” He chuckled, heartily, and patted my belly, making me wish I'd been spending more time on the recumbent bike.
I'll post more from the presser, including some solid material gleaned from chats with Freddie Roach and Bob Arum.
Please follow Woods on Twitter here.