photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank
In the second installment of HBO’s Pacquiao-Bradley 24/7, viewers are presented with the possibility that Timothy Bradley is a man at peace, not in recent flux, as Manny Pacquiao is, or was. Bradley is grounded, and has been for some time, in family, while Pacquiao has recently comes to grips with an emptiness inside which plagued him, and has now apparently been filled with a fuller embrace of religion.
In the opening scene, we saw Timothy Bradley at the gym he uses in Indio, CA, the Boys and Girls Club. Bradley said he doesn’t need a posse; the unspoken comparison is to Manny Pacquaio, who surrounds himself with a bunch of folks who have no clear job description. Bradley says trainer Joel Diaz is like a big brother to him, and he says he believes when the trainer tells him he will beat Manny.
Diaz recounts an occasion when Bradley ran 23 miles a week before a bout. It was just an eight rounder, the boxer says. Sometimes he works too hard for his own good, Diaz says.
Then, we see Manny’s Ferrari, which has been sitting idle in LA for six months. Pacman heads to the Wild Card, where he does mitts with Freddie. He says LA is like his second home. We hear that as before he trained in Baguio, for three weeks, first conditioning, then sparring, before coming to LA. We hear that Roach and Ariza have been feeling tension, because Ariza left Baguiao to work with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Ariza said he spoke to Pacman, and he was OK with it. Michael Koncz says he feels the tension, but doesn’t care if Ariza works with Manny or not. Khan fired Ariza for leaving, but Pacman says the media makes a big deal of it. “I gave him permission to leave,” Pacquiao said. (With Ariza’s continued Twitter slaps at Bob Arum, regularly calling him “senile,” one wonders if this exodus will continue. I just can’t picture Ariza winning that battle…but the guy has to get points for being brave-crazy, one could argue. Note: I texted Ariza, asked for a reaction. He called me, asked if, “This was my first 24/7?” I was perplexed, asked him what he was getting at. He asked if it was the first 24/7 I “produced.” I was mystified, and told him, as I’m sure he knows, I’m a writer, that I have nothing to do with producing 24/7. He said something about confusing me with someone else, and hung up on me, and didn’t answer texts asking him to clarify. In his defense, I can imagine that might be upsetting, to hear your friend and mentor say that he’s going to try and convince your top client to fire you. I believe he might have been insinuating that material is played up for effect for 24/7, which is something that Team Mayweather has stated before, when flaps bubble up. But I can’t be sure, because he didn’t clarify to me. This is, for sure, a strange subplot, and has the feel of someone going off the rails a bit. I hope my instinct is wrong. Sunday AM update: Sometime after I went to bed, still perplexed, Ariza texted me, saying that he hadn't seen the show. No response to the provocative Roach critique, for the record. My guess...Moving forward, unless Ariza's self-immolative side is pathological, you have to think Freddie's message will rein him in from his path towards professional self-destruction.)
Bradley, then, is seen running. He runs hills, and says that his foe tries to take food off his table. We see the boxer at a surprise anniversary party for he and his lady. He admits he used to party, but when he was 23, he met Monica, and he knew she was the one. She had two kids, though, and was hesitant to go all in. He said he asked her boy about marrying his mom, and he gave the OK.
Manny then says he is beyond happy, because he has “eternal life. If I die, I know where I’m going,” he says, while the Doobie Brothers’ “Jesus Is Just Alright” plays. We hear that Pacman felt empty, which he told pastor Jeric Soriano. “I’m empty,” he told the pastor, though he had fame and wealth. We see Manny at Bible study. The pastor says this is the real deal, and it’s not for show. The same-sex marriage flap is referred to. One of the posse says a lot of the team is now along for the spiritual ride. “I hate the old Manny,” Pacquiao says, who says he is a “new creation.”
At the Bradley home in Indio, we see Timothy driving stepson Robert to school. Good stuff; I like to see athletes giving up things for family. Bradley then spends quality time with his baby. He says she has a “Bradley head,” a hard head. Then, it’s time to hit the gym. He trains for more than three hours. Later, he does an eight mile jog. “I’m the best,” he roars as he runs. “You gotta prove to me you’re better than me!” His intensity stands out, as we regularly see fighters in this mode; Bradley’s zest seems above and beyond.
Pacman’s pastor has no problem with him doing damage in the ring, he says. Roach said he’s got three next sparring partners, shorter guys, like Bradley. Roach says he thinks that Manny knows people are saying Manny is on the downside. He now has something more to prove to the masses, the doubting hordes. This is the most focused Manny has been, Roach said, in some times.
Roach says that Ariza’s head has gotten too big, and it is mentioned that JCC might have fired Ariza. "One thing about Alex, he's very good at what he does," says Freddie, in the gym, while the Wild Card hums. "But he just overdid it. He's a great strength coach, but he wants to be trainer, cut man, everything else, his head's gotten too big, and we need to calm him down a little bit.... I think he's bullshitting a little bit, and I don't appreciate that and uh..uh..I'm going to suggest to Manny that we maybe get rid of him or I get a new strength coach."
All in all, this was a rich episode, with the Ariza-Roach material, and Manny’s confession that he hates his former self. Take that, folks who have said that they think the franchise is stale…