“After you win a fight that people think you didn’t deserve, instead of coming out to the public walking tall, you come out with your face down, hoping nobody reminds you of that moment. It’s an ugly feeling,” said Joel Diaz, trainer of Timothy “Dessert Storm” Bradley who won a controversial split decision victory against Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao on June 9th, 2012.
“Tim and I talked about that night and I said to him ‘Tim, if we lost that fight, it would have been better. Because people would say you fought twelve rounds with Manny Pacquiao and he didn’t hurt you. That would’ve been better than people approaching you, attacking you, insulting you.’ I’ve been out with my family and my kids and people approach me and insult me as if we stole something valuable,” Diaz said.
It was suppose to have been a glorious moment in Bradley’s boxing career – ending Pacquiao’s 15-bout winning streak and the 8-division world boxing champion’s dominance in the welterweight division. But the controversy put a dark cloud over the victory.
“It affected him really bad to the point where he didn’t want to go anywhere. He didn’t want to see anybody, only his family. It got really bad to the point where I came to visit him one day and he’s in his house, in a wheelchair and I see the frustration in his face. It hurt when he told me ‘Coach, I’ve done this sport for 18 years and after 18 years, I’m losing the love for this sport because of what happened.’ For us instead of enjoying a victory, it’s worse than a defeat,” recalled Diaz but quickly added: “But that’s in the past. The judges dealt with it. The people dealt with it and we are looking forward to April 12th. If we win, we want to go home with a good win… and if we lose, we want to go home with a defeat… but not a controversy. I don’t wish a controversy to anybody. It’s an ugly feeling, like a nightmare you’re never going to come out of.”
For his part, Bradley is looking for vindication. He said that this time around, he will be looking for a clear victory, to make this experience a sweet one for him and his supporters.
“It will be one of the greatest moments of my boxing career, and possibly my life, besides my children being born and me marrying my wife. This will be everything for me,” he said. “Everything that I’ve worked for in boxing, it comes down to this moment. Manny Pacquiao is a legend, one of the most influential guys in the world and by beating him, I will get some of that love and attention.”
Bradley added that a lot has changed since he first met the Filipino boxing pride inside the ring a couple years ago: “On a personal note, I’ve changed a great deal. Me physically, I’ve changed. Mentally, I’ve changed. I’m just a different fighter now than I was two years ago.”
Two years ago, during the Bradley media day of the first outing between him and the Congressman from the Philippines, Bradley and his team gave out passes and mock IDs for a supposed rematch. And to the press and media who came, the idea seemed absurd, almost a joke. But in the end, the too-division champion proved himself correct, there was to be a rematch, after all.
And no one’s laughing now. While two years ago, oddsmakers put Pacquiao at a 1/5 (-500) advantage against Bradley, the gap is much closer, this time around.
“With 2 to 1 odds, especially against Manny Pacquaio… I think people are taking me very seriously this time around,” Bradley said. And for his part, he is likewise taking Pacquiao seriously, knowing that he is going to face an: “aggressive, hungry determined, fired up Manny Pacquiao that’s going to try to knock me out.”
Despite this, the champion that currently owns the belt and title that Pacquiao wants to regain and win back, says he feels no pressure: “In this fight Manny has everything to prove in this fight. I’m the champion. I’m going to be able to do what I want to do in the ring. I can alter my game. I can box, I can brawl. It all depends on what Manny’s doing.”
Diaz said he remains confident that his ward will come out victorious: “He always tells me, ‘Coach, I will win. I have no doubt in my mind I will win.’ And he’s always been right. On the Marquez fight, he told me ‘Coach, there’s no way this 40-year old can beat me.’ And he was right.”
“Every day he tells me, ‘Coach, there’s no way Manny can beat me. No way. The only way he can beat me is if he knocks me out and he’s not going to,” Diaz said. “When he says that to me with that aggressive tone and with that looks in his eyes, I believe my fighter because he’s always proved it.”
And while he said Pacquiao can’t knock him out, Bradley also gave us his prediction on the fight: “This fight will not go the distance.”
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