Unless Floyd Mayweather Jr. has an epiphany – which is highly unlikely – the stage is set for Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley to settle their unfinished business on April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, an industry source told the Bulletin yesterday.
The formal announcement will be made next week and a whirlwind press tour will follow in the first week of February with Los Angeles as the first stop on Feb. 4 and New York on Feb. 5.
A visit to Philadelphia for a similar gig is also on the calendar as Top Rank is determined to drum up interest for Pacquiao’s much-awaited return to the US.
Pacquiao only fought once last year and it took place in the gambling haven of Macau against Brandon Rios.
The last time US fight fans saw the Filipino icon in the flesh, it was against Mexican maestro Juan Manuel Marquez in Nov. 2012 and the 35-year-old fighting congressman has been terribly missed over there.
While everyone is wishing that Pacquiao and Mayweather get to face each other, the choice of Bradley as a backup opponent is still an attractive alternative since there is bad blood between them.
Bradley was awarded a controversial 12-round split decision against Pacquiao in June 2012 and just about everyone who saw it live and on television around the world thought Bradley was more than fortunate to have been awarded the verdict.
But since then, the 30-year-old Bradley has distinguished himself after withstanding the all-out assault of Russian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov and outsmarting Marquez.
Bradley (31-0 with 12 KOs) is now regarded as a worthy entrant in the mythical pound-for-pound Top 10.
Pacquiao (55-4-2 with 38 KOs) resurrected his career following his masterful win over the rugged Rios and he was successful in proving to everyone that it was premature to count him after the Marquez knockout.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao adviser Mike Koncz is returning to the country from the US this weekend with all the paperworks for the Bradley fight.
Koncz also flew to the US early this month to attend to Pacquiao’s tax woes, something the fighter’s Canadian right-hand man said are being handled properly by their lawyers.
With Koncz setting foot in Manila soon, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum will have a few days to come up with a catchy one-liner to hype the rematch.
But knowing that Pacquiao is going to be the headliner, Arum should have no problems crafting one. (Nick Giongco)