Money, most of us know, can change people. It can infect, it can warp; it can wreck.
With boxers making mega-purses these days, it's no wonder that fans sometimes wonder if there is the same motivation to perform in this day and age for the marquee guys than there used to be.
When Manny Pacquiao fought Shane Mosley in May, it looked to many -- if not most -- like a semi-friendly sparring session more than a prizefight. Urgency, intention to concuss, seemed to be missing. Multiple times, fans at the MGM Grand showed their displeasure by raining boos down on the ring. Pacquiao and Mosley touched gloves in an amiable fashion time and again. Before the bout, Mosley thanked Pacquiao several times for the opportunity. It's like they were business partners more than foes in a fight.
Some fight fans are wondering if Timothy Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) might fall prey to the same mindset come June 9, when he gloves up against Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. At a news conference in New York on Thursday, Bradley, a 28 year old plugger from California, with his wife and five month old baby present, thanked Team Pacquiao and promoter Top Rank for the opportunity. He will make far and away a career-best purse, likely enough to salt away for a decent retirement.
ESPN.com him -- point blank -- if he'd fight on June 9 like he meant it, or he'd approach the 54-3-2 PacMan (age 33; coming off a majority decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez in November) in too-friendly a fashion in their welterweight face-off?
"I touch gloves in the center of the ring when the fight begins, I don't touch gloves during the bout," Bradley, a junior welterweight champion, told ESPN.com. "It's not going to be any 'brother in law' in here. I'm here to win, not coming here for a paycheck. What the fight fans can expect from me, is putting it all on the line, because I want to win this fight, for my family, for my community. I want to upset this guy. I feel like I have the tools and everything it takes to beat Pacquiao. I'm going to hurt him, I have to hurt him, I gotta hurt him. Absolutely, I have to hurt this guy, and get respect from Pacquiao early. At the end of the night, I feel like I am going to be victorious."
Bradley doesn't have to beat Pacquiao for the fans to be satisfied. But he does have to act like he is in a prizefight, and walk the talk on June 9, and not simply show up, go the distance, and see that as a win. He needs to act like pride, and not a paycheck, is his primary motivation.