Dan Rafael: Timothy Bradley

Herrera has experience on his side

December, 11, 2014
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Mauricio Herrera, Johan PerezAP Photo/Eric JamisonMauricio Herrera, left, will use his experience as an advantage against Joseph Benavidez Jr.

LAS VEGAS -- Although Mauricio Herrera came up short in his bid to claim the junior welterweight world title when he lost a close and highly controversial majority decision to Danny Garcia in March, the fight was still a positive for his career.

"The Danny Garcia fight changed my life,” Herrera said. “I finally have a promoter that is looking out for me, and all I have to do is train and get ready to fight."

Herrera fought so well against Garcia, and made such a good impression, that Golden Boy Promotions, which had signed him before the Garcia fight, made him a priority.

In his next fight in July, the company lined Herrera up to face interim titlist Johan Perez and he won a majority decision on the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara undercard.

And now Herrera is set to make his first defense against up-and-comer Jose Benavidez Jr. on Saturday night (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at the Cosmopolitan in the opening bout of the triple-header headlined by the welterweight clash between Timothy Bradley Jr. and Diego Chaves.

“I’ve had a career with a lot of tough fights, and I know this is only a small belt, but I worked hard for it. It tells me I am on the way up in boxing,” Herrera said at Thursday’s final news conference. “Benavidez is a good, young, strong kid, and he wants to take this from me, but I worked to hard for it. So it’s a small belt, but I will defend it, and then, hopefully, I can win a world title.

“I'm not taking Benavidez lightly, but Saturday night I'm going to give a great fight and continue fighting for a world title. I'm getting tough fights and I'm happy.”

In 2011, Herrera (21-4, 7 KOs), 34, of Riverside, California, handed former junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov his first career loss. Herrera also went to war with Mike Alvarado in 2012 and lost a competitive decision in a fight-of-the-year candidate.

He has loads of experience, which is his advantage against the lanky 22-year-old Benavidez (21-0, 15 KOs) of Phoenix.

“Herrera is a tricky, dangerous fight,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Herrera’s promoter. “He can take you in to deep water, but he can swim.”

Said Herrera, “My experience will be a big advantage for this fight. He just has not fought at this level. He is young, and there is going to come a point in the fight where he will either step up or fold, and that's when we test his will.”

Benavidez was so good as an amateur that he was given a special permit by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to turn pro at age 17 instead of 18, as is the rule. He will be in his first scheduled 12-round bout and facing -- by far -- his most notable opponent. Benavidez has never even been in a scheduled 10-round fight before. Still, he has that youthful confidence.

"I heard Herrera was real mouthy [on Wednesday at the media workout], saying he would school me on Saturday night,” Benavidez said. “Let's see what he says when we get into the ring. I trained in Big Bear [California], which is no joke because of the altitude. We train as if we are going into a 15- or 20- round fight, which means I am in top condition."

Bradley wants to see Pacquiao-Mayweather

December, 9, 2014
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You can count former two-division world titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr., boxing fan as well as fighter, among the millions who would like to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally fight each other.

“Do I think the fight will happen? I think the fight should happen. I don’t know if the fight will happen,” Bradley said.

Bradley is looking to get back to his winning ways after losing a lopsided decision to Pacquiao in their April welterweight title rematch, which took place almost two years after Bradley received a split decision against Pacquiao to claim the belt in one of boxing’s most controversial decisions ever.

Bradley gets back into the ring to face hard-punching Argentine brawler Diego Chaves (23-2, 19 KOs) in a 12-round welterweight bout on Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) in the main event of a tripleheader at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs), along with so many, thinks it’s about time Mayweather and Pacquiao fought after so many years of public demand going unrealized.

“Right now is the perfect time because after Pacquiao’s [knockout loss to Juan Manuel] Marquez [in December 2012], the fight with Mayweather kind of went down. But now Pacquiao is coming off two great wins, actually three great wins, with myself included,” Bradley said of Pacquiao’s three-fight winning streak against Brandon Rios, Bradley and Chris Algieri on Nov. 22. “I think he has redeemed himself. He beat two undefeated champions this year, myself and Chris Algieri, and Brandon Rios last year.”

And Bradley, who knows Pacquiao as a fighter as well as anyone after going 24 rounds with the Filipino legend, believes Pacquiao can beat Mayweather.

“Manny is definitely a big threat in the sport, still a top dog, and I think he will be a threat to Mayweather, I honestly do,” Bradley said. “I think he can clip Mayweather. I think it’s a 50-50 fight, and I think it should happen. We have to wait and see if they can put it together. I think it makes sense. I think the fight does over 3 million pay-per-view buys, and it’s the fight that everybody wants to see, and I think it's great for boxing.”

Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao and Bradley, has been quite public in recent weeks about his efforts to make the fight, including the disclosure that he has been talking regularly with Leslie Moonves, the president and CEO of CBS, owner of Showtime, which has Mayweather under contract for two more fights. There is, however, nothing coming from the Mayweather side that would indicate it is making moves toward the fight.

Who can Pacquiao fight next if not Floyd?

November, 21, 2014
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Manny Pacquiao is a heavy favorite to retain his welterweight title against Chris Algieri when they meet Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) in Macau, China (where it will be Sunday morning).

So if things go as many expect, and the PacMan comes through, then what? Of course, many hold out hope that his next fight will be the one we’ve all wanted for years against fellow welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But we’ve all heard the talk for years and even though Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who represents Pacquiao, said there are serious talks for the fight, let’s take it with a grain of salt for the time being until presented with more evidence than just Arum’s word.

So who’s next for Pacquiao if not Mayweather?

“There are a lot of opponents,” Arum said. “Let’s see how Jessie Vargas looks on the card.”

Vargas is defending his secondary junior welterweight title against former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco on the Pacquiao-Algieri undercard.

“What happens if Diego Chaves upsets Tim Bradley?” Arum said of the main event of his Dec. 13 HBO card.

Another possible opponent, and one more intriguing than either Vargas or Chaves, is unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia.

Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy, but there are no issues between the companies in making fights any longer. But Garcia is also managed by Al Haymon and that is a huge problem because HBO has essentially banned his fighters from the network. Garcia is also a regular these days on Showtime, although he has fought some of his most significant fights on HBO.

“What happens if Oscar [De La Hoya of Golden Boy] is right and he can free up Danny Garcia to fight Pacquiao? There are a lot of what-ifs,” Arum said. “We’re concerned about Algieri. He’s a top opponent. After that we’ll look around.”

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, wants Mayweather but said Garcia would be a good second option.

“Garcia is a tough guy and one thing about Garcia is he will throw,” Roach said. “He is a heavy puncher. He knocked out Amir Kahn. I think he is a very good opponent for Manny Pacquiao. I think Manny would box a little more and not exchange as much.

“It's a fight I would like to see and a fight the fans would love to see, and that's what we want to give the people -- good fights.”
Bradley, ProvodnikovKevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesRuslan Provodnikov, right, is headed back to Russia for his next bout.

Promoter Artie Pelullo has two significant fighters worthy of HBO’s airtime and support, all-action former junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov and unbeaten junior middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade, a former U.S. Olympian and potential pound-for-pound level fighter.

Yet Pelullo has been pushing a boulder uphill when it comes to securing a fall date for either of them, a surprise given that HBO has aired Provodnikov’s last three fights and Andrade’s last two.

Provodnikov’s first appearance on the network resulted in the 2013 fight of the year against Timothy Bradley Jr. followed by his title-winning knockout of Mike Alvarado in another barn burner and then June’s disputed loss to Chris Algieri in another good fight.

Andrade won his title on the network in November, outpointing Vanes Martirosyan, and then looked sensational drilling mandatory challenger Brian Rose on Provodnikov’s June undercard.

Pelullo is making other plans for Provodnikov (23-3, 16 KOs), “The Siberian Rocky” and one of boxing’s most exciting fighters.

“I’ve spoken to HBO, and we were unable to find a fight for Ruslan before the end of the year here in America, so his next fight will probably will be in late November or early December in Russia,” Pelullo told ESPN.com. “It’s unfortunate that we were unable to put a match together in America that met all of our needs. Hopefully, a big fight will open up in 2015 for Ruslan on HBO.”

Pelullo said he tried to work with Top Rank to make several fights but was rebuffed on every opponent: Bradley for a rematch, titleholder Jessie Vargas, Brandon Rios and Diego Chaves.

“I reached out to Top Rank to make one of those fights, any one of them, and Top Rank had no interest in putting any of them in with Ruslan Provodnikov, Pelullo said. "I spoke to [Top Rank’s] Bob Arum and Carl Moretti and there was no interest.”

Andrade (21-0, 14 KOs), who is ready to fight as soon as possible, according to Paul Andrade, his father and trainer, might have better luck than Provodnikov. Pelullo, who co-promotes Andrade with Joe DeGuardia, continues to work with HBO executive Peter Nelson to find him a fall fight.

Pelullo is not limiting the potential fight to a junior middleweight title defense, either. With Peter Quillin vacating his middleweight belt and avoiding mandatory challenger Matt Korobov (for a career-high payday), Pelullo has petitioned the WBO to allow Andrade -- the WBO’s junior middleweight titleholder -- to face Korobov for the vacant title.

“I’ve petitioned them to do the same thing they did with Mikey Garcia when he petitioned the WBO in the exact same situation,” Pelullo said.

When Garcia was stripped of the WBO featherweight belt last year for failing to make weight for a defense against Juan Manuel Lopez, Top Rank, his promoter, petitioned the WBO to make him the mandatory in the next division up the scale so he could face junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez. The WBO agreed, and Garcia knocked Martinez out to win the belt.

WBO president Paco Valcarcel told ESPN.com the request is being considered. It should be an easy decision to make.

Andrade, who has followed the rules by making weight, deserves the same consideration given to Garcia in the exact same situation a year ago and be allowed to face Korobov -- another Top Rank fighter -- for the vacant middleweight belt.

Rios, Kovalev returns in works

May, 24, 2014
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Manny Pacquiao and Brandon RiosNicky Loh/Getty ImagesBrandon Rios, left, will be back in the ring Aug. 2 after a tough November loss to Manny Pacquiao.

Former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios is penciled in for his ring return on Aug. 2 on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.”

Rios, who will fight at welterweight, likely will face former interim titlist Diego Chaves of Argentina on a card that will take place in Las Vegas or in Fresno, California, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Friday.

Rios (31-2-1, 23 KOs), 28, of Oxnard, California, will try to end a two-fight losing streak, having been outpointed by Mike Alvarado in their fight of the year contender/rematch in March 2013 followed by a one-sided decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in November in Macau. After the fight with Pacquiao, Rios failed a postfight drug test and was suspended for five months.

“If Rios wins this fight, he will have a major match in the fall, either against Tim Bradley or against Alvarado in a third fight,” Arum said.

Chaves (23-1, 19 KOs), 28, lost his interim belt by 10th-round knockout to Keith Thurman in July in San Antonio but rebounded for a third-round knockout of journeyman Juan Alberto Godoy in Argentina in February.

Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 KOs), 25, of Las Vegas, is also likely to be on the telecast in his first junior welterweight title defense. He claimed a 140-pound belt April 12 on the Pacquiao-Bradley II undercard by winning a debatable unanimous decision against Khabib Allakhverdiev.

Arum said the leading candidate to face Vargas is another fighter he promotes, Anton Novikov (29-0, 10 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw from Russia.

The telecast could be a split-site tripleheader. While Rios and Vargas have fights at one site, plans are in the works for light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev (24-0-1, 22 KOs), 31, of Russia, to make his third defense against an opponent to be determined in Atlantic City, N.J.

Kovalev is coming off a seventh-round knockout of Cedric Agnew on March 29 and had hoped to be moving on to a fall showdown with champion Adonis Stevenson, but that was before Stevenson bolted from HBO to go to Showtime.

Mayweather, Tyson at BWAA awards

April, 30, 2014
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LAS VEGAS -- There will be some star power on hand Thursday night at the 89th annual Boxing Writers Association of America awards banquet at the MGM Grand.

Numerous fighters are expected to be on hand, including two of the biggest names in the sport, who have committed to attending.

Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. said he will be in attendance to receive his 2013 Sugar Ray Robinson fighter of the year award just two days before he faces Marcos Maidana in a welterweight unification fight.

“It’s a huge honor,” Mayweather said. “I’m very blessed, and everybody that voted for me, I’m thankful.”

Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson will also be in attendance. He won’t be receiving an award, but will be presenting the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight of the year award to Timothy Bradley Jr. and Ruslan Provodnikov for their epic battle last March, a fight that then-welterweight titlist Bradley won by close decision after a riveting 12 rounds of action.

“I am looking forward to presenting Timothy Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov the 2013 fight of the year award. They gave everything they had in the ring and did themselves proud,” Tyson said. “As a promoter, I encourage all of our guys to give the same effort that these two did. I look forward to the day when a fight from one of our shows wins this award."

Pacquiao welcomes fifth child

April, 27, 2014
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Manny Pacquiao faced Timothy Bradley Jr. in their rematch on April 12 in Las Vegas knowing that at any time his wife, Jinkee, could give birth in the Philippines to the son they have been expecting.

Pacquiao won the fight, regained his welterweight title and returned home to the Philippines with plenty of time to spare. Jinkee gave birth Sunday to a baby boy, Israel, at 3:30 p.m. Philippines time, according to Fred Sternburg, Pacquiao’s longtime publicist.

Israel weighed in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces. No truth to the rumor that he has already been ranked by the WBC in the diaperweight division.

Pacquiao is a huge basketball fan and now he can field his own starting five as Israel is his fifth child. He and Jinkee have three boys, Emmanuel Jr., Michael and Israel, and two girls, Princess and Queen Elizabeth.

Pacquiao wins, doesn't sell

April, 17, 2014
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Although Manny Pacquiao scored a resounding decision victory against Timothy Bradley Jr. to reclaim his welterweight belt Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the PacMan wasn’t nearly as resounding in terms of his drawing power.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated almost $1.1 million less in ticket sales than the first fight and represented Pacquiao’s worst gate performance in the past eight fights he has had in Las Vegas, dating to his star-making knockout victory against Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

Pacquiao-Bradley II generated a live gate of $7,865,100 from 14,099 sold tickets, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. There were 894 unsold tickets and 926 complimentary tickets from the 15,919 available tickets.

When Bradley was given a hugely controversial split decision win against Pacquiao in their first fight in June 2012, also at the MGM Grand, the bout generated a live gate of $8,963,180 from 13,229 tickets sold, with 2,070 unsold tickets and 925 complimentary tickets.

Pacquiao’s fight with De La Hoya was his best gate performance, generating $14,380,300, fourth-best in Nevada history. But the Bradley rematch didn’t come close to his other Las Vegas fights.

Pacquiao’s third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez generated $11,648,300, Marquez IV was $10,888,900, Shane Mosley $8,882,600, Miguel Cotto $8,847,550 and Ricky Hatton $8,832.950.

The figure for Pacquiao-Bradley II was a bit surprising because many figured there would be pent-up demand to see Pacquiao again; he had not fought in the United States since the fourth fight with Marquez in December 2012. His only fight of 2013, a rout of Brandon Rios, took place in Macau.

The HBO PPV numbers have not been disclosed yet and are not expected until at least next week because Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and president Todd duBoef, Arum’s stepson, left the country on a family vacation the day after Pacquiao-Bradley II, and they have not yet discussed the figures with HBO. Pacquiao-Bradley II will be replayed Saturday on HBO beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

Vazquez-Sonsona II on June 7

April, 10, 2014
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LAS VEGAS -- In 2010, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. of Puerto Rico knocked out Marvin Sonsona of the Philippines in the fourth round to win a vacant junior featherweight world title. Four years later, they will meet again.

Before the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II final news conference at the MGM Grand on Wednesday, promoter Sampson Lewkowicz, who promotes Sonsona, told ESPN.com that the rematch was made and would be one of HBO PPV-televised bouts on the undercard of middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’s defense against Miguel Cotto on June 7 at the Madison Square Garden in New York.

Lewkowicz, Martinez’s longtime adviser, Martinez promoter Lou DiBella, Top Rank and Cotto Promotions are trying to put together the rest of the undercard, which has been difficult given all of the parties that need to be satisfied.

Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 KOs), a former junior bantamweight titleholder, has not lost since the Vazquez fight, although he has only fought four times, most recently a very impressive third-round destruction of former junior featherweight titlist Akifumi Shimoda in February in Macau.

Vazquez (23-3-1, 19 KOs), who recently signed with Cotto Promotions, is just 3-3 in his last six fights, losing his title by 12th-round knockout in an upset to Jorge Arce in 2011 to begin the slide. But he is coming off a 12-round decision win against previously unbeaten Guillermo Avila in September.

Roach responds to Bradley sockgate

April, 4, 2014
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When Timothy Bradley Jr. faced Manny Pacquiao two years ago and won an outrageous split decision and a welterweight belt in one of the worst calls in boxing history, Bradley himself knew that he did not fight as well as he is capable of.

Although Bradley insists that he rightfully won the fight -- saying that he thought it was 8-4 in rounds in his favor -- he has blamed his uneven (to be nice) performance on the fact that he injured both of his feet during the fight.

Now, as he prepares for the rematch on April 12 (HBO PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Bradley has said repeatedly that the reason he injured his feet is because he didn’t wear socks for the fight.

Say what? Yeah, it’s true.

“It was something I practiced during my training camp,” Bradley told HBO’s Jim Lampley during an interview on the network’s telecast of last Saturday night’s Sergey Kovalev-Cedric Agnew fight. “I’m a big fan of Mike Tyson and I was reading some Mike Tyson stories, and I read in one of the stories that he didn’t wear socks and I was puzzled by that, so I tried it out in training camp and it worked out very well. It felt really natural.

“So I figured, hey, let’s try it in this big fight, and it ended up backfiring on me. The ring was spongy. The ring was very soft and very bouncy, and it really allowed my feet inside of my shoes to really move around, and I didn’t have the support that I actually needed to be able to hang with Pacquiao’s speed.”

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, has said he hopes Bradley won’t have any excuses when Pacquiao wins this time. Perhaps partly as a mind game and certainly partly as a PR stunt, Roach had a box of socks sent to Bradley at his gym during his media day on Thursday along with a letter busting Bradley’s chops over sockgate:

“I have been reading your recent interviews with great interest, especially your explanation on how your feet were injured during your first fight with Manny Pacquiao. Is it really your feetal position that these injuries occurred because you did not wear socks?

“Though many members of the media think this excuse sounds like a hose job, I for one do believe you. To me, you are boxing’s No. 1 sox symbol. Please think of me not as your arch nemesis but as your sole supporter. I hope the enclosed gift helps with the heeling process.

“Sincerely, Freddie Roach”

At least when Bradley’s feet were hurt, he didn’t quit. He socked it up and kept fighting.

Tonsilitis KOs Jessie Magdaleno

March, 31, 2014
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Blue chip junior featherweight prospect Jessie Magdaleno was supposed to fight on April 11 in Las Vegas on an ESPN2 card Top Rank is putting on at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas the night before the big show the next night, the one headlined by the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley welterweight title rematch.

However, Magdaleno (18-0, 14 KOs), 22, of Las Vegas, has been scratched from the card, which is headlined by a middleweight fight between Gilberto Ramirez and former title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo and also includes super middleweight prospect Jesse Hart in his television debut.

Magdaleno, the younger brother of junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno, is off the card because of tonsillitis, Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels told ESPN.com.

“Looks like tonsils will be removed,” said Samuels, who said he got the news from Diego at the Top Rank’s card in Las Vegas on Friday night.

Pacquiao: Waiting for Mayweather

February, 6, 2014
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Manny Pacquiao hit snowy New York on Wednesday to make the rounds promoting his April 12 (HBO PPV) rematch with welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley, who picked up the title thanks to one of the most controversial split decisions in boxing history in June 2012.

Pacquiao and Bradley are trying to build interest in the rematch of that infamous fight, spending Monday taping their “Face Off with Max Kellerman” for HBO, then meeting the media in Beverly Hills, Calif., for a formal news conference on Tuesday with another one in New York on Thursday.

On Wednesday in New York, Pacquiao did a slew of interviews and even attended the Knicks game, where he met star scorer Carmelo Anthony for a photo opportunity. But it was Pacquiao’s final appearance of the busy day, an interview on Keith Olbermann’s ESPN show “Olbermann,” that was perhaps the most interesting.

Olbermann conducted a fine interview, covering the bases on the rematch with Bradley and also touching on Pacquiao’s political career as a congressman in the Philippines. And then Olbermann told Pacquiao that he had saved his questions about a possible fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the end so that it would not dominate the rest of their conversation.

“Are you gonna fight Floyd Mayweather at some point?” Olbermann asked.

It’s the question Pacquiao -- and Mayweather -- has heard probably on a daily basis since sometime in mid-2009.

“I want that fight but it’s up to him,” Pacquiao said. “What I can say now is that our line is open 24 hours, seven days a week. If he will call and say ‘yes’ then the fight [will happen].”

Since late 2009, the sides have not been able to reach a deal, despite at least two rounds of negotiations. Both sides have deserved their share of blame at various times, although Mayweather’s outlandish financial demands made the last real discussion about the fight a non-starter.

Now Pacquiao is promoting the Bradley rematch and, as always happens, no matter who he or Mayweather are fighting, they are asked about each other. You can count on Mayweather being asked about Pacquiao at some point when he begins promoting his May 3 fight against an opponent that still has not been determined (although Mayweather is running a fan poll on social media in which he claims he will fight who the fans pick, either Amir Khan or Marcos Maidana).

“He doesn't want to do it?” Olbermann asked Pacquiao of Mayweather.

“That’s what I believe,” Pacquiao said. “Thousands, millions of fans are waiting for that fight and been asking me many questions about when will that fight happen. I tell them I am willing to fight him any time but the problem is him. Many alibis.

“[Operators are] standing by 24 hours, seven days a week.”

They shouldn’t hold their breath for Mayweather’s call.

How fighters see Pacquiao-Rios

November, 21, 2013
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With the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios welterweight fight taking place Saturday night in Macau (HBO PPV, 9 ET), Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and HBO have set up a quasi-media center at the Venetian in Las Vegas and brought in more than a dozen radio shows to broadcast there Thursday and Friday in an effort to keep the fight on the minds of American sports fans.

In addition, they have brought in several fighters to do interviews on those radio programs and also to talk to other media. Among the fighters involved are Hall of Famers George Foreman and Sugar Ray Leonard, presumptive Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera (who lost twice to Pacquiao) and reigning welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr., who owns a controversial 2012 win against Pacquiao.

The four offered their thoughts on the Pacquiao-Rios fight:

• Foreman: I think it’s going to be a 12-round decision and I give Pacquiao the hometown decision. How about a home-region decision.

• Leonard: I think Pacquiao will win although I give Rios a shot, a big shot. It’s not going to be an easy fight. I’m picking Manny because he is Manny Pacquiao.

• Barrera: I think it is a complicated fight for both of them. You have Brandon Rios, who comes straight forward and will apply the pressure on Manny. Then you have Manny, who moves around the ring very well and picks and chooses his spots, and comes at different angles and is a very strong fighter with a lot of speed. It’s just going to be a tough fight for both of them.

• Bradley: I’ve got Manny Pacquiao by a mid- to late-round KO. Eight rounds.

Bradley previews Pacquiao-Rios

November, 21, 2013
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If there is anyone who knows what to expect from Manny Pacquiao, it’s welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr.

In June 2012, junior welterweight titlist Bradley moved up to the welterweight division to challenge Pacquiao for his belt and came away with a split decision, one of the most controversial in boxing history.

But regardless of the outrage over the decision, Bradley knows what it’s like to go 12 rounds with Pacquiao and he learned a lot about his style when they met.

So with Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) getting back into the ring after nearly a year off (and coming off a brutal knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez in December) to face Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 22 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round welterweight fight on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at CotaiArena at the Venetian Macao in Macau, Bradley offered his view on what Rios should expect to see.

“First of all, he should expect to see Manny Pacquiao being very quick and very elusive and lots of feints in this fight,” said Bradley, who outpointed Marquez in defense of his title on Oct. 12 and could wind up in a rematch with Pacquiao if he wins Saturday.

“Manny Pacquiao dropped a lot of feints on me and it kept me off balance. He is very difficult to hit at times, too, because he is always angling out. He’s coming in, he’s out, he’s angling out to the right or to the left. That’s what Brandon Rios should expect. He shouldn’t expect Pacquiao to come right at him.

“He is going to have to expect a lot of angles in this fight. Rios, if he is going to have a chance to beat Pacquiao, he is going to have to close the distance. He is going to have to get close, stay close and punch. Pacquiao has a tendency to stay on the ropes with his hands high and stay in position to allow opponents to punch him at times, and that will work in Rios’ favor.

“Rios likes to bring the pressure and throw uppercuts and body shots and I think that’s how he’s going to be effective in this fight. If he’s out too far, he’s doomed. If he can close the distance, he’ll be OK. And expect Pacquiao to come right back too. [Rios] has to have really good defense after he punches. And if he does that, he’ll be successful. But if he allows Pacquiao to move on him and find angles, Manny has power in both hands. He can hurt you. I know Rios can take a punch but this is not Mike Alvarado. He is facing Manny Pacquiao, who has speed and power.”

Bradley emphasized that Pacquiao’s feints could be a huge problem for Rios and that when he fought Pacquiao, all of the feints tired him out.

“I came into the Pacquiao fight in the best shape of my life. I trained extremely hard for that fight. I remember it being around the fourth round -- I was exhausted. After four rounds,” Bradley said. “I am in the best shape of my life and I am exhausted. Pacquiao drops so many feints on you and he keeps you so tense. He hits hard with both hands [so] you always have to be alert and it drains you as a fighter.

“With that being said, I hope that Rios is ready for that because Pacquiao will make it seem like he’s coming in and he’s not.”

Ward seeking split from Goossen

June, 19, 2013
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A few notes from around the boxing world:

• Super middleweight champion Andre Ward is seeking to end his promotional contract with career-long promoter Dan Goossen for unspecified reasons. Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) recently asked the California State Athletic Commission for an arbitration hearing on the matter. Word through the boxing industry is that Ward, who has not fought since September and is out until the fall because of a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, wants to sign with Top Rank to ensure a money fight with former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Goossen declined comment to ESPN.com and Ward did not respond to a message.

• Junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno of Las Vegas has hired trainer Joel Diaz, who also serves as the head trainer for welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. Magdaleno will train with Diaz in the Palm Springs, Calif., area. After losing a split decision challenging titleholder Rocky Martinez on April 6 in Macau, Magdaleno parted ways with career-long trainer and manager Pat Barry, who still trains and manages younger brother Jessie Magdaleno (14-0, 10 KOs), a top junior featherweight prospect. Diego Magdaleno (23-1, 9 KOs), 26, replaced Barry on the management end with Frank Espinoza last month before getting together with Diaz on the training end.

• Although welterweight contender Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KOs) of England made several remarks this week about how everything is going well in his preparation for a rematch against Oklahoma City’s Carson Jones (35-9-3, 25 KOs) on July 13 in Hull, England, Brook promoter Eddie Hearn acknowledged that he asked the Jones camp to amend the contract weight for the fight from 150 pounds to 152 because of weight issues. They are related to the fact Brook was limited in his workouts early in training camp because he was still recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot. The injury is what caused Brook to withdraw from a May 18 mandatory shot at welterweight titlist Devon Alexander. “I don't want to put too much pressure on him to make the weight and he was restricted early in camp because of [his] foot,” Hearn said. “Can see a move to 154 soon.” Jones manager Bobby Dobbs said their side rejected the push for the heavier weight.

• Light heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins, no longer training for his canceled July 13 mandatory defense against Karo Murat, will fill in some of his free time by serving as the guest commentator Saturday on Showtime’s telecast (9 p.m. ET) headlined by the Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner welterweight title bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Hopkins will be filling in for Malignaggi, the regular Showtime expert commentator.

• Mercito Gesta suffered a rib injury in a sparring session and withdrew from a July 19 ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” main event against junior welterweight contender Olusegun Ajose (31-1, 14 KOs). Ajose will still headline, but promoter Lou DiBella said he and ESPN are still working on a replacement opponent. Gesta (21-1-1, 14 KOs) was moving up to junior welterweight in the wake of a lopsided loss to lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez in December.

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