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Manny Pacquiao currently has a welterweight championship (among the titles he has earned in a record eight divisions), careers in politics and entertainment, and perhaps the largest worldwide following in boxing, which has led to countless commercial and charitable opportunities (and commitments) for the Filipino superstar.
So it's little wonder that some believe Pacquiao's focus has wandered in recent years, a theory bolstered by what could be characterized as a dip in his performance (a tough day at the office in his most recent outing, a majority decision against Juan Manuel Marquez; no knockouts in his past four fights). Even the fighter's trainer, Freddie Roach, described Pacquiao as "distracted" before the Marquez fight, when his well-publicized personal and family turmoil came to a head.
At age 33, having fought in so many savage battles and pushed his body to advance so many rungs up the ladder to the welterweight division, Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) remains near -- if not at -- the top of his game. But the margin for error is minuscule for elite fighters, and the slightest slip from his peak against an opponent the caliber of junior welterweight champ Timothy Bradley Jr. (28-0, 12 KOs) -- whom Pacquiao will face June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET) -- could grease the skids to Pacquiao's first defeat since his 2005 war with Erik Morales.
ESPN.com enlisted HBO to engage Pacquiao in a conversation to get his thoughts on his storied career, what lies ahead and, specifically, the Bradley bout. As part of an ongoing feature ahead of the fight, we will provide periodic updates with Pacquiao's responses.
On how difficult it is to juggle training with his job as a public servant, and whether trainer Freddie Roach gets upset if he cancels a workout:
|Manny Pacquiao says trainer Freddie Roach, along with the rest of his team, helps to keep him organized and maximize his time.|
How difficult is it to juggle training with my Congressional schedule -- that's a question I am asked a lot, and it's a good one. I am lucky in that I have the ability to be mentally organized and able to follow a schedule. Training for a fight or being Congressman takes a great amount of discipline individually, but when combined, I have to be very diligent in sticking to planned schedules. It's not something I can do alone. I work with dedicated team members who help me make the most of my time. But I enjoy doing different things because I find the overlap improves my productivity and creativity. It alters my routine, which I find stimulating.
Most of my training camps are held while Congress is in recess, though that does not mean I stop working for the people I represent. I am in daily touch with my Congressional staff by telephone and email, where I am constantly kept updated on legislation that is pending, projects I am working on and any emergencies that may pop up.
My trainer, Freddie Roach, keeps me on a schedule as well -- morning roadwork and afternoon gym sessions. Not only does my training prepare me for upcoming fights, but it also helps me think clearer when it comes to dealing with my Congressional duties. I feel totally energized after working out and I am able to pour that physical and mental energy into my Congressional work. To be honest, I enjoy a busy schedule.
My daily Bible study sessions are the perfect way to end the day. I have discovered that the Bible is the manual of life, and it has given me a lot of comfort, as well as lessons on being a better person. The Bible has shown me what my priorities should be so that I can live a better life. I feel better because I have embraced the Bible. I am better because I have embraced the Bible. And I am so much happier and at peace because I have embraced the Bible.
Do you have any career goals that are still unmet, and how many more fights do you have left?
Regarding unmet career goals, I have many, though not in boxing. I am very satisfied with what I have accomplished in my boxing career. Winning world titles in eight divisions and defeating great fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez and Ricky Hatton have brought glory to the Philippines and the Filipino people around the world. But for as long as I keep fighting, it is my goal to keep the fans entertained and coming back for more fights. I have no time limit on when I will end my boxing career. When it is no longer enjoyable and when my skills begin to decline, my trainer, Freddie Roach, has promised to tell me it is time to end it.
I still have a great many goals that remain unmet as a Congressman. The province of Sarangani, which I represent, is still without a hospital. That is not right, and I cannot rest until my province gets the funds to build one. Human trafficking is an abomination, and I will not rest until it ceases.
And finally, I have dedicated my life to spreading the lessons of the Bible. It provides a great many blessings and its teachings are the way to world peace.
On what is keeping him and Floyd Mayweather Jr. from facing each other, whether the fight will happen and how important it is to be considered one of the best ever when his career is over:
The only thing preventing a fight between Floyd Mayweather and me is Floyd Mayweather. He no longer wants to split the pay-per-view revenue with me equally, something he agreed to in our first negotiation. Will the fight ever happen? It's up to Floyd. I hope it does. I'm a competitor and I enjoy a challenge. I know the fans want to see us fight. I think it would be good for boxing. As long as I continue fighting, I will remain hopeful that the fight will take place.
To be considered an all-time great is very important to me. Hopefully my story can inspire people to achieve their dreams. When I was growing up, watching Sugar Ray Leonard, Roy Jones Jr. and Larry Holmes fight inspired me to work harder and to become better. They still do inspire me. They were great. They were my heroes.
I never dreamed that I would achieve as much as I have. I wouldn't even dare to dream of winning world titles in eight different weight divisions. My goal when I began boxing was to earn enough money for my family to make their lives easier and to win a world title -- to be considered the best in my weight division. But as opportunities presented themselves -- world title fights at higher weights against superstars -- I worked harder and studied harder. Every victory was an incentive to do better in my next fight. I believe it is the responsibility of every boxer to put on a good show for the fans and themselves. It's the only way to grow and invest in the sport. Making boxing fans happy is a legacy that would make me proud.
On why Marquez and his style seem to give Pacquiao trouble, whether he'll give Marquez a fourth fight, and if there are any options besides Marquez and Floyd Mayweather Jr. after the Bradley fight:
|Manny Pacquiao has been bedeviled, though not yet beaten, by the brilliant counterpunching of Juan Manuel Marquez over the years.|
I get asked a lot about my fights with Juan Manuel Marquez. Our trilogy has been as exciting for us as it has been for boxing fans. Juan really understands how to fight southpaws. He's a very smart man and an excellent fighter. His deliberate and patient style of fighting is a product that comes from experience, and experience against great opposition. He's a brilliant counterpuncher.
My trainer, Freddie Roach, has said many times that Juan is the only smart one out there -- the only fighter who has figured me out.
I know the fans want to see a fourth fight between us, and I can understand why. Right now, I can only focus on the task at hand, and that's defending my title against Timothy Bradley. Just because Bradley is moving up in weight doesn't mean he is at a disadvantage. Believe me, I know. I've moved up in weight a few times myself. No one has ever beaten him -- no one. Freddie and I have four weeks of very hard training to prepare for this fight. I cannot afford to be distracted by thinking of other fights. That is a lesson experience has taught me.
On Bradley's strengths in this matchup, Pacquiao's own advantages and whether he has any concerns about Bradley's physical style and penchant for head clashes:
Timothy Bradley brings a lot of weapons to a fight. He has youth, an aggressive style and a state of mind that only a world champion possesses. No matter how much talent a fighter has, his game is raised by being a world champion. Tim has always found a way to win. He has great determination and can adapt and change his game plan in mid-fight.
Bradley seems to be improving with every fight. His victories over Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander, who were undefeated when he fought them, were very impressive. He knows how to impose his will on his opponents. He turns fights into wars.
I have speed and power to counter Bradley. My experience against Hall of Fame-caliber opposition is also an advantage for me. I have learned so much from fighting legends such as Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez. I also have the best teacher in my trainer, Freddie Roach.
I do have concerns about Bradley's fighting style. Anytime a southpaw fights an orthodox-style boxer head-butts are bound to happen, but with Bradley it's more of a concern because he tends to lead with his head. Hopefully we will have a good referee who will not let him do that. Regardless, it's my job to be prepared for anything he may bring.