Manny Pacquiao announces ring return against Timothy Bradley Jnr on April 9
Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring April 9 to fight welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jnr for a third time, promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday.
And although Pacquiao is seeking election to the Philippines Senate, he and Arum have agreed not to market this as his final bout.
Pacquiao has repeatedly said he is hopeful to return with an impressive performance and then try to talk unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jnr out of retirement for a rematch.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts) has been sidelined since a May 2 unanimous-decision loss to Mayweather in a record-setting bout in which Pacquiao aggravated a shoulder injury suffered in training.
On his Facebook page this week, Pacquiao, 37, declared the surgically repaired shoulder “100 per cent” in a Q and A with fans.
Pacquiao appeared to have his way with Bradley in their June 2012 and April 2014 fights but judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford scored the 2012 bout for Bradley.
The 32-year-old Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) successfully defended his World Boxing Organisation welterweight belt with a ninth-round technical knockout of Brandon Rios on November 7 in Las Vegas.
“We haven’t seen this fight already, because this is a new Bradley,” Arum said.
“I don’t know that Manny has to prove anything other than he’s better than the current Bradley and his new coach. The Bradley who beat Rios was better than the Bradley I’ve seen of the last five years. Can that Bradley beat Manny Pacquiao? I don’t know, but I think it’s a close fight and he’s still coming off an injury.”
The Rios fight marked Bradley’s first with trainer Teddy Atlas, a former Mike Tyson cornerman and current ESPN analyst.
Arum said the Pacquiao-Bradley deal has been verbally agreed upon by both fighters, and that contracts are being sent, with news conferences scheduled in Los Angeles and New York in January. Arum said Pacquiao is expected to begin training at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood by February 1.
Pacquiao was expected to announce earlier this month whether he’d choose Bradley, junior-welterweight champion Terence Crawford or former 140-pound champion Amir Khan, but told Arum he needed more time.
“We have the deals … Manny approved it … and now the paperwork is being prepared,” Arum said.
“I’m not going to advertise it as his last fight. It could be his last fight. But I’m not going to put myself in position where he changes his mind and goes on to fight in November, and then everyone says I’m a huckster. If it’s his last fight, it’s his last fight and it can be relevant as such after. … I’m not certain it is.
“Mayweather is retired, so I take him at his word. I could say, ‘(No way) he’s retired,’ but how do I know that? He’s retired? OK, he’s retired.”
Arum said Crawford, whom he promotes, and Khan, handled by promoter Al Haymon, were rejected by cable and satellite distributors for not being “that well-known yet.”
“They didn’t feel Khan would do anything,” Arum said. Khan “has a spotty record, hasn’t done great ratings. Why would we feel he’d do well on pay-per-view?”
Arum said he is seeking a super-middleweight title fight between his unbeaten challenger Gilberto Ramirez and Arthur Abraham on the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard, along with a possible heavyweight bout between Ike Ibeabuchi and Andy Ruiz. He said Crawford will fight twice before July and be available for a possible Pacquiao pay-per-view card later in 2016.
Crawford is being pointed toward a February 27 title defence against Mauricio Herrera of Riverside, California, with Puerto Rican lightweight Felix Verdejo on the Madison Square Garden card, Arum said.