At first, losing to Timothy Bradley wasn’t such a big deal to Manny Pacquiao. After all, everyone except the judges had thought he won the 2012 fight by a wide margin. For the Pac Man, the controversy was just part of boxing. You know, the little bit of bad that came with the good that has fed his family and helped the poor kid from Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines out of extreme poverty and into superstardom. Little did he know that the loss to Bradley would set off a chain of events that would forever alter his boxing career.
After dropping the hotly contested decision, Pacquiao found himself on the wrong side of the victorious column again. Only this time, the finish was more definitive as Pacquiao was left face down on the canvas as a Juan Manuel Marquez punch short-circuited his faculties. With back-to-back losses, many thought this was the end of Manny Pacquiao. But a win over Brandon Rios has Pacquiao back on the right track and on April 12, the Pac Man will get the opportunity to correct the judges’ mistake as he faces Bradley in a highly anticipated rematch.
In advance of what he considers the biggest fight of his career, Pacquiao speaks to Life+Times about how much longer he will be fighting, what will be different in the Pacquiao rematch and life without hearing the name “Mayweather” every day.
Life+Times: Was there ever a time before your knockout loss to Marquez when you considered pursuing a career as being a politician and a humanitarian over being a boxer?
Manny Pacquiao: No. I still love fighting and I’m only 35 so I never thought about retiring. I want to really give hope to my fans.
L+T: When you see guys like Bernard Hopkins still fighting as he approaches 50, is that something you’d consider doing?
MP: No, no (laughs). I do not want to fight until I’m 50. I look at myself and I see, maybe, two more years. Right now I really enjoy boxing and this is my focus.
L+T: Are you more motivated now because there are questions about your killer instinct and whether you still have “it”?
MP: Yes. I’m motivated because I know that this is the most important fight of my career. I’m making a comeback and I never really lost the hunger. There are just different styles now that I’m fighting bigger guys. The styles are different. I’m motivated because I want to prove that I’m still the best fighter in the world.
L+T: Aside from all of this killer instinct and hunger talk, the fact that you haven’t scored a knockout in some time is something I’m sure you have noticed and would like to correct.
MP: No. I prepare myself for a 12 round fight. If the knockout is there, I’ll take it. But recently, like I said, the styles have been different. The fighters are bigger so it’s just a combination of those things. The fighters I’ve been facing have been a lot tougher lately.
L+T: Do you think Bradley was legitimately injured when you two fought the first time or is he making excuses?
MP: I don’t know. I just know that he’s a tough fighter and I respect him. He took some of my biggest shots in the first fight. I may have underestimated him the first time. But for this fight I’m motivated and prepared. So we will see what happens this time around.
L+T: Where does Bradley rank with your other opponents? Did you find anything that stood out about his style?
MP: Honestly it was a very easy fight for me. I felt that I dominated every single round. In my opinion I won 12 rounds and he won none. He didn’t surprise me. He’s just a tough guy and a good fighter.
L+T: But good, not great?
L+T: You don’t make a big deal out of wins and losses like other fighters do, but what loss bothers you more, the way you lost to Marquez, knowing that it was something that you did wrong and have to correct, or losing to Bradley where you feel like you did everything right but the three judges didn’t?
MP: For me, it’s frustrating with both. With Bradley I was dominating and the judges saw it differently. With Marquez, I was dominating that fight but I got careless and got caught. That’s boxing though. And that’s why I want to continue because I love that there is always a surprise.
L+T: One name you don’t hear as much is Mayweather, although it does come occasionally, are you happy that you are able to discuss things without being bombarded with Mayweather questions?
MP: Yes! It’s nice that he has to answer the questions now instead of me. If that fight happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, I am satisfied with my career. The people are the ones who really want it. And if they want it, then it is something that we must look into eventually. At the end of the day, the fans are what matter.
L+T: You are a man who fights for the fans. Unlike other fighters, it’s not about the money or making the best business decision. It’s about giving the fans what they want. But when you see other fighters making business decision over satisfying the fans, does that bother you?
MP: Yeah. The people that come to my fight spend thousands of dollars on seats, hotels and airfare. Then you have all the people who buy the pay per view. It’s expensive to watch me fight. I want them to say it was worth it when they watch me fight. I think about that all of the time because these people are the ones paying to see me.
L+T: Are you satisfied with the time you are able to split between fighting, family, God and servicing the people?
MP: I am. I prioritize what’s important and I do the best I can. My wife is giving birth next month and I’m excited that I’ll be able to come home.
L+T: Does the fact that there is another child on the way play as a distraction at all?
MP: A new baby is something that I’m excited about but I also know I have a fight to concentrate on.
L+T: Your children have seen their father fight quite a few times now. Have they become accustomed to you being away for long periods of time?
MP: My kids are very understanding. They know it is my job. But when I’m home I spend a lot of time with them. I’ll even take them to school on my own. It’s nice.
L+T: Not to look past this fight, but Marquez seems to be finally warming up to the idea of fighting you again. How bad do you want to avenge that loss?
MP: I can’t think about Marquez right now. I have to concentrate on Bradley. But if that fight happens, I will happily take it. You know me I will fight anybody.
L+T: How much do world titles matter to you at this point of your career?
MP: It’s important but the most important thing is to entertain the fans by giving them good fights. That is what I will be remembered for the most. Not all of the world titles, not the wins or the losses. It is about entertaining the fans and not just giving them a good fight, it’s about giving them the great fights.
Pacquiao vs. Bradley takes place on Sat., April 12 live on HBO pay-per-view beginning at9pm ET/6pm PT