More than eight months after leaving the ring as a lopsided loser to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao still clings to the notion he won the biggest pay-per-view fight of all-time despite suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery and sidelined him to this point.
Although he appeared in New York Thursday to promote his next and possibly final fight of his career — a third meeting with WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. April 9 in Las Vegas — Pacquiao can’t help but glance back over his shoulder at what might have been against Mayweather.
“I still believe I won that last fight,” Pacquiao said. “After reviewing the tape, I threw a lot of punches. I respect the commission and the judges, but if you ask what is in my heart, that’s what I feel.”
Two judges gave Mayweather a 116-112 decision while one gave the undefeated champion a wide 118-110 margin that seemed overly generous. Pacquiao said he won “by two rounds.”
Immediately after the fight, Pacquiao claimed he suffered a right shoulder injury during the bout that led to what his handlers have described as right rotator cuff surgery. Trainer Freddie Roach and advisor Michael Koncz said Pacquiao actually received final clearance to fight from his surgeon on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Pacquiao said the problem arose during the fourth round when he landed his most damaging combinations. “That’s me,” Pacquiao said of the punches that backed up Mayweather. “I wanted to be like that the whole round. In that fourth round, I felt something and backed off. I lost my right hand and backed off. It was just an accident. Before that, I felt good.
Pacquiao added that Mayweather recognized he was hurt, saying, “Floyd pulled on my (injured) arm. He’s so smart.”
Nevada State Athletic Commission officials said the Pacquiao camp requested a painkilling injection just before the fight that was denied. Asked why he needed the injection if he felt good before the fight, Pacquiao said, “No, I don’t have pain or injury before the fight. I just want to make sure that whatever happened, I’m still there. I’m not saying I’m not 100 percent condition.”
Pacquiao compared it to “taking vitamins.” Koncz added, “The injection was just a precautionary measure recommended by our doctor. He wasn’t feeling any pain prior to the fight.”
Bradley privately expressed skepticism about Pacquiao’s injury, saying, “Maybe he had surgery, but he still was throwing the right hook all night.”
Pacquiao admitted his disappointment that Mayweather retired. Now, Pacquiao is saying the Bradley fight is his last because he’s moving up from congressman to run for senator in the Philippines in May. He believes a clear win over Bradley will help his popularity.
“No prediction,” Pacquiao said. “I just want to win convincingly.”