Stepping up in weight for the big fights and the big money is commonplace in boxing. So many of today’s greats, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Felix Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya, started small and gradually moved through the various weight classes.
The great ones do it gracefully. Will Tim Bradley be able to add his name to that list? Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs), who has fought a bulk of his fights at junior welterweight, will be stepping into the welterweight division when he takes on Manny Pacquiao on June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Bradley, whose last fight at 147 pounds came against Luis Carlos Abregu on July 17, 2010, doesn’t think the weight jump will be an issue.
“Man, I am faster than ever, and stronger…pounding combinations,” Bradley said during a conference call with reporters. “The strength is there, the power is there…Everything is there and I’m firing on all cylinders.”
Most observers agree Bradley is the best opponent Pacquiao has faced in many years. Bradley stopped short of predicting a knockout, but did say he would win.
“I’m not a prediction kind of guy, but I know at the end of the fight I will have my hand raised,” said Bradley. “I am going to be the winner, plain and simple. I am going to have my hand raised.”
Bradley's dominating wins over Lamont Peterson, Kendall Holt, Devon Alexander, Junior Witter and his most recent triumph over Joel Casamayor gives him good reason to be confident.
Now for the bigger picture. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto drew an impressive 1.5 million pay-per-view buys for HBO. It ranks as the second largest non-heavyweight number in boxing history.
The winner could (or should) be next up for Mayweather when he is finished with his sting in jail. A big pay-per-view number would go a long way in securing a bout of that stature.
But Top Rank boss Bob Arum was quick to play down what to expect and said it’s “silly” to predict whether Bradley-Pacquiao will do more or less than Mayweather-Cotto.
Said Arum: “You’ve got to realize -- you’ve got to give Cotto a lot of credit for the good number that they did. Cotto is the No. 3 box office attraction. We did 600,000 when Cotto fought Margarito. So Cotto has been used to putting up big PPV numbers and combined with Mayweather, they put up a really big number…We have put up terrific numbers with Manny against [Shane] Mosley and [Juan Manuel] Marquez and that’s what we’re shooting for, a good number, for the Pacquiao-Bradley fight.”