By Eric Raskin
Fight week is a steady build, with interviews, press conferences, and analysis on top of analysis leading toward the moment when the fighters touch gloves on Saturday. But something happens on Friday night where the steady build ends and the spike in excitement takes everything to the next level. Nowadays, the signifier that fight week is winding down and fight day is all but here is the airing of the final episode of 24/7. That’s the moment when it becomes real. The fighters are in place. The weigh-in is complete. The fight is officially on. Now we’re all just watching the clock, wishing the hands would turn a bit faster.
How will you pass the time in the final hours before Pacquiao-Bradley? How will you occupy your mind to take the edge off the anticipation? You can relive not just that final episode of 24/7, but the first, second, and third, as well. And you can celebrate everything that happened during fight week.
You can watch the fighters’ arrivals and hear what they had to say when they got to Vegas. You can look back at each man’s previous fight. You can focus on Pacquiao and what’s changed for him lately, or on getting to know Bradley. Or you can strike a balance and explore what’s at stake for each warrior, both the legendary Pacquiao and the undefeated Bradley.
If it’s strategic insight you crave, there’s no shortage of that. You can enjoy a visual breakdown. You can hear what legendary trainer and neutral observer Emanuel Steward has to say, or what legendary trainer and not-at-all neutral observer Freddie Roach has to say. You can go inside the mind of one of one of Pacquiao’s most famous knockout victims, Ricky Hatton. You can check out the CompuBox stats, or go one step farther and see what Inside HBO Boxing bloggers Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney had to say about those stats. And if you think this one’s going to go the distance, you can step up your knowledge of how to score a fight right with Harold Lederman’s help.
And if it’s predictions you want, check out who the media tabbed to win when they gathered at the final press conference. Or read what the fans are saying, from those picking Pacquiao to those predicting the upset.
The clock keeps ticking, slowly but surely. Before you know it, the undercard will be underway. And then, finally Pacquiao and Bradley will step into the ring. Fight week will be over. It will be fight time.
Members of the media packed the Hollywood Theater at the MGM Grand on Wednesday and made their final predictions about this weekend's mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. Most boxing experts favored Pacquiao -- with one very notable exception -- and of course the fighters had their own opinions on what will go down in the ring this Saturday night.
Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley arrived Tuesday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for their fight Saturday night on HBO PPV. Kieran Mulvaney was on the ground to ask the fighters -- and their fans -- what would happen during this weekend's bout. Do you think a hungry Bradley has the skills to take Pacquiao down, or will this be yet another victory for one of boxing's biggest icons?
Can a young and hungry Timothy Bradley upset the legendary Manny Pacquiao? Watch Under the Lights, a video infographic that takes you inside their bout this Saturday.
By Eric Raskin
Most of the time when a boxer is launching his fists at another man’s head, it’s strictly business, nothing personal. But there are some occasions when it’s very, very personal. Sometimes we witness the release of personal emotion built up over the course of years. Other times it’s an intense feeling that’s only been brewing for a few seconds.
Cotto’s December 3, 2011, victory over Antonio Margarito was the conclusion of a three-year, four-month odyssey for the Puerto Rican warrior. Back in 2008, he’d suffered his first defeat, via 11th-round stoppage, at the hands of Margarito. But from the moment Margarito’s hand-wraps scandal began unraveling a few months later, Cotto suspected he’d been defeated unfairly. The rematch was about redemption. It was about Cotto proving he could take Margarito’s punch if he knew for sure there were no foreign objects behind it. It was a chance for Cotto to add a win and, to a certain extent, erase a loss.
Over 10 fiercely competitive rounds at Madison Square Garden, Cotto did precisely that. Like their first fight, the action was furious and every punch carried drama. In front of 21,239 screaming fans, Cotto and Margarito added a fitting second—and presumably final—chapter to their rivalry.
On September 17, 2011, Mayweather secured a measure of justice of his own. But his revenge was for an act perpetrated only 30 seconds earlier. In the heat of battle, Victor Ortiz lost his composure and launched his head at Mayweather’s, a flagrant foul that cost Ortiz a point. Ortiz apologized. Then he apologized again. Then referee Joe Cortez ordered the fighters to box, Ortiz insisted upon apologizing a third time, and Mayweather, his lip bloodied by the foul, made the emotional (but 100-percent legal) decision to throw punches at a man who had dropped his guard. A left hook buzzed Ortiz. A straight right hand flattened him. Fourth-round knockout.
It was an ending that got the sports world buzzing. For some, it was further evidence of Mayweather’s greatness. For others, it was further reason to hate him. Either way, the explosive conclusion solidified this as one of the most memorable rumbles that Mayweather has ever been in.
By Eric Raskin
The seeds for this fight were planted in two classic battles that remain hotly debated to this day, forcing Pacquiao and Marquez to go the full trilogy route in order to settle matters. Pacquiao has had extraordinary success throughout his career against elite Mexican fighters, but Marquez is different. He has the skills and style to bother Pacquiao like nobody else has been able to, and there’s no questioning Marquez’s heart and determination.
Still, there are many who see Pacquiao having certain edges this time around that he didn’t have in 2004 or 2008. For one, he’s grown comfortable weighing more than 140 pounds and Marquez hasn’t yet, as the tale of the scale from their last several fights shows. The CompuBox numbers were awfully close in the first two fights and, if anything, might have favored Marquez, but there are questions as to whether Marquez can duplicate those numbers at age 38 and weighing 142 pounds.
The strategy behind this fight is fascinating, and experts and fans alike have spoken up with their opinions. You have to respect the expertise of Hall of Fame trainer and manager Emanuel Steward, who put a spotlight on three keys to the fight for each man. Trainers Freddie Roach and Nacho Beristain also had their say on strategic elements to look for. Former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones offered his take, and HBO.com writers Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney crunched the numbers and weighed in as well. And if you want the ultimate insights, go to guys who’ve been in the ring and experienced the greatness of Pacquiao first-hand. David Diaz offered a revealing, extremely honest take on how it feels to fight the Filipino icon, while Sports Illustrated spoke with Pac-Man’s sparring partners about the experience.
Beyond the punches and parries, there are the personalities. We welcomed Pacquiao and Marquez into our living rooms the past month on 24/7. At the final press conference, we witnessed the professionalism and respect these warriors share. There’s no denying that Pacquiao’s fans are out in force and loving him more than ever, and they’ve taken to Twitter to express themselves. @edrosa is ready for a party at the MGM Grand, @Jamike007 thinks Manny holds key advantages over Marquez, and @wilriv doesn’t think there’s anything Marquez can do to avoid defeat. But an upset is always possible, and @stephenmcelrone isn’t counting Marquez out.
Still have some link-clicking left in your fingers? There’s more to this pay-per-view than just the main event, with three undercard fights putting undefeated records on the line. If you’d rather focus on the main event and happen to have a short attention span, you can get the whole story in 59 seconds. And if you lean the other way and want to spend hours reading more and more about tonight’s showdown, the outstanding The Queensberry Rules boxing blog supplements all of the links here with even more links!
So cram in all the great writing and videos while you still can, because that first bell is about to ring …
By Eric Raskin
This was not the first dance with the 24/7 cameras for either Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez. But no matter how well fans think they know these great fighters, there’s always something new to learn. Here are our selections for the most revealing moments from each episode of 24/7: Pacquiao-Marquez:
Episode 4: Some Bonds Are Unbreakable
Sometimes the word “family” refers to blood relatives, sometimes not. Two parallel moments from this episode showed the connections between these fighters and their loved ones: first, Marquez’s youngest son saying, as his dad prepared to leave for Las Vegas, “Everything will be okay.” Then, trainer Freddie Roach saying of his fighter, “I would die for Manny Pacquiao.” There is a softer side to the fight game, and it was revealed in these personal, powerful moments.
Episode 3: A Meteoric Rise Is Shared
Roach says he would die for Pacquiao. Well, the rest of Pac-Man’s friends and assistants will at least ink themselves up for him. We saw assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez getting his first tattoo, a flaming meteor on the inside of his left arm to match that of his boss and several other members of the camp. Now let’s see if Buboy takes the next step and gets Manny’s wife and kids’ names on his left shoulder.
Episode 2: No Diet Plan Lasts Forever
In arguably the most talked-about scene in 24/7 history, while preparing for his fight with Floyd Mayweather, Marquez revealed the unusual training habit of drinking his own urine. Entering the Pacquiao fight, the boxing world was dying to know: Is Marquez still digesting everything twice? In the most memorable voiceover 24/7 has ever given us, our answer was revealed: “He no longer drinks his own urine.” It’s a surreally spectacular line, made even better by the soothing sounds of Liev Schreiber’s voice.
Episode 1: Camraderie Is Thicker Than Blood
Pacquiao’s gym-mate Jorge Linares didn’t just lose to Antonio DeMarco in October. He suffered one of the bloodiest defeats we’ve ever seen. It was tough to watch—especially if you care about Linares personally, as Pacquiao does. But Pacquiao revealed the kind of man he is by going to Jorge’s dressing room afterward, consoling him, and not hesitating to offer a hug, even if his nice white shirt would certainly have to go in the trash afterwards.