By Kieran Mulvaney
There has long been an apparent dichotomy when it comes to Manny Pacquiao. Outside of the ring – even on his way to the ring, as he smiles and waves at his fans – he speaks quietly, laughs innocently at his own jokes, and professes his love for a wide variety of people, up to and including past, present and future opponents. Inside the ropes, once the bell rings, he is a brutalizing force, bludgeoning the likes of Ricky Hatton into unconsciousness, Miguel Cotto into retreat and Shane Mosley into effective submission. And then, the bell rings to end the fight, and the other Manny materializes again.
Timothy Bradley is less of a study in extremes. During the build-up to Saturday’s clash with Pacquiao, he has been eloquent, thoughtful, and calm, certainly; but by the time of Wednesday’s press conference, he was demonstrating an expression of consistent intensity, not demonstrably different from the one he will likely wear in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
And so it was at Friday’s weigh-in, the final pre-fight public appearance for both men, before a crowd of several thousand that was cheering almost exclusively for the fighting congressman for the Philippines. After stepping off the scales – Pacquiao weighing 147 lbs., Bradley 146 – they stood nose-to-nose for the traditional face-off, Bradley exuding menace and Pacquiao, who has never been able to take such rituals seriously, dissolving into giggles.
Immediately afterward, HBO’s Max Kellerman asked Pacquiao why he was laughing.
“Because I am happy.”
Why did he think Bradley was so serious?
“I don’t know.”
Kellerman turned to Bradley, and asked him to explain his severe expression.
“Because I’m ready for war. I’m ready to prove everybody wrong.”
Not everybody, corrected Kellerman; there is no shortage of observers who think he may spring the upset. Why did he think that is?
“Because they know how hungry and determined I am, baby.”
A study in emotional contrasts. Will Bradley’s intensity remain, and will Pacquiao’s ramp up, come fight time?