Boxing judges have come under greater scrutiny in Nevada since Manny Pacquiao’s split decision loss to Timothy Bradley in June 2012.
So it’s no surprise that with their April 12 rematch at the MGM Grand Garden approaching that Pacquiao was asked about the judges. But Pacquiao and his trainer, Freddie Roach, said they won’t let the judging impact their game plan to take back the World Boxing Organization welterweight title belt Bradley won on June 9, 2012, at the Grand Garden.
“I’m not thinking about the judges,” Pacquiao said Tuesday during a conference call. “I’m just focusing on fighting my fight and my strategy.”
Roach said: “One bad decision doesn’t change everything in life. We don’t worry about the judges. We think we have a very good game plan, and if Manny executes it, the judges won’t be a factor.”
Roach is talking knockout. But he was quick to say that Pacquiao is not going to enter the ring looking for one.
“It doesn’t happen that way,” Roach said. “But we want to fight our fight, be aggressive and throw lots of punches. Bradley is a tough guy with a good chin. But I think if Manny puts pressure on him and hits him with hard shots, he’ll go.”
Pacquiao said: “We’re not focusing on the knockout. We’re focusing on being aggressive and throw more punches. If the knockout comes, it comes.”
Pacquiao handled the loss with grace after judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford gave Bradley the decision by 115-113 scores (Jerry Roth had Pacquiao winning 115-113). The process of vetting the officials for the rematch has begun, and the referee and judges will be announced Tuesday at a Nevada Athletic Commission meeting.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 knockouts) and Bradley (31-0-12 KOs), has seen a preliminary list of candidates for the rematch, which will be televised by HBO Pay Per View.
“Hopefully, the commission will appoint judges from all over the world so there will be a fair decision if it doesn’t end in a knockout,” Arum said. “But Manny is a very sensible guy. You can’t change the decision from two years ago. It was what it was, so you move on.”
Pacquiao said he has done so.
“Nobody’s perfect in this world,” he said. “Things happen in boxing. But the people understand that I won the fight, so I’m not angry.”
Roach keeps the first fight as a motivational hole card to play if he needs it.
“Revenge is a great motivator,” he said. “We have a chance to do that.”
Pacquiao last knocked out an opponent in 2009, when he stopped Miguel Cotto in the 12th round. He has fought eight times since, getting knocked out when Juan Manuel Marquez stopped him in the sixth round at the Grand Garden on Dec. 8, 2012. Pacquiao fought a smart fight in his return on Nov. 24, when he easily outpointed Brandon Rios in Macau.
Pacquiao said he has no fear of being stopped again.
“I know Bradley’s style, and I can adjust to whatever he does,” Pacquiao said. “I want to prove I’m still the fighter I was when we fought the first time.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.