Boxing's first major PPV event for 2016 has been confirmed, and it could double as the last fight of Manny Pacquiao's career. Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, told the LA Times' Lance Pugmire that the former multi-division world champion will have a rubber match vs. Timothy Bradley on April 9th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. HBO PPV will televise the event, and on the line will be Bradley's WBO welterweight (147 lbs) title.
Bradley and Pacquiao first fought in 2012, with Bradley winning a highly controversial split decision and handing Pacquiao his first loss since 2005. They rematched in April 2014, and Pacquiao won a clear unanimous decision to send Bradley to the first (and so far only) defeat of his career.
Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather on May 2nd in the richest fight in boxing history. The highly anticipated superfight didn't live up to the high expectations, and Pacquiao later revealed he came into the fight with an injured right shoulder. As it stands, his last win is a November 2014 lopsided decision win over the woefully overmatched Chris Algieri.
Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) recorded his first stoppage win in 4 years by knocking out Brandon Rios in an HBO main event last month. The 32-year-old also defeated Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision in June, but not before suffering a huge scare in the final round where he was badly rocked in the closing seconds. Bradley's only other non-win of his career is a controversial draw vs. Diego Chaves last year, which came after the loss to Pacquiao.
As far as whether or not this will be Pacquiao's last fight, Arum had this to say (via LA Times):
"I'm not going to advertise it as his last fight. It could be his last fight. But I'm not going to put myself in position where he changes his mind and goes on to fight in November, and then everyone says I'm a huckster. If it's his last fight, it's his last fight and it can be relevant as such after .... I'm not certain it is."
Other options for Pacquiao included rising star Terence Crawford (27-0, 19 KOs), and Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs), but according to Arum, cable and satellite distributors "didn't feel Khan would do anything," and that "[Khan] has a spotty record, hasn't done great ratings. Why would we feel he'd do well on pay-per-view?"
While Khan isn't booked to fight anyone, Crawford is likely to defend his 140 lbs WBO title against Mauricio Herrera in February on regular HBO. The fight would take place at Madison Square Garden in New York.
For the record, Pacquiao-Bradley I drew a reported 890,000 buys, and the rematch pulled in 800,000. Bradley has never been much of a draw throughout his career, and the aftermath of Mayweather-Pacquiao could greatly affect Pacquiao's PPV strength, which had already declined after his KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez. There's a legitimate case to be made that Bradley could actually get the win here, but it's not exactly a fight that I suspect most fans were clamoring to see again.
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