Pacquiao stays focused on Bradley
If Manny Pacquiao loses, or even struggles to a win, when he fights Timothy Bradley for the World Boxing Organization welterweight title on June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, boxing writers around the world will point to hubbub of the last three days as the reason.
Distractions, they'll say. The controversy surrounding Pacquiao's comments to Examiner.com regarding same-sex marriage will have taken his focus off his preparation for the bout, they'll point out.
Pacquiao is one of the two best fighters in the world, alongside Floyd Mayweather Jr., and super human things are expected of each of them. Pacquiao's better than a 4-1 favorite to beat Bradley, who himself is one of the world's 10 best fighters, and anything less than a dominant win won't be seen as enough.
The truth is, the controversy isn't even a blip on Pacquiao's radar. It will have zero impact upon the way he fights. If he loses, it will be because either Bradley was better on that night or that Pacquiao is slipping a bit, as most fighters his age (33) with the amount of fights he has (59) tend to do.
The controversy battered his image as a sweetheart of a guy who had unfailingly been portrayed as a wide-eyed innocent only looking to help others and make his country proud.
The truth is, he's a flawed man, as all of us are, with his share of skeletons in his closet. He was a big-time gambler and, apparently, quite the ladies man despite being a married father of four. Media in the Philippines have reported allegations of an affair with actress Krista Ranillo.
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview that Pacquiao's many distractions before his November win over Juan Manuel Marquez were "girls and everything that goes with it." Roach described Pacquiao out late gambling and said it all took its toll.
Perhaps. If it did, Roach would know better than anyone. However, it's nothing new and Pacquiao is in the midst of a 15-fight winning streak over the last seven years in which he rose from just another talented smaller fighter to an icon of his sport.
Since that 2005 loss, he's beaten at least six guys -- Juan Manuel Marquez twice, Erik Morales twice, Marco Antonio Barrera, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto -- who figure to be elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame one day.
He's not only won, but he's done it most times in spectacular fashion.
The distractions didn't bother him then, and there were plenty of them.
When he steps into the ring on June 9, he's going to be as physically ready to fight as he can be. If there is one thing Pacquiao does as well as anyone, it's training amazingly hard.
The controversy caused by his views on same-sex marriage -- which, it is fair to point out, are the same as virtually every Republican member of the U.S. Congress -- may not be forgotten by fans, media and sponsors by the time Pacquiao steps into the ring at the MGM Grand Garden on June 9 to defend his title against Bradley.
The one person in the world you can be assured who won't be thinking of it that night, though, is Manny Pacquiao.