• By Miguel Maravilla Photo by Dulce Aguayo

Manny Pacquiao: This Fight is One of the Most Important Fights of My Life


Filipino icon and eight division world champion Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) is in the final stages of camp as he is a little over a week away from his rubber match against WBO welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs). Pacquiao will square off against Bradley next Saturday April 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas live on HBO PPV in what will be the final fight of his illustrious career. We talked to Pacquiao Wednesday afternoon prior to his media day workout at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California.

"This fight is one of the most important fights of my life there are a lot of reasons why. After this I go back to the Philippines to serve the people," Manny Pacquiao told Southern California Boxing.com "I have done everything I can for this training camp. This is going to be an exciting fight with more action in the ring," Pacquiao added

Pacquiao began his camp in the Philippines and resumed his training at the Wild Card in early March with Roach along with strength conditioning coach Justin Fortune.

"I have been training hard in the Philippines and now in the Wild Card. Everything is good, I am very excited about this fight and I am ready for this fight," Pacquiao said. "My sparring partners have been very good they have helped me a lot there style is similar to my opponent," Pacquiao added.

"Camp has gone pretty well training for this fight. Sparring has been off but it came together the last few workouts. He looks ready now," Freddie Roach told Southern California Boxing.com

Returning to the ring since his decision loss at the hands of former pound for pound king and now retired Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao was defeated in a fight which was to considered as the “Fight of the Century.” Following the fight Pacquiao stated he had sustained an injury on his shoulder during training camp, limiting his ability for the fight with Floyd. In wake of the record breaking fight, Pacquiao faced strings of criticism and had surgery on his shoulder. After sitting out the rest of the year recovering from surgery Pacquiao will now look to settle the score against Bradley.

"It has been almost one year that I have not fought. My shoulder is good," Pacquiao said. "My intensity and willingness is still there," Pacquiao added.

"The eleven months off and comeback was harder this time, before it took a little. This time it takes a little more to get where we want to be," Roach said.

The two met for the first time back in June of 2012 with Pacquiao easily handling the then undefeated Bradley. However the decision ended up being one of the most controversial outcomes as Bradley pulled off the decision. Less than 2 years later in the rematch Pacquiao would win a convincing unanimous decision in regaining the WBO welterweight title handing Bradley his first official loss. Since the first fight with Pacquiao, Bradley has gone 5-1-1, 1 KO. 2015 was quite a year for Bradley as he was involved in a wild ending in a decision over Jesse Vargas. With about 20 seconds left in the fight Bradley was hurt badly from a right hand as Vargas went on the attack the referee suddenly waived the fight, causing a great deal of confusion and controversy.

"Bradley is more focused on the body now since our last fights and we will create more action in the ring," Pacquiao said. "The third fight is going to be the answer for all those questions about the two fights we have had," Pacquiao added.

"I thought Manny won both fights. Bradley has got a new trainer and everyone is making a big deal about it," Roach said.

"I think for me you throw out the first two fights. You will see a Bradley who is so much better than he was the first two fights since he fought Manny," Pacquiao's Hall of Fame Promoter Bod Arum told Southern California Boxing.com

Following the fight with Vargas, Bradley made a change in his team as he hired Teddy Atlas as his new trainer and parted ways with his longtime trainer Joel Diaz. In their first fight together Bradley scored a ninth round TKO over the tough Brandon Rios in his last fight.

"I believe Bradley has improved, I am excited to see in the ring what he can bring with Teddy Atlas," Pacquiao said. "We saw in the ring in the Rios fight," Pacquiao added.

"I think he is more of a cheerleader in the corner, we are not afraid of firemen," Roach said. "I know Teddy personally and had some altercations with him," Roach added.

"Atlas has him thinking and gotten to his head, Atlas is a great psychologist of the game." Bob Arum told Fightnews.com. "Manny will come in tough and ready as always," Arum said.

With this being the last fight of Manny Pacquiao’s career, perhaps this has been one of the most complicated training camps of his career. His next task following the Bradley fight will be campaigning for a seat in the Philippine Senate in May. A political career that began in 2007 as Pacquiao was elected to the House of Representatives in the South Cotabao district. Pacquiao was proclaimed Congressman in May of 2010 and took his oath in June of that year in the Sarangani province. 2013 saw him run unopposed in winning the election.

"After this I go back to the Philippines to serve the people. We hope a victory will help us in the campaign," Pacquiao said. "If I win the election that will be another big responsibility," Pacquiao said.

Other issues during this camp include his remarks about same sex marriage in which lead to Nike dropping him from his sponsorship deal and him being kicked out and banned from the Grove of LA, shopping mall. Despite all that his accomplishments in and out of the ring will be remembered in what has been a remarkable career.

"None of this distracts me. I was just telling the truth, I explained it properly but the problem is that they cut the video and my whole interview. It's about five to ten minutes and they cut it short just the politics. But who am I to condemn or discriminate against other people. I am also a human and sinner. What I am telling is the truth what I am condemning is the act," Pacquiao said.

"There is no drama and distractions. Nothing was ever spoken about it in the Philippines of what was said. If you listen to that entire video of the speech, he explains himself but if you listen to that one minute that everyone cuts it to, than you get a different perspective. Manny is a really good guy. He has over 200 gay people working for him, Manny is not prejudice against anybody," Freddie Roach said.

"Should the Grove had banned him? I would say probably not. Can they ban him? I rather have Manny and his legal team to take this case. It's a public facility," Arum said.

A career that began in 1995, Pacquiao won his first world title in 1998 and burst on the scene with his TKO over Lehlo Ledwaba. The rest is history as he has piled up wins over future Hall of Famers Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, and Shane Mosley.

"It's been a real great story, a rags to riches story. About a kid in the streets of Philippines that lived in a cardboard shack and worked his way to states gets on the world stage and becomes one of the greatest fighters of our time," Arum said.

"When I look back at my accomplishments and what I have accomplished I can never imagine that," Pacquiao said. "I want to be remembered not only as a good person in the ring but also outside the ring," Pacquiao added.

"We have been together for 15 years and we will be friends for life," Roach said.

Pacquiao vs. Bradley will be a scheduled 12 round championship fight for Bradley’s WBO welterweight title.

"What I have on my mind is to win convincingly and leave no doubt. If I have a chance to finish why not but I am not making a prediction," Pacquiao said. "I will do my best to make the people happy for this fight," Pacquiao concluded.

Follow Miguel on Twitter @MigMarvilla