Bradley on Pacquiao fight: 'Waiting for this my whole life'
Timothy Bradley agreed in principle Thursday to fight Manny Pacquiao on June 9 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, fulfilling a lifetime ambition for the unbeaten, Cathedral City-based world junior welterweight champion.
"This is about being the No. 1 fighter in the world, and that's what my goal has been for as long as I can remember," Bradley said. "I've been waiting for this my whole life."
Bradley declined to reveal terms of his agreement, which he said could be signed as early as Friday, but fight promoter Bob Arum said there was no reason to doubt that Bradley will have around the same $5-million guarantee that Pacquiao's most recent two opponents had.
Bradley (28-0, 12 knockouts) kept his eyes on this prize through a contentious 2011, when he split with promoters Gary Shaw and Ken Thompson and turned down a likely $1.5-million payday last June against England's Amir Khan to instead pursue a chance at a more lucrative date against Pacquiao.
When another round of talks failed to generate a super-fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- who's scheduled to fight Miguel Cotto May 5 -- the 28-year-old Bradley emerged as the front-runner for Pacquiao.
"It's been a long time coming," said Bradley, who returned from a 10-month absence in November to defeat veteran Joel Casamayor by eighth-round technical knockout on the Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez undercard. "This is like going to England again, to win a world title."
In 2008, Bradley defeated England's Junior Witter on Witter's home turf to capture his first belt, and has defeated the likes of Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander since.
(Peterson made news Thursday by shifting away from talks to fight Marquez at Cowboys Stadium, and agreeing to fight Khan on May 19 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.)
Bradley, meanwhile, has to figure out how to defeat Pacquiao (54-3-2), who hasn't lost since 2005 but turned in perhaps his worst performance since then by edging Marquez by decision.
"He can be beat," Bradley said of Pacquiao. "I just need to get in there and follow my game plan. I know his weaknesses, his favorite combinations. In my mind, I'm definitely going to win. I'll take it to this guy."
Bradley manager Cameron Dunkin said in December that the Marquez bout exposed Pacquiao as a tiring, less sharp version. When asked if he was just blowing smoke or he'd bet $1,000 Bradley could beat Pacquiao, Dunkin quickly extended his hand to finalize the wager.
"It wasn't so much that Marquez exposed Pacquiao, as much as he is not as spectacular," Bradley said. "It's harder for Pacquiao to land his shots now, and you even saw that in the [May 2011] Shane Mosley fight. Look, Marquez had Pacquiao's number, and Marquez is 38 and past his prime.
"Here they were making excuses after [Pacquiao conditioning coach Alex] Ariza had said before Marquez that even God himself couldn't beat Pacquiao.
"I'm younger, stronger and faster than Marquez."
Bradley said he intends to be prepared either to box or fight inside with Pacquiao, dismissing criticism he's a dirty fighter who favors his head and elbows.
"This will be no walk in the park for Manny Pacquiao," Bradley said.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Timothy Bradley celebrates following his victory over Joel Casamayor in a WBO junior welterweight title fight in Las Vegas in November. Harry How / Getty Images