Political angles swirl over Pacquiao-Bradley rubber match

Fri Apr 8, 2016 6:50pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

(Reuters) - Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring nearly a year after his mega-fight loss to Floyd Mayweather for a rubber-match clash with Tim Bradley in Las Vegas on Saturday against a swirling backdrop of politics and legacy.

The 37-year-old Pacquiao, who has said this will be his final fight, lost a controversial split-decision to Bradley in 2012 and two years later won a decisive unanimous decision against the American to level the score.

This will be Pacquiao's first fight since having surgery on his right shoulder to repair a long-term rotator cuff problem, an injury he said robbed him of his power in a lackluster showing against Mayweather in boxing's richest ever contest.

"I have been working on my right hand and my right hook which is very good," said Pacquiao, who has not had a knockout since 2009. "My right shoulder is healed and that is good, because I can use it with real power."

While his legion of fans would love to see the Filipino deliver a vintage performance, there may be even more on the line than the boxing records of Pacquiao (57-6-2) and Bradley (33-1-1).

Pacquiao, one of the most charismatic and accomplished boxers of his generation, is looking ahead to focusing full attention on his family and Filipino politics.

Already serving as a congressman in the Philippines, Pacquiao is in the midst of a campaign for the senate, a bid that would benefit greatly from a crowning victory in the welterweight showdown.

"It is very important to get the win for my country and the people in the Philippines, but the most important thing is a win for my country and a win for my legacy in boxing," he said, acknowledging that a victory would help him in the election.   Continued...

Apr 8, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Manny Pacquiao (left) faces off against Timothy Bradley Jr during weigh ins prior to their boxing match at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports