LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - World Boxing Organisation welterweight champion Timothy Bradley of the United States and his challenger, Manny Pacquiao, will both be seeking redemption when they clash for a second time on April 12 in Las Vegas.
Bradley believes he never gained the recognition he was due after controversially beating the Filipino southpaw on a split decision when they first met in June 2012 while Pacquiao feels he was robbed with that result.
“This is all about redemption,” Bradley (31-0, 12 knockouts) said during a news conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Tuesday to promote the fight. “I need Manny. He needs me.
“I’m going to beat him again. I am younger and a better fighter. Manny fights for the money; I have the hunger to win. I am a different fighter than the one who fought Pacquiao in our first fight.
“I scored our fight eight rounds to four in my favor. No way he won that fight,” said the 30-year-old American who trains in Indio, California.
“Manny is great but he is also mortal. I’m not intimidated by him or his legend.”
Pacquiao told the news conference he was on a mission.
“I thought I was leading after every round,” he said. “I thought I won the fight easily. I controlled the fight every round. I was very surprised by the decision.
“But that’s part of the game. He got the decision and my title. Now I want to get back that belt he won off of me. Boxing has always been fun for me. This time the fun is secondary. This is a mission to prove I am the best.”
Bradley’s victory over Pacquiao was met by a chorus of boos from the crowd in Las Vegas after the shock split decision was announced, and promoter Bob Arum later described the judges as “The Three Blind Mice”.
Judge Jerry Roth (115-113) awarded the fight to Pacquiao while CJ Ross (115-113) and Duane Ford (115-113) gave it to the American, who had been a 5-1 underdog.
The faster and more powerful Pacquiao seemed to be in cruise control for at least nine of the 12 rounds, and Bradley himself made comments immediately afterwards suggesting he had not done enough to win.
While Pacquiao was stunned after suffering his first defeat since he lost to Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005, he took the decision with good grace at the time.
He went on to lose his next fight, a sixth-round knockout at the hands of Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 which prompted retirement talks.
However the Filipino rebounded two months ago with a decisive, unanimous decision victory against American Brandon Rios in Macau, improving his career record to 55-5-2 with 38 knockouts.
“The only way Bradley can beat me this time is to knock me out,” said the 35-year-old Pacquiao, an eight-division world champion. “He cannot outbox me. I will be the aggressor.
“I will throw a lot of punches at him - more than I threw against Rios - and I will land them. Last time I was too nice. This time, I will finish what I start.”
“Desert Storm” Bradley won his most recent fight in October, beating Mexico’s three-division world champion Marquez on a split decision in Las Vegas after a display that captured the attention of Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach.
“Tim Bradley is one of the toughest guys in the world and I saw that up close when he fought Ruslan Provodnikov last year,” said Roach, who worked Provodnikov’s corner that night.
“Tim looked even better in beating Marquez in his last fight. Tim is the champion and Manny and I know we have our work cut out for us to successfully challenge him.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry