A popular theory around welterweight champion Timothy Bradley is that his union with new trainer Teddy Atlas could lead to a long-awaited convincing victory over Manny Pacquiao, which has not happened in their first two fights.
The most vocal dissenting opinion comes from Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, who isn’t buying the boxing and defensive strides flashed by Bradley in his November victory over Brandon Rios as legit.
“I don’t think there’s a new and improved Tim Bradley,” Roach said of the World Boxing Organization champion from Palm Springs who’ll defend his belt against Pacquiao April 9 in an HBO pay-per-view event at MGM Grand.
“I thought his last opponent [stunk]. The guy was out of shape. I don’t think [Bradley] looked any better than he ever has.”
When the presence of Atlas was mentioned, Roach responded: “So, who’s he? An announcer? I won’t give him credit until he beats a legit fighter. Let’s face it, you look at the guy he beat — fat and out of shape and looked like he wanted to retire before the fight.”
Oxnard’s Rios announced his retirement immediately following the ninth-round stoppage but since has said he intends to fight again.
Roach and Atlas clearly don’t admire each other. Roach has chafed that Atlas, a boxing analyst at ESPN, has never given him proper respect despite numerous Boxing Writers Assn. of America trainer of the year awards.
Atlas has said on a video posted by HBO recently: “I don’t care what he thinks. … I’ve been in this business 40 years, longer than him. … I’m more than a passenger, more than a guy going along with something that I shouldn’t go along with.”
Roach counters that if Atlas is plotting a fight plan intended to repeat Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s boxing, speed and defensive performance that won him the richest fight in history in May over Pacquiao, he’s pursuing a flawed scheme.
Bradley beat Pacquiao in 2012 in a hotly contested split decision and was then beaten in a 2014 unanimous decision in a bout that resembled the first.
“He can never be Mayweather," Roach said of Bradley. “No way, not even close. It’s night and day.
“Fighters try to improve and change, but when they get hit, they revert to what they normally do best, so we’ll see in this fight. Bradley has been a good opponent for two fights. He’s there, he’s steady, but he’s facing a very tough guy.”
Pacquiao, 37, endured the longest layoff in his career after requiring right shoulder surgery to correct damage done in training camp before the Mayweather fight.
“Well, it’s 100% so far in training camp,” Roach said of the shoulder. “Could he hurt it again? I’m not sure, but right now, there’s no problem whatsoever. He’s punching as hard as I’ve ever felt.”
Roach said Pacquiao is driven by the idea this could be his final fight, particularly if he wins election to the Philippines Senate in May.
“It’s the fight we ended up with, and he wants to go out looking like a champion,” Roach said. “I hope it’s [not his last], but he says it’s probably the end. I think he can fight on. He’s in good shape, but being [in political office] ... is work, so if he wins, it might be his last.”