LAS VEGAS,  JUNE 8, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Tim Dahlberg Associated Press - He’s a vegan in a sport where meat is king, a thinking man’s fighter in a game that embraces brawlers. Timothy Bradley never wavered in his chase for boxing glory, even when his bank account was down to $11 and there was no guarantee he would ever be on the big stage.

Manny Pacquiao (left) and Timothy Bradley pose for photographers during a press conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Wednesday, June 6, 2012. The two will fight for the WBO World Welterweight title Saturday. AP/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, JOHN LOCHER

He’s finally got his big fight against Manny Pacquiao, and Bradley isn’t about to let the chance of a lifetime go by. Not after he’s gone through so much to get to where he’s at.

“It’s been a long journey but I knew someday I’d get here,” Bradley said. “I just didn’t know when or how.”

Bradley fights Pacquiao on Saturday in a bout that will earn him millions and could get him the respect he still craves. He’s a decided underdog, but some in boxing like his chances against a fighter who struggled his last time out and is suddenly regarded as vulnerable.

Count Bradley among them. He’s believed in himself since he was working as a waiter to support his boxing career, and later when his bank account was depleted and he had to go to England for a $40,000 payday and his first title shot.

At Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference, he was so confident he held an oversized copy of a ticket for a Nov. 10 rematch with Pacquiao — a fight that would only happen if Bradley wins the first fight.

“It’s all or nothing,” Bradley said. “No rounds off. Round by round I have to win each one.”

So far that hasn’t been a problem in Bradley’s career. He’s won all 28 of his fights, though he’s never fought anyone with the pedigree of Pacquiao. He got the fight not just because of his undefeated record, but the feeling in the Pacquiao camp that he is too slow and doesn’t punch hard enough to make him a threat.

Bradley would like nothing better than to prove them wrong.

“He’s going to respect me, believe it,” Bradley said. “As soon as I tag him he’s going to respect me.”

Bradley fights for only the second time at 147 pounds, moving up to challenge Pacquiao for a piece of the welterweight title. He will make a minimum $5 million, but there will be even more lucrative fights in the future should he pull off an upset against the Filipino boxer/politician.

Oddsmakers make Pacquiao a 4-1 pick, and he’s got some motivation of his own. He barely escaped with a decision in his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, and there are whispers that at the age of 33 he is slipping.

Trainer Freddie Roach said Pacquiao — who gave up drinking, gambling and basketball in favor of Bible reading sessions since the Marquez fight — must win or he will advise him to retire.

“I would like there to be a knockout,” Roach said. “He wants to prove he’s not all done like some people say. He has heard it, and I think he has something to prove in this fight.”

Roach has downplayed Bradley as an opponent, saying his best weapon is leading with his head and that he doesn’t have the speed or power to beat Pacquiao. He sees him more as the club fighter he once was in Southern California than a legitimate threat to one of the most exciting — and popular — names in boxing.

But Bradley has fought and won as an underdog before — most notably when he went to England and beat Junior Witter in 2008 to win a piece of the 140-pound title. He’s been fighting professionally for eight years now, and hasn’t lost, though he only has 12 knockouts in his 28 fights.

He understands, though, that this fight is different than all the rest. While it will make him rich, it will also largely determine his future in the sport. Simply put, it’s the biggest fight of his life.

“I don’t look pretty, I don’t look special,” Bradley said. “I don’t have that spark where everyone says ‘wow.’ I know I’m going to have to do that in this fight. You could see some greatness Saturday night.”

Pacquiao says he doesn’t underestimate Bradley and has had one of his best training camps ever since giving up most of his vices after re-dedicating himself to his religion. He was distracted by marital troubles he brought into the ring with Marquez, Pacquiao’s handlers said, but has since repaired his relationship with his wife.

Still, Bradley is nothing more than another fight for Pacquiao — who will make a guaranteed $26 million, though he may be among the oddest opponents he has faced.

Bradley looks more musclebound than most fighters — a no-no in a sport where agility is prized more than bulk — and is a strict vegan when he trains. And while he seems to have embraced the idea of promoting the fight, there is always a chance he will get caught up in the moment when the time to fight actually arrives.

Bradley doesn’t seem concerned about being on the big stage for the first time.

“Maybe he didn’t get up for the fight, maybe he’s kind of complacent. That would work in my favor,” Bradley said. “Yes, I’ve got muscles, but I know how to use my muscles.”

Jessica to sing US anthem in Pacquiao bout By Roy Luarca Philippine Daily Inquirer 11:44 pm | Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

LAS VEGAS—Teen sensation Jessica Sanchez will sing in the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley showdown, after all.

The 2012 American Idol runner-up of Filipino and Mexican ancestry will sing the American national anthem before the battle for the WBO welterweight crown on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena here.

Only 16-years old, Sanchez, will share honors with another Fil-Am young talent, Kirby Asunto, 14, who was personally chosen by Pacquiao to sing the Lupang Hinirang.

Sanchez’s mother, Editha Bugay, hails from Samal, Bataan. Editha’s father, Gilbert, was formerly with the United States Navy.

Impressed by Sanchez’s performances in the top American reality television singing competition, Pacquiao personally urged fellow Filipinos to support her and even wanted to watch the finals which pitted her against American Philip Phillips, the eventual winner in the finals which drew a record 120 million votes.

The news of Sanchez gracing the world title fight was relayed to the media by Top Rank top honcho Bob Arum, who is promoting the bout, Tuesday during the grand arrival ceremonies of Pacquiao-Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Sanchez’s duet with Jennifer Holliday, Grammy Award Best Female R&B, in the finals is considered the defining moment of Season 12, which saw 120,000 aspirants all over the United States.

Only recently, Sanchez, who lives in Chula Vista in San Diego, performed in the 2012 National Memorial Day Concert.

Along with Phillips and the other top 10 finalists, Sanchez will hold a 45-day live concert, starting in Detroit on July 6.

Team Pacquiao arrives in Vegas By Roy Luarca Philippine Daily Inquirer 10:31 pm | Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

[PHOTO - Freddie Roach (L) and Manny Pacquiao (R) of the Philippinesprepare for a media workout at Wild Card Boxing Club on May 30, 2012 in Hollywood, California. The workout is in advance of Pacquiao's upcoming WBO welterweight championship fight against Timothy Bradley of US on June 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR]

LAS VEGAS—The neon lights of this glitzy entertainment city were in full blast when the customized Team Pacquiao bus at the head of a parade of vehicles rolled in at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino here Monday night.

A convoy of 27 vehicles, including the Lincoln Navigator with Pacquiao, wife Jinkee and Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson on board, blew into town after a nearly five-hour, 435-kilometer drive through the Mojave Desert from Hollywood. The passengers proceeded to the 60th floor suite of the adjacent THEhotel for dinner.

“I’m ready to go, super excited,” Pacquiao said, gushing again at the familiar confines, his home since stopping Oscar De La Hoya in 2008.

He stakes his WBO welterweight crown against undefeated American Timothy Bradley at MGM Grand Garden Arena, at the other side of the famed Strip, on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila), aching to prove that his star has not ebbed a bit.

Pacquiao felt relaxed and composed after training for the last week at the Wild Card Gym in the presence of Jinkee and their four children.

As expected, Pacquiao remained the heavy favorite to prevail with the betting odds Saturday putting the 33-year-old Sarangani representative at minus-480 and Bradley at plus-360.

It means that every $480 bet on Pacquiao wins only $100 while every $100 bet on Bradley earns $360.

With the hard grind over, Pacquiao will break a sweat at the University of Nevada Las Vegas track oval in the morning before preparing for his arrival ceremony at the MGM Grand main lobby early in the afternoon.

Bradley and his team also checked in Saturday.

Pacquiao will later have a mitts session at the Top Rank gym.

After dinner, Pacquiao and Jinkee retired to their room where close relatives joined them in praying the rosary.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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