LAS VEGAS—Manny Pacquiao has found an unlikely supporter in his battle for a Senate seat. It is the guy who will be sitting at the opposite corner when he climbs the ring on Saturday night.
In a final press conference lacking the usual tension, Timothy Bradley went on to give Pacquiao a glowing endorsement for his bid in the coming Philippine national elections, saying the Sarangani representative is “the only one out there who will do right by the Filipino people.”
“You all need to get it right over in the Philippines,” Bradley urged Filipino voters. “He’s shown over and over that he is for the people and by the people and that he’s a man of his word. He’s always shown that character and that integrity and I think he’s the right man for the job.”
The job is what Bradley got wrong, saying Pacquiao was running for “governor of the Philippines.”
Pacquiao is running for one of 12 Senate seats in the May 9 elections in the Philippines, where voters will also choose the next President.
Bradley’s speech, which Top Rank chief Bob Arum admitted caught him by surprise, was prompted by something the American fighter had read two days before the press conference at MGM Grand’s Copperfield Theater.
“I read something the other day where someone said Manny Pacquiao, in order to win his campaign, in order to win what he has to do, that he has to win this fight,” Bradley said. “I think that is baloney. I think that is garbage.”
Bradley said the outcome of their fight on Saturday night should have no bearing on Pacquiao’s intent to serve the Filipino people.
“I don’t think the fight has anything to do with what this man has shown for the Filipino people, where he’s from,” Bradley said. “To lose a fight or whatever happens and not get what is rightfully deserved, for him to win and sooner or later become [a senator] of the Philippines. [He has] everybody what he is made of with everything he has done for the Philippines and the Filipino people.”
Pacquiao’s Senate bid has been roundly criticized by Filipinos back home, with a majority of them begging him to stick to boxing. The eight-division champion is also faced with disqualification because of this fight, which his political rivals say give him an advantage in terms of publicity.
Arum even joked about that, saying the Commission of Elections has set a specified number of minutes of airtime for every candidate’s campaign material and that Bradley had already eaten up a lot of those minutes with his glowing endorsement of Pacquiao.
Arum later told Yahoo that Bradley’s speech “blew me away.”
“Never in 50 years in this business have I heard a thing like it,” said Arum, who has been promoting fights for 50 years and refers to Pacquiao as the one-man social welfare system of the Philippines.
“You have two guys in a big fight and one of them gets up and does a campaign speech for his opponent. It was unbelievable and shows what a class act Timothy Bradley really is.”
Bradley went on to wish Pacquiao luck on his political battle.
“I wish nothing but the best for you, man. I hope you truly, truly win. I really do,” Bradley said.
As for Pacquiao’s battle on the ring, Bradley has a different outcome in mind.
“If I am going to beat Manny Pacquiao, it’s got to be now,” he said. “This is my only opportunity and I’m ready for it.”