World welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. and his trainer, Joel Diaz, are still wondering why Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao was unable to knock out Brandon Rios last November when the opportunity was there for the taking.
Pacquiao thoroughly dominated Rios when they fought in Macau late last year, yet could not knock out the slower fighter even as he landed several punishing blows over the course of 12 rounds.
Bradley, in an episode of HBO's "24/7" reality series, suggested that Pacquiao's punches may not have hurt Rios all that much, even though the Mexican-American’s face bore the marks of the Filipino’s fists.
"Man, Rios laughed at him," Bradley said. "And you know when Rios laughs, you know what he says. 'You hit like a b****.' He couldn't knock out a guy that was coming straight forward at him."
Diaz believes that Pacquiao's knockout loss at the hands of rival Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 still affected the "Pacman" against Rios.
"Every fight will leave a mark on your career. When Marquez knocked him out, that really left a mark on his career. We saw a lot of differences in Manny Pacquiao," said Diaz in a conference call last weekend.
"Manny Pacquiao is a fighter that brings it. He comes to destroy the opponent. He had an opponent in front of him that he could hit, even with his eyes closed, and he couldn’t finish him," he added.
Bradley gave Rios some credit, calling him a "tough guy," but also pointed out that "BamBam" was "right in front" of Pacquiao yet the Filipino could not pull the trigger.
"He is supposed to be one of the vicious punchers in the game," said Bradley. "I have never seen Manny Pacquiao take a step back before. I think it was the last round of the Rios fight, and he had Rios trapped in the corner, and you saw Manny take his foot off the gas pedal."
"It was unbelievable to me," he said.
Bradley also noted that when he first fought Pacquiao in June 2012 – which saw the American win a highly controversial split decision – Pacquiao also failed to knock him out even though he fought with injuries on both feet.
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, said in a separate conference call that the Filipino boxer fought "a very aggressive fight" against Rios, but learned his lesson from the Marquez knockout.
"He might have been able to finish him (Rios), he hurt him a couple of times, but we didn’t jump in so quickly," Roach said. "We did learn some things from that fight (against Marquez)."
But Bradley and Diaz contend that it was Pacquiao’s compassion for his opponent that led to his failure to knockout Rios.
"According to him, he was compassionate and he didn't want to finish him, and that was very surprising," said Diaz. "I know if somebody comes and kicks me in the chest, I know that Timothy is going to make the guy pay for it, you know?"
"But he became very compassionate, so we'll see what he does on that night with Tim Bradley."
"Manny Pacquiao used to come in blazing and knock guys out, just knock them out, and he didn't mess around," noted Bradley. "Now it looks like he is more compassionate towards his opponents, and that’s not good for boxing."
Faced with questions from the unbeaten American’s camp, both Roach and Pacquiao guarantee that the "Pacman" will be more aggressive in the rematch against Bradley on April 12, with the Filipino even saying he is prepared to hunt down the American should he refuse to go toe-to-toe against him.
"I do not think Bradley will fight toe-to-toe with me, so I will have to hunt him down. I am prepared for that," said Pacquiao. "I am not going for a knockout, but if the opportunity presents itself, I am going to go for it this time."
"Bradley's talk that I am no longer hungry has inspired me throughout this training camp. As Freddie Roach keeps saying every day in training, 'no mercy.'"