Former trainer praises 'true champion' Pacquiao

By Camille B. Naredo,

Posted at Apr 13 2014 05:13 PM | Updated as of Apr 14 2014 01:13 AM

Manny Pacquiao heads to his corner between rounds of his title fight against Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Steve Marcus. Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – Manny Pacquiao's former trainer was all praises for the "Pacman" after the Filipino boxer defeated Timothy Bradley Jr. in their welterweight rematch Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (Sunday in Manila).

“I think Manny looked great,” trainer Rick Staheli told ANC after the match. “He definitely has redeemed himself. He’s had a few setbacks in the last 18 months to two years, but he really looked good today.”

Staheli observed that Pacquiao “fought a very smart fight” against Bradley. “He showed the world what a true warrior and a true champion he is,” he said.

Staheli, who guided Pacquiao to his first world title victory in 1998, admitted that like many others, he had expected a close bout.

“But Manny actually went out and dominated him in the second half of the fight. It looked like Bradley may have done something to one of his ankles or his feet, but I think it wouldn’t have mattered even if he was perfect,” said the trainer.

The unanimous decision win allowed Pacquiao to avenge his controversial June 2012 loss against Bradley, and regain his WBO welterweight title.

Staheli said Bradley’s game plan – which saw the American launch wild overhand rights in an effort to knock out Pacquiao – wasn’t a particularly smart one.

“I don’t think Bradley came in there with the best game plan of trying to knock Manny out, because I don’t think he’s ever gonna knock him out,” said Staheli.

At the same time, Staheli said Pacquiao could not be blamed for his inability to knock out Bradley, pointing out that it was very difficult to win by stoppages at this level of boxing.

“Manny and Floyd Mayweather are the two best fighters in the world, and Floyd’s not knocking anybody out either,” he said. “People are talking about Floyd as possible the greatest fighter ever, he’s never lost a fight. But he’s not knocking guys out.”

“It’s very difficult at this level to actually knock guys out. These guys are really good. Bradley – you gotta take your hat off (to him),” he added. “He trains hard, he’s always gonna be a tough, tough opponent.”