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Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley set for rematch in April

Manny Pacquiao (right) will look to hand Timothy Bradley his first loss when the two meet in April. Manny Pacquiao (right) will look to hand Timothy Bradley his first loss when the two meet in April. (Chris Carlson/AP)

NEW YORK -- Eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao will challenge WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley on April 12th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Top Rank announced on Saturday. Pacquiao-Bradley will be a rematch of the controversial 2012 fight that Bradley won in a highly disputed decision.

 Top Rank CEO Bob Arum told SI.com that Bradley was the clear front runner to face Pacquiao since Pacquiao defeated Brandon Rios in November. Where the negotiations -- which were conducted through Bradley’s wife, Monica, after Bradley elected to let his contract with manager Cameron Dunkin expire -- got hung up was with an extension on Bradley’s contract with Top Rank, which was set to expire this summer.

“It was the usual negotiation with Manny, nothing different,” Arum told SI.com. “With Timothy, there was never any question that he would give us an extension. The question was what would be the terms of the extension going forward. There are provisions for if he beats Pacquiao and if he doesn’t beat Pacquiao.”

Arum told SI.com that Pacquiao is guaranteed $20 million for the fight. Bradley is guaranteed $6 million. Both have the potential to make more if the pay-per-view exceeds a certain level.

Top Rank officials added that advanced testing would be used during this fight. The Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) headed by Dr. Margaret Goodman, which has caught Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson, among others, for using banned substances, will be contracted to administer random blood and urine testing for this fight.

Ruslan Provodnikov, the former Pacquiao sparring partner who rose to national prominence after a brutal battle with Bradley last March and a win over junior welterweight titleholder Mike Alvarado in October, was never under serious consideration for the fight, Arum said.

“He needs a little bit more exposure,” Arum said. “Boxing fans know him and the general public has never heard of him, even though he is an exciting fight. Let him fight on HBO a couple more times. He’s a candidate down the road to face Pacquiao, for sure.”

In the aftermath of Bradley’s win over Pacquiao two years ago, Arum expressed little interest in making a rematch. However, Bradley’s wins over Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez last year have significantly increased Bradley’s mainstream appeal. While the first Pacquiao-Bradley fight did around 890,000 pay-per-view buys, Arum predicted the rematch would do between 800,000 and 1 million.

“The wins over Provodnikov and Marquez have made Bradley a much more marketable fight,” Arum said. “It has made the rematch a much more appealing fight.”

                                                                                                                  – By Chris Mannix

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