On April 12, Tim Bradley will defend his WBO welterweight title against Manny Pacquiao in a rematch of their controversial 2012 fight. Bradley spoke to SI.com about why the rematch makes sense now, how the perception of him has changed after a strong 2013 and about a possible fight with Floyd Mayweather:
SI.com: Last year, you weren't interested in this fight. What changed?
Tim Bradley: "Look, my life and career went down the drain after the first Pacquiao fight. I didn't want to revisit that dark cloud just yet. I wanted to fight a legend in Juan Manuel Marquez. I wanted to beat the guy who beat Pacquiao. I wanted to prove to the fans that I wanted to fight Pacquiao again. I think it's time. It's the perfect time. Win or lose, I have to revisit this chapter in my life. If I were to die tomorrow, [the first Pacquiao fight] would probably be the last thing on my mind. I have to prove to the fans that I did beat this guy. This is my opportunity. It's redemption."
SI.com: How much has the public's perception of you changed?
TB: "A lot. I was just at Disneyland a couple of days ago. Fans were hitting me up at Disney like crazy. Boxing fans, people recognizing me, taking pictures. When I go out of town, the respect I get from fans is there. A lot of people may not like my style, they may not like the way I fight. But they say 'keep doing what you're doing.' I've been looking for respect, been looking for it my whole career. Now I'm getting it as a top fighter."
SI.com: There was a lot of talk of you as a candidate to fight Floyd Mayweather this year. How big a factor was that for you during the Pacquiao negotiations?
TB: "It was definitely on my mind. I had to sit back and think about my options. But Mayweather runs from guys and does whatever he wants to do. There is no real reason to go after that fight besides the public wanting it. But the public wanted the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight forever and Mayweather won't fight him. The public might want me to fight Mayweather, but he chooses what he wants to do. Mayweather runs his own ship. There are no guarantees. I had to do what's best for my family. And Top Rank gave me an offer I couldn't refuse."
SI.com: Did you ever hear from anyone from Mayweather's team?
TB: "I never talked to anybody. It would be illegal for me to talk to anybody, because of my contract."
SI.com: What kind of extension did you sign with Top Rank?
TB: "I'm tied up with them for a couple more years. I have my guarantees. I was talking to my brother in law the other day about this. If any of these guys want to fight me, they can always come over to the other side. Top Rank, by far, hearing from different fighters, looking at different purses, Top Rank pays the most money. Floyd is his own boss, he makes crazy money, he has his own way of doing business. Canelo [Alvarez], he does well, too. Everyone else, I'm telling you, Top Rank pays the most. Abner Mares just made his first million check. Nonito Donaire has been making $1 million for a while."
SI.com: You split with your manager, Cameron Dunkin. Why?
TB: "Cameron is a great manager. I can't say anything bad about him. He cares for his fighters, for the amount of money they are making. Cameron has definitely helped my career in many ways. We did business. We did a lot of great business. The fact that I didn't re-sign is because Cameron didn't show interest in me after the Marquez fight. He showed no kind of interest. He didn't call, he didn't mention the contract was up, he didn't try to renegotiate. After the Marquez fight, I never heard from him. So I was like, I think i can do this [myself].
"I have a relationship with Top Rank, with Todd duBoef, with Bob Arum, with HBO. I asked my wife [Monica], you think you can do this? She said absolutely. I've been in the game almost ten years now, I know enough. There is no better manager than me. I told Cameron what I want, and he got it for me. Now, I tell my wife what I want and she goes and gets it. She did very well for this fight. I felt it was a great move."
SI.com: What did you think of Pacquiao's last fight?
TB: "He is still a vicious fighter. He still has speed, accuracy and power. He still has really good movement. Honestly, I thought he was a little timid to pull the trigger with Rios's power. He didn't have the finishing instinct. I think he could have done more. But he played it safe. It could be from that knockout [to Marquez]. He wasn't that hungry guy we saw in the past, where if he really hurt you, he would finish you. I do think his defense got a lot better. He seemed to lack a little power, but Rios has a tremendous chin."
SI.com: Do you expect the rematch with Pacquiao to look like the first fight?
TB: Both of us are going to try to alter our game. Freddie Roach knows me pretty well. They know I'm going to alter my game. I know they are going to add boxers into the camp. But Pacquiao doesn't like guys that move on him, He likes guys who stand right in front of him, like Rios. I have a lot of things I've been thinking about. I'm going to get in the gym and work on it with my trainer. It will be interesting. I think the fight could be similar at times, but not the same. I didn't have my feet under me from the second round on. I was battling against myself because of the pain in my feet. That's a little difficult.
Pacquiao in a dangerous position right now. Everyone will be watching, regardless of what they think of the first fight. I think it will be a very entertaining night.