RICK Stahaley, the American trainer, who steered Manny Pacquiao to his first world title – the World Boxing Council flyweight belt, believes the Fighter of the Decade has the right game-plan to beat World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Timothy Bradley in their much-awaited rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on April 12.
Pacquiao, who won his first world title, when he beat Thai hero Chatchai Sasakul by an eighth-round knockout on the outskirts of Bangkok on Dec. 3, 1998, left for his hometown of General Santos City Wednesday to begin the first phase of training for the Bradley showdown.
He awaits the arrival of trainer Freddie Roach on Feb. 23 after he handles former two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming in a big Macau fight card of Top Rank a day earlier.
Pacquiao indicated he will leave for Los Angeles on March 12 and wind up his training at Roach’s Wild Card Gym.
Stahaley told the Manila Standard that if Pacquiao “is very aggressive and pushes Bradley, I think Bradley is going to have a tough time.”
“You kind of know that Bradley is going to be on the back-foot against Manny. He’s going to be moving his head and trying to use his speed and being tactical. He doesn’t want to stand toe to toe with Manny,” said Stahaley, although the American did with Russian Ruslan Provodnikov in a brutal fight and nearly paid the price of being knocked out in the 12th round. This bout, which earned “Fight of the Year,” ended in a unanimous decision win for Bradley, who out-boxed Provodnikov in the middle rounds.
“The big thing is being aggressive and if there is an opportunity, where he (Pacquiao) can go in there and finish him, it would be nice if he did have that old killer instinct,” said Stahaley.
The trainer shared the view of many others that Pacquiao has been too compassionate in his last few fights.
Stahaley said he was pleased when Pacquiao said “he’ll try to get that little meanness back,” when he steps into the ring against Bradley in a determined effort to erase the memory of a horrendous split decision loss in their first encounter in June 2012.
However, Stahaley is hoping that Pacquiao may not need to regain a killer instinct in a situation like this.
“You get that killer instinct if you’ve got to stop him. But I believe Manny is talking about going out there and being very aggressive and if he’s aggressive and pushes him and pushes him, I think he (Pacquiao) can be successful,” the trainer said.
Pacquiao appeared to be peeved when Bradley said he still has the skills, but that his “killer instinct is gone” and took that as a challenge.