/ri venj /
- the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands.
Words like retribution, retaliation, or vengeance come to mind when it comes to this word as well. But for Manny Pacquiao, heading into his April 12th version of atonement with WBO champion Timothy Bradley, the word is apropos.
Or, how about good old fashioned “payback”?
Enter Los Angeles and the zone of Freddie Roach’s renowned confines of the Wild Card Gym. Only one letter short of danger, Pacquiao in circa spring 2014 seems to be anger itself simmering with a peaceful rage toward Bradley.
If this is contradiction - then it’s probably confliction too, because the last time Pacquiao planned a full out assault on an opponent, he was separated from time and space, which happens to be two things he doesn’t plan on giving Bradley much of in part deux.
Examining the psyche of this upcoming version of Manny Pacquiao is a study in fascination.
He has been unusually vocal as of late, and has not only revealed his intention is to knock out Bradley – but he’s all but guaranteed it.
"The focus this time is on aggressiveness," Pacquiao declared. "I don't think he's going to try to go toe-to-toe with me, but I have to be more aggressive than I had been. I have been working on being aggressive. The knockout will come."
He’s now sounding a lot more in tone like the manic machine he looked like that was dialed in on the destruction of Miguel Cotto back in 2009. And speaking of manic, I thought that version of Pacquiao was given to mania.
As someone who has actually sat across from a psychologist for a form of mania- I thought he was crazy too.
After his dynamic desecration of Oscar De La Hoya roughly a year prior, Pacquiao developed a “God-complex”. We know he was Catholic (the operative word being “was”), but he was no devout Christian by any stretch of the imagination.
In fact, Pacquiao scholars struggled with reconciling his private immorality with his moral politics, issues that were easy to cast aside because of the way he was winning. But when he developed a conscious, did he lose something else along the way?
So much about Pacquiao’s world was changed in the months prior to his initial encounter with Bradley in 2012. Boxing’s version of Tiger Woods seemed to lose his mojo after losing his uh, “little black book”.
It began to surface in the ring against Shane Mosley in early 2011 and carried over into Juan Manuel Marquez for their 3rd installment. He seemed a one-dimensionally programmed menace without much enthusiasm, and a diminished version of those two surfaced against Bradley.
More than likely, it was the personal demons that played a key factor in Manny’s charismatic and transformational leadership, while becoming one of the greatest fighters to have ever lived.
Leading up to Bradley, he was still repairing his marriage while seeing the realization of his political world tied to religion. He turned in his rosary beads and took an opposing stance toward gay marriage.
The backlash that followed was swift, and its negativity shocked him. But that was then – this is now.
I’ve long held the notion that the best Pacquiao I’d seen in recent years was the version we saw in Marquez IV. That Pacquiao had corralled his demons, reasserted himself in his private life, and avowed himself to the ravaging of Marquez.
I don’t recall seeing him as focused – until now.
I believe the edition that is being honed in LA right now will be similar to that Pacquiao we saw on the night of December 8, 2012, but one with a twist.
Absent Pacquiao in his near maiming of Marquez before running into something from Hiroshima, were some elements of discipline and a consistent jab, two things I am sure would have lead to the finishing of Marquez.
I’m noticing Roach has placed emphasis on the pronounced use of Pacquiao’s rather laser-like right jab against Bradley, a weapon he’s often neglected in his ridiculous arsenal.
Any fighter with Pacquiao’s unusual speed would benefit from the use of a solid jab, which may explain why Roach has been employing him to double and even triple the jab in camp.
Bradley is as crafty as he is bald, and has a penchant for the avoidance of traps, but it would be difficult for him not to fall into one named “booby” if Manny uses the jab.
Since “Revenge” is the theme of this series, Pacquiao’s body language throughout preparation for this fight seems to say: “I don’t get mad – I get evil.”
Tomorrow, we’ll see what Bradley has to say about that.