Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
The four televised pay-per-view fighters competing at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 9 all weighed-in yesterday but despite the appearances of Jesus Rojas, Jorge Arce, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Teon Kennedy, Mike Jones, Randall Bailey and Timothy Bradley, it was Manny Pacquiao who attracted raucous rock-star applause. Additionally, the Filipino was not fazed over the intimidation tactics employed by his challenger…
Out of the quartet of contests broadcast by HBO and it’s international brethren, only Jorge Arce’s ten round duel with Jesus Rojas (18-1-1, 13ko) is non-title. Arce, though, if successful, could land himself a prized shot at fast-rising Filipino fighter Nonito Donaire who has his own bout with Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7; a fight that will unify the WBO and IBF world titles.
Both Arce (60-6-2, 46ko) and Rojas were the only two fighters who failed to make weight as they came in 1.5lbs over the super bantamweight limit of 122lbs, however, the dust-up will go forth, leading one to presume this may have been contractually agreement.
In a bout that will have the vacant IBF welterweight world title belt on the line, Jones – a rangy 29-year-old from the historical boxing hotbed of Philadelphia – clashes with big-punching Bailey (42-7-0, 36ko). What could be more significant for Jones (26-0-0, 19ko), though, is that a strong performance could see him aligned with the winner of the Pacquiao and Bradley fight.
Contender Kennedy (17-1-2, 9ko) takes on Rigondeaux (9-0-0, 7ko) for the latter’s WBA super bantamweight world championship. While, on paper, it seems Rigo is the inexperienced of the two, the champion has huge amateur experience (over 400 fights) and is regarded to be one of the most aesthetically-pleasing boxers of the lighter weight classes.
Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38ko) and Bradley (28-0-0, 12ko) duke it out in the main event but Bradley believes Manny is not focussed, believes he’ll be the second fighter to defeat him on US terrain and even stared Pacquiao down at the weigh-in.