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Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley official for June 9 in Las Vegas

Bob Arum considers Bradley a tough challenge for Pacquiao

Image

Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao, right, of the Philippines punches at Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico during their WBO welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011. Pacquiao won the 12-round fight by majority decision.

Updated Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 | 4:33 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Timothy Bradley Jr. of Palm Springs, Calif., celebrates his victory over Joel Casamayor of Cuba following their WBO junior welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday Nov. 12, 2011.

Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring is now official.

Top Rank Boxing President Todd DuBoef confirmed through twitter Friday afternoon that Timothy Bradley signed a contract to fight Pacquiao on June 9. The fight will be contested at 147 pounds and take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

"It's a fight we're proud to present because it's such a competitive fight," Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said. "Bradley has beaten everyone who has been put in front of him. He's fast, powerful and determined. It's going to be a very tough fight for Manny."

The 33-year-old Pacquiao (54-3-2) has won 15 straight fights, dating back seven years. But his last win came controversially as he edged Juan Manuel Marquez with a majority decision.

Bradley, a 28-year old from Palm Springs, Calif., is undefeated in 28 career fights. He notably beat then-undefeated contender Devon Alexander in January 2011 by technical decision. He followed that victory with a TKO win against Joel Casamayor on the undercard of Pacquiao vs. Marquez last November.

“People have been saying Manny is beating guys that are past their primes or old guys," Arum said. "Now, he has a guy who is in his prime. He’s younger than Manny and has an impressive résumé.”

A pay-per-view date with Pacquiao will serve as the largest payday of Bradley’s career. Pacquiao is expected to make $25 million for the bout.

But a loss could serve as a crippling blow to Pacquiao's future money-making potential as a possible meeting with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., continues to hang in the balance. Pacquiao and Mayweather, who faces Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, failed to come to terms once again before the recent announcements of their next opponents.

“I presented Pacquiao with the fight… (but) he don’t really want to fight,” Mayweather said last week. “I gave him a chance to step up to the plate.”

If Pacquiao and Mayweather both win their next fights, conversation about the long-anticipated bout between them is expected to re-ignite. Pacquiao vs. Mayweather could conceivably take place before the end of the year.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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