The newest Max Kellerman-hosted "Face Off" interview, featuring Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley (plus their trainers), went worldwide this weekend, and quite frankly, reviews on Twitter and the like were not kind. After watching the interview myself this morning, I now know why. We'll have the video when HBO makes that available online (it's on YouTube already, just not officially), but here's a giant transcript, with a few thoughts of my own thrown in.
[ Full Coverage: Pacquiao vs Bradley, June 9 ]
Reading it, I think it might actually come off a bit better than watching it, with that increasingly corny mysterious/serious/creepy background music not camping things up so much. You're also spared seeing Kellerman actively flailing to try and make this thing interesting (the poor guy).
It's not that this was bad, really, and it wasn't quite as pointlessly dull as the Mayweather-Cotto interview, but one wonders if this feature really has that much value at all. "Face Off" has only really been good twice, when David Haye clowned with Wladimir Klitschko, and when Bernard Hopkins put on an over-the-top performance with Jean Pascal, and both of those times, it was a matter of being able to laugh at (maybe with) the performers, rather than it being some seriously intense or interesting sort of thing. Otherwise, it's all sort of ho-hum, and a little bit cheesy.
Max Kellerman: "June 9th, MGM Grand, HBO pay-per-view. One of the most sensational fighters of this or any era, the great Manny Pacquiao, puts it all on the line for the first time in a while against a young, undefeated, in-his-prime, hungry challenger, Timothy Bradley. Before they square off in the squared circle, they face off right now. Manny Pacquiao with his trainer Freddie Roach, and Timothy Bradley with his trainer Joel Diaz. Guys, welcome."
Manny Pacquiao: "Thank you."
Timothy Bradley: "Thank you."
Kellerman: "Tim, you have fought not in anonymity, but not as a superstar fighter, going into other guys' backyards, and winning tough fights for not a lot of money to get to this point. What does it mean for you that Manny is giving you this shot?"
Bradley: "It's an honor. It is an honor, you know, that Manny's giving me a shot. I was surprised when they took the fight, honestly. I just wanted to fight. Whether it was Manny Pacquiao or not, I just wanted to fight."
Kellerman: "Manny, it's been a long time since you've fought a really good fighter in the guy's prime."
Pacquiao: "That's right."
Kellerman: "What made you choose Tim Bradley?"
Scott's Note: Because Miguel Cotto turned them down and fought Floyd Mayweather instead.
Pacquiao: "Tim Bradley is the kind of fighter that you can not underestimate. He loves to fight toe-to-toe. And that's what the fans want, to give a good fight."
Kellerman: "So he's a real warrior, and you respect that?"
Pacquiao: "Yes, I respect that, and I believe that we can give a good fight, and we can create a lot of action in the ring."
Kellerman: "Speaking of real warriors, it doesn't really get more real as a warrior than Pacquiao."
Kellerman: "What does it say about him, that he'll take you at this point in his career?"
Bradley: "Well, I mean, you know, he believes in himself, he believes in his abilities. He is number one pound-for-pound in the game, and you know, he didn't get there just by fighting anybody. He fought the best out there."
Kellerman: "He better than Floyd Maywaether?"
Scott's Note: Thankfully, Max called him on this one. Bradley has said he thinks Floyd is the No. 1 P4P fighter. He tried to push the company (Top Rank) agenda here, but in the end, he couldn't fully commit.
Bradley: "Uh...I don't know. We have to see. We'll have to see if that fight ever happens."
Kellerman: "But you're trying to make sure it doesn't happen."
Bradley: "Absolutely. I'm trying to put a fork right in it."
Kellerman: "Maybe making you a big villain in the boxing game."
Kellerman: "Freddie, I know you have to play part-matchmaker for Manny. Why take a guy who's never lost, who's incredibly determined, with good all-around skills, in that guy's prime -- why take Tim Bradley now, at this stage in Manny's career?"
Roach: "Well, he wasn't my first choice."
Pacquiao: "His first choice, Floyd."
Roach: "Of course."
Scott's Note: This seems oddly put-on from Manny, like he's trying to save face, and while everyone else involved has had a lot of these moments (Floyd, Arum, Roach, Schaefer, etc.), Manny has mostly seemed on the outside looking in. Almost a puppet, but not as bad as that sounds, I guess. Here, he speaks up and we all know that the Floyd-Manny negotiations ("negotiations") earlier this year went nowhere useful. The first choice was not Floyd, at least not from any serious standpoint.
Both Pacquiao and Mayweather chased Miguel Cotto first. Cotto chose Floyd. Manny and Top Rank stayed in-house (as always) for Bradley. Both are good fights. It's fine. But this was a weird moment for Manny. "WE WANTED FLOYD, OF COURSE! NO ONE SAY WE DIDN'T! HAHA!! ..."
Kellerman: "And your next -- but you took a guy who could upset those plans. There are easier fights to take while you're waiting to make a Mayweather fight."
Roach: "Well, what are our options? We're running out of opponents. Mayweather doesn't come to the table. At least this undefeated fighter will risk his--"
Kellerman: "But do you have your confidence shaken at all? Or at least do you think, 'There's something a little bit different here'?"
Roach: "He doesn't intimidate me at all, because I don't have to fight him. Thing is, I know the ability of my fighter, though. I have confidence in my fighter, and I'm very cocky in my fighter, because his work ethic is the best. Thing is, I think Manny Pacquiao wins a lot of fights because he's better-prepared than others."
Kellerman: "And how do you feel about Tim's?"
Diaz: "I don't think there's anybody that trains as hard as this guy."
Roach: "Manny will train harder than him and that's why we'll win."
Diaz: "I don't think so." (Bradley laughs)
Kellerman: "What's funny about that to you?"
Bradley: "They don't know, man. They really don't know."
Kellerman: "What don't they know about you? When you say they don't know, what don't they know?"
Bradley: "They don't know where I come from. They don't know my background. I train extremely hard. Extremely hard. That's the reason why I'm one of the best fighters in the world."
Pacquiao: "For me, if I have an opponent, I don't want them to disappoint. That's his job, train hard. Our job is to train hard also."
Kellerman: "Tim, after the Abregu fight, I interviewed you in the ring, and at the end you started calling guys out. But the number one name was Manny Pacquiao. You said, 'come break down this wall.'"
Kellerman: "And standing there all ripped up after a fight, you do look like a wall.
Scott's Note: "Right, right, all ripped like I am, and sexy, and full of bulging muscle. That's me. You're right. Continue, Max."
Kellerman: "What did you mean by that?"
Bradley: "I feel that I can take him. I feel that I can beat Pacquiao. I feel deep inside, man, that I can beat this guy."
Kellerman: "But why are you a wall? What do you mean break down this wall?"
Bradley: "I mean 28 guys have tried, and 28 has failed."
Bradley: "Manny Pacquiao, great fighter, man, but he can't break me, man."
Kellerman: "So they run into you, they run into a wall."
Bradley: "He cannot break me down, man."
Kellerman: "How do you break down the wall, Freddie?"
Roach: "To break that wall down is not going to be easy, of course. Because it's a very strong wall, it's young. But we will break it down, and we will get him out of there in the late rounds."
Kellerman: "Part of what brought Tim Bradley to this point, is not just how fast he is, or how hard he hits, because Tim, I've seen faster and harder-hitting fighters."
Kellerman: "Not even how skillful he is. He's not Pernell Whitaker or Floyd Mayweather or someone like that. But it's that level of determination that's different from ordinary fighters, even from good fighters. When he says 'come break down this wall' -- part of that's physical. Look at the way he's put together and everything. But it's really that will to win and that refusal to give up on himself. Do you mean you can break his will, or do you just have to break him down physically? Seems to me if you're saying Manny can break his will, you're saying anyone can be broken."
Scott's Note: Jesus, could Max direct this line of questioning any more thoroughly? Does he have a promoter's stake in this fight?
Roach: "Anyone can be broken, yes."
Kellerman: "Can you be broken?"
Roach: "We'll see."
Roach: "We'll see."
Bradley: "We definitely gonna see. Nope."
Kellerman: "Where does that come from? Where does that come from do you think, Joel, in him? That iron will?"
Diaz: "Where? From his heart. He has a big heart. He doesn't stop. He just kicks in that extra boost after the sixth round, and he gets stronger in the later rounds. If you want to take him out, you gotta take him out when he's not even warmed up, and that's in the early rounds."
Kellerman: "Does that mean that early on you gotta take it easy, because you don't wanna get caught cold?"
Diaz: "We always do that." (Roach smiles)
Scott's Note: Diaz is new to these situations, and this seems like a rookie mistake. Revealing your early approach? Roach's grin is downright giddy. Like a "gotcha, motherfucker!" kind of smile. Perhaps Joel Diaz does not much care if he reveals this. Now we get weird, as Max begins fondling Tim Bradley's skull.
Kellerman: "Tim, I can always tell when it gets to a boiling point with you, 'cause up here it starts to move, 'cause you're grinding your teeth. And you seem to do that every time someone talks about your determination or how hard you're working, like you stake your whole existence on that. What does that mean to you?"
Bradley: "Man, I just, man I feel like going to work right now. I just get bulled up, you know. This is the biggest moment of my career. I have to win this fight. I'm not gonna take no for an answer. So constantly thinking about what I'm gonna do when I get back home."
Kellerman: "We've seen you box carefully."
Kellerman: "We've seen you brawl."
Kellerman: "We've seen you use your head. We've seen you do a lot of things in there. What style are you bringing for this fight?"
Bradley: "A little bit of everything. A little bit of everything. I'm gonna need it, because Manny is a warrior. He's a warrior. He's a champion, a great champion."
Scott's Note: "I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers."
Bradley: "He's number one pound-for-pound guy in the game. And he's gonna fight, man. He's gonna fight 'til the end."
Kellerman: "You worried about the head at all, Freddie?"
Roach: "Sure. I don't think he's a dirty fighter or anything like that. It's just his style. He comes in head-first, and they bang heads a lot. When you're fighting a southpaw it's even more apt to happen. But we'll definitely be ready for that. As he comes forward with his head, I want Manny to meet it with punches."
Kellerman: "Joel, I see a danger in that. Orthodox fighter against a southpaw. A guy who you said, you're gonna start carefully, because the only way you think he's gonna get stopped is if he gets caught cold. If Manny's up a couple rounds, couple points, and it's early in the fight, and there's an accidental clash of heads, and Manny gets cut, and they stop the fight, you can lose on a technical decision. Have you thought about that?"
Diaz: "I've thought about everything. I've thought about everything since the day they told us the fight was on. We just have to put up a good strategy, and I know that's why in the early rounds, we have to be very careful."
Kellerman: "You have any thoughts about that, Freddie?"
Roach: "Yeah, you know, I've seen Timothy fight many times, on TV and live. I know what he's about. I know his style. Will he adapt for Manny Pacquiao, will he change some things? I'm sure they will. Same as I'm gonna watch tapes and come up with a strategy, and we're gonna change a little bit also. The thing is, when it comes down to it, when they start hitting each other, they both start landing, he's gonna revert back to what he is, he's gonna revert back to what he is--"
Kellerman: "Which is?"
Roach: "Explosive fighters. He's just gonna go toe-to-toe. That's why I like this fight so much. It's not an easy fight, but entertainment-wise, this is one of the best fights we could ever. So we'll see how good his chin really is."
Kellerman: "What do you see standing right here when you look at Manny Pacquiao?"
Pacquiao: "Handsome." (everyone chuckles)
Bradley: "I like Manny. Honestly, I honestly do, I like Manny a lot. He's very humble, he's very respectful person. In and outside of the ring, I think he's a great role model. That's what I see when I'm looking at him."
Kellerman: "He's also about to make you a very rich man."
Bradley: "Well, of course, of course. But you know, that's not the key thing in this, man. They key thing is being number one in my book. Beating Manny Pacquiao would just be the beginning of my career."
Kellerman: "Manny, what do you see when you look at Tim Bradley?"
Pacquiao: "... Handsome."
Scott's Note: Wow. Manny Pacquiao does not give a shit about being here. I mean, it would be one thing if he followed that up, but he didn't.
Kellerman: "Freddie, I imagine, if I'm you, when you look at this guy, you're thinkin', 'This isn't like everyone else we've fought. There's something a little -- maybe this fight was not the greatest idea in the world.' What are you thinking when you look at Tim Bradley right now?"
Scott's Note: Didn't he already push this earlier and it went nowhere? Seriously, did Kellerman put money up for this fight? He's trying harder to sell it than anyone, even going so far as to use the old Chris Berman tactic, "Conversations or Internal Thoughts That Probably Didn't Happen."
Roach: "He's another opponent for us to get ready for, and he's undefeated. I think he's got three world titles under his belt. He's a quality opponent. He comes to fight. He gives the fans what they want. And him and Manny Pacquiao together is gonna be just explosive, I feel. I think it's a time for Manny to really look impressive, especially after the last fight with Marquez."
Kellerman: "Prediction on the fight, Joel?"
Diaz: "Freddie said the other day that all fights should end in a knockout. If we can, we're gonna make his wish come true. But if we catch him, we'll end it up in a knockout, we'll put him away. At the end of the day, we just have to do a little more than Marquez did that night to come out victorious."
Kellerman: "Freddie, prediction on the fight."
Roach: "It's a great fight, it's gonna be action-packed, and I don't see it going the distance."
Kellerman: "Tim, we've seen fighters enter the ring with Pacquiao with a plan. And after four or five rounds of that speed and that power and that skill, they really stop trying to win. What's it gonna be like in the fourth, fifth round -- even early, as Joel said, you can get caught cold, and he hits you with something, and anyone gets hit right, their legs can buckle and the whole thing. How do you respond to that moment?"
Bradley: "Psh. Bite down on my mouthpiece, grab hold of my balls, hey, let's go. Let's go to work. Bring it. Bring it on. I wanna feel what it feels like to be in a fight with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game. I wanna feel his punching power, I wanna feel his speed, I wanna feel what everyone opponent has ever faced. I wanna feel that pain."
Kellerman: "You wanna feel the pain."
Bradley: "I wanna feel the pain."
Bradley: "This is what I worked for my whole life."
Kellerman: "If you find that that punching power is real, and that speed is phenomenal, what about that?"
Bradley: "Bring it. Bring it on. I'm up for the challenge. Bring it on."
Kellerman: "So at some point you guys are gonna be toe-to-toe in this fight."
Bradley: "Heck yeah. Oh yeah. I'm gonna have to be. I'm gonna have to be. I'm gonna have to be. You know?"
Scott's Note: "Why."
Bradley: "In order to beat the champion, you gotta take chances in the ring. You gotta take chances, alright? Like I said, I'm here to win. I'm not here to just lay down for a paycheck. I'm here to win. Period. So if I gotta fight toe-to-toe with Manny Pacquiao, then so be it."
Kellerman: "Do you think you're gonna knock him out?"
Bradley: "I don't know."
Kellerman: "Do you expect to get a decision against one of the two most marketable fighters in the world?"
Bradley: "I gotta hurt him, man. I gotta hurt him. Some way, somehow, I gotta hurt him."
Kellerman: "Tim, anything you wanna tell Manny while we're sitting here? Any parting thoughts?"
Bradley: "Not really, man."
Kellerman: "Manny, anything you wanna tell Tim?"
Pacquiao: "This fight, give the fans what they want. And you know, I pray for you, and God bless you."
Bradley: "Thank you."
Scott's Note: ...
Kellerman: "June 9th, guys. Thank you very much."
Both: "Thank you."
Scott's Note: Manny Pacquiao said (roughly) 110 words in this entire, 13-minute interview -- four of these came when he twice said "thank you," and two of them came when he blew off two questions to respond with the word, "Handsome."
Way to go, Manny. You really brought your A-game to this one.