Originally written on The Queensbury Rules  |  Last updated 6/6/12
Concerned about Tim Bradley’s propensity to use his head in fights as often as his fists, Manny Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach enlisted an unusual sparring partner leading up to Saturday’s HBO pay-per-view main event – a goat.

“We looked for guys who could mimic Bradley but none of them got his style quite right, they weren’t aggressive enough with their heads,” Roach said in an exclusive interview. “Then Manny found this goat.”

According to Roach, Pacquiao was out jogging when a member of his team spotted the goat battering a tree with its head.

“I said to Manny, ‘Look, it’s Bradley!’ Just as a joke,” said Buboy Fernandez, a longtime Pacquiao associate and friend who was accompanying Pacquiao on his jog. “But Manny stopped, watched the goat smash its head against the tree a few more times, and said, ‘We must take this to Freddie.’ So one of the guys worked things out with its owner.”

“The next day, the goat was in the ring with the champ.”

While Roach was initially dismissive of the seemingly absurd notion of an elite professional prizefighter sparring with a domesticated billy, Pacquiao quickly convinced him that the odd gambit was worth a shot.

“He said that I couldn’t find anyone who could imitate Bradley, but he did. Somehow that managed to convince me,” Roach explained.

Pacquiao sparred with the 166-pound Capra aegagrus hircus three times last week for three rounds each session. Both trainer and fighter were pleased with the animal’s performance. Roach said that Manny learned how important his footwork and focus would be in avoiding Bradley’s headfirst onrushes.

However, when word of the bizarre sparring sessions leaked, Pacquiao found himself in the midst of controversy for the second time in the buildup to this fight. First, Pacquiao was accused of homophobia when a quote from Leviticus was falsely attributed to him. This time, Pacquiao was accused of animal abuse by PETA, an animal rights organization.

“Boxers have died in the ring,” a spokesperson from PETA said. “Could you imagine how tragic it would be if something like that happened to an animal?”

PETA protesters gathered outside Roach’s Wild Card Gym, staging “goat fights” in which they ran headfirst into one another, crashing their skulls together, and carrying signs that read, “Punch People, Not Animals.”

In response to the protest, Roach announced that the goat would be retired from its in-ring duties effective immediately.

“Now it can go back to ramming its head against a tree,” said Roach. “I guess that’s safer somehow.”

(The Rabbit Punch is a satirical column. Any persons, events, descriptions, opinions, or insults contained herein are not intended to be taken seriously. You didn’t take this seriously, did you? Seriously?)

[Note: No animals were harmed in the writing of this article. Unfortunately.]
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