Fight Preview & Pick – Pacquiao vs. Bradley Rematch:
On April 12 at the MGM in Vegas, Manny Pacquiao takes on Timothy Bradley in a rematch from a highly-controversial bout in 2012 where Bradley was undeservedly given a 12-round split decision over Pacquiao. In most people’s minds, it wasn’t even close. But in light of Pacquiao subsequently getting knocked out cold by rival Juan Manuel Marquez, in conjunction with Bradley’s recent work, which includes a win over the same Marquez, this rematch is palatable.
- Date: April 12, 2014
- Site: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Weight Class: Welterweights–12 Rounds
Manny Pacquiao, 55-5-2 (38 KOs), General Santos City
Timothy Bradley, 31-0 (12 KOs), Palm Springs, California
There may be some gap in perceived and actual reality with these fighters. The thought is that Pacquiao is on the decline, which could provide an alley for Bradley to exploit. But can he? Other than a stoppage over an ancient and played-out Joel Casamayor, Bradley hasn’t stopped anyone in 7 years. And at welterweight poundage, he can barely crack an egg, despite a Hagler-esque physique that would suggest punching power.
Combine that with Pacquiao being enlivened for the final act of his Hall of Fame career, Bradley can’t rely on the depreciation of Pacquiao to bridge the gap in talent that everyone besides two judges perceived nearly two years ago in their first fight. Has Pacquiao deteriorated a bit physically and has the good life stripped him of some of the killer instinct that characterized his prime? Sure. Look for him to compensate for that with the extra spark of energy he will get from both the light at the end of the tunnel now being visible and with the urgency that stems from being in a zero-margin-for-error mode.
Bradley doesn’t have the power to exploit Pacquiao’s chin. If he lands the perfect shot, anything can happen, but it’s far from a bankable possibility. While aging boxers who get knocked out cold tend to suffer some residual damage, it’s unclear that getting knocked out once in 13 years while facing the opposition Pacquiao has faced is any kind of disgrace or indication of weakness. In a weird way, it’s admirable he got through almost 40 rounds of tangling with a master like Marquez before something really bad happened.
Knowing a loss likely spells the end, Pacquiao should approach this fight in a better frame of mind than when they first met in 2012. Following such a long and dominant run, Pacquiao had flattened out by 2012–sort of aimlessly meandering through his career without a compelling or spelled-out exit plan in place. Expect a more mentally focused version of Pacquiao in this fight.
Bradley is a guy who is easy to overlook and that could be a mistake. His 2013 body of work is a testament to his quality. He first showed his mettle and fighting spirit in braving a Ruslan Provodnikov storm, before outwitting the Mexican master Marquez. A lot of what Bradley does well, including what he managed to accomplish in the first fight, gets overlooked. Other than the Provodnikov fight, his bouts aren’t much fun to watch typically and even stretches of the Provodnikov battle were tedious.
Bradley’s bouts lack a lot of elements that make for what we know to be good fights. There is a certain aimlessness to his performances. But he wins. This isn’t pro wrestling where the most entertaining performers are also the best performers. Boring wins in boxing. Uneven and visually unappealing showings don’t equate to low placement on the pecking order. At the end of the day, Bradley is unquestionably an elite fighter with a track record to prove it.
Throw into the mix that “Desert Storm” is chomping at the bit to atone for the backlash following his gift win over Pacman and you can expect to see a vintage Bradley on April 12. At face value, one wouldn’t normally expect the recipient of the BS decision to be the one with the bigger axe to grind. Following the fight, Bradley became an unwitting pariah. He has a lot of emotional issues stemming from that and is ultra-committed to the task of winning this fight decisively.
Both men are at points in their careers with surrounding circumstances that should be conducive for a good fight. We’ve already seen 12 rounds of this already and its watchability was marginal at best. This should be better. The story-lines were minimal the first time, but now we have an abundance of wrinkles and quirks leading into this fight. It’s not an easy fight in which to get a read.
Pacquiao vs. Bradley II Prediction
Bradley is a proven winner and didn’t get dominated the first time, or at least not to an extent where a reversal is inconceivable. It’s going to probably have to be by decision and Bradley might not get many breaks as far as that goes. He will be in phenomenal shape and Pacquiao will have to be in top form to repel what figures to be a robust effort from Bradley.
Pacquiao is in that red-zone point in his career where the wheels could come off at any moment. It just won’t happen here. Simply put, he has more talent than Bradley, whether you classify that as speed, punching power, boxing ability, versatility, or any number of different things. Bradley is more durable and his body is less prone to breaking down mid-fight. The first fight showed he has a deficit in every other major area that is called upon to win fights. It won’t be easy, but I see Pacquiao winning a pleasing, but widely-scored decision.
Prediction: Manny Pacquiao wins by unanimous decision.