How Timothy Bradley can change the face of boxing with a win over Manny Pacquiao on June 9th
Regardless of any perceived controversies or questions surrounding Manny Pacquiao at the current time, the man is still the face of boxing, whether you like that or not. Personally, I think Manny is a great ambassador for the sport and one of a dwindling number of bona fide superstars who have both the ability and personality to carry the industry. It is precisely for that reason that a Pacquiao loss on Saturday night would actually be far more detrimental to boxing than if, for example, Miguel Cotto had taken out Floyd Mayweather last month.
If Timothy Bradley has the fight of his life Saturday night and bests Pacquiao, boxing’s top fan favorite will suddenly become mortal. Those who have been screaming from the mountaintops that Manny’s skills are on the decline will feel a level of vindication—accurately or not—that few ever experience. So, just what are we looking at if Bradley wins on Saturday night?
1. Pacquiao-Bradley II. This would be as close to an absolute certitude as you will possibly find. With Mayweather indisposed for three months, fans are spared the routine chatter of “will they/won’t they” between he and Manny. A loss to Bradley would effectively end that chatter, at least until he was able to exact some revenge, likely later this year, meaning November or early December, at best. The rematch would also be a far bigger fight than this first match-up given the stakes.
2. If you thought 60-40 wasn’t good enough … then how does 100-0 work for you? Of course, that’s an exaggeration, but given that the relationship between the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps has been, to put it gently, less than congenial, you’d have to imagine that a loss to Bradley would virtually seal the fate of fans never seeing a “Money” vs. “Pac Man” matchup. Or, even worse in my opinion, not seeing the bout until both guys are in the obvious decline of their respective careers. Mayweather genuinely believes that all of the leverage lies on his side and if Bradley were to upset Pacquiao this weekend that would go from opinion to fact.
3. Who stands to benefit most? The easy answer is: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. because now he’s got all the fuel needed to keep his “I’m not ducking anybody” fire going. The next easiest choice would obviously be Timothy Bradley who suddenly is launched into a new atmosphere of stardom and has set himself up for quite some time via a huge victory.
The entity who gains the least by Pacquiao losing—aside from the fans—is the rest of the Welterweight division. Pacquiao isn’t simply going to be brushed to the side if he isn’t successful Saturday night. But, the spot at the top that would’ve been vacated by Bradley were he defeated is now no longer up for grabs. That means the Berto’s, Ortiz’s (both questionable examples of late), Malignaggi’s and Alexander’s of the division will have to wait longer still to land a truly top level fight.
4. Will a blueprint be made publicly available? With all due credit to Juan Manuel Marquez who did the yeoman’s work, a Bradley victory over Pacquiao will have to be pure boxing perfection, meaning that the world will now have the blueprint on how to defeat Manny Pacquiao. Will that matter much to everyone gunning for “Pac Man”? Probably not.
Every fight and fighter is different, and those trainers who prep their charge thinking that the Pacquiao camp isn’t adjusting based off of fight tapes are just setting their guys up for failure. But, if Bradley strings together a masterful performance and exposes flaws in Pacquiao’s approach, so much so that he wins, the strategy shouldn’t be discounted, overall.
5. Public opinion. Any boxing fan will likely tell you that although they love the sport and appreciate what the combatants in the ring bring to the table, they’re really not looking to these athletes to provide a moral or spiritual compass. Sports are about competition when you’re engaged in them and entertainment when you’re relegated to the couch. That being said, much has been made about Pacquiao’s personal life of late which, fair or not, has stolen some of the luster off of what should be a very entertaining fight.
Add to the mix the aforementioned group who will take the opportunity to bash Manny any chance they get, and suddenly a loss to Bradley has much greater implications than simple sport. Could fervent supporters of Manny suddenly start to hear the vitriol from the other side and question their loyalty? Is Pacquiao somehow any less marketable to the mainstream with a loss?
Of course, all of this is moot if Pacquiao takes care of business Saturday night. In which case, everyone’s attention shifts back to the current resident of a 6’ by 10’ foot enclosure in Nevada and the Floyd countdown once again begins in earnest. However, Bradley has a very good shot at shocking the world Saturday night and drastically altering the immediate future of the sport’s biggest stars in the process.