Pacquiao v Bradley rematch
It’s the Pacquiao v Bradley rematch this weekend and we see a tight contest going the way of the American…
In June 2012, Timothy Bradley won the WBO Welterweight Champion of the World against the pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao. That epic fight ended Pacquaio’s seven year winning streak and made Bradley the fourth boxer to defeat the legendary fighter.
With the controversy and uproar surrounding the 2012 fight, both fighters are thirsty to prove that they are stronger than the other.
For Bradley, winning this fight will finally get the “respect” that he felt wasn’t given to him after his 2012 victory. With a two-fight win streak against Provodnikov and Marquez with experience to back him up, Bradley boldly claimed that he will outsmart, outwork, and ultimately defeat Pacquiao again.
For so long, Manny Pacquiao has been the man other fighters court and fear. More recently though with Mayweather elusive and Marquez satisfied, the Filipino star has found dance partners harder to find. So it is that Pacquiao meets Timothy Bradley again this weekend in a repeat of their 2012 controversy.
That was the fight which brought judge CJ Ross to our attention; a precursor to her astonishing ‘draw’ score of Mayweather v Alvarez which promped self-exile from the sport, though it was Duane Ford who was the main culprit that night.
Such was the stink caused by the split decision verdict given Bradley for a fight he was considered almost universally to have lost that Pacquiao refused an immediate rematch and Bradley considered retirement there and then.
So much has happened to both men since that the ring posts seem to have moved while two judges – including Britain’s John Keane – have been brought in from outside of Nevada as a statement of fairness or ‘neutrality’.
Expect a similar scenario for the Froch v Groves rematch at the end of May. The move itself is no more than a gesture (boxing matches remain subjective) but the question as to who has gained most in the intervening period is as significant as the moment this represents in the respective careers of Pacquiao and Bradley.
Certainly Pac Man (1.42) is not devouring rivals with the same ferocity as he was five and more years ago. The Pacquiao who beckoned the referee to ease Antonio Margarito’s pain through the closing rounds is not the same man who went after Miguel Cotto in round 12 of their fight.
Fans will call upon the near polite bout with Mosley and Pacquiao’s recent points win over the much limited Brandon Rios as further evidence that the fire simply does not burn in the same way.
Is that because we are witnessing the down-swing of a sonic star or has the Filipino congressman simply taken his eye of the ball? One thing we do know is that the current, new and improved Tim Bradley demands every bit of Pacquiao’s attention.
Bradley (3.0) has emerged from the ‘crisis’ of the first fight a stronger man and a better, more confident fighter. But it hasn’t been easy. Tarnished by the decision which went his way and vilified by boxing fans and the media for it, Bradley flung himself – literally – headlong into an extraordinary scrap with Ruslan Provodnikov.
On that night Bradley seemingly left his boxing brains in the locker room instead offering those he did take into the ring on a sacrificial platter to the muscle-bound puncher Provodnikov.
What transpired were 36 of the most brutal, brilliant minutes of boxing witnessed anywhere in 2013. Bradley did everything wrong, survived several near fight and heart-stopping moments but through the rawest courage and conditioning prevailed. Somehow.
Not only did Bradley win the fight, he won over the same fans and press who had hounded him previously in what was generally considered the fight of the year. From there Bradley went on to produce a technical master-class and the performance of his career against Juan Manuel Marquez in October.
The scores were close and Marquez complained but I had Bradley winning comfortably and that against the man who had flattened Pacquiao previously with the best right hand he’ll ever throw.
So Bradley is in the form of his life, more confident than ever and remember the American apparently fought most of the previous bout against Pacquiao with ligament damage to his left ankle and a sprain to the right.
Bradley is five years younger than Pacquiao, probably in better form and the truth is, a nightmare to look good against. I’m surprised Pacquiao is taking this fight but for reasons stated, there probably aren’t too many other options within Top Rank and on HBO.
This is more than just a banana skin for Pacquiao, it’s a ‘What Now?’ moment if he loses.
That said, because of his style Bradley is usually in debateable fights and has recorded just one KO (11.00) from his last 13 bouts spanning seven years.
There is the usual talk from Freddie Roach about looking good and bringing the heat back but Pacquiao has won each of his last five fights by decision (2.42) and is without a stoppage since the last gasp effort against Cotto in 2009. Roach has own worries about that much missed intensity as Gareth A Davies of The Telegraph told me this week.
Apparently Pacquiao has been putting in the hours on the Bible almost as much as the pads and Roach has been finding passages from that tome which discuss revenge and vengeance. Make up your own mind about that.
One thing which did impress me in the Rios fight was the way Pacquiao punched and moved to the side like he did in his pomp and while that negates his power somewhat, it does hint at the sort of performance which could see Pacquiao win the fight.
I sense retribution in a more divine or official sense and I do wonder if the scorecards while belying the action in the ring itself, will perhaps right the previous wrong. I hope not because on current form Bradley is the bet to win a tight decision in a close fight.
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