Will the third fight in the trilogy show us anything different than the first two? Yes, if Teddy Atlas has his way.
LAS VEGAS, April 8, 2016 – Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr. made weight with ease Friday afternoon in front of a throng of excited fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Pacquiao weighed 145.5 pounds, Bradley 146.5 pounds, both under the 147 welterweight limit. Despite a difference of just a pound, Bradley looks like the bigger man.
Now it’s time for the pair and their trainers to get down to business.
See the full weigh-in here:
It has been a long road getting to this point. For those who need a recap, Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) and Pacquiao (57-6-2, 33 KOs) first met on June 9, 2012. Pacquiao was then a seven to one favorite. But he lost a controversial split decision; only Jerry Roth scored the fight for Pacquiao. C.J. Ross and Duane Ford gave it to Bradley. The boxing community exploded. Teddy Atlas, then an ESPN boxing analyst, said “It’s either corruption or incompetence. There’ll be a rematch. It speaks to the corruption of the sport. The criminals will be rewarded.”
Bradley took so much abuse from fans and critics he became depressed, and says he considered suicide. Instead, he redeemed himself with a brutal fight against Ruslan Provodnikov in which he threw caution to the wind and impressed everyone with his heart and courage.
It eventually set up a second fight between Bradley and Pacquiao on April 13, 2014. Pacquiao won by split decision, but took a beating from Bradley and ended up with 32 stitches in his left eyebrow.
Here we are again, two years later nearly to the day. Will the story be different this time? Team Pacquiao is coming off a loss in the so-called “Fight of the Century” to Floyd Mayweather, a crushing decision whose scorecards hardly reflected the dominance of Mayweather over a lackluster Pacquiao. Pacquiao later claimed his left shoulder was injured. He has since undergone surgery and recovered. He hasn’t been in the ring for a year since his disappointing performance.
Team Bradley has notched wins against Jessie Vargas and most recently Brandon Rios. Though Rios came to their fight unprepared, Bradley impressed with his pressure and mixed attack, scoring a ninth round TKO. It was Bradley’s first fight with a new trainer. Teddy Atlas left broadcasting to work with Bradley. It seems to be a perfect match. Bradley says Atlas has taught him a tremendous amount, and he’s a better fighter because of it.
Pacquiao has been training with esteemed trainer Freddie Roach for 15 years. He says it’s his final fight, and he will then take up politics in the Philippines full time.
Whether it’s Pacquiao’s last fight depends largely on the outcome. If Pacquiao wins, and wins decisively, start getting ready for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao II. But if Bradley wins, Mayweather may not be so keen to leave retirement to face the “Desert Storm.” He might well wait to see who is the victor between Canelo Alvarez and Amir Khan in a month.
The questions that need to be answered:
Does Pacquiao still have the fire to win? Manny Pacquiao is near the end of his career. He has numerous distractions including religion as well as being a sitting Congressman. He’s also made controversial remarks slamming the LGBT community. If he’s fighting strictly for a paycheck, he might not have enough internal drive to get the job done.
Is Timothy Bradley bringing anything new to the table? If Teddy Atlas is able to give Bradley a new approach using some different tools, he can make this fight look and feel different than the previous two. It’s possible; Atlas is a masterful teacher and no one analyzes the trajectory of movement in the ring better than Atlas. He is a keen motivator and pours all his energy and emotion into his fighters during a bout.
Is Pacquiao physically 100 percent? Pacquiao’s injury and rehabilitation remains a bit of a mystery. He is also five years older than his opponent at 37 with 65 fights under his belt as a pro and 137 more rounds in the ring. Pacquiao relies on speed and angles to make his attack. He’s got to be in great condition to make this happen.
Can Bradley keep Pacquiao at a distance and avoid power shots while finding a way to land his own punches? Bradley proved he’s got a tough chin against Provodnikov, but Pacquiao has been able to hurt him. Bradley will need to establish a perimeter with his jab to keep Pacquiao off him, and score whenever he sees an opportunity.
Our prediction: Yes, Bradley has only had one fight with Atlas, and yes it was against a lackluster Brandon Rios. But it is Bradley who has something different to offer in this fight versus the other two in Atlas. He appears to have a real fire burning in his soul to make good on all the promises made in the first two fights. He has a longer road ahead of him in boxing potentially, assuming he wins. Even if Pacquiao wins, this could be his last fight, although only Manny knows for sure.
Although we’re bucking the oddsmakers, we call Timothy Bradley Jr. winning in a unanimous decision victory. No knockouts here, but there may be a flash knockdown which would give the fans something to cheer about. Both fighters promise to put on a good show. Win or lose, Pacquiao needs to erase the bad taste from the fight with Floyd for fans to assure a positive legacy.
Communities Digital News will sit ringside in Las Vegas Saturday to bring you all the action. Bookmark this column and return to see live streams of the undercard fights along with our insights on the main event and undercard fights.
See the Live Stream: Pacquiao-Bradley Non-Televised Undercards (6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT)
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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