SAN DIEGO, April 12, 2014 – The fight drama is hours away for eight time world champion Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) and WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr. (31-0, 12 KOs) for their rematch Saturday night from Las Vegas. The fight will be televised by HBO as a pay-per-view event. Communities Digital News will host a live online chat starting with the televised undercards at 9 p.m. ET.
To say the stakes are high for these fighters is no secret to any fan. But the stakes are different for each, and the keys to victory lie down different roads for both men. What does each fighter need to focus on in order to win the rematch?
Skills Pay The Bills: Speed has always been Pacquiao’s friend. Pacquiao marries speed with power, aided by the ability to throw a punch from any angle, even when his feet aren’t really under him. He doesn’t need to come straight at his opponent. If Pacquiao is in classic form, he can move in and do damage to Bradley without subjecting himself to much damage in return. Even if Pacquiao’s skills are declining, his speed and power plus his experience are still far superior to Bradley.
The Killer Instinct Factor: Bradley asked publicly whether Pacquiao has lost his “killer instinct.” He isn’t alone in wondering about the answer to this question. Pacquiao’s genial nature outside the ride confuses observers who have a hard time reconciling it with his persona inside the ring. He is a genuinely nice guy.
Pacquiao admitted he backed off Brandon Rios in the last few rounds of their fight because he didn’t see the need to do any additional damage to him. Pacquiao does not have this luxury with Bradley. As for Bradley, he’s angry about how he was treated after his victory over Pacquiao. He will get in Pacquiao’s face. He has to be as aggressive as he was with Ruslan Provodnikov, but far less reckless.
Roach vs. Diaz: Trainers Freddie Roach and Joel Diaz have said some crude, disrespectful things about each other. They are the “bad cop” surrogates for the polite, respectful fighters they represent. Pacquiao and Bradley don’t mouth off at each other the way their trainers do. How much this affects the outcome has more to do with how it affected their training regimen and counsel to their fighters.
Who’s Got the Most to Lose? Pacquiao finds himself in a “must win” situation if he intends to fight a few more big name fights before he calls it a career. Bradley needs to prove his first “victory” wasn’t a fluke. A loss for Bradley would not be career ending in the same way it would for Pacquiao. As long as Bradley acquits himself well, the fans will show him the respect he didn’t get the first time.
Assuming both fighters bring their best game into the ring, Pacquiao will be hard to beat. Bradley can try to entice Pacquiao into a brawl, but if Pacquiao is smart he will avoid this. He will move in, do damage, and then get out of Bradley’s way. All fighters end up looking slow in the ring compared to Manny.
Pacquiao says he wants a knockout. The fans would love one. But he doesn’t need one to win. He simply needs to dominate Bradley and show off the skills that made him a star.
My prediction: This fight will go the distance. There won’t be a knockout no matter what the fighters say. Pacquiao hasn’t had a knockout in seven fights. Bradley only has a dozen KOs in his entire career.
Pacquiao will win this fight by unanimous decision. Pacquiao has the advantage of speed and balance behind his power. Bradley has proven to be a tough fighter who can take punishment. He will stand up to whatever Pacquiao can dish out in punishment until someone pulls him out of the fight. But he won’t do enough to prevail.
Communities Digital News will bring you all the action tonight in Live Online Chat starting with the televised undercard fights at 9 p.m. ET. We provide blow by blow live commentary and real-time photos and invite you to share your reaction to all the action. See you ringside.