By Tom Donelson / Member Boxing Writers Association
I will begin this by stating when Manny Pacquiao faced Tim Bradley in their last bout (June 9, 2012), the Pac man won the fight in the ring and lost it on the scorecard. Can Pacquiao revenge this defeat or will we see a great fighter finally reaching the wall with his age and past wars catching up t him?
When I saw repeats of the fight, one thing became clear to me, Pacquiao lacked the consistent ferocity of his previous bouts and it appeared at times, Pacquiao fought two minutes of every round as oppose the fierce warrior who pressured you with quick combinations followed by his potent left hand to finish the job. This lack of ferocity allowed Bradley opportunities to score points and win a decision in the judges’ eyes.
Pacquiao last fight was a one sided affair against Brandon Rio, and the old quickness appeared back. The one thing that troubled me was that Rios was still standing at the end. If one looks at the who’s who’s of Pacquiao victims who didn’t finish their fight with the Pac Man, that list would include Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito, and Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao not only defeated some of the best in the business, he often stopped them. Against Rio, he pummeled Rios but he failed to stop him. Does this mean anything or is Rios simply one tough hombre? As for Bradley, his last fight was an impressive win over Juan Manuel Marquez, a fighter who always gave Pacquiao trouble.
For me, there are two factors. The first factor is that Pacquiao has been involved in some wars and as he approaches his mid-30’s, he is no longer the Pacquiao of four or five years ago. He has won only one fight over the past three years and he is no longer Mr. Automatic in the ring. Bradley is an undefeated fighter who is entering his peak and shown a tough chin against some very big punchers including Ruslan Provodnikov and Pacquiao. Bradley is not a one punch knockout artist and his bouts often go the distance but he is a good boxer who doesn’t mind mixing it up. So this fight may be dependent upon how much Pacquiao skills has slipped and one can’t forget that Pacquiao is a budding politician in his native Philippines, so Pacquiao has other interests that competes with his boxing career.
The second factor is Bradley who is a fighter at his peak and what lessons has helearned from the last fight? One lesson he learned is that he can take Pacquiao best and still stay standing. Another lesson is that he may be facing an old Pacquiao as oppose the ferocious Pacquiao of old . Bradley, like Pacquiao, throws punches in bunches, will come in great shape and if he pressures Pacquiao, he might be the one who wears Pacquiao down.
So who wins? As stated, Pacquiao should have won the first bout but I just have this gnawing feeling that the Pacquiao who defeated Rios impressively was more of a mirage, a fight against the perfect opponent as oppose to a sign that Pacquiao is back. Bradley wins a close decision and the deciding factor will be a younger fighter defeating a great fighter whose skills has slipped just enough to lose.