By Tom Donelson (BWAA)
Author, Member of Boxing Writers Association of America
Contributor to dmboxing.com since 2008
Manny Pacquiao says good bye to boxing after his next fight with Tim Bradley in the final act of their trifecta. This trifecta has its share of controversy, in particular the first fight that many observers felt that Pacquiao won and there was no doubt who won the second bout. Since that last bout, he defeated Chris Algieri before losing to Mayweather and sustaining shoulder injuries. At 37, Pacquiao is not the same fighter at his peak, much less than his last bout with Bradley and this fight will be decided less on the physical talent of both fighters than on what Pacquiao has left.
Bradley has defeated Jesse Vargas and stopped Brandon Rios in nine and looked sharp as he was coached by Teddy Atlas in his Rios. Atlas goal was to make Bradley more of a boxer and less of a slugger who would go toe to toe when provoked by sluggers. He didn’t always use his boxing skills but Atlas wants Bradley to get hit less while countering.
Team Pacquiao view the Pacman ready for one more battle and the word from Pacquiao camp is that the injured shoulder that he took into the Mayweather fight is now repaired. Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, stated that Pacquiao right hand is even more powerful than ever and how much is that training camp hype we won’t find out until the fight itself.
In the previous bout, Pacquiao quicker hands and left hand found Bradley enough and he landed the more powerful punches. Bradley is not the one punch knock out artist and Pacquiao himself has not knocked anyone out since stopping Miguel Cotto in November of 2009. Bradley has already shown he can stand up to Pacquiao power and at 32, he still have something left in the tank and that will be deciding factor.
So what will happen on April 9th? The conventional wisdom will be Pacquiao the favorite and on paper that will be true. Since their last bout, Pacquiao treated Chris Algieri like his personal punching bag as he kept sending the young Brooklyn down time and time again but he failed to stop him. (Even though some felt the fight should have been stopped numerous time but Algieri’s did survive.) Bradley has at least stopped Rios in their last bout whereas Rios survived twelve rounds with Pacquiao. The meaning of this is that Pacquiao power may not be enough to stop Bradley as it wasn’t enough in their last two bouts and while Pacquiao shoulder may have healed from surgery ; we don’t know how this affect Pacquiao. Either team Pacquiao is right and he will be even better or this is hype and the 37 years old Pacquiao will find that injured shoulder will be an equally old shoulder.
Pacquiao will be fighting his first fight since his injury and surgery and we don’t know how healed he really is. Roach is hinting that Pacquiao will be a two hand puncher but over his career, his left was always his dominant hand.
As I began this review, this fight will be determined by how much Pacquiao has left. If Pacquiao is able to push time back and his shoulder is truly healed, he will win by a decision. If Pacquiao fights like a 37 year old and he looks like the fighter he was against Mayweather, he will lose by decision.
Bradley wants this fight simply because he wants to beat Pacquiao with no one questioning his victory just as they did his first victory. The fighters are even and this bout goes to the fighter who fights like the younger fighter. Bradley is five years younger, worked on his boxing style to avoid toe to toe moments and that will be the difference. Pacquiao is fighting his last bout but his place in boxing history is already in place but if Bradley wins, he will have two out of three bouts against a Hall of Fame fighter plus this will lead to even bigger pay days for Bradley. Bradly has more to fight for and has the tool to beat an aging Pacquiao. Bradley by decision and this time there will be no questions asked.