Fight week is upon us, and as Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley prepare to battle once more on April 12 to settle their unfinished business in Las Vegas, the stakes are as high as they get.
For Pacquiao (53-5-3, 38 knockouts), his status as a top draw in the sport hinges on his ability to overcome Bradley, who won a controversial decision over him in their first meeting back in 2012. The eight-division champion from General Santos City, Philippines suffered a sixth-round knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez right after, and bounced back with a decision victory over Brandon Rios a year later.
For WBO welterweight titleholder Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs), the hard-fought respect he has sought will elude him should he fail to beat Pacquiao in a more conclusive manner in their rematch. Bradley, a native of Palm Springs, Calif., has won titles in two divisions but has not fully won over the fans’ respect. A win over the living legend Pacquiao will achieve that for him.
What Pacquiao has to do to win
Once the bell rings, it’ll be important that Pacquiao establishes his jab and gets off first. Bradley has a snappy jab that is hard to time, and Pacquiao has never developed a defense for that punch. The one thing that he can do is set the pace, force Bradley to move faster than he wants, and force him to make a mistake.
Pacquiao also needs to work the body and vary his attack. Bradley has one of the best bodies in the sport, and the aesthetics often discourage fighters from working his rib cage. I think that’s something to explore, as Pacquiao was able to land hard right hooks to Bradley’s body that may have robbed the American of some of his punching power. Pacquiao’s most dangerous assaults begin downstairs and end upstairs, and will throw off Bradley’s ability to counter him.
Carlos Cinco, Boxing reporter at Rappler: I think Pacquiao has to keep his foot on the gas pedal this time. When he throws punches in bunches, good things happen and sooner or later Bradley will get tagged. The moment he stops punching, Bradley moves into position to outbox him. Bradley won’t turn down a slugfest though, and Pacquiao should make it a war whenever possible. Pacquiao does have the power advantage after all. If Pacquiao brings back the “aggressiveness” that he talks so often about these days, it will be a complete nightmare for Tim Bradley.
Danrex Tapdasan, Boxing referee: To win, Pacquiao needs to vary his attack and confuse Bradley, he should not do less than 10 combinations as Bradley is very good in adjusting to his opponents’ styles. I’m anticipating that Bradley will not engage Pacquiao in a brawl like what he did early in their first fight because he knows that’s not his kind of fight. So, this will be a classic “cat and mouse” game. In that kind of game, the cat should not be one-dimensional in his attack as the mouse is too clever for that.
What Bradley has to do to win
Timothy Bradley’s power isn’t going to earn him any comparisons to Earnie Shavers, but he has enough power to keep you honest. I think Bradley needs to make a statement early with his fists to establish that Pacquiao cannot simply barge in and do what he wants.
Bradley also must get his jab going, just as he did in negating Juan Manuel Marquez in his last bout. Bradley’s boxing skills are his main advantage against Pacquiao, and if he can break Pacquiao’s rhythm with it, he will be able to control his opponent. Pacquiao, for all of his speed, uses very little head movement.
Lastly, I think Bradley needs to be more physical inside. I think in the last fight he was conscious of being called a dirty fighter and it detracted from who he is. Bradley must take advantage of the fact that Pacquiao does very little in close, and work until the referee tells them to break.
Although many thought he actually lost the first fight, Bradley fought well in my opinion. He has since improved his head movement tenfold as evidenced in the Provodnikov and Marquez fights. Bradley will continue to lead with that same head when he closes the distance on offense however, he can’t help it, that’s his style and it works. Unfortunately for Bradley, he doesn’t have the ability to hurt Manny unless he catches him napping on defense again. Bradley needs to stick and move, away from the straight left hand and use his speed to outbox Pacquiao.
Bradley needs to be the smart and intelligent Bradley the whole 3 minutes of every round for the whole 12 rounds. He should keep on moving, show Pacquiao different angles and then make sure he flicks his jab to keep Manny at bay, 3-4 punch combinations then quickly go out of harms way. Then, if Manny starts to load up, he should be close and start a clinch. Make the fight ugly and frustrate Pacquiao.
A popular belief is that Pacquiao will get the benefit of any close call due to the controversial nature of the first bout. I think Pacquiao will actually be more aggressive, show the body language that tells the judges that he wants to win and will win a competitive decision in the end. If Pacquiao comes out as hard as he did against Marquez in the fourth fight, Bradley won’t see the final bell.
Pacquiao will be determined in this one. No matter what anyone says, Pacquiao, I believe still managed to somehow underestimate Brandon Rios in his last fight which resulted in a ho-hum performance. That won’t be the case in this fight as Pacquiao will feel the need to prove he really beat Bradley the first time around. Look for Pacquiao to be constantly on the attack, bringing the fight to Bradley in a slugfest that will test Bradley’s chin and how long it can hold up. The sock dilemma will no longer be an issue and a more mobile Bradley will be a slightly harder target to hit. Having said that, I’m still going with Pacquiao on this one due to his highly aggressive nature. Bradley will try to defend and employ a ‘Marquez-like’ counter-punching style which he won’t execute as effectively. I have both fighters going the distance once again, with a unanimous decision verdict for Manny Pacquiao.
It will be another decision. The subjectivity of judging a boxing fight will still come into play. I predict that Bradley will do better this time compared to the first fight and so does Pacquiao. Both of them will show an improvement from their previous fight. It will be another close and debatable decision and Pacquiao will get it this time.
What are your thoughts on the Pacquaio-Bradley rematch? Let us know in the comments section. – Rappler.com
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