On April 12th at the MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KO) and Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KO) will be exchanging leather once again in Pacquiao vs Bradley II. And an easy fight to call this isn’t.
Despite being the victor of their first bout back in June 2012, Bradley’s win didn’t earn him superstar status. His unbeaten record was intact, and he’d just handed one of the sport’s biggest icons his first loss in 7 years. But something was amiss; a cacophony of boos filled the arena and one of boxing’s most controversial nights was born.
After many analysts suggested incompetent officials – even corrupt – were to blame, the WBO enlisted five independent judges to score the fight, even though Bradley’s Split Decision win couldn’t be overturned. All five awarded Pacquiao the win, and though this further angered an already outraged boxing fandom, an immediate rematch was not to be.
Hard Knocks Leading Up to Pacquiao vs Bradley II
Enter an old foe and unknown slugger: two Plan B opponents about to shock the world in a very different way – with raw brutality.
When Juan Manuel Marquez and Pacquiao clashed again later in December 2012, their fourth encounter was nothing short of riveting. Bookmakers had expected Marquez to fall on the wrong side of a Split Decision, but it became apparent he had not read the script when he landed a bomb in the 6th round. The right-counter left Pacquiao out cold, and fight fan’s jaws south of knee level.
Bradley defended his WBO crown against Ruslan Provodnikov on March 16, 2013, but his underdog challenger also failed to read the pre-fight script, knocking down Bradley in the 1st round. The fight was close, and though Bradley survived a nail-biting 12th that saw him on the canvas for the second time, his heart and steely grit allowed him to retain the title and earn new-found respect.
Next, Bradley announced he would be facing none other than Pacquiao’s destroyer Marquez. Much to Bradley’s frustration, he was seen as the underdog. But as the rounds got underway, a different kind of fighter emerged in Bradley. His speed, discipline – and refusal to brawl with another heavy-handed fighter – lead to a convincing points victory.
After almost a year’s layoff, Pacquiao touched gloves with Brandon Rios in November, 2013. Landing with crisp combinations and the left-cross time and again, Pacquiao picked off the Mexican slugger, winning almost every round on all three scorecards. (Pacquiao vs Bradley II Preview)
Pacquiao vs Bradley II was then announced in January 2014, an overdue second act unlikely to mirror the first. Despite being marquee names in the sport, both fighters seem to be hungry for this rematch, each with very different motivations (yes, a guy by the name of Floyd Mayweather is probably on their lists – but that’s a given).
Pacquiao vs Bradley II to be Highly Competitive
Already glowing with Hall of Fame credentials, it’s doubtful Pacquiao is aiming to prove himself by beating Bradley – especially since most spectators believe he won outright the first time. There are still reasons for him to make a hell of a statement in this fight, however.
Words have spread of his finances being exploited by some unsavory characters over the years. If this is true, along with the reported huge sums owed in taxes and to the Philippine’s flood aids, a loss to Bradley would suddenly seem unthinkable.
Aged 33 with a history of hard wars clocked up, it’s also not absurd to believe this boxing icon could turn old overnight sooner than later. Pacquiao is now fighting for relevancy at Welterweight: arguably boxing’s most competitive division. And time couldn’t be more of the essence – especially since a certain ‘Dream Fight’ died following the savage Marquez knockout.
To re-establish himself, Pacquiao will have to ditch his post 2007 tendency to kindly carry his opponents the distance, and welcome back the knock-out-machine of old. Freddie Roach is already trying to reignite the fire with the mantra “close the show, no mercy” – but will it be enough?
One only need look at Bradley’s turbulent relationship with his critics to understand his strongest motivation: Bradley is on a mission to prove himself. And it’s not the first time. No matter what he does in the ring, the respect craved remains ever elusive. Always the underdog, and now a two-time underdog against Pacquiao – a figure who seems to taint Bradley’s every achievement.
But a fighter who lives to prove people wrong is a dangerous one. Aged 30 and in his prime, Bradley is a fitness fanatic who can brawl, box, and adapt during a fight. And he’s getting better.
Some have called Pacquiao vs Bradley II a “toss up”, a “50/50”, others a “pick ‘em”. Call it what you will – this is anyone’s fight.
But what about your own thoughts? How do you see Pacquiao vs Bradley II playing out?
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