WHEN eight- division titlist Manny Pacquiao settled for Timothy Bradley as his opponent for his supposedly last career fight before he goes into full time politics in his home country the Philippines, I was totally surprised.
Today April 9 that fight takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT.
Pacquiao wanted undefeated American World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford or British Amir Khan although Bradley’s name was still in the picture for a third fight during the search for an opponent before he retires from professional boxing. Crawford, 29, who is unbeaten in 28 fights with 20 knockouts, scored a 10th round technical knockout win against Dierry Jean last October 24 and a fifth round KO against Hanky Lundy recently.
But then again, perhaps tonight’s fight, a rubber match between Pacquiao and Bradley was necessary still as it will be a grudge match-up since each fighter has a victory over the other from their earlier two meetings.
Bradley who has not received much credit for his 2012 points win over Pacman will be trying to prove that he deserves more respect by winning the third bout especially against a backdrop of taking on a new trainer Ted Atlas who helped Bradley send into retirement Brandon Rios with a ninth round KO. Pacquiao only managed a unanimous points’ win over Rios a few years ago.
Naturally, Bradley will be trying to go for a straight KO over Pacquiao who beat him by unanimous points’ decision in a rematch. Asked by journalists if he thought he needed a KO to get a definitive result after he didn’t get any credit after beating Pacquiao in the first fight, and how he could accomplish that, Bradley said:
“I’ve gone down the road of thinking I need a KO and it didn’t work to benefit me. At this time I just know that I have to do my job; I will step in that ring and follow instructions from my corner that should get me my victory and credit that I deserve.”
Bradley’s stature in the boxing world grew remarkably with his gutty victory over tough Ruslan Provodnikov in a brawl that got much fight-of-the-year attention. Even Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer who is seldom prone to praising an upcoming opponent, said he was impressed by Bradley’s grit and guts against Provodnikov.
This fight is interesting in another respect because the hype has come mostly from the trainers-Atlas and Roach who have demeaned each other. This will be Atlas’ second fight with Bradley and the first, a knockout of Rios, was so well planned and executed that the kudos for Atlas have continued non-stop.
Pacquiao, having been outclassed by his nemesis Floyd Mayweather Jr in the American’s last career fight, will also try to walk out of the sport with a clear victory over Bradley. He will, as usual, throw punches in bunches and move from side to side to confuse an equally fearless Bradley.
One thing is for sure; this fight will be something of a brawl as both fighters are not afraid of mixing it. I do not expect any KO, though when boxers brawl, the one who gets carelessly carried away sometimes gets knocked out. And so, who wins? It will be a close fight but I have a hunch Pacquiao will win on points again to prove he’s a tad better than Bradley and seal his legacy as one of the best there ever was in the sport.
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