Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley have contrasting fortunes going into their second fight on April 12, with the Filipino seeking redemption of his former status as the top dog in the pound-for-pound rankings, and the American wanting to prove that he belongs to the elite of the sport.
Based on the latest pound-for-pound rankings of The Ring magazine, Bradley is ranked the No. 1 in its welterweight rankings; right behind champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. Pacquiao is ranked fourth in The Ring’s welterweight rankings.
In the leading boxing magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings, Bradley is ranked second behind Mayweather, while Pacquiao is at seventh place.
About four to five years ago, Pacquiao was at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings battling it out with Mayweather, while Bradley was struggling to make a name for himself.
And after Bradley and Pacquiao met for the first time in Las Vegas on June 9, 2012, the fortunes of the two boxers were like day and night: Pacquiao lost via knockout to Marquez on December 8, 2013; while Bradley defeated Ruslan Provodnikov on March 16, 2013 and Marquez on October 12, 2013.
While Pacquiao won almost every round of his fight against Brandon Rios on November 24, 2013, it was obvious that the Mexican-American was there to hit all night.
On April 12, Pacquiao can prove the skeptics that he can still regain his old form, and even press for a fight against Mayweather.
At 35 years old, Pacquiao may no longer be the destructive force that he was from 2008 to 2010.
Trainer Freddie Roach even believes that his ward should fight more aggressively this time against Bradley.
“We need to be a little more aggressive in this fight. I think if we fight at an aggressive pace in this fight I think we will be able to stop him somewhere along the way. Whatever Bradley brings to the table we’ll be ready,” Roach said.
The last time Pacquiao scored a stoppage win was in November 14, 2009 against Miguel Cotto for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title.
Bradley, on the other hand, has remained undefeated although he only has 12 knockouts in 31 wins.
Despite not registering a stoppage win since 2009 against Cotto, Pacquiao said that he has not lost his drive toward boxing.
“I have not lost the hunger. Sometimes we knock the guy out and sometimes not,” he added.
Pacquiao seems to be more serious in training for his second fight against Bradley, because his training camp no longer has the usual circus atmosphere. Roach is also reportedly working well with conditioning coach Justin Fortune, who was Pacquiao’s trainer before Alex Ariza came into the picture.
For his part, Bradley thinks Pacquiao has lost his “killer instinct” which will serve the American well come fight night if that is really true.
Bradley has been taunting Pacquiao that the Filipino has lost his killer instinct and hunger.
“It’s good for me but not for him I think,” he added.
Factors to consider
While Pacquiao looks more serious in his training for his rematch with Bradley, there are other factors that should be considered on April 12.
When they first fought, Bradley was a junior welterweight (140-pound limit) climbing up the ranks to challenge Pacquiao at welterweight (147-pound limit). That meant that Bradley was never expected to give Pacquiao much trouble.
On April 12, whether Bradley has gained an improvement in punching power will be answered.
The confidence level of Bradley may have also shot up, because he won via a split decision against Marquez, a fighter who gave Pacquiao his toughest fights and the Filipino’s worst knockout loss.
Also, Bradley took the best shots of Provodnikov in a fight that almost saw the American get stopped. The Russian brawler, as it turned out, was no future journeyman as he stopped Mike Alvarado on October 19, 2012 to win the WBO welterweight championship.
Although Bradley’s win over Marquez was not astounding because it was a split decision victory, the American is currently at his peak, while Pacquiao may no longer be the fighter who stopped Ricky Hatton in 2008 and Cotto in 2009.
As to how the rematch will unfold, particularly how Bradley and Pacquiao will fight remains to be seen. In the Provodnikov fight, Bradley showed that he is willing to slug it out, while Pacquiao in his fight against Rios in showed that he need not slug it out with the opposition.
But come fight night, the pressure will be more on Pacquiao, especially among fight fans who are clamoring for the Filipino to fight Mayweather.
For sure, the second fight with Bradley ending in a close decision will hardly add flavor to a future meeting between Pacquiao and Mayweather.
But a wide win by the Filipino, even over 12 rounds, will help put the Pacquiao back into the consciousness of fight fans who have been clamoring for a battle between him and Mayweather.
On the other hand, a win by Bradley—either by a close decision that cannot be disputed or stoppage—will mean Pacquiao should consider retiring and forget about facing Mayweather. It will also mean bigger fights for the American, including with compatriot Mayweather.
April 12 will indeed be a pivotal night for Pacquiao and Bradley, but the stakes are higher for the Filipino who must show that his sixth-round knockout loss to Marquez in 2012 has not taken out the best in him.
With a report from AFP