While I agree that Timothy Bradley did not deserve to win via split decision in his first fight with Manny Pacquiao, I did not care if the public cried “robbery.” Instead, I wanted to ask, “Is this the Pacquiao that can beat Floyd Mayweather?”
Prior to their first fight, I saw three reasons why Pacquiao would easily beat or stop Bradley: the American was a lightwelterweight (140 pounds) climbing to welterweight (147 pounds); Bradley’s last knockout win over nine fights was over a geriatric (or aging) Joel Casamayor, and that was prior to his first fight with Pacquiao; and there’s really nothing special about Bradley at that time.
But what made me admire Bradley was his courage, especially after I read that he sprained his ankle from the third round of his first fight with Pacquiao. He appeared in the post-fight press conference in a wheelchair, and showed the lumps on his sprained ankle (anybody who will say those were self-inflicted better get his or her head checked).
Now imagine if Bradley did not sprain his ankle during his first fight with Pacquiao….
So now that Bradley and Pacquiao will face off again this coming April, I must say that the Filipino should not discount the American, who will be getting into the ring with a higher level of confidence because of his wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez. In his fight against the Russian brawler, Bradley literally brawled much of the time, while against the Mexican master boxer, Bradley also boxed intelligently.
So how will Bradley fight against Pacquiao the second time around? While Bradley survived his slugfest with Provodnikov, I don’t think the American will risk engaging Pacquiao in an exchange.
So I expect Bradley to use his boxing skills against Pacquiao, but at this point, I hate to state that Pacquiao will definitely win this fight, given that Bradley will be coming into the fight with a higher level of confidence.
But Pacquiao has to win his second fight with Bradley more convincingly if he is still eyeing a bout with undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. Put it simply, Pacquiao must win by wide decision, or stop or knock out Bradley.
If Pacquiao struggles to beat Bradley or loses to the American, the Filipino and his camp better forget a showdown with Mayweather. Why? Because Bradley is still nothing compared to Mayweather, even if both of them are technical boxers.
Only the insane will think that Pacquiao can put up a decent showing against May–weather if the Filipino wins a close match with Bradley in April.
I hate to say this—Pacquiao is on the last legs of his colorful career, and like other great boxers, he is no longer the force that he was three to five years ago. And in the horizon—particularly in the light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight divisions—are up and coming fighters who are better than Bradley. I actually discussed that in my last column (A potential golden era, January 30, 2014).
My January 30 column talked about Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Marcos Maidana, Erislandy Lara, and Saul Alvarez being the next big attractions in those divisions once Pac–quiao and Mayweather hang up their gloves.
So the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch would be critical for the Filipino’s career, because his shutout win over Brandon Rios in Macau last year did little to erase the painful memory of his knockout loss to Marquez.