Unless Floyd Mayweather Jr. ends up being convinced that latest x-ray results show that he is not chicken-livered and is fully capable of beating Manny Pacquiao, all point to the ‘Pacman’ returning to action on April 12 against American Timothy Bradley Jr. for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight championship.
Bradley (31-0, 12 knockouts) was the 5-to-1 underdog who scored a controversial split-decision win over Pacquiao in June 2012. It was a decision that was assailed all over the world, with many believing that Pacquiao was robbed of a victory. Post-fight statistics favored Pacquiao by a wide margin. Pacquiao connected on 253 total punches, almost 100 more than Bradley’s 159. Pacquiao also landed 190 power punches compared to Bradley’s 108.
Judging from the controversial result of their meeting, a return bout between Pacquiao and Bradley is a must. But truth be told, boxing fans are frowning at such a matchup. There is no denying that everybody wants Pacquiao to take on Mayweather and no one else. In the minds of many, Mayweather is the only adversary that matters for Pacquiao. Unfortunately, both camps remain miles apart, with Mayweather Jr. seemingly satisfied with the cheap thrill he is getting by bashing Pacquiao on the internet.
But make no mistake, the mega bout is still within the realm of possibility and it is for this reason that Pacquiao is leaning on Bradley as his next foe. Mayweather recently stated that his last fight will take place in September 2015 and this gives the fight with Pacquiao a one-year window to come into fruition. By picking Bradley, Pacquiao is thinking long term: a low-risk challenge to keep the Mayweather fight warm and alive. Whatever losses Pacquiao may end up incurring against Bradley in terms of pay-per-view income (the first fight attracted only around 900,000 pay-per-view buys while Pacquiao’s last bout with Brandon Rios barely cracked 500,000) will not matter amid the financial bonanza Pacquiao stands to realize if the fight with Mayweather happens.
Of course, the Mayweather fight will only take place if Pacquiao can avoid another disaster in the ring. Many thought that the dream fight was dead when Pacquiao was knocked out cold by Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012, but interest in the fight was revived after Pacquiao dominated Rios in his comeback fight last November. Pacquiao took a huge risk in taking the Marquez fight and almost paid dearly for it. By picking the pillow-fisted Bradley, who he clearly defeated the first time out, Pacquiao is taking a calculated risk this time. Bradley is back to his old hit-and-run tactics as evidenced by his ho-hum decision win over Marquez last September. Pacquiao hurt Bradley on several occasions in their first meeting but inexplicably held back his assaults. If he can recapture his vintage ferocity, there is no reason to doubt a Pacquiao win in the rematch. This early, experts are already saying that Bradley will wear running shoes in the fight as he is likely to make full use of the ring space to escape Pacquiao’s wrath.
If Pacquiao hurdles Bradley and reclaims the WBO welterweight belt, he will also have a bargaining chip when he negotiates with Mayweather who holds the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) version of the 147-pound diadem. Pacquiao can claim that being a co-champion in the division, he is entitled to a reasonable share in the profits. In a champion versus champion match, it is easier to haggle for a 50-50 split.
As things stand, Bradley is reportedly asking for a $10 million guaranteed purse, but Top Rank Promotions head honcho Bob Arum is confident that something can be ironed out to settle the issue. If all goes well, the bout will be officially announced next week and the fighters will take part in a promotional tour in February.
Bradley-Pacquiao is not the fight boxing fans want, but it’s the safest fight that can be arranged for Pacquiao given the prevailing circumstances. Pacquiao is the top pick to prevail, but there is still the matter of him actually living up to expectations and demolishing Bradley come April.
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