What can one say about Manny Pacquiao? Lucky, perhaps, against Marquez. While that opinion is quite roundly shared; statistical analysis from ringside (whatever that is worth) actually had the Filipino ahead on all major scoring factors. Regardless, who could deny the inimitable Pac-Man some luck? Burdened not only with the god-like status he commands in his own country, he has to contend with the ‘best of all time’ mantra that has invited a level of scrutiny of his performances that has perhaps never been seen in boxing.
The negative reception dished out by Marquez fans after their third fight was probably less reflective of genuine disbelief than it was a barometer of the unreal expectations that are laid on the shoulders of the man. After the epic battles against Barrera, Morales and Marquez, one could probably forgive the 33 year old for a slightly sedate performance. The first man ever to win titles in eight weight divisions, and with more than a point to prove after criticism from certain circles, the Pac-Man will be looking to cement his already legendary status come Saturday night against a relatively unknown quantity.
Timothy Bradley is a rather enigmatic figure in the boxing world. A former two time WBC lightweight world champion, as well as the current WBO light welterweight champion, he brings an impressive undefeated record to the table ahead of his clash with the Pac-Man. He is a dedicated and humble family man, providing the antithesis to the maligned Mayweather persona. Indeed, the audience at the MGM Grand will be hard pressed to embrace a favourite for this encounter: the all-American underdog against the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world.
Bradley controversially eschewed the chance to unify his WBO and WBC titles in 2011 with a potential fight against the then undefeated WBA light heavyweight champion Amir Khan. He was consequently stripped of his WBC title; not the first time he had failed to play ball with organizers and the public alike. Many insiders believe he was unhappy with only receiving $1.3 million for a fight against such a high profile figure, while he has also intimated that it could have jeopardized his chances of ever fighting the Pac-Man. Bradley seems to be a man who knows the importance of savoring the moment and taking it for all its worth, but he is going to need more than humility in Saturday’s encounter.
He is moving away from his favored light welterweight category, as he is the challenger to Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight crown. Seeing as he boasts a relatively meager 12 knockouts in his 28 victories, it would seem that the 28 year old is going to battle to put down the Filipino as he has suggested he will. His furious hooks combined with his movement (a combination leading to the nickname ‘Desert Storm’) will attempt to subdue the all-out attacking dynamo that is Pacquaio. The Filipino has looked vulnerable before when his aggressive style has been counteracted by defensive soundness and crisp counter-punching, and Bradley will have to subdue an early onslaught in order to implement any game plan he may have.
|The decorated Pac-Man in all his glory.|
It is ironically Bradley’s last victory against 40 year old Joel Casamayor on the Marquez-Pacquaio 3 undercard that probably distills the gulf in class between the two fighters. Pacquaio went toe to toe with Juan Manuel Marquez, the pride of Mexico, while Bradley took down a 40 year old veteran in defense of his title. Saturday will only be the second time Bradley has fought at the MGM Grand; it will be the Pac-Man’s ninth battle in this great Coliseum of boxing. It just does not seem feasible that a man with only 12 knockouts in 29 fights, who is moving up from his preferred weight division can take down a man with as much ability, as much power and as much conviction on the big stage. Pacquiao will look to wrap this one up in the early stages, completing the job that Holt could not.
And spare a thought, if you please, for a certain Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather who will no doubt listen to (or watch on a 50 inch plasma screen in his cell) the events unfolding on Saturday night. How he will be hoping Bradley can remarkably dethrone Pacquiao and thus render their potential showdown redundant. And how he will go to sleep, disappointed, thinking of another excuse to not fight the man who presents him with his most likely chance of professional defeat.
Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook now!
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