Well, this could very well be the week that former eight division champ Manny Pacquiao 57- 6-2 (38) announces who he’ll fight in what many speculate to be his farewell bout. The last time Pacquiao was seen in the ring he was being out-boxed by pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather back on May 2nd. After losing a decision to Mayweather, Pacquiao announced that he suffered from a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder entering the bout and that’s why his showing was so underwhelming. Pacquiao is on the mend now and is slated to fight April 9th of 2016. The only unknown is who his opponent will be, something we should know by the end of the week.
All indications are according to the Desert Sun, Timothy Bradley is the leading candidate over Terrence Crawford and Amir Khan. If that turns out to be the case, and it should because it makes all the sense in the world being Pacquiao and Bradley are both promoted by Top Rank Promotions, the fight will be easy to make. And the story lines for Pacquiao- Bradley are plentiful. For starters it would be a rubber match with Pacquiao and Bradley having already split two fights between them passing the WBO welterweight title back and forth. On top of that Pacquiao and Bradley are both trained by the two most “See Me Out There” trainers in professional boxing. Freddie Roach has been with Pacquiao for years and Teddy Atlas worked with Bradley for his last bout when he became the first fighter to stop the ever tough and durable Brandon Rios.
As stated in the Sun, fighting Bradley makes the most sense for Pacquiao because….”He’s still a big name, a world champion, and someone Pacquaio has had success against in the past. And because it may be Pacquiao’s last fight, that alone could be enough to generate interest and pay-per-view buys. In addition, Bradley tore a calf muscle early in the second fight and, if healthy, the fight could be more interesting this time around.”
Yes, the Sun is correct, Pacquiao is most familiar with Bradley, but I believe it is a risky fight for him. If Manny chose to fight Amir Khan, Pacquiao is familiar with him due to their many rounds sparring each other during fight preparation for both. In addition to that, I have no doubt when they get in the ring, due to Pacquiao’s superior power and confidence, he’d dictate the terms of the fight once they touched gloves because of Amir’s questionable punch resistance. As for Crawford, he is the most dangerous from a skill-set vantage point but he is relatively inexperienced fighting on the world stage, opposed to Pacquiao who has been fighting in front of a world audience since early 2009.
So for the record I’d rate Bradley the most dangerous opponent of the three for Pacquiao and here’s why. Yes, Pacquiao is viewed by many as having won the first fight between them despite two of three judges scoring the fight in favor of Bradley. But let’s be honest, Manny didn’t look all world against Bradley the first time they met. In the rematch Pacquiao got off better and didn’t wait for the perfect shot and ultimately out-worked Bradley earning a unanimous decision. But Pacquiao didn’t look great or unbeatable against Bradley during their rematch either. I’m not sure after getting thoroughly out-boxed by Mayweather that fighting another guy who is going to move is such a great idea. Manny hasn’t looked great in years and he’s lost a step which makes him much more vulnerable to being out boxed by a fighter with speed who uses it.
I think Bradley is at the point in his career in which he’s not just confident, he also feels really good about himself and what he’s capable of doing as a fighter. Atlas has Bradley dialed in and believing that if he implicitly listens to Teddy, everything will work out for the better and he’ll be successful.
You can say what you want regarding Atlas being a terrible fight handicapper and how he usually picks the wrong fighter to win. However, I feel there’s a legitimate excuse for that, and that is Atlas getting it wrong when it comes to picking the winner is….he has an agenda and usually leans toward the fighter he likes and respects most. I don’t think it’s a matter of him flat out missing it. Atlas understands styles and sees the strength and weaknesses of any fighter he observes closely. He’s every bit as good of a tactician as Roach and probably better. And that’s where the trainers will have some say in this bout between Pacquiao and Bradley if it happens.
If you break the styles down, Roach is going to advise Manny to be aggressive and to let his hands go, and that’s great because he knows Bradley and Atlas don’t want to get into a firefight. The problem is Manny is no longer the supernova he once was and needs to be set with basically a stationary opponent in front of him in order to get off good. He was never great at cutting off the ring and he’ll surely need to do that against Bradley. Atlas knows this and will convey to Bradley that as long as he keeps jabbing and turning, Pacquiao will forever be playing catch up. And you better believe Timothy will follow Atlas’s instructions to the letter because he’ll entrust his faith in whatever Atlas tells him and that will make him a better fighter and in his mind lead him to being victorious.
In the last three or four years, it’s no secret that the current version of Pacquiao is stymied by foot speed and lateral movement. Bradley has quick hands and feet and when he cuts loose he is effective, as long as he doesn’t foolishly attempt to stand there and trade with Pacquiao. If Bradley fights his fight and follows the fight plan that Atlas constructs, he’ll give Pacquiao a very rough night and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he won by decision.
Actually, as of this writing I would bet on Bradley if I got 2-1 odds. I’ve been saying for years Manny is vulnerable to movement and speed, something Mayweather showed the world. No, Bradley isn’t Mayweather but I have my doubts as to whether Pacquiao will be even as good against Bradley as he was against Mayweather 11 months earlier.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com