Now that the rubber match between Manny Pacquiao 57-6-2 (38) and Timothy Bradley 33-1-1 (13) is set for April 9th, the cookbook analyst and experts are out voicing their opinions on how the fight will unfold. And the leader of the pack with the most to say is Freddie Roach trainer of Manny Pacquiao. As most know, and if you don't you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years….Roach always overrates his fighters. I think Freddie predicted a Pacquiao knockout in Manny's last five bouts and not one prediction came to fruition.
According to Gerry Ramos of Spin.ph 01/04/16 in an article titled “Fat Brandon Rios made Timothy Bradley look good in his last fight” Roach said “it was obvious the 29-year-old Rios was not in the best of shape for the 12-round match. ‘With all that fat on Rios, I had never seen him look like that before, so I don’t think Bradley had that much in front of him.”
“Bradley looked good, but…,” added the 55-year-old Roach in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Bradley did what he had to do,” said Roach, a five-time Trainer of the Year. “Teddy Atlas is a good motivator, and Bradley fought a good fight. I don’t think you can give Atlas credit yet.”
Isn't it great Roach taking shots at Atlas, knowing that as the fight gets closer Teddy will surely respond back in kind. It should be fun to observe because Roach and Atlas are the two biggest “See Me Out There Trainers” in boxing. However, in the Pacquiao-Bradley match up, I think one of two things is in play between the trainers. For starters, Roach either doesn't see it or won't admit that the two opponents Pacquiao has looked the most ordinary against in recent years were Timothy Bradley and Floyd Mayweather. Coincidentally both Floyd and Timothy are quick handed, have quick feet and when Bradley is of the right mindset, as it seems to be the case under the tutelage of Atlas, he's willing to use them. On the other hand, I believe Atlas is fully aware that Manny is his least effective going against fighters who move and box. In addition to that, Teddy knows that Pacquiao never applied bell-to-bell pressure and is not good at cutting off the ring. And that was paramount as to why he couldn't deal with Mayweather last May and also why he didn't blow Bradley away in either fight.
On December 8th I wrote…”For the record I'd rate Bradley the most dangerous opponent from a style perspective 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 it 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.”
Using his speed and not engaging is paramount for Bradley when he fights Pacquiao in their upcoming rubber match. 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 non-stop punching dynamo 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 if he wants to win and look impressive. 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 getting off with three punch combinations, which will stymie Pacquiao's aggression as long as he doesn't foolishly attempt to stand there and trade with him. 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.
Roach saying Bradley had nothing in front of him in Brandon Rios, should stir the pot regarding the lack of interest in the fight. But Freddie intentionally forgets that when Manny fought Rios – he hit Brandon with his Sunday punch for 12-rounds and never had him on his heels once. Bradley, not known for his punching power methodically worked Rios over to the head and body. Yes, Rios isn't hard to find, but the way Timothy worked him over to the head and body was impressive and it wasn't by accident. Atlas is a good corner tactician and understands styles. I highly doubt that Roach is going to lure Bradley and Atlas into the street fight that he needs Pacquiao to initiate with his verbal jabs and slings in order to guarantee victory. Bradley knows boxing Pacquiao is his only path to victory and Atlas will be in his ear imploring that for the next three months, on that you can be sure.
One gets the sense that by Roach somewhat stepping out of character and being the first to throw mud in the direction of the opponent that he is fully cognizant that the version of Bradley that Manny will confront in April will be more formidable and better prepared stylistically than the versions he fought in 2012 and 2014.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com