Bradley’s Style Conundrum Fighting Pacquiao Can Never Be Solved – This past weekend we saw Manny Pacquiao score his most one-sided decision over rival Timothy Bradley to capture the vacant WBO welterweight title. All three judges scored the bout, in which Pacquiao dropped Bradley twice, 116-110. In actuality the best case scenario for Bradley is that he probably won only three rounds, and none of them were overwhelming. He just couldn’t get anything going and the reason for that is that he was in a conundrum stylistically.
Prior to the bout there was much talk of the influence Teddy Atlas would have over Bradley. Listening to both of them before the fight, it was obvious their goal was to avoid a firefight at all cost. I’m certain that Atlas drilled that into Bradley’s head day and night – night and day, and with Timothy being such a good student and listener, one who believes implicitly in his coach, Bradley followed those instructions almost to a fault.
Prior to the bout I mentioned in my pre-fight piece …..”Pacquiao has a tactical advantage for sure this time in knowing that no matter what, Bradley isn’t thinking about winning by stoppage because it’s too risky for him to attempt it. The presence of Atlas has all but assured that.”
For Bradley 33-2-1 (13), going into the bout knowing that he can only get off when he thinks it’s safe and at the same time being told to use his legs to break off any exchange when Pacquiao 58-6-2 (38) is trying to assert himself, that’s quite an emotional burden to carry versus a fighter like Pacquiao who is always trying to ignite offensive fireworks. The surprising thing about the fight, in my opinion, was that it took Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach nearly six full rounds to finally grasp that Bradley was fighting a safety first fight and in doing that he was stymieing his own offense.
For six rounds it was pretty close. Bradley was picking his spots getting in and out, while Pacquiao was looking to time and counter him. On this night Pacquiao was a smidgen better than he was against Mayweather 11 months ago, but you could surely see that Manny’s not as intense or as busy as he was three or four years ago. Some may suggest that Atlas gave Bradley a lousy fight plan and, in turn, almost handed the fight to Pacquiao. However, I can’t fault Atlas for the game plan. Erik Morales during his first fight with Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather showed that Pacquiao can be out-boxed. After watching Mayweather have his way with Pacquiao, Atlas was correct in assuming that his guy had to follow in Floyd’s footsteps the best he could. Although it wouldn’t have hurt if they had tried to test Pacquiao’s surgically repaired shoulder.
In the main the simple problem was that Bradley didn’t have the necessary tools or skill-set to execute the desired strategy. Bradley was trying to box Pacquiao, but unlike Mayweather, Timothy wasn’t fully committing to his punches, and Pacquiao picked up on that as the fight progressed. Once he was certain of how Bradley was attacking him with one foot out the door, he understood that (A) Bradley couldn’t hurt him, and (B) it was safe for him to in essence raise the rent and put more pressure on him. As Pacquiao began to escalate his aggression during the second half of the bout, Bradley somewhat panicked and didn’t let his hands go. Thus Pacquiao wasn’t being met with much resistance. When a fighter is in Pacquiao’s situation and knows the guy in front of him doesn’t want to fight it out and trade, it’s much easier to go after him with impunity. Due to Bradley not being much of a puncher, it was an even bigger onus on him trying to get Manny’s respect without him ever planting his feet when he let his hands go. And that is something Bradley never succeeded in doing. Lacking the power to make Pacquiao cease doing whatever he wanted to do, killed any chance that Bradley had of winning the fight.
After three fights and 36 completed rounds, it’s never been clearer that Pacquiao simply has Bradley’s number. There’s no conditioning or workout program that can ever change that. Nor can it be resolved by switching trainers. If you switched Roach and Atlas, putting Roach with Bradley and Atlas with Pacquiao – the result would be the same…..Pacquiao wins.
And this brings us to something else. It says something to what an elite boxer Floyd Mayweather is/was. Bradley was fighting uphill trying to blunt Pacquiao’s aggression. For a majority of the bout Bradley appeared to be a step behind and unsure of himself, whereas Mayweather controlled Pacquiao and did almost anything he wanted. And to those who love suggesting Floyd can’t punch, he certainly punched hard enough to keep Pacquiao from coming at him as if he were handcuffed. Mayweather punches harder than most observers fathom. No, he never visibly hurt Pacquiao, but his shots sent a message loud and clear – and that message was “No, you can’t come at me as if there’s no price to pay” and Manny didn’t.
Don’t be surprised if down the road the talk heats up pertaining to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao II. The narrative will go something like “Manny’s shoulder is completely recovered and he’ll be able to get off better this time.” In response, Mayweather will say something like “I don’t need to fight Pacquiao again, but I always give the fans what they want.”
Don’t you believe it. Mayweather owns Pacquiao lock, stock and barrel, just as Manny owns Bradley. Mayweather will beat Pacquiao 10 out of 10 times, and the fights will never be terribly exciting because Floyd has an answer for anything Pacquiao can try against him. Don’t fall for the hype a second time around if by chance they try to sell a rematch between them. Floyd knows it would be easy money and an awful lot of it, certainly enough worth taking considering the minuscule risk involved on Mayweather’s part.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com