--- Photo Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank
It’s that time of year again. A big fight beckons, so your old pal McCarson gathered picks from around the boxing world to see who will come out on top Saturday when Manny Pacquiao faces Timothy Bradley at the MGM in Las Vegas.
While the majority of TSS writers like Pacquiao to win a decision, a panel of 15 other boxing gurus ended up muuuuuch closer: 8 see Bradley winning, 6 see Manny the victor, and one abstained, on principle.
One panelist, boxing writer Matt McGrain, gave perhaps the most interesting response of the bunch. McGrain won’t pick a winner and won’t even watch the fight because he says fight fans “were robbed” back in 2012 when two boxing judges gave Bradley the nod in a bout most everyone else saw a clear Pacquiao win.
Without further adieu, here are Pacquiao-Bradley predictions from boxing’s best panel of pickers.
TSS Crew Picks Pacman 8-1, Woods Says Draw
I'm going with Tim Bradley again. I picked him in the first fight and I pick him again in the rematch. He cleaned out the junior welterweights and now is targeting the welters. Bradley by TKO. -- David Avila, TheSweetScience.com
I've never been so timid to call a fight with conviction... I can genuinely see this going either way. I'm going with Pacquiao via majority decision, with one knockdown being the difference in the fight. -- Blake Hochberger, TheSweetScience.com
Pacquiao won the first time and did everything right except get the decision. Manny will try and turn up the heat and pressure more this time (because he doesn't believe Bradley can really hurt him) and Bradley will try to box and move a little more…The fight will go the distance and Pacquiao's hand will be raised regardless of whether or not he deserves the decision. -- Frank Lotierzo, TheSweetScience.com
I am not going to want this fight to end. I love Bradley’s game. He continues to get better and looked great against Marquez. I would love to see Bradley fight Mayweather because of their styles. But Bradley doesn’t have an answer for Pacquiao’s speed. If I have to choose a winner, I like Pacquiao to win a close, highly competitive fight by KO. Pacquiao’s speed and timing will be the deciding factor. -- Raymond Markarian, TheSweetScience.com
Bradley is going about it all wrong. He convinced himself he won the first fight when all but a very few people actually believed that to be the case. He’ll go into the rematch thinking he can do the same thing and get the win. He can’t. Pacquiao will defeat him more convincingly this time and win a wide unanimous decision. -- Kelsey McCarson, TheSweetScience.com
Freddie, as always, is making big promises about the "Old Manny" returning. It might sound like a tired tune, but the last time he said it, Manny almost finished off Marquez, even though it didn't quite pan out. If Freddie isn't just blowing smoke, an aggressive Manny could be all wrong for Bradley. This is a different Tim Bradley, though. After surviving Provodnikov and legitimately beating Marquez, Bradley rightly believes he's ready for prime time. I see a close, exciting fight with the difference being that Bradley won't be able to really hurt Pacman. That will allow Pacquiao to eek out a tight, unanimous decision. -- John Nguyen, TheSweetScience.com
After Bradley beat Pacquiao by split decision in 2012, Lennox Lewis said the outcome was "maybe not worse than my draw with Holyfield but still bad nonetheless." In that particular rematch, Holyfield performed better, but Lewis still won a unanimous decision. In this rematch, Bradley will show that he has the skills of a top-level fighter, but Pacquiao will walk away with a unanimous decision. A rubber match is inevitable. -- Aaron Tallent, TheSweetScience.com
Tim Bradley is good. Real damn good. I thought he'd be damaged goods after Ruslan gave him some wicked thumps. But he showed me YET AGAIN that my omniscience is a work in progress. The man has skills, and even if those skills don't include much in the pop department, he can box a doozy. The other guy can still too, and his flashy, still-present hand speed will get judge love onApril 12. And maybe you recall, they kind of owe Pacquiao one, don't they? I see 12 rounds that can go either way, though, and a MAJORITY DRAW. -- Michael Woods, TheSweetScience.com
Pacquiao's turn to take a close, questionable call, as he's done in Vegas a few times already. This time Arum will borrow a page from Bradley's book and show up with a poster for Pacquiao-Bradley 3. -- Phil Woolever, TheSweetScience.com
Contrary to popular belief, I thought the first fight was highly competitive. I’m expecting more of the same. However, this time, whether he deserves it or not, Pacquiao will be the one who has his arm raised.Pacquiao by SD. -- Lee Wylie, TheSweetScience.com
Other Panelists See Bradley A Winner, 8-6, McGrain Abstains
I like Pacquiao to win a competitive unanimous decision. He will be a lot more active in the ring and throw more eye-catching shots than Bradley will. I also think Pacquiao's power will be a big difference in the fight. He throws the type of punches that judges respond to—at least the competent ones. -- Adam Abramowitz, SaturdayNightBoxing.com
In their first tilt, Pacquiao did not land fractionally as often as he was expected, or in many cases seen, to do. Bradley's performance, too, was sub-par. Pacquiao will be slower but more aggressive this time. Bradley will be quicker but less aggressive. And it will be make-up day on the scorecards: Fans and pundits will see Bradley win on effectiveness, Las Vegas judges will see Pacquiao win on activity, and acrimony will ensue. -- Bart Barry, 15Rounds.com
Two years removed from a decision win he didn't deserve, Timothy Bradley Jr. has done nothing in the interim but improve. Now, at the peak of his absolute prime, expect the versatile boxer-puncher to utilize his speed, guile and fearlessness to claim a tight decision that's justified. Pacquiao remains one of the very elite fighters in the sport. But he's slowing down just a bit. Look for Bradley to utilize the confidence gained in the final few rounds of their first fight when he outboxed Pacquiao to score enough points to offset the Pacman's power shots that will likely sway the crowd in his favor. -- Brian Campbell, ESPN.com
While I agree with the masses that Pacquiao deserved to win the first go-round in 2012, I also think the intervening two years have been kinder to Bradley. Particularly in his Marquez fight, he showed the varied skills he'll need to handle a Manny who's either still what he was back then, or a trifle diminished. He's got speed, he's got guts and he's got the patience and the smarts to stick to a game plan that might make for a dull fight... but a successful ending. Give me Tim by a close decision, 115-113 let's say, and get ready for the third match. -- LyleFitzsimmons, CBSSports.com
It seems that most of the questions for this fight revolve around Manny. Is he still hungry? How much has he slipped? Does he still have that old killer instinct? Bradley is solid and has many tools. However, Manny looked quite good against Rios in November. So I say he’s still got it. Pacquiao by unanimous decision. -- John DiSanto, PhillyBoxingHistory.com
There are very few ELITE fighters and even fewer elite fighters that love to slug it out: we are getting a combination of both in #PacBradley2. It’s going to be a battle of who has the toughest chin, and right now, I think that is Bradley. But who has the most heart? -- GeorgeForeman IV, Foreman Boys Promotions
I'm still not convinced about the "not wearing socks" excuse. At the highest level, I'd imagine Bradley's feet being conditioned to fight without socks and to also prepare for "spongy" rings. I've fought all over the world in different conditions. A fighter shouldn't be surprised of the environment. Second, Bradley was able to utilize his skills against a much slower Marquez, who also took a lot of punishment from his last fight, which was with Pacquiao. Can we agree that Pacquiao is much faster than Marquez? I can't base Bradley's performance with Marquez being a "litmus test" of how much he's improved. No disrespect to Bradley, he's a great fighter, but whether he wears socks or not, I give the edge to Pacquiao winning. -- boxer Ana Julaton, former world champion
I like Bradley by unanimous decision with a display of athleticism and skill. -- Andy Lee, middleweight contender
PACQUIAO BY UNANIMOUS DECISION. I had Manny up by two rounds in their first fight. Even though he out-landed Bradley, in the middle round his activity level slumped after the 6th stanza. Manny is inspired for this one and I believe he will consistently press the attack this time around. In their first fight, Bradley was often able to slip Pacquiao's third and fourth punches. The Pacman has to change that on Saturday night and score his signature long combinations. Pacquiao has no respect for Bradley's power - which is both a plus and a minus. The minus is, of course, that Bradley could surprise him with a potent counter-right. The plus is that the power differential will make Pacquiao more comfortable staying in the pocket and throwing punches in bunches. Either way, I can't wait for this one - two amazing fighters and ambassadors for boxing. --Gordon Marino, Boxing.com
Pacquiao by decision. He won the first fight, no reason to think he won't win the second one as well, especially since he’ll be coming in hungry to right the past. -- Rachel McCarson, Boxing Photographer
Not only am I not picking a winner for Pacquiao-Bradley II, I won't be watching. The day after the first fight I wrote that "anyone who buys the sequel is in some way endorsing the decision in the first fight", and that is how I feel about it. In the summer of 2012 we were robbed - you, me, every other boxing fan, Pacquiao, and not least of all Bradley, who supposedly came close to retiring in the wake of the hatred that enveloped him in the wake of that first ridiculous decision. Who robbed us? Some s------d that was after our money or two idiots that don't understand boxing. Doesn't matter. Pacquiao outclassed Bradley last time around, and the only reason there is a rematch is because of those idiots - or those criminals. My prediction is losers all round - the writers that cover it like it is a real fight, the fans that buy tickets, the fighters that got duped the first time around. Bob Arum will win though. Unlike other picks, this one is inarguably correct, and unaffected by the outcome. -- Matt McGrain, Boxing.com
Timothy Bradley Jr. is a dangerous fighter. He’s highly skilled, determined and feels like he has something to prove. That’s a dangerous mix, especially against an opponent who has been half in and half out of boxing for the past several years. In this fight, you can expect a lot of close, competitive rounds. But when the judges award them to Bradley, this time, he’ll have earned them. He’s just more intense and more desperate to prove himself than Pacquiao. Bradley “avenges” his win in the first fight with a close unanimous decision. -- Kevin McRae, BleacherReport.com
Many observors are picking Pacquiao, and understandably so. He's come back well after the sickening knockout loss to Marquez, as he looked fairly decent against Rios last November. Personally, I thought Manny would've been damaged goods after Marquez planted that bomb on his chin, but he's proved me wrong so far. But let's see what happens when he's hit regularly with full blooded punches and is truly tested. Bradley doesn't need to fully commit himself - yes, I'm talking about being pretty aggressive - to win via knockout or on points. He should hang back a little bit behind the jab while using his speed and movement, occasionally stepping in with countering power punches, then swiftly departing - Marquez style. To sum that up in a simple format: Boxing combined with sporadic attacks, making himself multi-dimensional. He's got the speed, timing, athleticism and style to accomplish such a strategy. However, he's got to adjust to what Manny does as the fight progresses. Another thing he needs to do is match, or surpass, Manny for workrate to hang in there when it comes to convincing the judges. Crucial. When Manny is in the mood and firing on all cylinders, he's no joke. Although not with concrete conviction, I'll go for Bradley on points. --fighterwriter Robbi Paterson
A lot has happened since Pacquiao and Bradley first met in the ring. The Bradley vs. Provodnikov fight is one of the most memorable I’ve seen. I remember where I was, who I was with, and thinking, "HOLY COW." Although Tim took quite a beating, he served one greater. I think he will do the same with Manny. This is Tim's chance to shut people up for all the detestation after their first fight, and I think he will take full advantage of it. In other circumstances, the idea of having to avenge a win doesn't make sense, but here it does. Hopefully this will be the final statement to bring Tim the respect he deserves. Of the Bradley fight, JMM said, "...you don't have to knock a guy out to win." But with Tim Bradley, maybe you do. That is something I don't see happening. It will be a battle, and I can't wait to see it. Bradley SD -- Stephanie Trapp, Trappfotos.com
Pacman moved up to a weight class where within the past 2 years, he has not been able to knock out an opponent. Timmy is younger, and very strong-willed. Two hungry fighters, I do not see a knockout... But I see a close decision for Timothy Bradley. Unless of course that one lucky punch comes. -- boxer Kaliesha West, former world champion
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV