Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley will collide for a second time. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Timothy Bradley on June 9, 2012 ended Manny Pacquiao’s seven-year unbeaten run by taking a controversial split decision over the popular Filipino. Afterward, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum voiced his displeasure with the ruling: “I’ve never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I’ve been tonight.”
While two ringside judges’ scorecards favored Bradley, the overwhelming majority of media scores saw the bout for Pacquiao, many with 117-111 tallies -- hardly the mark of a nail-biter. Final ringside statistics had Pacquiao out-landing Bradley 253 punches to 149, and Compubox had Pacquiao landing more punches in all but two of the bout’s 12 rounds.
Pacquiao and Bradley will meet again on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight is live on pay-per-view beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. Here is a look at their rematch:
WBO Welterweight ChampionshipManny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) vs. Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs)
The Matchup: For some mixed martial arts fans, shady results such as those that were present in the first Pacquiao-Bradley bout are why they choose not to follow boxing on a regular basis. Of course, one does not have to search for too long before running across a laundry list of disputed decisions in MMA, either. Nonetheless, Pacquiao-Bradley 2 should not be a difficult sell for any combat sports aficionado. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is holding an under-the-radar UFC Fight Pass event headlined by Roy Nelson and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on Friday, which means there should not be any conflict of interest for the fans of both sports.
Why watch? Not only is Pacquiao the type of big-ticket draw that MMA needs more of, but seeing him attempt to avenge a contentious defeat should make for great theater. In addition, if Pacquiao can put together a few more wins, it keeps alive the faint hopes of a dream showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Super fights, whether in boxing or MMA, never fail to inspire passion; and for Bradley, who has been known to train with UFC featherweight contender Cub Swanson, the rematch represents a chance to prove he was not merely gifted a decision the first time around.
If there was one complaint about Pacquiao’s performance in 2012, it is that he seemed a little too content to coast in the second half of the fight. The first six rounds were right up his alley, as he brawled with Bradley and beat his opponent to the punch on a consistent basis. However, the final six frames saw Bradley utilize more movement and counter punching, and while it did not appear that he was able to hurt Pacquiao, it was apparently enough to earn the nod from two judges.
The nature of that defeat should provide Pacquiao with the incentive to fight with a greater sense of urgency in the rematch. With that in mind, expect him to push the pace throughout the bout while attempting to land a greater volume of strikes than the first time around. Freddie Roach has gone so far as to say that Pacquiao needs to win all 12 rounds to get the nod from the judges. After the previous decision, it is hard to argue with the logic of the highly respected trainer.
As for Bradley, he needs to attempt to re-create what he did in the later portion of the first fight -- only better. If he can use the ring well and keep Pacquiao guessing with a technical approach, then he has at least a decent chance of pulling off another upset. Pacquiao has not struggled often during his illustrious career -- and it did not appear that he did against Bradley -- but when he has it has occurred against foes unwilling to brawl with him.
The Pick: Pacquiao will be too motivated to let history repeat itself, and do not think that those judging ringside are not aware of the scrutiny they will be facing. Even if Pacquiao does not surpass his output from the first bout, a solid effort should get him the nod. Pacquiao wins by decision.