This Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao (52-3) will go to war against Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
For Pacquiao, it will be just another championship fight as the eight-division champion looks to cement his legacy as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters the sport has ever seen and erase all doubts that he is still the top fighter in the sport.
For Timothy Bradley (27-0), the fight is a chance to not only earn a huge payday but to prove he is one of the best fighters in the sport. Bradley has gone unrecognized for much of his career despite the fact he sports an undefeated record and currently competes in arguably the most competitive and popular division in boxing.
Both men also realize the prize that lies ahead for the winner. A potential mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather later this year.
Many expect this will be a close and action-packed fight between two of the best fighters in the sport.
I’m not one of them. Here are five reasons Manny Pacquiao will destroy “Desert Storm.”
Timothy Bradley is a tailor-made opponent for Manny Pacquiao.
He’s not too tall, he’s not too long and he’s not too big.
Most importantly, Bradley is a willing participant when it comes time for a toe-to-toe showdown.
The last man to stand toe-to-toe with Pacquiao (other than Juan Manuel Marquez) was Antonio Margarito. His prize for his bravado was a broken orbital bone that nearly ended his career.
Before Margarito, it was Ricky Hatton who dared stand in front of Pacquiao and trade punches. Hatton was knocked out cold in two rounds and hasn’t fought since.
Manny Pacquiao is the best offensive fighter currently in the sport, and if Bradley expects to win or leave Vegas with his head intact with the rest of his body, he might think twice about standing in front of a man who has 38 knockouts in 52 victories.
No one would ever dare accuse Manny Pacquiao of trying to stack a fight in his favor in order to gain a competitive edge over an opponent.
Yet, it seems this is what he’s done to Timothy Bradley.
For all that Bradley’s accomplished in his young career (a light welterweight championship) he has never fought north of 140 pounds.
Oftentimes there is too much made out of fighters' weight, but it must be addressed for this fight. Timothy Bradley has spent his entire 28-fight career at light welterweight. Now not only is he jumping seven pounds to fight for a title, but he’s fighting arguably the greatest fighter in the sport.
How Bradley’s body reacts to this gain in weight will be of huge importance if the fight is fought at a fast pace, as many believe it will. Might Bradley run out of gas from lugging around the extra pounds?
Most importantly, how will his chin stand up to the punches of one of the best knockout artists in the sport?
It would have been wiser for Bradley to test shallower waters at welterweight before diving into the deep end with one of the most dangerous punchers in boxing.
Last November, Manny Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez for the third time.
Pacquiao was expected to walk through the aging Marquez and take another stab at setting up a potential mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather.
However, the fight did not go as planned.
As was the case in their prior two fights, the two men battered each other for 12 rounds, and the judges were given the arduous task of trying to pick a winner. Pacquiao emerged with a majority-decision victory on the judges’ scorecards and with the viewing public.
For the first time in several years, Manny Pacquiao seemed mortal, and while he and trainer Freddy Roach have offered up many excuses as to why the fight went the way it did, there are a number of people who believe Pacquiao might be on the downside of his career.
Timothy Bradley offers Manny Pacquiao a chance at redemption. An impressive win over a younger and game opponent is just what he needs to wash out the sour taste left in his mouth after the Marquez fight.
If Pacquiao is able to add Bradley to his long list of highlight-reel stoppages, all the decline talk will cease and Pacquiao will have all the leverage he needs to negotiate a super-fight with Floyd Mayweather later this year.
The odds of Timothy Bradley out-boxing Manny Pacquiao are very slim.
Unfortunately for Bradley, his chances of knocking out or even seriously hurting Pacquiao are even less.
Manny Pacquiao has been in ring wars with some of the best punchers in recent boxing memory, including Erik Morales (three times), Juan Manuel Marquez (three times), Marco Antonio Barrera (twice), Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley.
Not one of those fighters was able to plant Pacquiao on the canvas. Making matters worse for Bradley, he has a lower knockout percentage than all of the names listed.
Although he is coming off a TKO in his last fight over Joel Casamayor, it was Bradley’s first stoppage since April of 2007, when he TKOd Nasser Athumani. Of his measly 11 stoppages in 28 fights, half came in the first 10 fights of his career.
It seems impossible that Timothy Bradley will be able to mount enough offense to beat Manny Pacquiao, let alone keep the Pac-Man off of him.
Manny Pacquiao is a global icon.
He is a beloved political figure in his native country The Philippines and is debatably the most popular fighter in the sport.
Ranked by many as the best pound-for-pound boxer out there and by a select few as the greatest fighter ever, there aren’t too many hiccups in the life of Manny Pacquiao.
However, there is another boxing star who is equally as talented and is loathed as much as Pacquiao is loved. Floyd Mayweather is the antithesis of Pacquiao in the public's eye but might very well trump him in terms of in-ring talent and pay-per-view drawing power.
A year ago, Pacquiao was being praised as the best fighter out there, and the public was badmouthing Mayweather for not fighting him.
A year later and Mayweather’s popularity has grown and Pacquiao has taken a slight step back. It is never wise to overlook an opponent, especially an undefeated champion with the skill set of Timothy Bradley, but Pacquiao has to be well aware of what is at stake beyond this fight.
Mayweather is spending the summer in jail and won't be stealing any attention, but he will be the hottest topic in boxing the moment he is released.
In order to stake his claim as the other megastar in boxing and not just a close second, Pacquiao must vanquish Bradley in aesthetically pleasing fashion. If he can do that, the power pendulum might very well swing back in his favor, and he will be able to make the case that he deserves an even split of the purse if a fight with Mayweather can be made.