Twenty-eight-year-old welterweight Timothy Bradley (29–0, 12 KOs) is a fighter. There absolutely is no doubt in that fact. This man has been on a mission since turning professional back in 2004.
But going even further back than that, the three-time champion has had a chip on his shoulder since childhood. The problem with his chip is that it is bigger than his punch.
All that aside, Bradley is moving into a fight that is a perfect storm. He has an overbearing father who has pushed him his entire life. He has a small stature and had to talk bigger and fight bigger most of his life. This guy feels genuinely disrespected.
Most thought he would not accept a recent invitation to fight Amir Khan because Khan might be too big and strong. But Bradley thought he was worth more than the $1.5 million purse that Khan was willing to give for the fight.
It wasn’t all about money, either; to him, it was about what the boxing world thought of him. He didn’t see himself as a stepping stone for Khan. He was bigger than that.
Enter welterweight phenomenon and congressman from the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao (54–3 (38 KOs), two draws). He is celebrated as one of the best fighters, not just in the world, but ever. He has Greek “god-like” status in his home country. He is thought by many to be the pound-for-pound, best fighter in the world.
Bradley is especially aware of the crown that Pacquiao wears, and he really wants it. He believes that now is the time, and Pacquiao is ripe for the picking. These things combine to make this fight extremely exciting and intriguing, to say the least.
Manny has been here before, but has he really been “here” before? Bradley is a dangerous fighter who is fighting for everything, and when Pacquiao is faced with that reality, he will have to reach very deep and very far to pull this off. And that is exactly what I think he will do.
Every camp for Manny Pacquiao is seemingly full of drama. There are always one or two rifts going on. Freddy Roach usually makes some outrageous statement on the steps of the ring at the Wild Card Gym, and the media jumps on the band wagon, but on fight night Manny always delivers.
In Pacquiao's last toe-to-toe slugfest, he faced a surprisingly bigger, stronger Juan Manuel Marquez for the third time. Some thought Marquez did enough to win the toe-to-toe battle, but the fact of the matter is, Marquez threw and landed fewer power punches and overall punches. That’s a recipe for a loss, unless you drop your opponent at least once.
Whenever Marquez pressed the issue in the previous two fights, he ended up being dropped. In this last battle, he did just enough not to get dropped, but not enough to actually win. Drama or hyperbole, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t seem to be a factor for Pacquiao on fight night.
Bradley is going to have to take a chance on being dropped to even have a shot at putting Pacquiao on the canvas. If he doesn’t take that chance, he has no shot of winning this fight. If he can do what Marquez did, and visibly hurt or drop Pacquiao, he will be holding that belt up again at the end of the fight.
It will not be an easy proposition. Bradley is a beast who comes forward, but he also is open. You cannot come forward ineffectively on a fighter like Pacquiao, because he will make you pay. Miguel Cotto found that out all too often.
My prediction is simple. Manny Pacquiao by knockout.
That may sound ominous for Bradley, but the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t have to end that way. Bradley has the tool box to beat Pacquiao, but will he use the tools needed, or will he allow emotion (as I call it, “The Chip”) to dictate his end?
He has a chance, and his road to victory is paved through the history of Manny’s most difficult battles.
What Bradley needs to do to win this fight.
If you’re taking the Marquez blueprint: You need to finish. Landing nice clean counter punches do not mean enough to the judges scoring a fight, if Pacquiao stalls your exchanges with movement and clean shots of his own.
Finish your counter-punching with a sustained attack that doesn’t give Pacquiao a chance to steal the round. Make him reset his feet and be on the attack after you do the damage.
Set traps. Pacquiao is expecting you to come forward, but turn the tables. Make Manny the aggressor in the middle rounds, and you may just put him on his backside going over his left hand. Marquez did this brilliantly but did not finish the rest. You know what his weapon of choice is; you just have to be in position when he fires that straight left hand.
Box! That’s right: box. Manny is very strong and moves laterally brilliantly, but sometimes he can be awkward due to the amount of punches and the types of combinations he throws. He gets square very often when he is in striking distance. Make his style work against him.
You may not be able to dominate his power, especially with your low KO percentage, but you can pronounce his inconsistencies in footwork, with timing a nice jab and turning him when you get the chance. Devin Alexander is a terrific boxer, and you owned him. Remember that skill and will wins fights.
This fight will be fun and worth the money. Bradley has one shot to win this fight, and that’s by decision. He does not have the power to KO Pacquiao.
He does, however, have the athletic ability and the endurance to push Pacquiao farther than ever before and catch him out of position. Discipline and boxing can win this fight.
Again, I’m picking Pacquiao by KO, because Bradley’s chip is bigger than his punch, but the little man has a boxer's chance to win this fight.