5 Reasons Why Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley II Is Suddenly a Must-See Fight

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2013

5 Reasons Why Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley II Is Suddenly a Must-See Fight

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    When the scorecards were read last June 9, announcing Timothy Bradley as the winner of his bout with WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, the reactions ran the gamut from surprise to outrage.

    Sports personalities from boxing and many other sports immediately hit the social media universe to express their displeasure, with some declaring the judges incompetent and others even questioning whether the fight was rigged.

    In the immediate aftermath, the calls for a rematch were muted by the public's displeasure over the outcome, and both Pacquiao and Bradley went their separate ways. 

    Pacquiao, who had a much harder time of the two, was stopped in the sixth round by his long-time rival Juan Manuel Marquez, while Bradley won a war over Ruslan Provodnikov in March to defend the belt he won from Pacquiao.

    If a rematch between the two fighters wasn't compelling before, it certainly is now given what has transpired since.

    And it's a fight that most boxing fans would likely embrace at this stage. And here are the five reasons why Bradley vs. Pacquiao II is suddenly a must-see fight.

Will Manny Pacquiao Ever Be the Same Fighter?

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    Even before he was knocked unconscious by a Juan Manuel Marquez right hand, there were signs of slippage in Manny Pacquiao's game. 

    In his most recent fights, he seemed to lack the characteristic aggression and activity that had been the hallmark of his buzzsaw-like rise to the top of the sport.

    It appeared that he was on his way to channeling the "Old Manny" in the final rounds of his fourth fight with Marquez before eating that laser-guided missile of a punch that knocked him unconscious, caused a concussion and shocked the world of sports.

    The question now becomes whether he will ever be the same fighter. A punch like that is enough to ruin a career, and many a fighter have never come back from it once it happens. Just ask Roy Jones Jr.

    Timothy Bradley may not have the punching power to cause a repeat, but it could make Manny Pacquiao gun-shy enough to allow him openings in the fight he didn't have in the first one.

Closure

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    The pure shock of Michael Buffer announcing the words "split decision" was enough to cause a sick feeling in the pit of most fans stomachs. And then there were the scores themselves, which gave Timothy Bradley a ludicrous decision victory and the WBO welterweight title.

    Now, say what you will about Bradley. He's tough and hard-nosed, and while he clearly did not win the fight, he was not outclassed either.

    He was difficult to hit and was competitive in most rounds despite fighting with two leg injuries that significantly hindered his movement.

    And while the court of public opinion holds a great deal of sway and Manny Pacquiao is the legitimate winner in most eyes, the official records still says Bradley won that fight. And in terms of legacy that still matters.

    Both fighters need this bout. Pacquiao to settle the score.

    And Bradley to prove he really can beat Manny Pacquiao.

Timing Is Everything

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    If you had tried to sell this fight to the public back in June—which, believe me, they did—there would've been absolutely no market for it.

    The public who shelled out upwards of 60 bucks to see their first fight rightfully felt shammed, bamboozled, flat-out screwed by the result.

    Putting it simply, there was absolutely nobody willing to shell out money a second time to see a fight that seemed so one-sided the first time.

    But suddenly that is no longer the case. Suddenly there is drama.

    Timothy Bradley sure didn't erase the stigma of getting a win he didn't deserve, but by engaging in a war with Ruslan Provodnikov, he surely earned some new fans.

    He showed determination, heart and will to fight well outside his comfort zone and win a tough fight. With that win, and Pacquiao's recent defeat, many boxing fans will likely be more willing to give Bradley a chance at the upset and shell out the money to see it.

Does Pacquiao Have Any Other Options?

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    Short of a fifth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez, which his rival has been skeptical of accepting, what other realistic options are out there for Manny Pacquiao's next fight?

    Brandon Rios was mentioned as a possible suitor, but his defeat last weekend at the hands of Mike Alvarado has seemingly put the quash on that match. 

    There are few other opponents that make both financial sense and that the public will accept. A Floyd Mayweather fight remains a pipe dream, Marquez has been reluctant to agree to another fight, and other potential top opponents are under contract with Golden Boy Promotions and thus off limits.

    That leaves Bradley as the best, most attractive non-Marquez option.

Timothy Bradley Has Earned It

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    This may seem like a controversial opinion. But Timothy Bradley took far too much flak for his victory over Manny Pacquiao last June.

    He clearly lost and got a win he didn't deserve. That much is certainly true.

    But he is just a fighter and had nothing to do with the scoring or the aftermath, where many fans and pundits were critical of him to the point of seemingly holding him personally responsible. 

    And don't forget he was competitive against Manny Pacquiao despite facing him on two bad legs for much of the fight.

    Instead of being able to cash in on what was clearly the greatest victory of his career, he was forced to take significant criticism and did not return to the ring for nine months.

    Not exactly much of a way to build a profile. But lost in all the hoopla is the fact that Timothy Bradley is a world-class fighter, top 10 pound-for-pound and a very legitimate threat to everyone in the welterweight division. 

    "Desert Storm" is one of the best fighters in the world, and he's earned a chance to prove it on two healthy legs.