Manny Pacquiao Fight: Pac-Man Will Get Revenge in Rematch with Timothy Bradley

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IApril 12, 2014

Boxer Manny Pacquiao, of the Phillipines, left, poses for a photo with current WBO World Welterweight champion Timothy Bradley of Indio, Calif., during a press conference Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in New York. The pair will face off in a title fight in Las Vegas, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens

At 35 and with over 60 professional fights on his resume, Manny Pacquiao does not have many dominating performances left under his belt. He's got at least one left in the tank, however, and he will author that on April 12 when he faces Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) for the WBO Welterweight Championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Motivation will not be an issue in this fight for Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 knockouts). At the forefront is the revenge factor. Pacquiao and Bradley met a little less than two years ago.

Pacquiao entered the ring on that night widely considered either the best or second-best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

Pacquaio dominated the early stages of the fight, but he couldn't finish it as he had so many fights in the past. That was not overly shocking. It was part of the trend of Pacquiao's career. The Filipino legend hasn't had won a fight before it went the distance since stopping Miguel Cotto in late 2009. 

This allowed Bradley to pick up a little momentum. By almost all accounts, Pacquiao was still the rightful winner of the bout, but a controversial decision handed the victory and belt to Bradley. 

So, Pacquiao will have this injustice helping motivate him through his training, but there's more adding urgency to this effort from Pacquiao. The 35-year-old has to resurrect his career. 

To be clear, Pacquiao remains one of the sport's biggest draws, but that standing is shaky. Following his loss to Bradley, Pac-Man was sent to the canvas in devastating fashion by Juan Manuel Marquez. 

He took on Brandon Rios in his next fight and returned to his winning ways, but it was a fairly boring fight. 

Bradley actually summed up Pacquiao's performance well in this quote provided by Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole

Manny didn't look the same against Rios. He didn't have his usual killer instinct. That's the first thing I noticed. I don't think he has the hunger anymore and it's never coming back. He no longer has his killer instinct. 

Pacquiao's lack of killer instinct was wildly apparent. This is a fighter who used to ferociously hunt for the knockout but appeared all too content to settle for the decision.

Veteran boxing commentator Larry Merchant, via The Ring's Lem Satterfield, offered up a wise take on Pacquiao's performance: 

In that fight, against Rios, he fought just as a boxer. But he's not going to be able to beat Bradley just as a boxer.

The question is whether he can make as big a change in doing that as he would have to to beat Bradley. The question for Manny is whether he will have the ability and the fire to force a fight, and to return a little bit to his previous incarnations.

Merchant nailed the key to Pacquiao's success against Bradley. He can't try and outbox Bradley as he did Rios. He has to get Bradley on his heels and dictate the action. 

When Pacquiao was knocked cold by Marquez, he actually looked fantastic leading up to that moment. He was fighting with urgency and landed plenty of big blows. If Marquez wasn't full of legendary resolve, he would have been knocked out of that fight. 

Instead, Marquez was still standing and able to land one of the biggest counterpunches anyone has ever seen. That's what Marquez does, however, and that's what has made his rivalry with Marquez so fantastic. 

It is the classic matchup of the puncher and the counterpuncher. 

There is a good chance that knockout was in Pacquiao's mind when he entered the ring against Rios. That would explain why Pacquiao was content to win on points rather than go for the monster shot that would also leave him vulnerable. 

As Merchant points out, however, that won't work against Bradley. Desert Storm is too smart a fighter. 

Bradley showed his ability to outbox elite opponents when he beat Marquez in a split decision in his last fight. Marquez was not able to exploit Bradley with counterpunches because Bradley was tactical in the punches he threw. 

Against heavy-handed Ruslan Provodnikov, his fight following his win over Pacquiao, Bradley showed a new willingness to slug it out. He won by a close unanimous decision, but it was a brutal fight. 

That showing was likely Bradley's answer to critics who said he was too quick to run from Pacquiao's power. 

To really answer those critics, however, and take his popularity to another level, the 30-year-old will have to show everyone he isn't afraid to mix it up with Pacquiao.

This will play right into Pacquiao's fists.  

Satterfield passed along that Pac-Man is determined to have his "killer instinct" back for this fight, and if he wants to preserve his elite earning power, he would be wise to follow through with that. 

Pacquiao is going to be motivated to bring the action to Bradley to not only atone for controversial loss to Bradley, but to shut Bradley and everyone else up who doubt Pac-Man's drive to dominate opponents. 

This is going to lead to Pacquiao flashing his rare combination of speed and power in a victory over Bradley that doesn't last the distance.