Timothy Bradley's nickname is "Desert Storm," but he could also go by Rodney Dangerfield. No matter what he accomplishes, the 30-year-old WBO welterweight champion doesn't get the respect he deserves.
Heading into his much-anticipated rematch with Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao on April 12, Bradley is again the underdog. Pacquiao is listed as a minus-230 favorite, per Bovada, despite the fact that Bradley won a split decision over Pacquiao in their first meeting in June 2012.
The first fight featured a ton of controversy, as most people believed Pacquiao deserved to win.
Even if one believes the judges robbed Pacquiao of a victory nearly two years ago, calling Bradley a sizable underdog is a bit odd considering what has transpired in both fighters' careers since.
Pacquiao was viciously knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in his next bout in December 2012. In more than 30 years of watching boxing, it was one of the scariest knockouts I've ever seen.
There were serious concerns about whether Pacquiao would return to boxing, and if he did, no one knew—or still knows—if he'd ever be the same.
Pacquiao did return to the ring. He easily outpointed Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios in November 2013. It was a partially impressive win, but astute boxing fans will curtail their chants of "Pac-Man is back."
Rios was selected to be Pacquiao's return opponent because he didn't possess any real speed or impressive boxing skills. Translation: He was a punching bag who was propped up to make Pacquiao look good and marketable again.
As slick as Manny looked in the bout, he couldn't stop Rios. This brings up the question: Has Pacquiao lost the KO power that once made him so feared?
He hasn't stopped an opponent since he TKO'd Miguel Cotto in 2009. Without the devastating punching power, is he still the same fighter?
Meanwhile, all Bradley has been doing is winning.
Like it or not, the official decision against Pacquiao goes down as a win in the record books. Bradley followed that up with a gritty decision victory over Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013. Bradley didn't fight intelligently in that fight, but he still gutted out the victory over the tough Siberian.
In Bradley's next fight, he outboxed Pacquiao's old nemesis Marquez in October 2013. Even after taming the dragon that burned Pacquiao, Bradley still isn't seeing the love.
Despite the lack of recognition, his confidence looks to be at an all-time high. But he still yearns for the respect of the boxing community.
Per Leighton Ginn of The Desert Sun, Bradley said this about his first win over Pacquiao: "I got the win, but it felt like I lost because I didn't get any credit from the fans. It's very important to get the credit from the fans."
In the rematch, a motivated Bradley will be looking to come away with a clean win.
What often goes unnoticed about Bradley is how sharp of a boxer he is. He's fast, accurate and solid defensively when he has his head on straight.
Because of his skill and the uncertainty that still surrounds Pacquiao, this isn't a great matchup for the Filipino star.
Former HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant said the same thing when speaking to Chris Robinson of Hustle Boss:
Larry Merchant says Tim Bradley is a difficult fight for Pacquiao at this stage of Manny's career: http://t.co/ubRVdN5O09 via— Chris Robinson (@CRHarmony) March 24, 2014
Bradley will be in peak condition and won't be afraid of Pacquiao. He knows what to expect, and quite honestly, Pacquiao doesn't hit as hard as Provodnikov at this point in his career.
Desert Storm will use his boxing skills and in-ring IQ to outpoint Pacquiao and earn an undisputed decision victory.
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