When Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2) squares off against Timothy Bradley (31–0, 1 NC) in a rematch for the WBO Welterweight Championship on Saturday, April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the excitement will be through the roof for this main event.
Pacquiao is one of the biggest stars in the history of boxing, but two losses in his last three fights—including one defeat at the hands of Bradley—has him looking to continue his ascension back to the top of the sport.
As the huge fight approaches, here are the major storylines heading into Pacquiao vs. Bradley.
On June 9, 2012, Pacquiao stepped into the ring against Bradley with the intention of beating the challenger and moving on to bigger and better things. While he undoubtedly got complacent, the controversial decision victory for Bradley stunned the boxing world.
Few in or around the sport of boxing thought Bradley did enough to take the WBO welterweight title, although the fight was much closer than it should have been. Pac-Man went on to get knocked out in his very next fight, but the start of his failure was due to Bradley.
Saturday’s main event will be the revenge Pacquiao has been waiting for. While fighting for vengeance and looking for a knockout will be enticing, Pac-Man told Doug Fischer of The Ring about the way he is approaching this marquee main event:
We feel we got robbed in the last fight and we want to make it right, but I’m not thinking about the knockout. My focus is to throw more punches and to be more aggressive. If the knockout comes, it comes. Knockouts are a bonus from working hard.
Pacquiao can play coy all he’d like, but after watching two of the judges in the first fight score it 115–113 for Bradley and the other 115–113 for him, there is no doubt that he will be thinking about ending this bout early.
Leaving the fight in the hands of the judges is a mistake he made the first time, and it cost him serious momentum in his career. Pac-Man isn’t going to make the same mistake again.
Avenging the Loss
As if the loss to Bradley wasn’t enough to derail his momentum and the dreams of boxing fans that we would ever get the battle between Pacquiao and undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather, Pac-Man was unable to refocus in time and was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in his very next fight.
While Marquez is a talented fighter that has built a legendary career, Pacquiao should have destroyed him and continued his climb to the top of the sport. Instead, he was utterly embarrassed and forced to take his next fight against Brandon Rios.
Rios is a good fighter, but he isn’t on Pac-Man’s level. As boxing insider Steve Kim described, Pacquiao is a fighter who is much more focused on his goals:
Boxing Asylum’s Tommy Allan talked about the cold exchange between the men during the face off:
Bradley is a much better fighter than he was two years ago and has used the victory to catapult his own career. Another win against Pac-Man would make him one of the top stars and a great potential matchup with Mayweather next.
On the other hand, Pacquiao will be looking to avenge his previous loss to Bradley and put in a bid to be the next challenger against Mayweather and his undefeated streak.
Floyd Mayweather on the Horizon
Both men are fighting for pride and a huge pay day, but the real prize coming out of this fight could be a dream matchup against Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather claims that he has only a few fights left, and taking on the winner of this bout would be the biggest bout possible.
Bradley is also undefeated and a bout between the two men could be billed as perfection versus perfection, but it wouldn’t have the same allure as a potential fight against Pacquiao. For years, boxing fans have been clamoring for a dream fight between Pac-Man and Mayweather, but issues between the men have kept them apart.
With both men at different points in their careers and looking to prove their worth after all these years of abuse, the best possible outcome would be Pacquiao beating Bradley to avenge his loss and setting up a megafight with Mayweather.
While it wouldn’t have the same aura Pac-Man vs. Mayweather would’ve had in 2008, it’s still the biggest fight imaginable and a guaranteed PPV machine.