The rematch almost two years in the making finally takes place on Saturday, April 12 when Manny Pacquiao looks to regain the WBO Welterweight Championship and avenge his controversial loss against Timothy Bradley.
Both fighters enter this bout coming off impressive victories, though Bradley's win over Juan Manuel Marquez certainly holds more weight than Pacquiao's unanimous decision over Brandon Rios.
Regardless of what has happened in the recent past, all the focus in this fight will center on whether Bradley can prove his victory over Pacquiao wasn't just a mental lapse by the judges and how much Pacquiao has left in the tank at the age of 35.
Here's a look at the entire fight card, complete with predictions and analysis leading up to the big event.
|Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2 Fight Card|
|Division||Fighter 1||Fighter 2|
|WBO Welterweight Title||Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KO) (c)||Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KO)|
|WBA Junior Welerweight Title||Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0, 9 KO) (c)||Jessie Vargas (23-0, 9 KO)|
|Lightweight||Rocky Martinez (27-2-2, 16 KO)||Raymundo Beltran (28-6-1, 17 KO)|
|Super Featherweight||Bryan Vasquez (32-1, 17 KO)||Jose Felix, Jr. (26-0-1, 21 KO)|
Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao
This rematch is so intriguing because of what we don't know about these fighters. Manny Pacquiao's legacy and reputation are obviously sterling. He's going to go down as one of the greatest fighters ever when he decides to call it a career.
But there is the lingering question of how long Pacquiao wants to keep fighting and how invested he is in boxing with so much going on outside the sport. There is also the matter of trying to avenge a loss that most people feel should have been a win.
Despite the desire to prove doubters wrong, Pacquiao told Doug Fischer of Ring Magazine that forcing a knockout to avoid the judges isn't on his mind.
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.
On the other side, Bradley has plenty of his own to prove. He took backlash because of the victory over Pacquiao, even telling Chris Mannix of SI.com prior to fighting Marquez that the Pac-Man win actually hurt him personally and professionally.
Look, my life and career went down the drain after the first Pacquiao fight. I didn't want to revisit that dark cloud just yet. I wanted to fight a legend in Juan Manuel Marquez. I wanted to beat the guy who beat Pacquiao.
Bradley's not mincing words anymore, with David Kano of the Hollywood MMA Show quoting the WBO welterweight champion as questioning the fire Pacquiao has for boxing.
Timothy Bradley: "Manny Pacquiao's lost his fire for boxing. He's too nice."— David Kano (@TheDKano) April 3, 2014
Whatever motivation these fighters need, it's going to be heated and personal once they step in the ring.
All things being equal, Pacquiao should win. He landed 94 more punches, including 82 more power punches, than Desert Storm in the first fight.
Pac-Man hasn't been as dominant in his last two fights as we are accustomed to seeing, but he's still got more raw talent than Bradley and should avenge that loss from 22 months ago.
Winner: Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision
Khabib Allakhverdiev vs. Jessie Vargas
Jessie Vargas is at a crossroads in his career, despite being just 24 years old. He's got a perfect record and has an impressive win over Josesito Lopez on the resume, but that was all the way back in 2011.
On the other side, Khabib Allakhverdiev, 31, has been rather steady throughout his career. He's really turned into a finisher with three of his last four bouts ending via knockout or technical knockout.
It will take an overwhelming barrage for Allakhverdiev to continue that streak against a good defensive fighter in Vargas, but the champion should have no problems retaining the crown thanks to an aggressive style and southpaw power.
Winner: Khabib Allakhverdiev by split decision
Rocky Martinez vs. Raymundo Beltran
Raymundo Beltran will be out for blood in this fight after getting screwed by the judges in his last bout against Ricky Burns, which was inexplicably scored a draw.
Gareth Davies of the Daily Telegraph called that decision "incompetence" by the judges and said Beltran's victory was "as clear as a baby’s teardrop."
Whatever mindset Beltran brings into this bout, Rocky Martinez will have work cut out for him. The 30-year-old is coming off of a knockout loss against Mikey Garcia last November.
Both fighters are evenly matched physically, with Beltran having a one-inch advantage in reach, so it's going to come down to who blinks first. Martinez's power is slightly better, though Beltran is a more disciplined fighter.
In a contest this close, go with the better all-around fighter.
Winner: Raymundo Beltran by unanimous decision
Bryan Vasquez vs. Jose Felix Jr.
This is a contest with an established fighter hoping to catch the young upstart off guard, as Bryan Vasquez brings his three-fight winning streak into the ring against top prospect Jose Felix Jr.
Despite Vasquez's experience and championship pedigree, whatever that's worth in this era of boxing, he's never done anything to climb above opening fighter on a pay-per-view show. There's some knockout power and good footwork in his body but nothing special.
On the other side, Felix can climb as high as he wants to. He's just 21 years old, has huge power with 21 knockouts in 27 career fights and hasn't needed more than three rounds in his previous three fights.
A big reason for Felix's success is his long reach. Despite a 5'8" frame, the young Mexican has a 70.5-inch reach that makes him so hard for opponents to get near, because if you come close, you're going to get dropped.
This should be a breakout performance for Felix.
Winner: Jose Felix Jr. by TKO
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