Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley II: Everything You Need to Know
Manny Pacquiao is one of the most accomplished boxers of all time. An eight-division world champion, he's become one of the sport's most enduring stars. Famous across seven continents, he's a bona fide celebrity, a near-deity in his homeland the Philippines and a budding political leader.
There's nothing left for Pacquiao to prove, except, strangely enough, inside the ring where it all started. His rematch with Timothy Bradley on Saturday, and every subsequent fight as well, will be about one thing: whether Manny still has "it."
Age opened the door for doubt. It walked right in when the now-35-year-old fighter was left lying, knocked unconscious by a Juan Manuel Marquez right hand in 2012.
As announcer Roy Jones shouted, "He's not getting up, Jim!" Pacquiao lay face down on the mat for more than two minutes before being revived. He looked like a finished fighter.
Pacquiao attempted to right the ship last year against Brandon Rios, a tailor-made opponent coming off a loss. He was a man selected to be the perfect fall guy, to revive the public's faith in Manny—and perhaps his own, too. Instead, Pacquiao failed to finish Rios, cruising to a unanimous-decision win.
While Pacquiao declared the win meant he had earned his place back among the elite, others weren't so sure.
"Manny didn't look the same against Rios. He didn't have his usual killer instinct. That's the first thing I noticed," Bradley told the press. "I don't think he has the hunger anymore, and it’s never coming back. He no longer has his killer instinct. That’s the first thing I noticed in the Rios fight. Every time he backed Rios into a corner, Manny stepped back instead of going for it. He didn’t even try to put Rios away. That spoke volumes to me."
Statistics support Bradley's point. Pacquiao, in fact, hasn't scored a knockout since a 2009 fight with Miguel Cotto. Bradley's trainer, Joel Diaz, believes that the key to beating Pacquiao is brains, not brawn, telling The Ring Magazine (subscription required):
Tim needs to take more risks and get in there and exchange. Manny, if you make him think, he doesn't know how to fight. But if you just come straight to him, he's going to demolish you...when you make him think, and you've got footwork, he gets lost every time.
Bradley, who won a controversial decision over Pacquiao in June 2012, returns to the scene of the crime at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He'll find a game Manny there, looking to avenge a loss he still doesn't accept.
I won at least 10 rounds against Tim Bradley the first time we fought. I intend to win all the rounds against him this time regardless of the length of the fight. He said I have lost my hunger and that my time is over. Everything I am doing in training camp is aimed at proving to him just how wrong he is. I have all the respect for Bradley and what he has accomplished but I have no fear of him.
Should Pacquiao fear Bradley? Isn't taking him lightly what led to trouble the first time the two met? Let's explore the fight, the athletes and the odds and find out.
Born: Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines
Record: 55-5-2 (38 KO)
Pacquiao, a Filipino legend, is a global superstar. He's done it all in the fight game, becoming one of the sport's most enduring pay-per-view attractions in the process.
But the past is the past, and boxing fans have short memories. Consecutive losses, including a devastating knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, caused many to doubt. Pacquiao, face down on the mat, completely out cold, was an enduring image.
A less-than-inspired win over an outclassed Brandon Rios did little to erase it from anyone's mind and he knows it.
"This time I have to prove I can still give them a good show," Pacquiao told HBO's Max Kellerman. "A hungry Manny Pacquiao. Aggressiveness."
Born: Cathedral City, Calif.
Record: 31-0 (12 KO)
All Tim Bradley does is win. Whether it's an absurdly violent slugfest or a 12-round dance, the end result, for now at least, seems written—Bradley with his hand raised high.
But victory, in his case, has come at a steep price, both physically and psychologically.
It's fair to say that Bradley's June 2012 win over Pacquiao was both the best and worst moment of his career. It was the kind of victory a fighter only dreams about, a dramatic triumph over one of the best and most popular boxers in the world.
That happiness, however, soon soured. Death threats followed, as did thoughts of suicide. All because, to the world at large, Bradley's win was undeserved. Subsequent victories over Ruslan Provodnikov and fellow Pacquiao conqueror Juan Manuel Marquez have further established Bradley as one of the top fighters in the world.
But they've seemingly done little to assuage his anger and resentment. You could practically see him seethe and fume sitting opposite the affable Pacquiao on HBO's Face Off. Bradley, despite being the victor, has plenty to prove in his second go at Pacquiao.
On the surface, the story of this fight is simple. Timothy Bradley became the first man to beat Manny Pacquiao in seven years. This is Pacquiao's chance at revenge.
Of course, real life is never quite so clear cut. As Pacquiao explains, blogging for HBO (h/t Houston Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times), he never felt like a loser in the first fight:
I was over it before I returned to the dressing room. To Freddie Roach and me, and apparently everyone else who watched the fight – except for two – I won the fight. The first thing I said to Freddie when we saw each other in the dressing after the fight was, ‘He [Bradley] ran just like we knew he would.’ We never discussed or debated the decision because it was so obvious that I had won the fight and nearly every round.
Pacquiao is wrong about at least one thing: There were three people who thought he lost the first fight. Two of them, famously, were judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross. The other, of course, is Bradley himself, who remains adamant the fight was rightly decided.
“I scored our fight eight rounds to four in my favor," he told the media at a New York press conference announcing the fight. "No way he won that fight."
Strange as it seems, it's Bradley, the official "winner" of the first bout, who is fighting for redemption. Much maligned after beating the popular Pacquiao, though the judges' scorecards were certainly not within his control, he wants to make sure he leaves no room for doubt this time.
"I need Manny. He needs me," Bradley said. "I'm going to beat him again. I am younger and a better fighter. Manny fights for the money. I have the hunger to win."
The Undercard and Where to Watch
Where to Watch
Promoted by Top Rank in association with MP Promotions and Tecate, Pacquiao vs. Bradley II will take place Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. It will be produced and distributed live by HBO pay-per-view beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
The fight is also available to stream online and on your mobile device at TopRank.tv.
WBA Super Lightweight Championship
Khabib Allakhverdiev 19-0 (9 KO) vs. Jessie Vargas 23-0 (9 KO)
NABO Lightweight Championship
Raymundo Beltran 28-6-1 (17 KO) vs. Rocky Martinez 27-2-2 (16 KO)
WBA Interim Super Featherweight Championship
Bryan Vasquez 32-1 (17 KO) vs. Jose Felix Jr. 26-0-1 (21 KO)
Odds and Prediction
Odds (per Vegas Insider)
According to oddsmakers, this is a close fight. That says plenty about how Pacquiao has declined, at least in the eyes of the experts. It also says a lot about the rise of Timothy Bradley. He's no unknown opponent this time; he's a battle-tested and proven commodity.
There's a lot to consider here. Bradley has emerged from the first fight as a better and more confident fighter, and he has follow-up wins against Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez. Not only does he know that he can take Pacquiao's punches, but he also knows that he will be healthy this time around.
In the first fight, he made the costly decision not to wear socks—an ode to Mike Tyson. After badly injuring his foot, he won't make that mistake again.
Pacquiao's first blunder was a decision to take Bradley lightly. He only fought in spurts, and that ultimately cost him with the judges. Against Rios, he put in a full night's work. If he does that again, he should prove too much for an opponent who can't always have Lady Luck on his side.
Pacquiao wins via decision.