There is a prevalent thought that when Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley step into the ring on April 12 in Las Vegas for a fateful rematch that it will be one of the top fights of the year.
Hold off on that, alright?
Let's get through the fight before we start dishing out labels based solely on recognizable names and a decent storyline.
"Decent" may end up being the best word to describe the fight.
We're talking about a 35-year-old Pacquiao, who looked nothing like his dominant self of old in the first bout against Bradley, which ended in a very controversial manner.
He probably should have won that fight anyway, but he then went out and got dropped by Juan Manuel Marquez—after beating JMM in their previous three encounters. After that, Pacquiao eeked out a win over Brandon Rios, an easy opponent despite most labeling him as "dangerous" thanks to his hit power (Rios was as dangerous as Canelo Alvarez was for Floyd Mayweather—not at all).
Now take the time to remember that Bradley was on two bum feet by the fourth round of their first fight, as he detailed in a blog post at ESPN:
The first fight, I injured my foot in the second round and by the fourth round my ankle on my other foot was also messed up. The second half of the fight, I was coming on strong with two bad feet.
I didn't have the movement that I normally have, and I was outworking him. I was fighting all three minutes of every round and not just the last thirty seconds of every round.
Take the words with a grain of salt considering they are straight from Bradley's mouth, but it all adds up to an alarming trend—Pacquiao is aging like any other human being and may be in for a rough night against Bradley.
Before the Pacquiao faithful skip the rest and hit the comments section in droves, this is not to suggest the fight will be a major letdown solely because of Pac Man. The inverse is also very much a possibility.
Bradley scored what many consider to be a fluky win over Pacquiao and went on to take down Ruslan Provodnikov, but was badly beaten in the first two rounds and knocked down in the last 15 seconds of the bout. Provodnikov had even jumped a weight class and almost pulled off the victory.
Seemingly in an effort to silence his critics, Bradley then went out and won a bout against Marquez via split decision. That too was controversial and makes it three straight fights the American has been in involved in a questionable decision.
In other words, either fighter could enter the ring on April 12 and simply get annihilated. Even if the two put on a great show, there are too many quality fights scheduled for the 2014 calendar year to think that Bradley-Pacquiao can match the hype.
Legend Bernard Hopkins dances with Beibut Shumenov this year in a unification fight. Carl Froch and George Groves will meet at Wrigley Field later in the year. Miguel Cotto is on his comeback tour and has a shot at Sergio Martinez. Marquez will be back on action against Mike Alvarado.
Oh, and a guy named Floyd Mayweather has a bout lined up with Marcos Maidana.
Odds are against Bradley-Pacquiao beating out more than a few of those fights in both entertainment value and competitiveness. Remember, hype and even pay-per-view buys don't mean fans will be treated to a top-tier fight.
In this case, approach with caution. There are too many red flags surrounding the bout to comfortably say a widely disputed champion and aging legend will put on a show to remember. Besides, don't forget that the end result will once again be left in the hands of a third party who got it wrong last time around.
2014 has plenty of quality fights in store, but Bradley-Pacquiao won't be one of them.
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