The day Manny Pacquiao decides to retire from boxing, he will walk into the Hall of Fame with a spot next to the greats of all time. He's been one of the most important figures in the sport, especially in this era where only the biggest of stars gets any mainstream attention.
However, since we know Pac-Man isn't walking away right now, the emphasis on his rematch with Timothy Bradley is too great to put into words.
Pacquiao is at a crossroads right now, with no clear destination in sight. He's entering this bout coming off two losses, albeit one under very controversial circumstances, to Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez and a dominant victory against a lackluster opponent (Brandon Rios).
After Marquez knocked Pac-Man into another dimension, The Destroyer had to get his swagger back, so you can justify the fight with Rios that way.
But getting back into the ring with the man who, justly or not, ended Pacquiao's seven-year undefeated streak and avenging the most devastating loss of his career could reignite the spark that was once so obvious when watching the 35-year-old step in the ring.
Pacquiao has been blogging his thoughts leading up to the fight for HBO Boxing, via the Los Angeles Times, seeming unconcerned about what happened in the original contest with Bradley and everything that's come since:
It never felt like a loss to me and no one treated me any differently. I was treated as the winner. I just moved forward and began training for my next fight, which was against Juan Manuel Márquez.
There is something different in this training camp. There are a lot of people who doubt I can fight the same way I fought when I knocked out Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera.
That seems to dismiss Bradley as an opponent and champion, though Pacquiao later tries to make up for it by saying he needs to "outbox and outspeed" the champion to win this fight.
It's no secret that Pacquiao, in theory, won the first fight with Bradley. He landed 94 more punches (253-159) and 82 more power punches (190-108) over the course of 12 rounds.
Yet as much as Pac-Man can protest that he didn't take the sting of losing with him, and as much as the audience watching defended him following that performance, you could tell that something was different.
Even though Pacquiao did look good before getting dropped by Marquez, having Dinamita on the ropes in the fifth and sixth rounds, he was more tentative than usual in the early rounds, seemingly fighting his own neuroses before deciding whether or not to engage.
Revenge and avenging a loss are two things that get talked about a lot in sports, though most of the time it is just to hype an event. For Pacquiao, especially in this fight with Bradley, it's as applicable as it's ever been.
There's a sector of the boxing population, like Doug Fischer of Ring Magazine, who don't think that Pacquiao is in the elite class of fighters anymore:
The soon-to-be 35-year-old veteran moved well against Rios. He put his punches together well from the fifth round on. However, the speed and intensity he had against Marquez just last December was not there.
And even though he was able to hit Rios at will down the stretch of the fight, he never appeared to step on the gas and pursue the stoppage.
Going up against an undefeated fighter like Bradley, who is currently ranked as the No. 2 welterweight in the world behind Floyd Mayweather, is the spark Pacquiao needs to get his boxing career back on track.
A victory, especially a knockout, would alleviate any fears that Pacquiao has lost a step or is too busy pursuing outside ventures that it's taken a toll on his boxing career. He's got the ability to be one of the best fighters, now it's all on him to show the desire is still there.
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