Manny Pacquiao will have a chance to avenge his controversial loss to Timothy Bradley in the ring, but there is much more than simple revenge hanging in the balance for this bout.
Pacquiao needs to win in order to maintain his spot among boxing’s best current fighters in the eyes of both fans and promoters. No pressure or anything.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley Essentials
Where: MGM Grand in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, April 12; card begins at 9 p.m. ET
TV: HBO pay-per-view
The 55-5-2 Pacquiao fell to the undefeated Bradley (31-0) in a lengthy and back-and-forth showdown in the initial meeting by split decision. Bradley earned the WBO welterweight title in the process, but the split decision left many in the boxing community questioning the final outcome.
However, there was no doubt who won when Pacquiao was knocked out in dramatic fashion by Juan Manuel Marquez in his next fight. Sure, Pacman dominated Brandon Rios in a 12-round bout after taking nearly a year off after the knockout, but the image of the southpaw sprawled out on the floor of the ring after the Marquez loss still sticks in the minds of many fans.
If Pacquiao loses to Bradley, it will mark three losses in four tries for the Filipino.
He would be looking up at Bradley (who would have two wins over Pacquiao in this situation) and Marquez in the boxing pecking order in this hypothetical. Fair or not, Pacquiao would also be behind Floyd Mayweather as well, even though the two superstars have never fought.
Bradley has dominated since beating Pacman with wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Marquez. Marquez, of course, has the knockout win against Pacquiao, and Mayweather is the king of the sport until someone finally knocks him off.
Adding fuel to the narrative, Tim Smith of Give Me Sport points out that Pacquiao hasn’t knocked an opponent out in quite some time:
"Pacquiao hasn’t knocked out an opponent since he stopped Miguel Cotto in 2009. That is a drought that has stretched through seven fights and included matches against the likes of Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez (twice) and Antonio Margarito."
However, Pacquiao is looking to silence any lingering doubts about whether he still holds a killer instinct and the ability to knock out an opponent, via Smith:
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. He has inspired me to exceed my previous performances inside the ring. If Bradley wants to meet the fighter who stopped Oscar De la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, he's going to get his wish on April 12.
A knockout isn’t necessary for Pacquiao to remain among boxing’s best, but he can’t afford another loss. Any fleeting chance that the Filipino will finally have a shot against Mayweather would disappear, and he would probably be on the way toward retirement sooner rather than later.
Looking ahead, Pacman will have to deal with Bradley’s impressive reach if he hopes to avoid this negative hypothetical.
What’s more, Bradley will almost assuredly be fighting with a chip on his shoulder because so many view his previous win over Pacquiao with an asterisk. That means the southpaw will have a motivated and talented fighter facing him from the opposite side of the ring.
Fortunately for fans, Steve Kim of maxboxing.com points out that Pacquiao appears ready:
Manny Pacquiao working the heavy bag is one of the most impressive things Ive seen in the gym, the blend of speed and power #boxing— Steve Kim (@stevemaxboxing) April 5, 2014
He better bring that combination of power and speed to the ring in Vegas on Saturday if he hopes to remain among the best that boxing currently has to offer.
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