Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2: Desert Storm Needs Victory to Vault into Boxing's Elite

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Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2: Desert Storm Needs Victory to Vault into Boxing's Elite
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Timothy Bradley can make all his critics disappear by defeating Manny Pacquiao in their highly anticipated rematch.

History says Bradley defeated Pacquiao on June 9, 2012, but everyone other than the two judges who ruled in Bradley's favor—and perhaps his family and close friends—know otherwise. 

Pacquiao pummeled his opponent with powerful blows throughout the night. While the final five rounds were closely contested, declaring the defending WBO welterweight champion victorious seemed like a mere formality, until Michael Buffer's announcement sent the MGM Grand Garden Arena into a frenzy.

According to ESPN.com, Bob Arum, the promoter for both fighters, said "I've never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight" in response to the shocking decision.

Heck, you didn't even have to watch the fight to properly identify Pac-Man as the winner. Just look at the stats. Per CompuBox, Pacquiao landed more jabs, power punches and total punches throughout the fight at a higher percentage.

Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao Fight Stats (June, 2012)
Total Punches Jabs Power Punches
Bradley 159/839 (19 %) 51/449 (11%) 108/390 (28%)
Pacquiao 253/751 (34%) 63/258 (24%) 190/493 (39%)

CompuBox

In fact, Bradley didn't connect on more strikes in a single round. The record book declares him the winner, but anyone with common sense and a few minutes to spare on the Internet can decipher otherwise.

So even though Pacquiao must return the favor during Saturday's rematch, it's Bradley entering the second go-around with a chip on his shoulder.

Since the controversial victory, Bradley bested Ruslan Provodnikov in 2013's Fight of the Year and defeated Juan Manuel Marquez, who previously knocked out Pacquiao. He has made it his mission to prove he belongs among boxing's best, a point he can cement with a true win over the Filipino legend. 

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Robert Morales (via the Los Angeles Daily News), "Desert Storm" is hungry to validate his credentials:

Absolutely, I have a lot to prove in this fight. And No. 1 is that the first fight was not a fluke. There were a lot of things that happened in the first fight that weren’t right. This time I will be 100 percent ready. I have gained a lot of experience from my last two fights on HBO and HBO pay-per-view — one in particular, the one against Marquez, who is a great champion and a great fighter. Legendary.

Due to the head-scratching scorecards from C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, Bradley is getting treated like a WWE villain who attacked his opponent with a steel chair while his manager distracted the ref. Yet he merely watched as he was surprisingly awarded the title in Las Vegas.

He discussed the fan resentment created by the decision with B/R's Kevin McRae

“After the controversy they [fans] really hated me. Like I had something to do with it. It ain’t me. I didn’t have anything to do with anything,” Bradley said.

If he can't earn a victory over Pacquiao, it will blemish his record with two losses among those who use the shortcoming to further contest his past win. While the undefeated 30-year-old is still enjoying his prime years, his 35-year-old opponent has lost a step.

If Bradley can't capitalize, he'll no longer get mentioned in the same tier as Pacquiao. That will force him to again prove himself in upcoming matches, creating a never-ending cycle of seeking approval as a top draw.

Bradley has yet to lose a fight, yet he is still not treated as a winner. An uncontested victory over Pacquiao would drastically alter that perception. 

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