According to most, Manny Pacquiao already handed Timothy Bradley his first defeat. On Saturday, he'll get a chance to make it official.
These two, of course, met two years ago when Pac-Man appeared to teach Desert Storm a lesson on the canvas, but CJ Ross and Duane Ford, who just so happened to be judging the fight, were among the only ones who thought differently, handing Bradley the split-decision victory.
"It's either corruption or incompetence," ESPN's Teddy Atlas claimed at the time, via FightSaga.com's Sam Gregory. "There'll be a rematch. It speaks to the corruption of the sport. The criminals will be rewarded."
It will easily go down as one of the most controversial decisions in the history of the sport, but thankfully, we get a chance to clear things up.
Pacquiao, who went on to get knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez before bouncing back against Brandon Rios, will attempt to prove he still belongs among boxing's elite, while the undefeated Bradley is still just trying to convince onlookers he isn't a fluke.
Here's a look at everything you need to know in anticipation of the massive fight.
Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Fight Time: PPV card begins at 9 p.m. ET
Where: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV: HBO pay-per-view
Referee: Kenny Bayless
Judges: Glenn Trowbridge, Michael Pernick, John Keane
Last time out, Pacquiao was done in by the judges, a fact he didn't let get to him, as he explained in a special for ESPN.com:
That is boxing. It is part of the game and you cannot let yourself get too upset over it or else it will consume you. Judges are human. You cannot expect them to be perfect.
In the first fight against Tim Bradley, 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 [judges] -- 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.
A good way to make sure that doesn't happen again? Knock Bradley out.
Part of what made Pac-Man one of the most special pound-for-pound boxers of his generation was his jaw-dropping knockout power and offensive arsenal. But he hasn't stopped an opponent since Miguel Cotto in late 2009, a span that covers his last nine fights (seven wins).
The 35-year-old, however, seems intent on ending that streak.
"If Bradley wants to meet the fighter who stopped Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera," Pacquiao warned, via ESPN.com, "he's going to get his wish on April 12."
Pac-Man seemed hesitant to go for the KO against Rios, a clearly inferior opponent, the last time out, so it will be intriguing to see how aggressive he is against Bradley, who has an extremely strong chin and has only been knocked to the canvas once in his career.
Steve Kim of MaxBoxing.com doesn't seem worried about Pacquiao losing a step, though:
Desert Storm, however, hasn't exactly sounded concerned. In his own special with ESPN.com, he talked about Pacquiao's waning "killer instinct" since they last met:
Manny Pacquiao has always been a great fighter and from what I have heard he is a great person, but I think in the last two years Manny has become a more compassionate fighter. I think he lost the fire that made him the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
That killer instinct that made Oscar De La Hoya quit on his stool and the fire that knocked out Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton and badly damaged Antonio Margarito are just no longer there.
I think his skill set is still there, but he just cannot turn it on like he used to anymore.
Pacquiao's aggressiveness and willingness to go for the knockout shot very well may determine this battle, and with a loss potentially derailing his career, you can bet he'll turn up the dial after a casual win against Rios.
But the pressure is also on for Bradley, who is undefeated but not really being treated like it because of the controversial nature of the first bout. He's not a big knockout guy, but expect him to return the fire.
No matter the outcome, this has the makings of a scintillating rematch.
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