The rematch between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao is nearly here, and a win for "Desert Storm" could do a lot for the 30-year-old fighter's career.
It's been a little less than two years since these two fought back in 2012, but the bout is remembered more for the controversial scoring than the fight itself. While many felt that Pacquiao had won the fight, two of the judges had scored the fight in favor of Bradley, giving him a win that many believe he didn't actually earn.
Now, with the two fighting once again at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Bradley has an opportunity to help his career with a big win.
The most obvious thing a win on Saturday would do for Bradley is help silence the critics who say he can't take down a fighter like Pacquiao. While Desert Storm has won his two fights since facing Pacquiao, he still hasn't escaped the image that his undefeated record is somehow tarnished from their last fight.
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.
Still, it's one thing to say that you have a lot to prove and another to actually go out there and do it. As Bleacher Report's Kevin McRae points out, Bradley has now put himself in the position where he must back up his talk: "Bradley, for his part, understands that for all the talking he’s done—he’s never backed down from his claim that he won the first fight—he’s put himself in the proverbial put up or shut up position."
Despite heading into this fight with a perfect 31-0 record, Bradley doesn't seem to get the respect he deserves. He's not a power puncher, as he has just 12 career knockouts, but his consistent success against other opponents like Juan Manuel Marquez and Ruslan Provodnikov should show just how good he is.
Another, more legitimate win over Pacquiao would probably put Bradley in the elite category of boxers.
While all of the talk heading into the fight is about Bradley proving himself, he still has a WBO welterweight belt to defend. With a win on Saturday, he'll have successfully retained his belt for the third straight fight after taking it from Pacquiao in 2012.
If he can take down a top-tier fighter like Pacquiao, the next step for Bradley would be to meet yet another big name in the sport. Fans would love to see him take on Floyd Mayweather, but conflicting promotional affiliations will make that highly unlikely. Bradley is an HBO fighter, while Mayweather tends to work with Showtime and Golden Boy, which makes a fight between the two unrealistic.
Overall, there's a lot riding on this fight for Bradley, especially in terms of reputation, so you can bet that he'll be doing whatever it takes to prove the critics wrong.