The rematch nearly two years in the making, Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley, is upon us. Following their controversial first fight in 2012, these two boxing superstars look to settle the score once and for all.
Even though Bradley comes into the fight with an undefeated record (31-0-0), the WBO welterweight championship and a victory over Pacquiao, the oddsmakers favor the challenger.
Pacquiao isn't an overwhelming favorite, which is to be expected after losing to Juan Manuel Marquez and defeating an overrated challenger in Brandon Rios, but the fact that Bradley still doesn't get respect is telling.
Among common opponents, Bradley had a victory over Marquez last October, so he's got a leg up on Pac-Man. This fight is Desert Storm's best chance to prove that his victory over Pacquiao wasn't simply the product of bad judging.
We've got a look at the final odds heading into Saturday's huge showdown, as well as what the oddsmakers are saying about the rest of the card.
|Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2) vs. Timothy Bradley (31-0-0)||Pacquiao (4-7); Bradley (15-8)|
|Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0-0) vs. Jessie Vargas (23-0-0)||Allakhverdiev (8-15); Vargas (2-1)|
|Raymundo Beltran (28-6-1) vs. Arash Usmanee (20-1-1)||Beltran (4-7); Usmanee (7-4)|
|Jose Felix Jr (26-0--1) vs. Bryan Vasquez (32-1-0)||Felix (4-9); Vasquez (21-10)|
Best Bet: Bryan Vasquez (21-10)
Which underdog will have the best performance?
On a card that doesn't feature great odds for any fighter, Bryan Vasquez is a clear standout. He's taking on the young upstart contender with endless potential who everyone loves.
It's understandable. Felix is just 21 years old, hasn't lost a fight in his young career and has established himself as one of the most powerful punchers in the super featherweight division (21 knockouts).
Vasquez, on the other hand, is a more deliberate fighter. He's got solid power in his right hand but wants to methodically deconstruct an opponent before trying to land the knockout blow. It's not exciting, even though it's been effective for the 26-year-old thus far.
Main Event Bet: Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley
The natural assumption is that Pacquiao will avenge his loss to Bradley, which completely dismisses everything that the champion has done in his career and since defeating Pac-Man.
To Bradley's credit, he's not shying away from Pacquiao this fight or praising him for being the all-time great he is. Here's what Desert Storm told Ron Borges of the Boston Herald about Pac-Man's inability to knock opponents out:
When was the last time you saw him knock somebody out? He had a guy sitting in front of him — a tough guy (Rios) — and he couldn’t get rid of him. I think it was the last round he had Rios trapped in the corner and you saw Manny take his foot off the gas pedal and it was unbelievable to me.
In our fight I had two wounded feet and he couldn’t take me out. Manny Pacquiao used to come in blazing and knock guys out. He didn’t mess around. Now it looks like he’s more compassionate towards his opponents and that’s not good for boxing.
Bradley isn't the first person to question Pacquiao's ability to knock an opponent out anymore. He hasn't finished a fight before the final bell since beating Miguel Cotto to a pulp on November 14, 2009.
Of course, Bradley isn't exactly a knockout machine with just 12 in his 31 career victories. He's a defensive fighter, waiting for an opponent to leave his face or body open before attacking.
Both fighters have so much at stake in this bout that it should be a classic encounter. Pacquiao clearly won the first contest, landing 94 more punches and 82 more power punches than Bradley.
Pac-Man also looked good against Marquez, even scoring a knockdown in the fifth round, before leaving his face open in the sixth round. He's got more to gain and a lot more to lose in this rematch, so expect Pacquiao to have his best performance since beating Shane Mosley in 2011.
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