In order to avoid history repeating itself, Manny Pacquiao must take matters into his own fists and knock out Timothy Bradley before giving the judges a say in their rematch.
The last time these two esteemed fighters met, Pacquiao seemingly defended his WBO welterweight title successfully. According to CompuBox, Pac-Man landed 253 of 751 punches (34 percent) to Desert Storm's 159 of 839 (19 percent). We have a clear winner, right?
Apparently not. Bradley won a shocking split decision, keeping his unblemished record intact while brandishing Pacquiao with his first loss since 2005.
Two years later, Pacquiao can claim his vengeance in Las Vegas, the same place where two judges unfathomably ruled against him. When they meet again, Pacquiao should look to return to his glory days by notching his first knockout in over four years.
Knockouts were never a scarce commodity for Pac-Man, who has ended 38 fights by way of KO. But he hasn't earned a knockout victory since 2009, when he registered a 12th-round TKO over Miguel Cotto.
Since "losing" to Bradley, Pacquiao suffered a legitimate loss when Juan Manuel Marquez knocked his lights out in the sixth round. Although he ended the losing streak by defeating an overmatched Brandon Rios by unanimous decision, he did not land a finishing blow.
He may not need a knockout to prove his superiority over Bradley. Even in defeat, that much looked clear when Pacquiao controlled the fight with his frenzied attack while still landing a higher percentage of his strikes.
He does, however, need a knockout to show he's not deteriorating. Although it's natural for a 35-year-old to lose his touch, the aging star needs another stout fight to remain an elite draw.
His ruthless aggression won fans over, but they might not all stick around for the wily veteran showing mercy on opponents. According to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole, trainer Freddie Roach cited Pacquiao's "compassionate side" as reason for his dwindling knockouts.
An odd trait to attach to a man who is paid to pummel people until their eyes are black and mouths are red, and one that ultimately cost him a win over Bradley. Unfortunately, boxing is at a point where he must take a page out of Nick Fury's playbook and not trust anybody.
It's commendable to not want to hurt a fellow man too much, but, umm, have you seen a boxing match? Maybe just stick to singing.
Pacquiao, however, didn't sound very compassionate when talking to The Daily Mail's Martin Domin about the upcoming fight. He's out for blood this time around.
"The only way Bradley can beat me this time is to knock me out," Pacquiao said. "He cannot outbox me, I will be the aggressor. I will throw a lot of punches at him—more than I threw against [Brandon] Rios—and I will land them. Last time I was too nice. This time, I will finish what I start."
Sure, Pac-Man could just as easily endure a 12-round marathon and cross his fingers for competent judges. Then, unless Pacquiao obliterates Bradley through 12 rounds, some cynics will wonder if they awarded him a victory as restitution for 2012's debacle.
This Pacquiao does not seem content with remaining on cruise control. To prove that their last match was a fluke, he needs to make a powerful statement by landing a KO.