They call boxing the fight business, not the fight game, because selling the public on a bout has long been the central purpose that defines the sport's very existence. The risks are so real, after all, that it makes no sense to compete unless it's for the express purpose of becoming a very wealthy man. The damage, particularly to the brain, is too overwhelming to enter a ring for other primary motivations.
It's called prize fighting for a reason.
Promoters are constantly looking for an edge, something to separate their fight from the one the week before and the one in a month's time. And, in theory, Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum has the perfect hook for Manny Pacquiao's return to the ring against Timothy Bradley. After all, in 2012, Bradley became the first man to defeat Pacquiao in more than seven years.
Revenge is clear and powerful motivation. Unfortunately, for everyone who actually watched the first fight, it's an obvious fiction. Pacquiao knows he beat Bradley that night in Las Vegas. So do the fans, the media and everyone with a pulse besides judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross and Bradley themselves, seemingly the only three people in the world who thought Pacquiao actually lost the fight.
Can you avenge a defeat that never really happened?
"I'm okay with that decision," Pacquiao told Bleacher Report's Tom Weir. "I was disappointed, but I accept it and it’s okay. But I felt I won 12 rounds of that fight. I felt like I dominated. So my goal is to show I can dominate again for 12 rounds."
Bradley, to his credit, was smart enough to realize his win wouldn't be enough to propel this fight to a million pay-per-views, a stratosphere Pacquiao occupied for years but failed to reach in his last fight. Instead, he turned the conversation toward whether or not Manny still has "it."
Bradley's theory is that Pacquiao has lost his killer instinct due to age, religion or a general disinterest in boxing. In fact, there's some fire to go with that smoke—Pacquiao hasn't knocked out an opponent since 2009.
Whether true or not, it's a talking point that has gotten Pacquiao's attention.
"I think that’s the important part of this fight, to prove I still have that killer instinct," Pacquiao said. "But for me, in my opinion, I never lost it...I’m fighting heavier guys now, bigger, stronger guys who are 150, 154 pounds. It’s just different styles of the fight. So it’s not as easy to knock them out with one punch."
Has Bradley's mouth written a check his butt will now have to cash? Or is he right—has Pacquiao lost the edge that once made him great? Bleacher Report's team of experts sounds off.
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