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Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2: Expert Picks for Main Event

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterOctober 12, 2016

Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2: Expert Picks for Main Event

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    Kathy Willens

    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. 

    Disagree with our takes? Let us know in the comments.

Lyle Fitzsimmons

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    Chris Carlson

    Who Wins the Fight? When and How?

    Gimme Bradley by a close but unanimous and legitimate decision. While I am among the masses who believe Manny won the first fight, I don't think it was the 11-1 or 10-2 proposition that's the typical response. More like 7-5 or 8-4 to me. And in the interim two years, I think Bradley's improved enough to make up the margin. He'll use angles, speed and make it as dull as it needs to be to get the job done. Call it 115-113.

     

    Whose Stock Will Rise? Whose Will Fall?

    If he picks up a legitimate win over a seven-division champion, Bradley's stock can't help but rise. Most people have him among the top 10 or even five best fighters in the world, and a clear win here will push him up to the next tier below only Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Andre Ward. Pacquiao's stock will, by definition, fall, but losing a close one to a legitimate elite fighter certainly won't erase all he's already accomplished. He's still elite, just not on the highest pedestal step.

     

    The Moment We'll Remember Most Is...?

    When a clearly jubilant Bradley eschews the idea of a third fight with Manny—banging the drum that he's 2-0 against the Filipino, after all—and makes Mayweather the source of his post-fight call-outs. "You say you're your own boss, Floyd?" he'll say. "OK then, let's get it done."

     

    Who Will Manny Fight Next? When and Where?

    In spite of Bradley's initial dismissal of the idea, it'll seem like a close, competitive victory over Pacquiao will even the consensus score at 1-1 and make a third fight a legitimate proposition. They'll get it done again before the end of the year, let's say in December and back in Las Vegas.

     

    Who Will Bradley Fight Next? When and Where?

    Well, if Manny's going to be there in December, it seems Bradley ought to be, too. Of course, if Pacquiao wins Saturday, it'll be another rematch against another foe—this one named Juan Manuel Marquez.

Kelsey McCarson

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who Wins the Fight? When and How?  

    Pacquiao will defeat Bradley by unanimous decision. I think both fighters are top-level guys, but Pacquiao will up his work rate enough this time to win most of the rounds with effective aggressiveness. He'll win something like eight or nine rounds on the judges' scorecards with the rounds he loses being very close, too. 

     

    Whose Stock Will Rise? Whose Will Fall? 

    Pacquiao's stock will rise, but only enough to warrant an absurd amount of interest in a fifth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Some pundits will push for a Mayweather bout, but most will expect Manny to avenge his KO loss to Marquez before even thinking about challenging the undefeated Mayweather. Bradley's stock will fall but only insomuch as he's rated so highly now that there is really nowhere to go but down a bit. He'll do well enough in the bout to want a third fight with Pacquiao, and we'll probably get it sometime next year.

     

    The Moment We'll Remember Most Is...? 

    When Pacquiao hurts Bradley. In the first fight, it was debatable whether Bradley really felt any of Pacquiao's punches. In the rematch, there will be no doubt, and Bradley will once again have to display his incredible courage and toughness. 

     

    Who Will Manny Fight Next? When and Where? 

    After some lengthy negotiations, Pacquiao will face Juan Manuel Marquez in September at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Arum likes the venue, and he'll want to put Pacquiao's next fight outside of Las Vegas after the recent hubbub at the MGM where he felt his promotion was not treated with the respect it deserves. 

     

    Who Will Bradley Fight Next? When and Where? 

    Bradley will huff and puff for a third Pacquiao fight, but he'll ultimately have to settle for an October bout against Brandon Rios. The fight will take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Rios is a tough slugger who sells well, and Bradley will hope to get back in the win column. 

Kevin McRae

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    Reed Saxon

    Who Wins the Fight? When and How?

    Timothy Bradley Jr. will win this fight by close (and this time deserved) unanimous decision. Manny Pacquiao is two years older than he was in the first fight between the two, and you’d have a heck of a time trying to convince many people that he’s the same fighter. 

    Bradley, on the other hand, is even more intense, more desperate and hungrier to prove himself than he was in the first bout. He’s taken the last two years to grow into a complete fighter, and he’ll enter the ring firing on all cylinders and at the absolute physical peak of his career.

    That’s just too much for a 35-year-old Manny to overcome.

     

    Whose Stock Will Rise? Whose Will Fall?

    Bradley’s stock will certainly rise. He enters the bout as the No. 3-ranked fighter on both The Ring Magazine and ESPN.com pound-for-pound lists, and with this victory, he’ll move into the second position, just behind pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather.

     

    The Moment We'll Remember Most Is...?

    The reading of the scorecards. This fight, despite protestations from both fighters coming in, isn’t likely to end in a knockout. And, given all the controversy in the first fight, everyone watching will be on the edge of his or her seat when the final tallies are announced.

     

    Who Will Manny Fight Next? When and Where?

    Sadly, he won’t. Speculation about Pacquiao’s final exit from professional prizefighting has been rampant for the last couple of years now, and it picked up greater steam after his stunning one-punch obliteration at the hands of longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez.

    At 35 years old, and with so many other things on his plate, a loss here will signal the end of a surefire Hall of Fame career.

     

    Who Will Bradley Fight Next? When and Where?

    Bradley would be obligated to defend his WBO Welterweight Championship against the winner of Marquez and Mike Alvarado, slated for May 17 in Los Angeles.

    The odds are pretty good that it’ll be Marquez emerging from that affair as the No. 1 contender.

    Bradley will rematch him early in the fall—not at the MGM Grand after Bob Arum’s epic rant at this week’s final press conference—but at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Briggs Seekins

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who Wins the Fight? When and How? 

    I'm going to go out on a little bit of a limb on this one and say Bradley takes it by hard-fought majority decision. I am in agreement with most of the boxing world that Pac got robbed in the first fight. But it's not like Pacquiao blew Bradley out of the ring. It was the least explosive version of Pacman we've ever seen, and the credit for that goes to Bradley's awkward and muscular style. Considering that Bradley was fighting on two badly injured legs, I've always thought, "Well, Pacquiao deserved to win, but I wonder how it would have developed if Bradley hadn't gotten injured."

    Since that fight, Bradley has become an even better and more confident fighter. He is an extremely smart boxer who will benefit from having spent 12 rounds in the ring with Pacquiao already. Pac is two years older and has been through a brutal knockout to Marquez. His win over Rios proved little, aside from that he's not completely shot. But I think he is faded enough for a healthy Bradley to beat in a close fight.

     

    Whose Stock Will Rise? Whose Will Fall? 

    I think it will be an exciting enough fight so neither's stock really drops a great deal. Since I think Bradley wins, I think he will get a big bump. Pacquiao will dip a bit, but he'll remain a very popular fighter, and it will likely be close enough so that his legion of fans will cry robbery.

     

    The Moment We'll Remember Most Is...?

    At the end of Round 9 or 10 Bradley will finish with a rally that brings the crowd to its feet. Pacquiao will not be hurt badly, but he'll be driven back and forced to cover up, and it will indicate a clear final shift in momentum toward Bradley. Even ultimate Pacquiao mark Jim Lampley will use his great dramatic gifts to emphasize Bradley's push.  

     

    Who Will Manny Fight Next? When and Where? 

    Win or lose, only two fights really make sense for Pacquiao next. If he wins, I do think there is more chance for the long-awaited Pacquiao-Mayweather fight to happen than there has been before. If he loses, I can definitely see him doing a fifth fight with Marquez. Even if he wins, I think there's a good chance it's his next fight. I am sure Bob Arum would love to match him with Ruslan Provodnikov at this point, but no way does Freddie Roach let that happen.

    If Pacquiao fights Mayweather, it's obviously in Vegas. Probably if he fights Marquez, too, though I could see them going to Arlington. A Mayweather fight would be Mexican Independence Day weekend, bumping any plans Golden Boy might want to make for Canelo on that night. Marquez would probably happen in November or early December.

     

    Who Will Bradley Fight Next? When and Where?

    If Bradley wins, I think he will push hard for a fight with Mayweather, and I think that fight happens more easily than the Pacquiao fight. Mayweather would love the chance to beat the guy who beat Pacquiao twice, especially with less chance of getting caught by a KO punch. If he loses, I think he's going to fight a rematch with either Marquez or Provodnikov.

    A Mayweather fight would be at the MGM, of course. A Marquez fight could happen in Arlington. A Provodnikov fight might happen in Carson, but probably Vegas, since it would be a rematch of last year's consensus top fight. Whoever he fights next, I think it will be in October.  

Jonathan Snowden

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    Vincent Yu

    Who Wins the Fight? When and How?

    I expect the fight to look much like the first one, with Pacquiao winning round after round on his way to an easy unanimous decision. What's that you say? He somehow didn't officially win the first fight? Well, now is the time for the universe to make it up to him.

     

    Whose Stock Will Rise? Whose Will Fall?

    I don't think there will be much movement in either direction. Both fighters will end up being exactly who we think they are. Manny, even with age and wear, is a match for anyone in the division not named Floyd Mayweather.

    Bradley, in turn, is a fighter who peaked just below the true elites. There's no shame in that. But the illusion he is a potential Hall of Famer? It's just that—illusory. And I think everyone knows it.

     

    The Moment We'll Remember Most Is...?

    Early in the fight, Pacquiao will hit Bradley with meaning and put him on his bicycle. But he won't be able to ride fast enough to escape the Filipino flash.

     

    Who Will Manny Fight Next? When and Where?

    I'm going to keep visualizing this one until it finally happens—Pacquiao versus Mayweather. MGM Grand. December. Don't we all deserve nice things this Christmas? More likely? A fifth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. 

     

    Who Will Bradley Fight Next? When and Where?

    Why not a rematch of 2013's best fight against Ruslan Provodnikov? Run it back at the Stubhub Center in Los Angeles this July with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Gennady Golovkin as the co-main event. It will be like printing money.

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