Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao III: Head-to-Toe Breakdown of Both Fighters
Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao are set to do battle for a third and final time in what could prove to be the final fight of the Filipino's illustrious, soon to be Hall of Fame career.
The Filipino icon, who is one fight removed from a deflating loss to longtime rival Floyd Mayweather, will challenge Bradley for on April 9, 2016 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, per Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times.
Bradley and Pacquiao have split their two previous meetings, with Desert Storm taking a highly controversial and criticized decision in June 2012 and the Pac Man evening the score with a more decisive verdict just under two years later.
Pacquiao will enter the fight just under a year removed from his last fight and after undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder suffered while training for the Mayweather bout.
Bradley looked impressive in dispatching Brandon Rios by knockout in his first start under veteran firebrand Teddy Atlas. But a second win over Pacquiao would go a long way toward silencing the critics.
So, let's get right to the breakdown of this epic rematch.
This is your complete head-to-toe breakdown for Bradley vs. Pacquiao III.
Main Event: Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao; 12 rounds for Bradley's WBO Welterweight Championship
Where: MGM Grand; Las Vegas
When: April 9, 2016
TV: HBO pay-per-view
All stats and information per BoxRec.com.
|Timothy Bradley||Manny Pacquiao|
|Record||33-1-1, 13 KO||57-6-2, 38 KO|
|Weight||146 (last fight)||145 (last fight)|
|Hometown||Cathedral City, California||General Santos City, Philippines|
|Last Fight||TKO Brandon Rios (11/7/15)||L UD Floyd Mayweather (5/2/15)|
*Pacquiao will be 37 on fight night
What You Need to Know
Bradley is one of the most underappreciated fighters in boxing today.
He's a four-time world champion with victories over Pacquiao (highly controversial and more on that in just a second), Lamont Peterson, Ruslan Provodnikov (in 2013's Fight of the Year) and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Bradley has been on a quest for respect ever since he was given a decision win over Pacquiao that the majority of fans and media felt he didn't deserve. He recently split with longtime trainer Joel Diaz (acrimoniously, to say the least) and hooked up with Atlas, a firebrand known for his high-octane style.
The early results were good. Bradley dominated and stopped rugged former titlist Rios in November to set up this rematch opportunity.
Pacquiao, per Rafael, will call it quits on an epic and highly accomplished career after this fight.
The Filipino icon was dominated by Mayweather in boxing's richest prizefight this past May, and he took a healthy dose of criticism for his post-fight comments about a shoulder injury (that later required surgery) that came off to many as an excuse.
Three fighters were reportedly in the hunt to receive the assignment as Pacquiao's last opponent, but he chose Bradley, likely because it presented him the opportunity to add another world championship to his already impressive resume before calling it a career.
Also, it certainly doesn't hurt to be familiar with Bradley's style and to know, based on past experience, that this is a winnable fight.
Bradley is an effective and smart technician who is comfortable fighting in a variety of styles. He's an accurate and effective (if not overly powerful) puncher who has a good sense of distance and timing in the ring.
He's effective leading or counterpunching, though he's had a bad habit in recent fights of coming out of his comfort zone, engaging when his best play was to hold back and leaving himself open to unnecessary and avoidable punishment.
Bradley seemed to tie up that loose end effectively in his fight with Rios. The influence of Atlas was clear, as Bradley utilized his jab and footwork more to circle around and disrupt punches, set up his own shots and control the time and space of the fight.
Pacquiao was a chainsaw in the ring when he was at his absolute peak. Unfortunately he hasn't been that fighter in quite some time. Shoulder injury or not, the Pac Man looked pretty dreadful in losing anywhere from eight to every round against Floyd.
At 36 years old (37 on fight night) it's hard to believe that a sudden resurgence of that man is something we can expect to see happen. Manny Pacquiao circa 2015-16 is a guy who can provide you with quick bursts of activity, generating hope for the "old Pacquiao," but he can't sustain that pace any longer to get you out of there.
Pacquiao was able to use Bradley's aggression against him in the second fight, but it's hard to judge what will be in reserve this time around.
Taking Bradley here, largely because we don't know what Pacquiao has left in the tank after a year layoff and surgery following a deflating loss. There are just too many unknowns for the Pac Man.
You take one look at Bradley when he breaks camp, with muscles upon muscles and one of the most ripped physiques in the sport, and you wonder why the guy doesn't just blow through people. It's one of boxing's oldest questions, but why doesn't this guy have knockout power?
We'll never know.
Bradley's stoppage of Rios in November was his first win inside the distance since knocking out the badly faded Joel Casamayor way back in 2011, and before that you had to go all the way back to 2007 if you wanted to see Tim put someone down and out.
Speaking of power droughts, the last time Pacquiao stopped a foe?
Miguel Cotto, on brutal accumulation, all the way back in 2007.
Pacquiao's last 10 fights over eight years have gone the scheduled distance, and you can ascribe that to any number of factors. Manny (with the notable exception of Ricky Hatton in one of the greatest knockouts ever) has never really been a huge one-punch guy.
His stoppages usually came through a combination of aggression and mental pressure that cracked his foe (see the Cotto fight), two things that have been tempered quite a bit in recent years.
We don't want to hear that Bradley stopped Rios while Pacquiao hit him with everything but the kitchen sink and couldn't even ding him up. Desert Storm looked great in that fight, but you'd be kidding yourself if you don't acknowledge that Rios wasn't the same fighter in those two contests.
Pacquiao gets the edge here based on his reputation, and the fact that he still carries more weight in each individual shot than Bradley.
One of the main reasons that Bradley parted with Diaz and brought in Atlas was to clean up the areas where he was lacking. One of those, at least in recent fights, was defense.
It's not that Bradley suddenly became a poor defensive fighter, but that he became more concerned with fighting in a style that pleases the crowd but subsequently negates many of his strengths and puts him at more risk.
Bradley's enhanced footwork and ability to keep away from many of Rios' big shots serves as evidence that the pair worked on that in camp. It was only one fight, yes, but it seems to have taken at least some hold, since Bradley was able to execute his offense and stay defensively aware enough to avoid big shots.
There was a time when Pacquiao didn't even need to worry about defense. He was such an offensive dynamo that his opponent was too busy worrying about what was coming his way to launch much attack of his own.
Pacquiao has slowed down considerably in recent years, the combination of Father Time and a (perhaps) uneven commitment to boxing as a full-time vocation with professional basketball and Filipino politics also on his plate.
He fights in spurts now, which gives more opportunities for opponents to focus some attention on their attack and not just avoiding the wicked bombs coming from every direction.
Bradley, hopefully for his sake, learned his lesson about rushing in guns blazing from his last fight with Pacquiao. He'll be more defensively aware this time around, or he'll hear it from Atlas, and that gives him a slight edge.
You'd have expect that Bradley will be smart enough to make the adjustments necessary after he made all sorts of mistakes in his rematch with Pacquiao last year. A guy without a ton of knockout power staking the entire fight on getting an early stoppage probably wasn't the best course.
He'll need to use his footwork to circle around Pacquiao's power, pacing himself for 12 rounds and nullifying the Filipino's offense with his jab and precise countering. Anything else is just asking for trouble.
Bradley can mix it up, but it needs to be on his own terms and not nearly as reckless as the last time. That's something that proved quite effective against Rios.
No, this won't be the old Pacquiao, but if it's truly his last fight then why not go out there and channel some of that old Manny rage and put in a hell of an aggressive performance.
Pacquiao should come out aggressive, throwing punches in bunches (so long as the mind and body are still willing) and try to make an emphatic statement by getting Bradley out of there early.
Bradley is not the type of fighter you want to hang around, particularly if he's more measured this time. Give him a chance to think and react, with a full tank of gas, and he's a difficult style for any man. Go get him should be the mantra for Pacquiao's strategy on this night.
You want to believe that a great fighter like Pacquiao, who will one day see his name and face on a plaque in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, will win his swan-song fight and ride off into the sunset with the stain of the Mayweather loss not the last mark on his ledger.
But there are just too many unknowns to feel safe picking Pacquiao to win here against an opponent who is a 50-50 fight against him before the long layoff, surgery and deflating loss to a heated rival are factored into the equation.
Pacquiao will "end" his career on a loss, and Bradley will finally have that signature, untainted win over the Pac Man that he has craved ever since being the subject of repeated and (quite honestly) ridiculous criticism after receiving a verdict he probably didn't deserve.
Having Atlas in his corner will be a big X-factor here for Bradley.
He'll fight smarter, using his jab, improved footwork and defense to pick off Pacquiao and pick his spots better than the second fight, where he went for broke early and left little in the tank for the second half.
Bradley takes a majority decision by scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114 to retain his title.