Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley: Preview & Prediction
While it was really tempting to republish an old Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley prediction instead of this one, the prediction for the third installment of this trilogy is not as simple as it seems.
Unlike boxing trilogies we’ve witnessed before, which can often seem like rehashes of the same fight, what makes this episode of the Pacquiao-Bradley saga interesting is the unpredictability of the kind of performance each fighter will give us.
Pacquiao is more familiar with wins than he is losses, but his defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. left a particularly bad taste in the mouths of boxing fans everywhere. The disappointment wasn’t even because he lost. I could’ve even given Pacquiao more props if he had gotten knocked out; anything can happen in boxing and at least he would’ve lost trying.
The excuses that ensued from the Pacquiao camp following the fight made the situation worse, and made Pacquiao look less like the champion and sportsman we knew him to be.
On the other hand we have Timothy Bradley, arguably the most underrated welterweight of the past five years. With a reputation for action-packed performances, Bradley has met world class fighters face-to-face, yet still remains one of boxing’s best kept secrets.
I thought I knew Timothy Bradley until I saw him dominate Juan Manuel Marquez in 2013. A part of me had always thought Bradley had the right amount of luck to pull off a win, especially after the victory over Pacquiao. His performance against Marquez demonstrated some real skill and I was impressed.
Afterwards, Bradley seemed to regress, much to my disappointment, until he fought Brandon Rios. The call he made to Teddy Atlas asking him to be his trainer is Bradley’s best career move so far.
Atlas is a tremendous factor in Bradley being a viable contender for Pacquiao on Saturday night. The Bradley we saw in November gave the most impressive performance of his career.
So now we’re here: Fireman versus Pacman. Who will come out on top? Let’s break down this fight to see whether Bradley or Pacquiao gets the edge.
Tale of the Tape
|Manny Pacquiao||Tim Bradley|
|Record||57-6-2, 38 KOs||33-1-1, 13 KOs|
|Hometown||General Santos City, Philippines||Palm Springs, California|
From the looks of the tape, Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley both have some important similarities and differences going into this fight.
Bradley stands just a half of an inch taller than Pacquiao, but also boasts a two-inch reach advantage. This is great news for Bradley if he plans to work his jab the whole fight like he did against Rios. In fact, that’s exactly what he should do to keep Pacquiao where he wants him and set up beautiful combinations.
We also must consider the difference in stances. Bradley, the orthodox fighter is vulnerable to straight lefts and right hooks while the southpaw, Pacquiao, is open to Bradley’s scathing right hands and left hooks.
With over four hundred rounds boxed on his résumé, Pacquiao should have enough experience to neutralize Bradley’s advantages. He can overcompensate for the height and reach advantages with timing, accuracy and lightening-fast combinations.
Bradley’s jab may keep Pacquiao on the outside starting out, but if he can use his footwork to close the distance, he can work around Bradley’s reach to get to the head the body.
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Mostly everything has been running smoothly leading up to the fight. Both Pacquiao and Bradley made the 147 weight limit, with Pacquiao coming in at 145.5lbs and Bradley at 146.5. We have yet to see if either will blow up in pounds for tomorrow’s bout, but we can safely assume they’ll stay around their fighting weight.
Bradley stated at the final press conference that he’s ready to beat Pacquiao as his “last and only opportunity”, and spoke on the importance of having Atlas in his corner: “It’s unreal, the things I’ve picked up and learned from [Atlas] as a man, a fighter and a father.”
Pacquiao, whose recent comments landed him in hot water, had less controversial things to say about his three-time opponent: “Please watch this fight. I believe it’s more action compared to the last two fights that we had because of his new coach Teddy. He did a good job for Bradley and we saw that in his last fight. He’s adding more strategy and techniques for Bradley and that makes more action in the ring.”
While most including myself assume this will be Pacquiao’s last fight, his trainer Freddie Roach is skeptical about his fighter’s pending retirement: “I personally don’t know if this will be Manny’s last fight but he is training like it’s going to be his last fight. Manny has achieved so much in his boxing career and if this is going to be his swan song I know he wants to go out blazing with a spectacular performance.”
If this is Pacquiao’s last fight, this will be the last impression etched in the minds of boxing fans everywhere before he retires. No pressure.
Strengths for Each Man
Manny Pacquiao’s greatest assets are his hand speed and foot speed. Sometimes his age makes us question if these are still viable assets, but Pacquiao is naturally gifted with the kind of reflex skills and athleticism that are perfect for boxing.
In combination with his experience and knack for timing and accuracy, this will put Tim Bradley’s new skills to the test.
Pacquiao has gotten marginally better at cutting off the ring, which will be important if Bradley decides to do a lot of moving in this fight. Most of the time Bradley likes to stay right where the action is, which is also Pacquiao’s kind of fight.
He need not make this fight more difficult on himself than it needs to be. At this point Pacquiao’s strengths practically go without saying, and he should be able to outbox Bradley convincingly.
Tim Bradley has tremendously improved in the past several months, which might thrust him into the spotlight he deserves. He looked more calm, more focused and more in control in the last fight than we’ve ever seen before.
Defensively, he moved his head a lot more and knew when to hold at the right time. Offensively Bradley was able to connect with his jab often and find his distance more frequently. These are really significant improvements to have made before facing Pacquiao for the third time.
Let’s also not ignore that Bradley is one of the toughest fighters in boxing. He has experienced brutal wars in the ring and has not faltered the way other fighters might have. Bradley’s resilience will push Pacquiao to try and box him versus going for the knockout.
One of Bradley’s greatest assets in this fight is his trainer, Teddy Atlas. If you’ve seen the now infamous “WE ARE FIREMEN!” speech he gave Bradley in the corner during the Rios fight, you’ll understand why.
Atlas tells Bradley like it is while also keeping him supremely motivated. You can’t underestimate the importance of a solid corner, especially in a world championship bout.
Weaknesses for Each Man
Manny Pacquiao’s age is a concern going into this fight. Far too often I’ve given veteran fighters the edge believing that their experience would give them the advantage they needed to beat younger, less-experienced fighters.
Truth be told, I’ve been spoiled by seasoned fighters like Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather who have been able to pull it off.
Pacquiao didn’t look like himself the last fight and I doubt he’s doing anything new in his training. Conventional wisdom has taught me that experience is not always a deciding factor, and a younger fighter like Tim Bradley has a valid opportunity to beat Pacquiao.
Pacquiao depends on his speed and athleticism to pull off his game plan in the ring. Bradley is always in tip-top condition and can give Pacquiao trouble if he can keep up with the pace and outwork him.
Tim Bradley needs to make sure his defense is sharp and on point before going toe-to-toe with Manny Pacquiao. While Bradley hasn’t been knocked out, he has been to the canvas. Hopefully in his training he has worked on balance so that one good punch doesn’t knock him off center.
In the previous fights with Pacquiao, Bradley had trouble establishing his distance, which put him in vulnerable positions to be hit. He also had a tendency to be more offensive rather than be mindful of defense.
Whether or not Bradley can be consistent in his performance against an opponent like Pacquiao will be a real testament to the progress he has made with Atlas. If he has truly improved since the fight against Brandon Rios, Bradley may be on his way to becoming a real star in the welterweight division.
Winner and Why
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but fortunately Tim Bradley is still young and he’s not a dog–he’s a FIREMAN!
Besides that, I’m counting on the likelihood that Bradley has improved a great a deal since the Brandon Rios fight by working with Teddy Atlas. He’s young, spry and hungry.
These are all things Manny Pacquiao should be worried about.
If Bradley wasn’t doing anything different since the first or second fight I would probably pick Pacquiao. As of late Bradley seems to have become a real student of boxing, making me wonder where his career would be now had he linked up with Atlas years ago.
It’s time we make room for fighters like Bradley, who isn’t a hyped prospect, but a real talent looking to leave his mark in the sport.