Act two, of what was a classic Greek tragedy (robbery), will take place at the scene of the crime from a very controversial first fight that sent each combatant’s career in opposite directions.
The last thing that was on Manny Pacquiao’s mind in the locker room before the fight, while watching his beloved Boston Celtics get eliminated by the soon to be World Champions Miami Heat, was reverse homecoming.
After walking away lucky to be 2-0-1 in his fights with Juan Manual Marquez, there’s no way anyone could have known that Pac-man’s luck was about to run out, especially after damn near pitching a shout out clearly outworking and out landing Timothy Bradley. Bradley can tell us he won the fight 8 rounds to 4 until he turns blue in the face it only adds fuel to the fire.
After a spirited fourth fight with his Mexican rival Pacquiao’s career was in ruins as he lay on the mat motionless, face down from a perfectly timed Marquez right hand.
Bradley’s career wasn’t in great shape either with the backlash he had received from the boxing world. A black cloud is the way Timothy describes his being, after death threats caused him to contemplate taking his own life.
Bradley’s return was scheduled in his home state of California against the powerful but limited Ruslan Provodnikov with a style that seemed custom made.
Right from the opening bell it was clear that Bradley was there to make a statement. And boy did him and Ruslan make a statement by turning in performances that raised both fighters profile.
The triangle myth theory that even the most hardcore fans will use once in a while, was on full display for Bradley’ next fight against Marquez.
Bradley boxed beautifully, this time being choosier on when to exchange and when to move, something that would have made his fight with Ruslan less concussive.
After a year off, Manny Pacquaio got back on the horse he was bucked off of this time facing the iron chinned and more importantly iron footed Brandon Rios. Manny didn’t necessarily impress, he did however do what he had to do to move his career forward.
Now, fast forward to fight week in Las Vegas at the TMT Grand, oops sorry Bob, the MGM Grand, with all the makings of another memorable night this time with a positive spin.
After watching the replay of the first fight days later, and once more this week, there are some things that stand out. One being that Pacquaio didn’t land as many clean punches as it seemed watching it live.
Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t enough to give Bradley more than a round or two let alone the fight. But it raises a yellow flag for what could be a key when analyzing how this rematch will play out.
What will be different the second time around with a healthy Timothy Bradley, and possibly an in better shape or at least mental sharper Pacquaio?
The first two and the last few rounds, Timothy Bradley was effective with the jab, his counter right, and did a decent job controlling the distance with foot and upper body movement.
It was clear that the desert storm’s injury had him stuck in the sand and off balance throughout the evening. With both ankles healed and two career changing names add to his resume, Timothy is as ready as he will ever be for this all important rematch.
The first fight had very few moments of real two way action, yet many of the rounds were competitive enough to force Manny to close strong to win the rounds.
Busy work and modern power punching stats usually will equal winning a close fight in today’s boxing. Most likely the winner of this contest will be the one who out works the other of course try telling that to Pac-man after doing just that in the first fight.
The biggest question is how will this fight compare to the first? Most think that Manny is past his prime and has been for some time, even before he was momentarily frozen in time by Marquez. Bradley fought a near perfect fight against Marquez using all the tools in his skill set.
I see this fight as a game of tag with majority of the action taking place in and around the middle of the ring. The jab and movement of Bradley that troubled Manny a bit in the first two rounds and the last 3 will be on full display. Manny will no doubt be able to frustrate Timothy with his hand speed and combination punching.
Bradley needs to be steady with his jab using it to the head and the stomach to keep Manny guessing. Somehow he needs to get to the body with hooks, making it a rougher fight smothering Pac-man’s offense.
For the most part Timothy stood up to Pac’s punches very well considering he was fighting with two left feet. Taking a good punch when fighting Pacquiao is a must because no matter how much you plan on boxing like a cutie their will come a time when Manny’s lead left with land.
If he was able to duck, slip, and roll somewhat effectively in the first fight, one can assume Bradley will only improve. If Bradley can stay on the game plan which is a mix of mostly pivot, score, and move, with the occasional exchange or flurry to steal a round, it will give him the best chance to come out victorious this Saturday night.
For Manny it’s always been about staying focused on the moment or the round, rather than trying to end the fight with one punch. When Manny’s footwork is on point it allows him to unload his offense and escape to freedom only to reset, rinse, and repeat.
When Manny throws in two or three punch combos using his jab-straight left hand, or right hook straight left, he is very hard to beat. The right hook as a counter or lead punch has been a very solid weapon that Manny has developed in recent years. He does move his head and upper body well at times, the problem is Manny moves in a very repetitive way that can be timed by a skillful fighter like Bradley.
In the early goings Manny will have some issues on the way inside from the movement and jab of Bradley, which will force Manny to become a bit reckless. Will Manny continue to utilize his skill set offensively or will he throw caution to the wind from being frustrated and start winging those lead lefts hooks without properly setting the table?
This fight will be much closer than the first encounter, and this scribe will not be surprised when were left wondering if Manny landed as cleanly as Jim Lampley and the HBO crew said he did. If Manny is busy the way he was in June 2012, it’s very hard to envision him losing on the scorecards again.
My official prediction is Manny Pacquiao by Majority Decision.
Side note to all those gambling degenerates like me, you may want to sit on the side lines this weekend. If you feel strongly about Bradley in the rematch it’s worth throwing down some loot on the underdog. Of course the almost for sure money, barring Manny Pacquiao laying face first on the canvas again, is on the favorite who happens to be the “A” side of this HBO PPV.