Manny Pacquiao has a score to settle and he knows outboxing Timothy Bradley will not be enough to erase the memory of his controversial split decision loss to the American in 2012.
An emphatic stoppage win will certainly expunge that loss which also broke a string of 15 consecutive victories. That sorry setback was followed by a shock knockout defeat to perennial nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez.
The two consecutive losses led to an 11-month hiatus for Pacquiao. These drained his psyche. They also harmed his pockets.
He won his bounce back fight against Brandon Rios in Macau in November last year where Pacquiao once again displayed his boxing skills. But he also left many asking if he still has what it takes to stop opponents in the ring. Pacquiao has not won by knockout since his 11-round trashing of Miguel Angel Cotto in 2009 – a span of seven fights.
On Monday in the US, the eight-division world boxing champions promised to be aggressive and revert to his old self.
In the days when he was still on his way to the top, Pacquiao would simply run over his opponents with his patented whirlwind attack. He instilled fear in the opening rounds and reduced his opponents to cowering in defense.
He rode on that signature style and added refinements along the way to become the top gun of boxing. No other Filipino boxer, or any Asian for that matter, has captivated the very discriminating fans of world class boxing as Pacquiao has done. And he did it with class and gusto.
Fighting more established and bigger opponents, Pacquiao left nothing to be desired.
Over the years, however, he ran out of conquests. Along the way, money became the main reason to fight. Then he became the most sought after Filipino celebrity. He did movies, cut records, hosted television shows and soon found himself in politics. Success brought him fame but it also cut into his simple lifestyle
Deny he must, these outside-the-ring glories and preoccupations have eroded his fierce competitive nature. He has slackened. He has become accommodating. He allowed himself to be distracted.
He was led to believe he was an indestructible boxer. Until 2012 proved to him some good things never last.
On Tuesday, February 4, Pacquiao admitted he lost some of the zeal. He wants to recover the hunger that brought him the glory.
He showed vestiges of that when he taught Rios a neat boxing lesson in Macau last year. But he again withheld his ferocity.
Against Bradley, Pacquiao needs more than what he displayed against Rios. He needs to be his old self.
Pacquiao has all the incentives to be the Manny of old. He wants payback. He wants redemption and salvation from the ignominy of 2012. He needs to reclaim his box office draw. He needs to settle some old and new debts.
And more importantly, he needs to find his Phoenix again rising. Thrice he tasted defeat before his 2012 debacles. Thrice he rose from the ashes. A decisive and compelling win over Bradley will rest his weary mind.
– Manny Pacquiao is to fight Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on April 12 –