Manny Pacquiao goes up against controversial tormentor Timothy Bradley with nothing in mind but payback.
His controversial 2012 split decision loss in the hands of the still undefeated American almost sent Pacquiao’s boxing career into a tailspin as he suffered another humbling KO defeat to perennial nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez 6 months later.
Those two consecutive defeats sent his stock crashing down – many dismissing him as a spent fighter. Not even his victorious comeback win against Brandon Rios was enough to sugarcoat his seemingly dwindling fame.
These losses also precipitated troubles with the taxmen in his country and in the US. Fame and fortune, after all, cannot get away with one of life’s two inevitables – death and taxes.
Those two trying issues, no doubt, also humbled him.
He knows he cannot forever rely on the goodwill of past conquests and triumphs to remain relevant in his new chosen way of life – that of a politician – if he cannot redeem himself totally.
That is why it is important for Pacquiao to exact revenge on Bradley and Marquez if only to solidify his already sterling and brilliant Hall of Fame-bound boxing career and reinforce his political stock.
Revenge and redemption is not something alien to him. In fact, he is good at it. In rematches, he is one of the best in the business. Just ask Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and even Marquez.
But in Bradley, he will find a different and much improved opponent.
Bradley is still in the prime of his career and has shown resilience in his last two fights where he traded bombs with heavy-handed Ruslan Provodnikov, a Pacquiao sparring partner, and eked out a well-deserved split decision win over Marquez.
The American is now belittling the Filipino’s lack of aggressiveness and killer instinct, a potent physical and psychological edge Pacquiao held against past and previous opponents.
That Pacquiao has not stopped a foe since TKO’ing Miguel Angel Cotto in the 12th round in November 2009 only gave Bradley some measure of confidence heading to their rematch next month in Las Vegas. In addition, he is bringing with him two successive victories against tough opponents that have measured up against the 8-division boxing champion.
Bradley is sending mixed signals how he will deal with a reinvigorated and revenge-seeking Pacquaio. He knows the judges may not be sympathetic with him the second time around. He will either have to completely outbox or outslug Pacquiao.
Bradley does not have the power to send Pacquiao to dreamland like Marquez did. He will have to throw and land a ‘Hail Mary’ punch to completely stop Pacquiao on his track.
Pacquiao, however, is not the easiest target to square off your punches. He is sleek and quick, the fastest welterweight in the game today.
So Bradley will have to rely on his quickness to frustrate Pacquiao.
Pacquiao has repeatedly shown disinterest fighting against opponents who have chicken feet and who refuse to engage. Just review the tapes of his fights against Shane Mosley and Joshua Clottey. Several times Pacquiao just spread both arms in frustration.
Bradley will capitalize on Pacquiao’s impatience and hopes to rally in the latter rounds when he feels the Filipino has gassed up and lost the appetite to finish him off.
We know Freddie Roach will have this possible Bradley strategy in mind.
There are two ways to offset this – go for the early knockout or pound on the body to slow down Bradley in which case it is the right hand of Pacquiao that will do the most harm – jabs and hooks to the face and the body.
Tell you, Bradley’s chicken feet will give in.