With Floyd Mayweather behind bars the boxing world continues to turn this weekend as Filipino superstar Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao returns to action. Standing across from him this Saturday night isn’t the man that everyone wanted (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) and it isn’t the man that was Pacquiao’s first choice (Miguel Cotto) but nonetheless, it remains a tough challenge for him as he takes on Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley.
Bradley will be moving up to the Welterweight limit of 147-pounds for this bout to challenge Pacquiao for his WBO Welterweight title. The bout will air live on Pay Per View airing live from the fight capital of the world Las Vegas, Nevada. The MGM Grand Garden Arena hosts the bout, which should go live on Pay Per View somewhere around midnight, depending on the results of the undercard. Although it’s not the fight that everyone wants to see, it is an intriguing boxing match between two Pound for Pound Top 10 fighters.
When: Saturday June 12, 2012
Where: The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Airing live on Pay Per View
The Fight: WBO Welterweight Championship Bout (12 Rounds)
Current Available Betting Lines
Manny Pacquiao (-450) vs. Timothy Bradley (+325)
Total Rounds = 9.5 – Over 9.5 Rounds (-280) vs. Under 9.5 Rounds (+190)
Although Bradley has headlined Pay Per Views before and has been involved in a number of big fights in his career, this will be the biggest by far. His opponent on the other hand is no stranger to the limelight. Pacquiao has been involved in far bigger bouts than this one, so it’s safe to assume that he shouldn’t have a problem dealing with all of the media leading up to this bout, his opponent might be another story.
One of the biggest stories coming out of the champion’s side of the equation is the results of his last bout. Despite nabbing a victory, it was a largely unimpressive showing from the Filipino Phenom. After a Majority Decision victory that many people, myself included thought went the wrong way. After the bout Pacquiao claimed he was bother by leg cramps throughout the fight that hampered his ability to perform. Bradley’s last bout actually came on the exact same night as he battled Joel Casamayor and absolutely demolished him for eight rounds, before finally stopping the former world champion. Despite not being the number one choice, he enters the bout undefeated with a solid resume to his credit.
Fighter Analysis: Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley
Bradley is an American fighter from Palm Springs, California. Bradley is the undefeated and reigning WBO Light Welterweight Champion, he is also a former two-time WBC Light Welterweight Champion. He will be moving up in weight to the Welterweight division to challenge for Pacquiao’s WBO title. Bradley is currently ranked in the top ten of nearly all boxing syndications Pound for Pound best lists. He is currently ranked by The Ring magazine as number eight on the pound for pound list, as well as number one on the Jr. Welterweight list.
Bradley is an Orthodox fighter, which may make for an interesting contrast against the southpaw stance of Pacquiao. Standing 5’6” and with a 69-inch reach, he will enjoy a slight reach advantage over Pacman, despite being the same height. The 28-year-old Bradley is undefeated as a professional boxer with a career record of 28-0, with 1 No Contest. In those 28 wins, Bradley has 12 wins by Knockout. He is a former two-time American National Amateur Boxing champion, who nearly qualified for the United States boxing team for the 2004 Olympics.
Bradley is known for his impressive muscular physique as well as his strong cardio and high punch output. Despite the fact that Bradley is not known as a knockout artist, he makes up for that deficiency with excellent footwork, strong ring generalship and a high fight IQ. One of Bradley’s greatest strengths is his ability to game plan and continually evolve during a fight. In past bouts, Bradley has struggled in the opening rounds, only to make necessary adjustments and cruise for the rest of the fight.
Bradley has boxed a total of 194 rounds over his career and has an impressive connection rate of 33%. Landing over 40% of his power punches on his career, Bradley has shown an excellent ability to land his big shots and has proven a crisp puncher with excellent straights. Bradley can fight well at range, or in close and often will do both in his bouts, depending on what the situation dictates and what is working best for him. Bradley is also known for his relentless body attack, choosing to chop down his often larger opponents by attacking the body with combinations early and often. This focused attack often allows him to be the fresher fighter in the championship rounds, and allows him a cardio advantage later in his fights.
Fighter Analysis: Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is a Filipino fighter from General Santos City in the Philippines. Pacquiao has held and currently holds a number of professional boxing titles. His most notable accomplishments are his WBC Flyweight Championship, WBC Super Featherweight Championship, WBC Lightweight Championship, WBC Light Middleweight Championship and the title he will be defending on Saturday night the WBO Welterweight Championship. Pacquiao is currently the number one or number two pound for pound fighter in the world, The Ring Magazine currently ranks him as tied for the top pound for pound fighter in the world, as well as the number one Welterweight fighter in the world.
Pacquiao is a Southpaw fighter with an extremely aggressive style. He is known as one of the sport’s top offensive fighters. Pacman stands an identical 5’6” to his opponent, but possesses only a 67-inch reach, meaning he will be at a 2-inch reach disadvantage come Saturday night. This shouldn’t be much new to Pacquaio as he is often the smaller fighter and is used to fighting against larger fighters, or fighters with a longer reach. His aggressive style and ability to throw accurate combinations are his main weapons at overcoming those frequent reach disadvantages.
Pacquiao holds a professional boxing record of 54-3-2, with 38 wins by way of Knockout. His last loss came in 2005 to Erik Morales in the Super Featherweight division, despite that loss he avenged it two bouts later, stopping Morales by TKO in the third round. Pacquiao is a veritable hero in his native Philippines. He currently holds a position in the House of Representatives in his native country as a member of parliament.
There are a couple of issues coming out of the Pacquaio camp, including his physical abilities as he continues to age. He will be 5 years the elder of his opponent for this bout and after his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez he complained of leg cramps hindering his ability to move throughout the fight, leading some to question if age is catching up to the Filipino star. Still Pacquaio remains boxing’s top offensive fighter. He throws combinations extremely well, often times throwing five or even six punch combinations that are extremely accurate. He is also able to throw those combinations well whether he is countering or going on the offensive himself. He has excellent hand and foot speed, although his footwork did look lacking in the Marquez bout, likely due to the leg cramping mentioned earlier.
Punching Power: Manny Pacquiao
Hand and Foot Speed: EVEN
Heart and Chin: EVEN
Fight IQ and Ring Generalship: Timothy Bradley
The current betting line shows the defending champion and Pound for Pound king as the heavy favorite and that is understandable. Pacquaio has a more polished resume, has fought bigger and better fighters throughout his career and has looked more impressive doing so. Many pundits are saying that Bradley is a dangerous opponent for Pacquaio and while I do believe that is true to an extent, I have to believe that some of it is simply fight hype, when it comes down to breaking down the fight in some major categories it becomes clear that the Filipino star has many more paths to victory.
Let’s first look at Power. This is one of Manny Pacquaio’s biggest advantages and one that I expect him to try and capitalize on. Bradley is extremely muscular and strong and may actually be the more physically strong fighter, however he just doesn’t have the pop in his punches that can put someone to sleep with one shot. Pacquiao on the other hand has proven himself to be a capable finisher with over 60% of his opponents being stopped by KO or TKO. One needs only to look at Pacquiao’s thrashings of Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto to see the true power he possesses.
Speed will be another major factor in this bout. Pacquaio usually moves extremely well and looks very fluid when he is comfortable. I say usually, because in his last bout, he looked stiff and somewhat slow against Marquez and that allowed Marquez to beat Pacman to the punch during many exchanges. No matter what the problem for Pacquiao was leg cramps, aging, divorce or whatever, he’ll need to correct those problems against Bradley. Bradley is a young, athletic fighter with great hand speed and excellent footwork. Bradley’s strong Fight IQ and Ring Generalship also give him advantages in the speed category as his ability to dictate the pace of the fight will be key for him to scoring an upset.
Stamina and Cardio likely will not be a factor for this bout. Both men are superb athletes who always show up in top physical shape. Bradley has fought for twelve rounds a number of times in his career and always looks fresh heading into the final round, so cardio is not an issue for him. For Pacquaio even in his last bout, although slowed somewhat, Pacman did not look tired entering the final round and for most of his career, he’s never had problems fighting for twelve full rounds.
It’s impossible to question the heart or the chin of either fighter. Pacquaio was stopped twice earlier in his career, but that was at a much smaller weight class long before Pacquaio matured into his current body type. Since reaching the Welterweight classes and above he’s shown the ability to take the best punches of some of the best fighters in the world and absorbed them without going down. Bradley has been knocked down in the past, but has never been stopped and has never really been close to being finished.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
What will be essential for Timothy Bradley to win this bout is to remember that he is fighting against a Southpaw. Manny comes forward relentlessly and throws big combinations with bad intentions, it puts a lot of fighters instantly on the defensive. This causes them to forget about hitting back and instead they focus solely on trying to protect themselves. Manny definitely fights by the motto that the best defense is a good offense. However, in the past several fighters have had success at evading Manny’s onslaughts. The most notable examples are Erik Morales in 2005 and Juan Manuel Marquez in their last bout. Both fighters continually moved to their left, keeping their lead foot outside of Manny’s. This allows them to avoid the power punches and keep Manny at bay a tight jab. Bradley is an extremely intelligent fighter, and he surely has noticed this in watching the tape. He can fire strong, tight jabs and that punch will be the key to success. The other key will be knowing when to attack and when to defend.
Manny’s game plans are usually relatively simple come forward behind big punches and combinations and keep coming forward. Manny has a strong chin and against someone with such little power as Bradley has shown in his career it’s unlikely that he’ll be fearful of getting tagged. Bradley is also prone to getting wild at the end of combinations and getting lured into brawls by opponents who stand in front of him, if Manny can drag Bradley into a brawl it will only serve to benefit him. The more this stays as a boxing match, the more I believe Bradley has to pull off the upset.
Bradley is going to need to constantly move to the left. He will need to constantly be pumping out his jab, even throwing double and triple jabs from time to time to keep the Filipino star off balance. He should also be following some of these up with big overhand rights (arguably Bradley’s best power punch.) Manny is used to being able to dance around other fighters, use his superior footwork and speed to overwhelm them, if Bradley fights intelligently he should be able to disrupt Manny and take advantage.
The problem for Bradley is that he isn’t a knockout threat. He knows this and fights intelligently to back it up. However Manny is relentless and constantly pressures his opponents. I have to believe that if Manny gets into a rhythm at mid-range it’s going to be a long night for Bradley. If Bradley throws everything he’s got at Manny and Manny walks through it, it’s going to be a horror show, as Manny will simply continue to fire away at Bradley. He’s shown in the past to be willing to take a punch or two in order to get off big combinations of his own, if he doesn’t have to fear being knocked out cold, he might decide to trade one or two jabs for a five punch combination all night.
I’m willing to give Manny a pass on poor performance in his last bout, chalk it up to leg cramps, or outside distractions or Juan Manuel Marquez just having his number. If that’s the fighter that shows up on Saturday night, expect to see the upset. But I have a feeling Manny shows up in true form on Saturday night and puts on a career performance.
Manny “Pacman” Pacquaio via KO in the Eighth Round
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