by Charles Jay
Anybody who has ever made a habit of going into boxing gyms over the years couldn’t help but run into some of the old school trainers who want to let you in on some of their wit and wisdom.
They’ve got these little sayings, and some of them are very amusing. One of the funniest I’ve heard came from a trainer who was asked by someone in the gym whether he was going to give his fighter a rubdown.
He said, “Good fighter don’t need one, bad fighter don’t deserve one.”
We still laugh about that one to this day.
You could always count on hearing stuff like “In a fight between a boxer and a puncher, go with the boxer,” although that’s quite a generalization, taking into account the various “shades of gray” that could go into such an assessment.
One that sounds good, and has some truth to it, is “It may come down to who’s the better catcher, not who’s the better pitcher,” referring, of course, to a matchup between two very good punchers. That one has a definite ring of truth to it, and we’ve indeed seen evidence of it time and again.
Then there’s the one where they say the guy who throws “wide” punches is usually going to have an advantage over the guy who throws straight punches.
That’s not an old wive’s tale.
Punches that are wide, or “rounded,” usually take a bit longer to get to their destination, and they could leave a fighter open to getting countered by an opponent who throws straight shots that are delivered to the inside of those punches.
I bring all this up because that very principle could wind up being the main problem for Timothy Bradley when he steps through the ropes against Manny Pacquiao on June 9.
Bradley is a hell of a fighter, and he really knows his way around the ring. In a lot of ways, he looks like one of those “throwback” guys, because he is active and aggressive and doesn’t duck the action.
But the fact is, he throws wide punches the majority of the time.
The other night I was studying the fight that may represent one of Bradley’s two best credentials as a pro (we’ll throw the win over Devon Alexander in there too) – his 12-round decision over Lamont Peterson in December 2009. What was very interesting about it was that whenever Bradley came with a straight right hand, he seemed to nail Peterson every time with it, especially early, and he certainly had Peterson hurt a few times in the first three rounds.
When he delivers a straight right hand, Bradley can generate some genuine pop with it, because he gets it there in a hurry. And he can be real “sneaky” with it as well. It’s actually a legitimate weapon for him, but it shouldn’t be a change of pace. As the rounds go on, he may throw it less and less.
But hey – that may just be the way he’s comfortable fighting.
Don’t get me wrong; he’ll certainly land some body shots that way, and that’s another “throwback” attribute of his: he likes to go to the body, and that can certainly have its effect over time. But will he do that enough against Manny Pacquiao, and can that kind of attack do sufficient damage to bring this fight solidly into his favor, at a higher weight than he is used to competing at?
There is a legitimate question as to whether that will be the case.
Pacquiao represents something of a contrast. He is generally not a guy who comes in looping punches or throwing “around” an opponent, but straightforward and with shots that come right down the pike. It’s something he does naturally, and as we know, he can hit hard enough to immediately stop a foe in his tracks. This is going to give him the opportunity to counter effectively, and that is going to be a challenge for Bradley to overcome for as long as this fight lasts.