By Jackie Kallen
I doubt that there are many boxing fans alive that don’t love Manny Pacquaio. He’s cute, he’s funny, he’s gracious to fans, he has won titles in an amazing eight weight divisions and he is humble. Watching him on Jimmy Kimmel’s show the other night must have earned him another few million followers. He’s that adorable.
However, that may not be enough to get him a win in his upcoming rematch with Timothy Bradley on Saturday night in Las Vegas. When these two men met in 2012, the result was explosively controversial. Those of us sitting in the arena had no doubt after the fight that Pacman won. Easily. That’s why it was so shocking when the scores were read and Bradley was declared the winner.
The crowd walked out of the MGM Grand Arena shrugging their shoulders and scratching their heads. We felt certain that we had just witnessed a major misjustice, equal to the OJ Simpson verdict. Bradley didn’t look bad, but Pacquaio looked better. It didn’t make sense.
Both fighters have had to deal with the consequences in different ways. For Bradley, it’s been a case of wearing a belt that most people feel doesn’t rightly belong to him. His victory was robbed of all joy. The 30 year old has fought–and won–twice since then, beating Rusian Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez. His record stands at 31-0.
35 year old Pacquaio is now 55-5 and has also fought twice since the first Bradley fight. He shockingly got destroyed by Juan Manuel Marquez in the 6th round of their December 2012 bout. He then came back a year later and beat Brandon Rios in a 12-round decision match.
The question now is: Has Bradley gotten even better since their first fight and has Pacquaio slipped a bit? Both men have trained hard and have had successful training camps. As always, both are predicting victory. Bradley wants redemption and respect. Pacquaio wants to even the score and prove he still has it. That’s why this has the makings of a classic fight.
Manny is the harder hitter of the two. He has KOed more than half of his foes while Bradley’s power is not as intense. He is a superb master of the art of boxing, though, and has the ability to win rounds on that basis alone. He’ll need to bring his A game, but you can never underestimate a legend like Pacman.
Kenny Bayless is the referee and I know he’ll do a good job of keeping the fight clean and orderly. It will ultimately come down to desire. Does Manny still have the hunger in the pit of his stomach that he had when he won his first WBC belt back in 1998? Is he able to dig deep enough to out-box and out-slug a determined Bradley?
The answer will be revealed on Saturday night. For those who are shelling out $70 for the PPV, I hope they get their money’s worth. The fans who see the fight in person will have a great time no matter how good or bad the fight is. Just being in Vegas for a big fight is worth it.
I’m going with Bradley by decision.
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