By Kirk Jackson
As the year’s most anticipated rematches draws near, much has been discussed by media and casual fans in regards to the showdown between top welterweights Manny Pacquiao 55-5-2 (38 KO’s) and Timothy Bradley 31-0 (12 KO’s) this upcoming weekend.
For many, this is the fight to right a wrong that transpired in May of 2012, when Bradley scored the upset victory over the Filipino phenom.
A controversial split decision that’s been dissected over the past few years. A decision that produced a dark cloud that follows Bradley around, because many fans have yet to provide that multiple division champion with the proper respect that accompany a fighter who has accomplished a great deal.
But even with that interesting storyline leading up to the fight, the major storyline continues to be Pacquiao’s supposed quest for his “Killer Instinct.”
According to many fans and a few critics, Manny’s lack of a “Killer Instinct” is the reason why he struggled in recent years. This “Killer Instinct” is the theme of the fight.
It’s the reason why he was knocked out against Juan Manuel Marquez in the fourth installment of their epic series. And it’s the reason why he hasn’t scored a stoppage since 2010.
But long-time Trainer Freddie Roach claims that Manny will have found his “Killer Instinct” for this upcoming bout with Bradley. Manny has promised he will bring this newfound “Killer Instinct” to the fight.
Reminds me of when Roach and Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum claimed Manny significantly increased the development of Manny’s right hand leading up to the rematches against Marquez. That didn’t seem to be the case, as the right hand did not appear to pay major dividends.
Let’s just debunk that myth right now. Pacquiao did not lose his last fight against Bradley, or struggle in recent years because of the lack of “Killer Instinct.”
By all accounts he still has his speed and power. He looked determined and motivated against Brandon Rios in his last fight, he also looked great in his last fight against Marquez prior to the stoppage.
He struggled because of the type of opponent he has been in with. Specifically, fighters that have decent lateral movement, instead of flat-footed guy who will stand in front you.
Examples: Shane Mosley when facing Pacquiao, kept moving around the ring evading danger, avoiding any kind of fighting for the most part of that fight. Manny was not successful when cutting off the ring, eventually grew frustrated and could not mount his offense like he wanted to.
Timothy Bradley, despite his foot injuries, was able to move around the ring and whenever Pacquiao threw combinations he would respond back in turn with combinations of his own.
Marquez in their third fight, was able to move around the ring and he set the pace of the fight. Marquez is also regarded as one of the best counter-punchers in the sport and that will change how an opposing fighter attacks.
Manny’s performances are based on the style of the opponent.
Another reason why we haven’t witnessed the cold-blooded killing machine Manny, he is fighting at higher weight classes at a championship level and it’s going to be difficult for any fighter to consistently knock guys out.
Two other factors include his decline in stamina and his natural maturity as a boxer. As a fighter ages, he simply won’t be able to sustain the endurance he had in his younger years. Pacquiao is approaching his mid-thirties, he is going to slow down a little and it’s difficult to maintain the pressure and power with the kind of style of fighting he has.
He’s also a tad more calculated in his offensive approach. Although not a mastermind from a technical aspect, Manny does how a little more patience in looking for openings as that does come with age and experience. He’s not as reckless as he used to be although he can still be reckless at times.
Manny still has the “Killer Instinct.” Look what he did against Antonio Margarito. He beat the plaster of him and caused long-term damage to his eyes. And most recently, he beat the tar out of Rios. If the target is there he will attack.
The true problem lies if whether Bradley will be there for him to attack.