By: William Holmes
Let’s be honest.
On paper, Timothy Bradley (28-0) is the toughest opponent Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2) has had to face in very long time.
The last time Pacquiao had fought someone who was undefeated was Jorge Solis in 2007, and Solis has never been anywhere near as dominant in his division as Bradley was when he fought in the Junior Welterweight division.
Those who are knowledgeable about boxing also know that Pacquiao is not a full-blown welterweight. He regularly weighs in for fights in the welterweight division between 142-144 pounds. If he had to, he could probably make weight for the lightweight division, easily.
Bradley is the same height as Pacquiao and will have a two-inch reach advantage. Bradley is also a highly technical fighter who doesn’t mind boxing rough, similar to Juan Manuel Marquez–the lone fighter to give Pacquiao serious trouble in recent history.
If there’s one knock on Bradley, it is his lack of power. Only 12 of his 28 victories have come by KO or TKO.
He last fought on the Pacquiao vs. Marquez undercard, and easily defeated an outmatched and over-the-hill Joel Casamayor. However, he has defeated some quality competition in the light welterweight division.
Bradley defeated Devon Alexander in January of last year to retain the WBO and win the WBC Light Welterweight title. He defeated Lamont Peterson, the man who beat the other light welterweight kingpin, Amir Khan. He has also fought and defeated Kendall Holt, Edner Cherry, Luis Abregu, and Junior Witter.
If you’re reading this article, chances are you already know about Manny Pacquiao’s incredible run through eight divisions. He’s fought and defeated Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. His last loss was in 2005 to Morales.
Pacquiao brings an incredible combination of speed, power, and aggressiveness inside the ring. 38 of his 54 victories have come by way of KO or TKO.
But Pacquiao is aging, now 33, and has fought a lot of wars that has to have taken a toll in his body. Floyd Mayweather is a defensive master, Pacquiao is not. His last TKO or KO victory was in 2009 against Cotto. He’s won four fights in a row by decision, and recently squeaked out a victory over the aforementioned Marquez.
There are many who feel Marquez deserved the nod in the Pacquiao’s last fight. It’s a stretch to say it was robbery. I don’t remember the last time a challenger won a title fight when he was out-struck in power shots, out-thrown in nearly every round, and had zero knockdowns.
Perhaps a noted boxing historian can enlighten me.
It isn’t a stretch however to say that Pacquiao’s talent is on the decline. He appears to have been at his peak when he brutally knocked out Ricky Hatton in the second round in May of 2009.
I still think it’s more than likely that either Pacquiao or Mayweather will lose before they meet inside the ring.
That loss won’t come on Saturday. It will be a tough fight, but Pacquiao should win by decision.
The question is, will Pacquiao win by a wide enough margin to convince the casual and pro-Mayweather fans that he deserved the nod, or will he squeak out a victory that will leave his detractors emboldened?