Last year Manny Pacquiao had to endure his first loss in seven years when Timothy Bradley beat him on points in what many people viewed as a shocking decision. Perhaps in hindsight it was not so shocking considering the influx of bad decisions we have been having in the past couple of years, but nevertheless, Bradley was always seen to be in over his head against the former welterweight champion.
When the world saw Bradley unable to deal with the speed and volume of Pacquiao’s punches throughout their 2012 fight there surely was no doubt as to who the winner had to be. Still, the three judges saw it differently and Bradley won a split decision victory.
Ever since then, Pacquiao has gone on to suffer a legitimate shocking loss against Juan Manuel Marquez when he was flattened, quite literally, in six rounds in December, 2012, while Bradley has continued to ignore the rich amounts of criticism to go on and face the new fearsome puncher, Ruslan Provodnikov in which he was floored heavily in the first round and was beat all around the ring until he was able to switch his thinking cap on and get his legs under him to make the Russian look one dimensional by boxing him at a distance. Bradley admitted that he had communication problems after the fight and was slurring his words for a while, worrying fight fans across the world as to whether he should continue his career.
In the meantime, while promoter Bob Arum set up a comeback fight for Manny Pacquiao against the colourful Brandon Rios, Bradley was busy working on getting back inside the ring and a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez was set for October, shrugging off any health concerns. Bradley made Marquez look all of his forty years of age as he, again, used size of the ring to his advantage and pot shot Marquez with single fast punches, which prevented the Mexican countering his work. Bradley won a clear decision in many people’s eyes, despite the split decision in his favour.
Providing Pacquiao gets past Rios next month, options should be open to him to fight either Marquez or Bradley. If Bradley gets his chance once again, can he beat him legitimately? I am not sure he still can, but this depends on how Pacquiao looks against Rios, too. It is important that he retains all or most of his physical attributes that he possessed before being crushed by Marquez but if there are signs that his punch resistance has waned or he has lost speed or even the confidence to throw his famous flurries that used to dazzle his opponents then Bradley could be in with a shot.
The Timothy Bradley that fought Marquez landed plenty of straight rights upstairs and was even able to turn Marquez usual gameplan around at himself by countering with fast accurate punches at times. As Marquez showed against Pacquiao, that style becomes a boxing nightmare for Freddie Roach’s charge. The mistake that Bradley made against Pacquiao was that he felt he had to brawl with him and show his macho side. As most know, Pacquiao is at his best when he has an opponent that comes forward right at him. But if the American shows his mature side next time and swaps the “I’m going to show you who is boss” attitude for the Bradley that thinks his way around the ring then he could correct what went wrong last time.