Road to Pacquiao-Bradley III Part 5: 2015
By Hector Franco
Pacquiao proved that he was still an elite fighter with his win over Timothy Bradley in their second fight. Now it was time for the fight everyone had been waiting for to take place. Pacquiao would set his eyes back on Floyd Mayweather. By the end of 2014 the public demand for the fight went back to a fever pitch. Both men being past their prime and the fight being past its sell by date didn’t register with the public.
Beforehand, Pacquiao would once again head to China and this time face the undefeated Chris Algieri. The fight ended up being a whitewash for Pacquiao as he dominated the New York native for 12 rounds. Pacquiao was even able to score a couple of knockdowns, once again reaffirming that the Filipino did have a punch. Most notably the knockdown in the ninth round will be replayed for all to see for years to come.
Unfortunately for Pacquiao and Top Rank the PPV bombed in sales. It was the lowest numbers on PPV for Pacquiao since he moved up to the welterweight division. After the fight the public demand for a Mayweather fight intensified due to clever marketing through commercials and social media. The fighters waited until the bout was a social movement with hashtags of #fightpacquiao to step in the ring against one another. This wasn’t about the sport and proving who was the best in the world. This was about money. Fans know the trials and tribulations leading up to the bout with the two meeting at an NBA basketball game. At the end of February 2015 the fight was announced and signed.
The fight had one of the worst promotions in boxing history. The ticket availability to actual boxing fans was non-existent. Instead the tickets went to brokers who jacked up the prices to extraordinary heights. It was a chance for boxing to have its super bowl, but instead was more of a microcosm of what was bad about the sport. The undercard was horrid and featured nothing but mismatches. The fight itself, well it happened. Mayweather won a unanimous decision. There isn’t much else to be said. Boxing likely lost more fans that night than on any other night. The bout looked like a glorified sparring session as Pacquiao landed and threw the least amount of punches he has in any 12 round bout. Mayweather joined him in this statistic and also landed the least amount of punches on any opponent in a 12 round bout. Even with all the negatives, it didn’t matter. The PPV broke every record imaginable and far exceeded anyone’s expectations. It sold 4.6 million in PPV buys and brought in over 400 million at the gate. The fall out afterwards, brought down the reputation of both fighters as Pacquiao claimed injury and later on in the year Floyd Mayweather was found to be involved in an IV scandal. After five years of waiting, it seems that it would have been better if the bout had never taken place.
During this time Timothy Bradley was going through a transitional phase in his career. Pacquiao it seemed was now behind him and it was time to face off against other welterweights. In December 2014, Bradley faced off against Argentina’s Diego Chaves. Bradley seemed to dominate much of the bout, but had to settle with a draw from the judges. Afterwards in June of 2015, he faced off against Jessie Vargas. Vargas was also dominated for most of the rounds; however, in the 12th round in the last 15 seconds he landed a huge overhand right that hurt Bradley. The referee inadvertently, thought that the ten-second bell was the final bell and stopped the bout early. Bradley in all likelihood would have survived the last ten seconds, but Vargas now had a reason to ask for a rematch. A rematch has yet to materialize as of yet. Vargas to this day still wants a Bradley rematch and now that he holds the WBO welterweight title he may get one soon.
After the Vargas fight, Bradley went through a huge change in his career. He decided to leave longtime trainer Joel Diaz, and take on former trainer Teddy Atlas. It was a controversial move as Diaz and Bradley seemed to make a great team. The two have won 5 world championships together and the change came out of nowhere. There was a bit of a back and forth between the two mainly dealing with Bradley’s wife who also happens to be his manager. Regardless of this, Bradley was ready to have his first bout with Atlas as his trainer and take on Brandon Rios.
Rios was coming off of a career best performance in the third bout against Mike Alvarado in January 2015. The fight was seen as a test for both men, but by the time they got in the ring it was clear that only one man had prepared properly. Bradley ended up dominating Rios for the entire bout. He was even able to stop the usually durable Rios in the ninth round with body punches. The new relationship with Teddy Atlas seemed to keep Bradley more focused. But the level of his opponent needs to be taken into account. After three fights in a row against mid-tier opponents, Bradley was ready to step back into the ring with the elite.
By the end of 2015, Manny Pacquiao was set to announce his opponent for his return in 2016. The announcement was delayed as multiple opponents were in the running such as Amir Khan and Terence Crawford. Crawford was the opponent that most fans wanted to see in against Pacquiao. He is also promoted by Top Rank, making the bout easy to make and would provide for a fresh new match up. The Khan and Crawford fights fell through and instead Pacquiao chose to have a rubber match with Timothy Bradley.
It’s come full circle and we are now just days away from the third bout between Pacquiao and Bradley. Many believe that Pacquiao is up 2-0 in the series and that this is a match up that nobody wanted. Looking at the sales and hype surrounding the bout it would seem that the bloom is off of the rose when it comes to Pacquiao. Pacquiao is coming off of a long layoff, a shoulder surgery and a loss to Floyd Mayweather. If there was anytime Bradley were going to beat Pacquiao it would be now. Hopefully at the very least they give fans an exciting fight. If this is indeed Pacquiao's final fight, that's all fans can hope for.