Road to Pacquiao-Bradley III: Predictions
By Hector Franco
Looking back at what led to this matchup between Pacquiao and Bradley will play a big part in my prediction for the winner of this fight. I have been watching the sport of boxing for most of my life and there are times when you know things are coming to an end. The entire Mayweather-Pacquiao saga left a sour taste in the mouth of most fans. Just like Mayweather faced a backlash and a decline in sales and coverage for his bout with Andre Berto, Manny Pacquiao is now facing that same backlash.
In the view of this writer, Pacquiao has been going through the motions and phoning in performances since his bout with Antonio Margarito in 2010. He showed the old Pacquiao for one night against Juan Manual Marquez in their fourth fight. When we talk about his hand and foot speed or his absolute love of the sport and performing, that fighter no longer exists. I have picked Timothy Bradley to win in both of their previous fights and in my view Bradley lost both fights clearly. This time, however, I am not picking Bradley because I feel he has an advantage over Pacquiao in his style. I am not picking Bradley because I feel he is the better fighter. Bradley will win because Manny Pacquiao is 37 years old and has been in boxing for 21 years. Pacquiao is an old fighter who no longer fights with passion. I expect this bout to be the least exciting out of the three bouts the two men have had with each other. Bradley will box and be more focused than ever. Pacquiao will be listless and fight an unmotivated fight. Fans we’ll see Pacquiao come out in new under armour shoes and seem ready to go, but once the bell rings it’ll go downhill from there. If Pacquiao comes out wearing his ‘No Fear’ apparel as homage to his prime and time as a featherweight it would be a good send off for him.
In the past six years fans have lost what Pacquiao really stood for. Yes, his run on top was great, but it didn’t matter if he was the best fighter in the world. It didn’t matter whether he was better than Mayweather or not. It mattered that he was the most exciting fighter in the sport. He gave us classic match ups and did so on the biggest stages in the sport. That should not be forgotten. By the end of the night I expect Timothy Bradley to win a unanimous decision and put the Mayweather-Pacquiao era to an official end. No other person in the sport deserves it more than the Desert Storm. But if for one night Pacquiao can bring back that excitement that captivated so many fans years ago, it will be a night to remember.
-Bradley by Decision
We are now about to bare witness to the third installment of Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley Jr. Right of the bat, I do want to acknowledge Teddy Atlas’ role in this fight. After being ringside and seeing how Bradley fought last November against Brandon Rios, I can conclude that this is a much different Bradley than we have seen in the past. He was able to knockout a fighter that has never tasted defeat via a KO. Yes Rios’ training camp and weight loss for the bout was criticized, however, this should not take away from the notion that Bradley was able to break him down and have him be stopped on the canvas. By no means am I comparing Rios to Pacquiao. The Filipino fighter has been at the elite level of boxing for the last several years and has secured superstar status beyond the sport. I am in the majority in believing that the first two bouts were won decisively by Pacquiao, but on paper, Bradley does have an official victory against the current congressman. Pacquiao cannot overlook this third matchup. Bradley will be more competitive in comparison to the first two fights. His footwork and agility will have to play a pivotal role against an extremely fast guy like Pacquiao. We saw in the first two matches that Bradley seemed to become frustrated by the speed of Pacquiao, and as a result would begin to just let his hands go. The speed of Rios is no comparison whatsoever to that of Pacquiao. Speed and power are in Pacquiao’s repertoire, as opposed to Bradley who has never necessarily been a knockout type of fighter. We only have one fight to judge the new pairing of Atlas and Bradley. He looked great in it. However, Rios could not tag Bradley at all and Pacquiao will have no problem doing that, as proved in the before. The X-Factor in this is Atlas. His motivational techniques are what make him memorable and Bradley has embraced that. His famous firemen speech will have to once again make an appearance in this fight because Pacquiao is one of the biggest wild fires that this newly developed team will have to conquer.
- Pacquiao by [competitive] unanimous decision – 116-112.
In observing their recent in ring history and performance, I have to go with Timothy Bradley for this fight. While the average man in his thirties is not considered old by any means, its different in combat sports. At 37-years-old, I don't see Pacquiao bringing the output and pace that made him great five/six years ago. I'm a fan of finishers and both these guys have what it takes to finish other opponents but I think Bradley's youth might benefit him this time around. At least enough for Bradley to win by decision.
-Bradley by decision.
It depends on which Manny Pacquiao emerges on fight night. If the Pacquiao that destroyed Ricky Hatton appears it could spell big trouble for Bradley and company. Unfortunately, I think those days for Manny are long gone and Bradley along with his new trainer Teddy Atlas are game and eager to settle this once and for all. Bradley has proven time and time again that he belongs in there with the best in the sport. I think the fight will be very competitive throughout with each man giving as good as he gets. Bradley has to be smart and avoid getting into exchanges and if he can do so I think he wins but if he gets sucked into the fire fight I am not sure the "Fireman" makes it out alive.
-I am picking Pacquaio by late stoppage victory.