Pacquiao is 4-1 favorite over unbeaten BradleyBy Roy Luarca
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LAS VEGAS—Will Manny Pacquiao be a matador tangling with a raging bull?
Or will he be a predator chasing a fleeing prey?
Whatever role Pacquiao will assume will depend on what Timothy Bradley will bring to the ring on Saturday night (Sunday in Manila).
If Bradley, the unbeaten American challenger, chooses to slug it out, then Pacquiao will gladly oblige in defense of his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown.
If Bradley—young, brash and trash-talking—opts to run, then Pacquiao, a solid 4-1 favorite, will hound him throughout the 12-round bout slated at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Pacquiao’s intention is to knock out the 28-year-old Bradley, who’s headlining a pay-per-view (PPV) card for the first time in his relatively unheralded fight career.
According to Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, Pacquiao told him that he’s gunning for stoppage this time to make up for his disappointing performance against Juan Manuel Marquez last November, whom he bested by majority decision.
Losing his touch?
Though he had swept his last 15 opponents en route to a 54-3-2 record with 38 knockouts, Pacquiao failed to finish off the last four—Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Marquez.
Bradley, however, claims that Pacquiao’s selection as Fighter of the Decade, doesn’t scare him. It just props him up.
“I’m ready to shock the world,” said Bradley, who stands to receive $5 million, the biggest paycheck of his career.
Insisting that Pacquiao, who will be getting $26 million plus a share in PPV and gate receipts, is no one-punch wonder, Bradley said he’ll go toe-to-toe once he finds out that he can withstand the global icon’s power.
King in 8 weight divisions
But even if Bradley’s hunch proves right, he’ll still be in for trouble with Pacquiao, who is concededly faster and more experienced.
Pacquiao, who has found a new passion in Bible study and preaching, has fought 59 times, including 16 world title fights that saw him emerge as king in eight weight divisions—at 112, 122, 126, 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds. He’s the only one who has achieved the feat.
As expected, Pacquiao and Bradley made the 147-pound limit on their first tries at the scales during the well-attended official weigh-in on Friday.
The announcement that Pacquiao weighed in at 147 pounds, however, was a surprise. That’s his heaviest ever. Bradley tipped the scales at 146.
Bradley said he’s naturally bigger than Pacquiao, having fought at 152 pounds in the amateurs.
One thing going for Bradley, according to boxing pundits, is his fresh legs and determination.
Bradley (28-0) even taunted Pacquiao by describing their bout as between a “new blood against an old blood.”
Bradley, whose vegetarian diet during his three-month training has produced a well-sculpted physique that would make bodybuilders drool, said he’ll be using Marquez’s style as blueprint on how to punish and dominate Pacquiao.
The main feature of that strategy is effective counterpunching, which Bradley intends to enhance with aggression.
According to Roach, Bradley has neither the skill nor the power (only 12 knockouts) to be able to thwart the superbly conditioned Pacquiao, whose life took a drastic change when he embraced spiritual renewal through the Bible.
Concerns that it would make Pacquiao lose his killer’s instinct, which was already wanting in his victory over Margarito and Mosley, were brushed aside by the pound-for-pound king.
He said fighting is part of the profession and it’s his job to make fans happy.
That would be easy if he comes up with a knockout victory over the loudmouth Bradley.