Pacquiao-Bradley: What to expect
LAS VEGAS—The continued reinvention of Timothy Bradley Jr. has forged under a veil of mystery, thus making it hard for experts to come up with cheat sheets on what to expect when he fights Manny Pacquiao for the third time Saturday at MGM Grand here.
It didn’t help, too, that Freddie Roach kept Pacquiao’s sparring sessions under wraps until the final day of training at Wild Card gym.
So most of the guesswork in a fight preview will rely on past bouts of the two and some of the clues provided by interviews with the trainers and glimpses of open workouts.
Manny Pacquiao expects the third fight to have a lot of fistic fireworks if only for the pronouncements coming out of Team Bradley that trainer Teddy Atlas has reshaped the American’s offense.
“There’s going to be more action in the ring because Bradley has a new trainer in Teddy and Teddy made some new strategy for this fight,” Pacquiao said.
While Atlas has only provided verbal clues as to what that strategy is, Pacquiao and Roach don’t want to take long to find out during the match. Roach’s key adjustment for the third fight is to get Pacquiao going earlier than usual.
“We want to shorten the feeling out stage,” Roach said.
That means Pacquiao is going to put his vaunted footwork to use early on and hope that whatever leg or foot problems he’s had in the past—and he’s had quite a lot—remains there.
Roach admitted that Bradley is the better inside fighter and an improved offense under Atlas might give the American more confidence to step inside the pocket and turn to his tireless punching to try and chip at Pacquiao’s defenses.
“Manny, I think, is better working on the outside,” said Roach. Pacquiao’s foot feints and side-to-side movement helps him work from outside going in.
But Atlas has said he will take a page or two out of the playbook of both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez.
“It makes sense because those are the two guys that gave him some problems,” said Atlas. Mayweather avoided the hurt by staying out of the pocket as much as he could so Bradley will probably try to step inside, deliver blows and then move out before Pacquiao can react.
Atlas is also hoping that Bradley can constantly decode Pacquiao’s movements inside the ring so that he can decipher when the Filipino ring icon will make his move and turn into some sort of an active and aggressive counterpuncher like the Mexican warrior Marquez.
Marquez timed Pacquiao’s foot movements perfectly when the Pacman tried to set up his jab-straight killer in the final moments of round six in their fourth fight last December, 2012 and caught Pacquiao with a looping right hand that switched off the lights for a resounding knockout victory.
Atlas wants Bradley to achieve that level of foresight.
“[Bradley] already knows what the end result is, that is [Pacquiao] coming forward with just a bushel of punches and, again, that explosiveness,” said the TV analyst. “But before that there’s some warning; there’s something there, some delay before that happens.”
Both fighters also tend to lower their guard a bit. When not leaving his midsection open coming in, Bradley has the tendency to drop his left hand a lot and that could bring Pacquiao’s right hook into play.
When going for a blitz, Pacquiao has been known to be prone to the overhand right, a shot Marquez has expertly landed—sometimes at will—against Pacquiao. Also, that chin is sometimes open as he works his way inside with foot movement-fueled misdirection, leaving the eight-division champion sometimes open to a hybrid looping right counter.
However, Bradley has never been a big puncher and Roach knows that.
“Tim Bradley is not a big puncher. He’s a little bit slow and he’s never hurt Manny. He’s not a power puncher at all.”
This might embolden Roach and Pacquiao to unload in volumes without worrying much about counters. Bradley will have to really work his jab to keep that from happening. Otherwise, he might be reduced to backing out of exchanges and end up being the same Bradley as in the first two bouts.
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