Pacquiao-Bradley 2
By Rico S. Navarro Updated Sunday April 13, 2014 - 12:00am

You excited about this? Will Manny Pacquiao finally prove that he won the first fight that went to Bradley via split decision? Or why doesn't there seem to be as much as hype here as that of the Pacquiao-Marquez fights or any of the Pacman's fights against Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera or Oscar de la Hoya? Why am I not that super excited about the fight? Don't get me wrong. I love to watch Pacquiao fights, but today's fight just doesn't seem to really excite me.

I think it's all because we just might be seeing the same old story repeating itself (again). Unless something really extraordinary happens, I'm afraid we're going to see a replay of Pacquiao-Bradley 1, but hopefully with a different result. Let's face it. Bradley is the type of boxer who can ironically make Pacquiao look bad because of his counter-punching/don't engage style. While Pacquiao loves brawls and will ask all his foes to engage in a mano-a-mano style of a street fight, Bradley is not going to fall for the bait. We can expect Bradley to wait for Pacquiao to take the lead, making the Pacman open his not so excellent defense. Bradley will then exploit the situation pummel him with quick counter punches before pulling away quickly from the danger of Pacquiao's bombs. He's not going to rock the Pacman or get him groggy, but more importantly, he'll get the much needed points and impress the judges. Meanwhile, Pacquiao will look "bad" with his wild misses and will look like a tiger on the prowl who misses his target often. And when he does hit the target, he'll suddenly feel the warm embrace of Bradley and then hear the voice of the referee to "break it up."

What does Pacquiao need to do to win? The obvious answer is simple. Knock Bradley out cold. But how does he do it? Isn't he already 35 years old and slowing down? Hasn't he lost his power with age? And maybe lost quickness with this moves and punches? I'd like to see Pacquiao fight like a tactical boxer even if he isn't one. He should dictate the fight forcing Bradley to a brawl in the middle of the ring. Easier said than done, right? For starters, he's got to go to the basics of chopping down the tree. Go for Bradley's "bodega" 24/7. Beat him up with body punches in the early rounds and not go for the head unless it's there for the taking. One of Pacquiao's most underrated strengths are his hooks and uppercuts to the body which are vicious albeit tough to see and not pretty from a fan's viewpoint vis-à-vis head hunting punches which really pick up a crowd.

When the body gives way, Bradley won't be able to run away or clinch too much and will then be forced to fight a phone booth brawl since he'll lose the energy to move around a lot. This now becomes Pacquiao's game where he can unleash his power and use his hand speed to outbox Bradley. However, Bradley will still be the better boxer in terms of defense and will be able to land a few punches of his own due to Pacquiao's "I'm ok to get hit style" highlighted each time he bangs both gloves together in an attempt to bait Bradley into a brawl.

My main concern for Pacquiao is if has lost a step with age. Will he be able to keep up with all the moving and "running" of Bradley? There is no doubt that Bradley will be in great shape and will be ready to run a marathon if needed. And if this marathon follow's Bradley's pace, I'm afraid Pacquiao will lose again. Pacquiao's camp claims that he's in excellent shape but is this the Pacman of his late 20's and early 30s when opponents would swear that they didn't know where Pacquiao's punches were coming from? Is this the same shape that had foes amazed at his "bottomless" energy? Is the power still there? Why couldn't he knock Bam Bam Rios out when he outpunched him 8-1?

At the end of 12 rounds, Pacquiao will not be able to dominate like the Pacman of old and should win via a split or majority decision. But I do wish that Pacquiao score an earth-shaking knockout win that will bring him back to the limelight and a showdown with Floyd Mayweather. So what will it be Pacman?

***

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