Friday April 11th, 2014

3:80 | Sports Illustrated
SI Now: Pacquiao vs. Bradley II preview

On Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao (No. 3 on SI.com's latest pound-for-pound list) will take on Timothy Bradley (No. 8) for Bradley's WBO welterweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will be televised on HBO Pay Per View for a suggested retail price of $59.95.

Pacquiao, 34, an eight division world champion, is coming off a lopsided decision win over Brandon Rios in November. Nearly a year after suffering a devastating knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao looked sharp against Rios, showcasing good speed and movement in outboxing the slower Rios. Though Pacquiao-Rios did not produce Pacquiao's usual result in the box office -- the fight generated just 475,000 pay-per-view buys, some of which can be attributed to it being contested in China -- Pacquiao remains one of the strongest pay-per-view draws in boxing. He will earn at least $20 million for this fight.

Bradley, 30, is coming off his best year as a pro. In 2013, he outpointed Ruslan Provodnikov in an all-action slugfest that was SI.com's Fight of the Year. Later that year, Bradley defeated Marquez by decision. Bradley will earn at least $6 million for this fight

Background

A rematch of the controversial 2012 fight, Bradley-Pacquiao II has faced its obstacles getting to this point. In the aftermath of the loss, Top Rank, which promotes both Pacquiao and Bradley, declined to pursue a rematch, citing the sluggish pay per view sales (890,000 buys). In 2013, it was Bradley who declined a rematch. The first fight with Pacquiao had taken an enormous psychological toll on Bradley and he publicly stated he wasn't interested in a rematch--yet.

Last November, Pacquiao returned to the ring after an 11-month layoff against Brandon Rios. It was a tuneup test for Pacquiao--Rios, despite a strong record and an entertaining style, did not possess the speed or defense to keep Pacquiao off of him--and he delivered. While Pacquiao drew some criticism for not being able to finish Rios, it was a decisive victory.

Bradley, long one of boxing's most under appreciated fighters, used a strong 2013 to establish himself as one of boxing's best. After showing toughness and a willingness to exchange against Provodnkov, Bradley reverted back to the tactician against Marquez, counterpunching brilliantly, winning the exchanges on the inside and showcasing the hand speed and punching output that has become a trademark. Bradley is intelligent and disciplined, savvy with an ability to adapt in the ring.

Bradley has been outspoken that Pacquiao is not the fighter he used to be. He insists that Pacquiao has lost his killer instinct--an accusation Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, acknowledges may have some truth in it--and has confidently declared this fight will have a more decisive finish than the rest. Pacquiao, never much of a trash talker, has been respectful of Bradley, while admitting he is anxious to leave no room for debate as to the winner of this fight.

Last Five Fights

Pacquiao

11/24/2013 Brandon Rios, W (UD) in 12

12/8/2012 Juan Manuel Marquez, L (KO) in 6

6/9/2012 Tim Bradley, L (SD) in 12

11/12/2011 Juan Manuel Marquez, W (MD) in 12

5/7/2011 Shane Mosley, W (UD) in 12

Bradley

10/12/2013 Juan Manuel Marquez, W (SD) in 12

3/16/2013 Ruslan Provodnikov, W (UD) in 12

6/9/2012 Manny Pacquiao, W (SD) in 12

11/12/2012 Joel Casamayor, W (TKO) in 8

1/29/2011 Devon Alexander, W (TD) in 10

 
Tale of the Tape
Pacquiao
vs.
Bradley
Dec. 17, 1978
Birth Date
Aug. 29, 1983
Kibawe, Philippines
Birthplace
Cathedral City, Calif.
General Santos City, Philippines
Residence
Palm Springs, Calif.
55-5-2
Record
31-0-0
145.0
Weight
145.5
5'6"
Height
5'6"
67"
Reach
69"
* Official weights announced at the weigh-in.

Matchup

Bradley is undefeated for a reason: He is a savvy boxer who puts together sharp, accurate combinations that resonate with judges. Bradley doesn't bring much power to the ring -- he has one stoppage, a TKO of a long since faded Joel Casamayor in 2011, in his last 13 fights -- but he has the ability to overwhelm an opponent with volume punching. Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has lamented that Pacquiao took his foot off the gas in the second half of the first fight, allowing the always active Bradley to creep back into the fight.

Pacquiao isn't the same fighter he was in 2012, either. The killer instinct is gone, pushed out by age and a more compassionate side of Pacquiao that has emerged the last few years. Pacquiao has not scored a knockout since 2009 and didn't come close to stopping an overmatched Rios last year. He still possesses good speed and throws punches from awkward angles, but the relentless pressure that defined him in his prime is gone.

Those factors make this fight more compelling than the first one. Roach has admitted that Bradley is more of a puzzle this time around. He showed a willingness to go toe-to-toe against Provodnikov while reverting back to the tactician against Marquez. Most likely Bradley will rely on his counterpunching and try to use Pacquiao's aggression against him. Pacquiao will lean on his speed and combinations and, if Roach has his way, put a full three minutes of pressure on Bradley each round.

Odds

Pacquiao is a favorite at -230, according to Las Vegas betting website Bovada.lv. Bradley is the underdog at +180.

Prediction

Mannix: I've gone back and forth on this one. A lot. Bradley's activity level and strong performances last year are hard to overlook. But despite Pacquiao not being able to finish Rios last year, I thought Pacquiao looked sharp. He doesn't have to fear Bradley's power and Bradley does have a history of being knocked down. I think Roach's insistence that Pacquiao fight a complete 36-minute fight has resonated with Pacquiao. His desire to avenge a controversial loss will be ample motivation. It will be close, but take Pacquiao by split decision.

Greg Bishop: I like Tim Bradley in this fight. He's better equipped than he was in 2012 to beat Pacquiao. He proved against Ruslan Provodnikov that he can win a slugfest. He proved against Juan Manuel Marquez that he can win a more technical fight. That, the ability to win in different ways, combined with feet that are not broken and better socks (socks!), means Bradley wins by majority decision.

Richard O'Brien: At his best Pacquiao fought with an urgency and a kind of joy, even, that was thrilling to watch. But at 35 and nearly a decade removed from that first revelatory bout with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao has settled a bit and taken more than a bit of wear and tear. He looked sharp in his win last November over Brandon Rios, but he also looked a little careful and controlled. Maybe he'll bring more of the old fire against Bradley, but I think Bradley, this time, would welcome that -- and meet it with effective aggression of his own. Bradley is a more complete fighter than he was the first time around, and he's desperate to redeem himself for what was a painful victory in their first bout. I expect a close, bruising fight with Bradley edging away in the later rounds to take a close -- but, this time, legitimate -- decision.

The Undercard

Jose Felix (26-0-1) vs. Bryan Vazquez (33-1), 12 rounds, for Vazquez's interim WBA super featherweight title.

Jessie Vargas (23-0) vs. Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0), 12 rounds, for Allakhverdiev's WBA junior welterweight title.

Arash Usmanee (20-1-1) vs. Ray Beltran (28-6-1), 10 rounds, lightweights.

Undercard Grade: C

Programming Notes

HBO's Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and Roy Jones will be ringside for the main event and the undercard. Harold Lederman will be the network's unofficial scorer. Former judge Steve Weisfeld also will be ringside for any rules questions.

Widely respected Nevada-based Kenny Bayless will referee the fight. Glenn Trowbridge (Nevada), Michael Pernick (Florida) and Craig Metcalfe (Canada) will serve as judges.

HBO will televise a special 30-minute Weigh-In Live show at 6 ET on Friday.

BISHOP: History of boxing takes shape in unique Las Vegas vault

MANNIX: Bradley's journey leads him back to Manny Pacquiao

BISHOP: Pacquiao's improbable breakthrough changed a sport, dozens of lives

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