wise man former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Champion (Tim Sylvia) once said -- and as any prophet of the unbeatable, motivated B.J. Penn can confirm -- 90 percent of the fight game is half mental.
For Manny Pacquiao, that 45 percent may make quite a bit of difference.
Physically and technically, Pacquiao is a stand up marvel. While he has complained of leg cramps in his recent bouts with Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez, his work inside the ring has been nothing short of jaw-dropping.
Despite fighting at Welterweight, he's got speed normally associated with featherweights and, impressively, crushing power that flatlined the gritty Ricky Hatton, dented the notoriously-durable Mosley, and ended Antonio Margarito's career in the upper echelon by destroying his eye. He puts together his punches beautifully, throwing six-punch combinations and connecting with the lot en route to establishing an offensive typhoon that few people on this Earth can handle.
What makes his upcoming clash with Timothy Bradley this weekend (June 9, 2012) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, so intriguing, however, is that the champion's personal life seems rockier than ever.When it comes to elite boxers running afoul of the law and having issues with the ladies in their lives nowadays, eternal Pacquiao nemesis Floyd Mayweather is by far the talk of the town. Not only is he currently in the big house for domestic abuse, it seemed like not a day went by when he wasn't harassing officers or cursing out broadcasters or generally making a fool of himself.
Despite his "good guy" image, Pacquiano has been in some turmoil of his own.
In the span of a week this past March, the Pinoy slugger was charged with tax evasion and harboring a fugitive. Recent reports indicate that his marriage with the lovely Jinkee may be on the rocks, as when Pacquiao decided that the two should renew their wedding vows following his win over Marquez, she refused.
And that's not even taking into account his own ambitions.
Pacquiao has been a congressman in the Philippines for the past five years and currently has his sights set even higher, aiming at governorship of his home province. In addition, he's made huge changes to his personal life, focusing intently on his Christianity.
He's even raised one of the biggest red flags in combat sports by floating the idea of retirement.
Overall, it seems almost impossible for Pacquiao to concentrate his efforts on the ring with so many distractions of both his and others' designs weight on his mind. That's what makes his fight with Timothy Bradley such an interesting affair. "Desert Storm" literally has nothing to lose -- while his skill is well-recognized, he's still sitting at worse than +300 underdog in the sportsbook. Nobody will think less of him for losing to Pacquiao, and at 28, he's still got plenty of fights ahead of him to rebuild himself should he fall.
"Intangibles" may ordinarily be a crock of crap used by your boss to explain your pitiful raise, but they sure as hell seem to be going in Bradley's favor, and with his ring IQ, he knows it. It would take something incredible for Pacquiao to get his mind in the right place for this.
Then again, the man has a knack for pulling off the incredible.