Took them long enough.
Nearly two years after their infamous first go-round, Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2) and undefeated WBO Welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (31-0) will look to settle the score tonight (Sat., April 12, 2104) in the main event of a four-fight HBO pay-per-view (PPV) event from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
MMAmania will have LIVE coverage of the event, starting with the PPV broadcast at 9 p.m. ET.
In addition to this rematch, the product of one of the most questionable judges' decisions in recent memory, three other intriguing clashes round out the card. Undefeated Russian Khabib Allakhveridev (19-0) defends his WBA light welterweight title against Floyd Mayweather protege Jessie Vargas (23-0), Raymundo Beltran (28-6-1) tries to rebound from a robbery draw against Ricky Burns by taking out late replacement Arash Usmanee (20-1-1), and prospect Jose Felix, Jr. (26-0-1) faces Bryan Vazquez (32-1) at super featherweight.
But we all know what you're here for.
Will "Pac-Man" right one of boxing's biggest recent wrongs? Or will Timothy Bradley prove himself the superior fighter controversy-free?
Let's find out.
Name: Manny Pacquiao
Record: 55-5-2, 38 KO
Last Five Fights: Shane Mosley (unanimous decision win), Juan Manuel Marquez (majority decision win), Timothy Bradley (split decision loss), Juan Manuel Marquez (knockout loss), Brandon Rios (unanimous decision win)
Notable Victories: Juan Manuel Marquez x2, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Marco Antonio Barrera x2, Erik Morales x2
Name: Timothy Bradley
Record: 31-0, 12 KO
Last Five Fights: Juan Manuel Marquez (split decision win), Ruslan Provodnikov (unanimous decision win), Manny Pacquiao (split decision win), Joel Casamayor (technical knockout), Devon Alexander (technical decision win)
Notable Victories: Kendall Holt, Miguel Vazquez, Lamont Peterson, Luis Carlos Abregu
As someone who believes Pacquiao won the last fight by a fair margin, I'm tempted to say that as long as he does the exact same thing and the judges aren't stupid, he'll be fine.
Unfortunately, the records still show an L for that fight, so something needs to change.
For Manny to win this fight convincingly, the key is fighting for all three minutes of each round. A criticism leveled at him after the Bradley fight, one which was used to justify scoring it for Tim, was that Manny tended to coast for two minutes before turning it up in the third. His cardio needs to be on point to where he can throw his trademark combinations with the same level of fervor for all 36 minutes.
In addition, while Bradley has the punching power of an agitated toad, punches are still punches. He found his greatest success in attacking Manny's body, something he likely intends to repeat and which Manny needs to deal with.
Aside from that, the fight may come down to the nature of their confrontations. Bradley likes to flurry with wide punches and is a very solid defensive fighter, while Manny excels at closing the distance quickly with that big left hand and firing in combination. If Bradley can get Manny's respect and force a close-range, rough-and-tumble affair, he's got a shot.
In the end, though, Manny is still the superior offensive technician and figures to have a sizable footspeed advantage. Though he's not laying fools out the way he was a few years ago, there's still thump in that left hand, which Bradley sorely lacks. The key is not getting complacent; as long as Manny consistently forces Bradley back and lands that long left to the head and body, he shouldn't have a particularly difficult time. He just has to do it for every minute of the fight.
Bradley's chin, while historically solid, does still have a few question marks around it after that slugfest with Provodnikov. Manny is not the concussive puncher at age 35 and 147 pounds than he was in his heyday, but the possibility of a knockout remains.
Still, let's go with the safe bet. Manny outworks Bradley with his trademark combinations and footwork to take home a wide judges' decision.
Prediction: Pacquiao via unanimous decision
Two truly elite welterweights and a bevy of solid fights in the lower divisions. I figure it's worth a look; see you there, Maniacs.