Pacquiao vs. Bradley 2: Odds and Round-by-Round Predictions for Saturday's Fight
Call it good fortune—or promotional genius.
Either way it’s clear that this coming weekend’s welterweight pay-per-view matchup between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao is generating a lot more interest than the first go-round in 2012.
Back then, Pacquiao was the incumbent WBO champion, hadn’t lost in what felt like a century (actually, seven years and three months) and was facing a foe in Bradley who’d posted a respectable resume at 140 pounds but had little else to warrant the shot at 147 other than a connection to Bob Arum.
Fast-forward two years and one dubious decision, and it’s Bradley with the belt, the win streak (he’s never lost in just less than 10 years as a pro) and the No. 3 spot in Ring TV's pound-for-pound rankings. Pacquiao is the one who’s still trying to rebuild a brand that was dinged by the original verdict and nearly sunk by a KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez six months later.
A glorified gym session with 146.5-pound heavy bag Brandon Rios brought many back on the Manny bandwagon in December, but the Bradley who’s beaten Ruslan Provodnikov (UD 12) and Marquez (SD 12) since the last meeting will provide a far more telling litmus test than Rios ever could.
Bradley felt that the Rios fight showed Pacquiao "just cannot turn it on like he used to anymore," as Ring TV notes. Will he proved that this weekend? Read on to see how we believe the fight will play out.
Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Time: HBO PPV starts at 9 p.m. ET; main event around 11 p.m. ET
Venue: MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada
Odds: Pacquiao (-200), Bradley (+162)
Note: Odds provided by Vegas Insider and correct as of 4/6/2014 at 8:30 p.m. ET; subject to change.
Bradley had been only an intermittently interesting fighter to watch up to and through his first meeting with Pacquiao before morphing into an action hero while vanquishing Provodnikov in his initial defense of the Filipino's title belt. He went back to being strategically interesting in the subsequent defeat of Marquez, and it's clear that a full-on punch-out is not in his plans for this one either.
Neither fighter, in fact, appears intent on replaying the Gatti-Ward trilogy as matters get going. Pacquiao lands the first punch of the night with a jab and later tries a right-left combination. Bradley is doing more surveying than punching, but he does attempt and land a right to the body late in the session.
The tie-ups feature more wrestling than fighting, and the center-ring encounters are a picture of two fighters each waiting for the other to provide an opening. Bradley misses a straight right but then nicely counters with another one. Pacquiao is the one coming forward, but Bradley is using movement wisely and succeeding when he steps around his man and fires, as he does with another right in the final 30 seconds.
Pacquiao is trying to use his right jab but is finding only intermittent success with it. Bradley lands a clean right hand and jabs downstairs. He follows with a left hand and finds the range with an uppercut as well. Both land right hands, but Pacquiao's right is cleaner. A Bradley jab in the final 10 seconds leaves a good impression and probably earns him the round.
Pacquiao scores first in the round with a snapping left hand that counters a lead right from Bradley. They both land jabs, but Pacquiao scores with two more lefts, one before and after a clinch. Bradley returns to the body before another tie-up, though his success is answered by a counter right and another strafing left from Pacquiao that are enough to carry the round.
Unlike previous rounds, Bradley takes the initiative out of the intermission and scores with a clean uppercut and a jab, then a straight right hand follows a jab from Pacquiao. A strong one-two scores clean for Bradley as well, providing Pacquiao with frustrating if not concussive circumstances. Bradley is doing a good job controlling the space and keeping Pacquiao from delivering more than a shot at a time.
Both men begin the sixth with jabs. Pacquiao lands a straight left, which is followed by an attempt at a combination to the body from Bradley. Another left from Pacquiao scores cleanly, generating a quick reply from Bradley in what's probably the most sustained action in the fight's opening half. Pacquiao appears pleased at the increase in pace and fires a pair of right jabs, then lands a glancing left.
Pacquiao charges from the corner with the momentum he felt he gained in the sixth, but Bradley is able to back away from trouble and counter with a right that scores. They battle on the inside, and Bradley gets the better of the exchange. Pacquiao leaps in with a left hand, which is followed by a combination to the body and head from Bradley, who lands another uppercut as the round ends.
Bradley comes out with a couple of jabs, takes a shot to the body and then counters a Pacquiao rush with a nicely timed right hand. Bradley lands a lead left and follows with a flurry in which just one of three shots connects. Pacquiao replies with a combination of his own and lands a jab at the bell. Most of the action has been in center ring, and neither have been able to seize momentum for more than a round or two.
A left and right open the round for Bradley, who's looking more comfortable with his ability to punch and land in combination. Pacquiao takes a backward step after a body-head combination from Bradley but answers back with quick combinations that push Bradley backward and get another sustained wave of noise from the crowd. Another left prompts Bradley to hold just before the bell.
Bradley lands a right hand in the first engagement between the two but is answered by a combination in return. He lands a single straight right hand, then two more quick ones as they get together in close range. Pacquiao has a small nick over his right eye that doesn't look like it'll cause too big a problem, while Bradley is generally unmarked outside of a noticeably swollen lip.
Bradley goes back to the body yet again to start the round, and both score with combinations inside. Pacquiao's aggression seems slightly tempered thanks to Bradley's ability to land with clean shots. Bradley initiates and lands a right hand but is countered first by a right and then a clean, straight left that snaps his head back.
Bradley is told in the corner that he needs the final round to "seal the deal," while Freddie Roach sticks to strategy in Pacquiao's corner and doesn't guess on the scorecards.
The first 60 seconds are uneventful in terms of landed shots, a stretch that's finally interrupted when Pacquiao scores with a right jab but then is countered by a straight right from Bradley. There's no crescendo-type flurry to finish things off, only a pair of jabs from Pacquiao, a looping right from Bradley and a clinch that greets the final bell.
They continue the clinch into a full-on embrace, and Pacquiao taps Bradley on the head and mouths the words "good fight." Upon breaking the engagement, Bradley shoots both hands into the air.
The general feel at ringside is that it was a pretty close 12 rounds that could legitimately have gone either way, but a small majority on press row has Bradley up by a narrow margin.
The words "majority decision" tumble from Michael Buffer's mouth when he takes the microphone, and the crowd groans when the initial card is announced to read 114-114 apiece.
It's quickly overruled, however, when Buffer indicates the final two cards agree at 115-113 for the winner...and still...WBO welterweight champion of the world, Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley.
Bradley is gracious but clearly pleased by the victory and claims the motivation provided by "my doubters" was enough to allow him to prove he belonged in the same ring with the seven-division champion. Meanwhile, Pacquiao concedes it was a good fight that he thought he won but says he has "no problem" with the decision and would consider a third go-round "if that's what Bob Arum wants."