Yes, folks, come April 10 (Apr 9 in the boxing mecca of Las Vegas), expect lots of fireworks as the Philippines’ Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao, and good ole US of A’s Timothy ‘Desert Storm’ Bradley bang bodies for the 3rd and final time. This will be an exciting match-up, folks, with both promising to bring out everything they’ve got – and possibly more – on the table.
In one corner, you have the Philippines’ pride, the first and only 8-division boxing champion of the world, the ‘Fighter of the Decade’ for the 2000s, a grizzled veteran in the squared arena, an elected congressman of Saranggani Province, and now, a senator-in-waiting.
Facing him in the other corner, a two-time world champion, one of only a handful of distinguished gladiators to have pinned a loss on the mighty Pacman; a recipient of the prestigious ‘ESPN Fight of the Year’ Award for 2013; and a consistent member of Boxing’s elite pound-for-pound list.
The 2013 FOY was an epic duel between two modern gladiators, with blood, sweat and pure guts spilled all over. It cemented Bradley’s stature as a true warrior, and erased the stigma of the controversial split decision win he had taken from the popular Pacman in 2012. The gallant stand he showed, fighting courageously despite being concussed by the power-hitting Ruslan Provodnikov, would finally earn for him the recognition and respect of an appreciative fight crowd.
These credentials combined make the fight a mouth-watering cinch for the big bucks. Certainly, this clash of legitimate pound-for-pound stars will be far more entertaining than the sleeper-of-a-bout offered in the Mayweather – Berto farce face-off.
This fight could become another highlight tussle far better than most previous fights the Pacman has had. This will be an exciting, give-and-take, cat-and-mouse, surprise-a-minute smashfest. Possibly even a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate. Here’s why:
First, Pacman’s injured right shoulder is now fully recovered. That torn right rotator cuff had been a bother for quite some time, possibly having affected the results of his previous bouts. With that out of the way finally, expect the right leads to be crisp, sharp and fast. Expect the right thuds to be harder, digging deeper.
Second, the long lay-off has provided Pacman a new hunger for the squared arena. He is fresh, he is excited, he is mended, he is revved and ready to go.
Third, it’s not the old Bradley he’s facing in the other corner. Bradley has been reinvigorated as a fighter after enlisting the services of Teddy Atlas as his cornerman. Based on his 9th-round total demolition of that big bad bully, Bambam Rios, last November; the new Bradley is now quicker, more mature, more vicious, yet more deliberate. This souped-up version of a physically and psychologically better Bradley makes for a more dangerous opponent for Pacman.
Teddy Atlas has done wonders to rewound, retool and re-oil the old boxing armaments of his fighter. He has not only taught old Tim new tricks, he has worked wonders on the psychological side of the Desert Storm.
Fourth, with the senatorial election looming in the Philippines, Pacman needs to produce not just a win, but a truly impressive performance that will leave the fans spellbound. An ordinary, forgettable decision win will not resonate well come election time. Pacman knows only too well that it was his highlight boxing performance that endeared him to the country’s millions of fans. Take away boxing, and his political performance alone will not hold a candle against the other senatorial candidates. If Pacman exudes the energy, the youthful exuberance, and demonstrates the fighter’s fury that fans are hungry for, expect the crowd to vote him in. If he comes out old and soft, so does his chances for the Philippine Senate.
Fifth, there is the intriguing possibility of this becoming the Pacman’s last fight. That said, Pacman will definitely want to leave the boxing scene in a spectacular fashion, with both guns blazing.
Finally, more than the money and the recognition this bout provides, there is the pride and the legacy that each fighter wants to grab hold of. This fight is not about the money anymore. This is the last episode of the trilogy; the very summit to that long, hard climb; the climax after 24 seemingly ‘forever’ rounds of hurts and pains. Each one wants to ride off into the sunset with the scalp of a worthy foe tucked neatly in his pack. The survivor bloodied, battered, but unbroken; relishing the sweet taste of blood on his smashed lips; satisfied yet mindful of the wounds, the aches and pains. After a glorious battle, this weary warrior is going home now.
Who shall this warrior be?
More on the Pacquiao – Bradley Trilogy:
(Photos courtesy of mmafighting.com, theshadowleague.com,bloodyelbow.com, totalsportek.com, sherdog.com, boxingnews24.com, examiner.com, craveonline.com, boxingscene.com, fansided.com, qbsports.ca)