Regardless of who you will be rooting for in this Saturday's super fight between undefeated WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley and eight time world champion Manny Pacquiao, if you watch their first encounter again, you will see that the fight is much closer than originally thought.
Immediately after the fight, this writer was ridiculed by colleagues and friends because of the shared sentiment with the two judges who scored the fight for Bradley. At the time, picking Bradley as the winner was a highly unpopular choice. However, the fight was much more competitive than most saw.
Bradley is somewhat of a magician. He pulled off the biggest sleight of hand trick the sport of boxing has ever seen. While Pacquiao looked as if he was tagging Bradley repeatedly with his straight left hand and wild flurries, Bradley actually slipped most of those punches.
During this clever misdirection, Bradley boxed his way to a split decision victory. Still doubt the fight wasn't as close as the judges saw it? All three judges scored the fight 7-5. That means a couple of close rounds either way, and the outcome could've been a lot different.
To ensure he pulls off a repeat performance of their June 2012 bout, here are five keys to victory for Bradley to succeed in that quest.
In the final five rounds of their first fight, you can see Bradley beginning to box and beat Pacquiao to the punch in a lot of instances. He was gaining his confidence, and it showed. Bradley must do this throughout the fight to pull out the victory.
Keep Pacquiao on the Outside
Bradley must box from the outset and resist the urge to trade with Pacquiao. Although Bradley has felt Pacquiao's power, Pacquiao can still end the fight with one punch, and Bradley must be aware of that. Therefore, Bradley must utilize his jab and do a better job of slipping Pacquiao's left hand early in the fight.
Utilize Big Fight Experience
This is Bradley's fourth fight at welterweight, and third fight as the headliner on PPV. Bradley must not allow the moment to overcome him and draw upon his previous big fight experience to pull through, especially in the middle and late rounds.
Listen to His Corner
Bradley did a great job of listening to his corner and sticking to the game plan in the first fight. Joel Diaz kept Bradley confident and constantly made his fighter think he was in control of the fight. This was something Bradley clearly took to heart and helped him to settle down in the later rounds and pull off the victory.
Don't Look for the Knockout
Bradley has said to get the respect he deserves from the first fight, he must knock Pacquiao out. That is not entirely true. Although you cannot dispute a Bradley knockout, if it does occur, Bradley does not have to look for the knockout. If he can effectively wear Pacquiao down, and the knockout presents itself, then Bradley must take the opportunity when it comes. Otherwise, box smartly and take his chances with the judges.