As the clock winds down for Saturday night's [April 12th] big event at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, fight fans from all over are eager, enthusiastic and anticipating a great show. It's the rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. They are fighting for the WBO welterweight title belt, which Bradley won from Pacquiao during an unusual controversial split decision back in June 2012.
Most observers who viewed their last fight disagreed with the judging and had Pacquiao beating Bradley by nearly a wipeout. This rematch has set both fighters on a path of redemption, especially Bradley who should have been riding high in the clouds after the big win, but instead found himself months later down in the trenches in a deep depression with thoughts of suicide.
Timothy Bradley (31-0, 12 KO's) is undefeated and has held that belt for nearly two years. He's defended it twice against two formidable opponents; one being Pacquiao's nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez, and the other, a slugfest with Ruslan Provodnikov. Some feel those two battles has equipped Bradley with more than enough confidence and the necessary tools to give Pacquiao major problems tomorrow night in their rematch.
Former world champion Roy Jones Jr., joined HBO boxing analyst Jim Lampley last night in the final episode of the 24/7 series filmed in front of MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. Lampley asked Jones questions with hopes of gaining a psychological edge on advantages and disadvantages of both fighters. When it came to questions about Bradley, Jones thought he had lots of advantages in this rematch, especially after being in the ring with Pacquiao before.
Jones said, "If Bradley doesn't get caught up in the exchanges with Pacquiao early, and just box him; don't go for the knockout too soon, and don't let him dictate the pace. If he does that, he should be just fine." Jones also said, "Bradley is a much better fighter than he was the first time they fought."
Lampley asked Jones the same questions regarding Pacquiao, he answered, "Pacquiao just have to do the same exact thing he did the last time—nothing different. What he can't do is get caught coming in recklessly trying to knockout Bradley and get timed with a counter punch the same way Marquez did him during the sixth round of their fight. It could be the same outcome," Jones said with a smile.
As the interview came to a conclusion, Lampley's final question to Jones, "Should the judges see this fight as a new fight starting from round one, or does it start at round Thirteen?" Jones quickly opt-in and said, definitely round Thirteen. This fight picks up right where it left off. That's the only way judges can judge this fight," replied Jones [with a serious look on his face followed by a smile].
Timothy Bradley is the underdog again even in this rematch, and probably still wondering today, how could he end up in a position like that after being undefeated and the title holder for nearly two years. What that tells everyone is Manny Pacquiao is still a huge superstar in the sport of boxing. He lost two out of three of his last fights and still he's guaranteed a purse of $20 Million plus to Bradley’s $6 Million. Although, this is will be Bradley's biggest paycheck to-date.
It's not easy to predict the outcome of any fight, especially this one. However, after hearing Bradley's side of the story for some odd reason for him, redemption is on the forefront for this fight. He has made it clear that he's going to shock the world this time. He said after this fight there will be no doubt left in the minds of those watching that he is clearly the better fighter.
Everyone that knows the sport of boxing knows that talk is cheap. It's what you do in the ring that makes the difference. If Bradley goes in there and hand Pacquiao a whooping, then everyone who doubted him before should give him the respect he deserves. A decisive win would definitely redeem him from the first fight and remove the stigma that has haunted him every since that night.
There's nothing Bradley or Pacquiao wants more in this fight than true closure. The fighter who comes out victorious tomorrow night will move into the next stage of their boxing career. A clear victory sails either one these fighters ship into some unique waters. An exciting and close fight could demand a third meeting between these two combatants known as a 'trilogy. Nevertheless, this is boxing—come fight night, anything can happen.