As the fallout from their first clash continues to rankle with those who witnessed it, Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley are well aware that they can ill-afford a similar ending to their return bout this Saturday night.
I continue to be dumbfounded at how anyone could have scored the June 2012 fight between Pacquiao and Bradley anything other than a four-to-eight round victory for the Filipino and hope that whoever wins this time around gets the credit due for their labour.
Bradley, who was handed the misfortune of the split-decision win, has admitted that he went through some dark days after some torrid abuse was aimed at him, which I should add was through no fault of his own. Pacquiao is the one whose career has nosedived due to the unbelievable nature of the decision and he is the one who is now wrongly attempting to claw his way back up.
Pacquiao taking his damaged mindset into a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez the following December was a big mistake, something that may never had taken place had he been given the correct result against Bradley. Injuries suffered by Bradley in their first meeting meant Pacquiao was unable to secure an immediate rematch and rushing into the Marquez fight was a bad decision all round. If Pacquiao would have taken stock and waited for Bradley to heal, along with taking his own time to contemplate what transpired, this in-turn may have meant he’d have avoided that terrible knockout.
With most now questioning whether the ‘Pacman’ is fully recovered from either defeat, Pacquiao goes into his fights with added pressure to prove those doubters wrong. This is something that possibly would never have occurred with a Bradley win and we can only speculate where Pacquiao would be had his injustice not occured.
Gaining that rightful victory over Bradley, which would have been a 16th straight for Pacquiao, would have skewed him off into a totally different career path and kept him in touch with Floyd Mayweather in the race for pound for pound superiority. Who knows whether Pacquiao’s run of invincibility could have even persuaded Mayweather that a fight with the eight-weight king was the right bout to take, and any career doubts that dog Pacquaio now would be non-existent.
The actions of judges Duane Ford, CJ Ross and even Jerry Roth (who scored the fight 115-113 to Pacquiao) to an extent, should not be taken lightly as the damaging effect on Pacquiao’s career has been evident to all since then.
Taking a year out of the sport before returning to fight Brandon Rios, a bout that probably would never have been on the cards if Pacquiao was never defeated, has pushed Bob Arum’s star fighter out of the reckoning at the top of the welterweight scene, something that only a decisive victory over Bradley, followed by redemption against Marquez later this year – can rectify.
Sadly, I don’t believe either will happen and Pacquiao taking a second fight with Bradley after two-years was the wrong option. An immediate rematch was the only way to right the terrible wrong of 2012 and the painful events that have taken place since then may only serve to weigh in Bradley’s favour.
Re-matching Bradley instantly would have meant Pacquiao was saved from his humiliation against Marquez, and it’s my view that the fateful punch that ended that fourth contest may be too hurtful to be fully erased from memory.
Bradley can take advantage of that, along with the considerable psychological advantage from his original win, to take out the doubting Pacquiao in a fashion that will eventually give him the adoration he deserves.
I can only hope that any scoring decisions are not the talk of the aftermath….
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