The boxing odds keep moving toward Timothy Bradley, Jr. for Saturday's big fight in Las Vegas against Manny Pacquiao. Sharp action on the underdog, or apathy toward Pac-Man?
This Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao will find himself in an unfamiliar role: He'll be playing the heel in his fight with Timothy Bradley, Jr. It wasn't supposed to go down this way. Bradley had nuclear heat after “beating” Pacquiao by split decision in 2012, but after Pac-Man's latest verbal attack on same-sex relationships, it's Bradley who will enter the ring as the hero.
Not everyone will agree with that narrative, of course. But the anti-Pacquiao backlash itself is irrefutable. According to The Philippine Star, Pacquiao was confronted outside a Japanese restaurant this past Sunday in Los Angeles. A man, described as “white and quite big,” ran toward Pacquiao hurling invective which we certainly can't repeat here, but the word “homophobe” was included. The man was subdued by Pac-Man's posse. This is reportedly the first time someone has tried to attack Pacquiao – outside the ring, that is.
Yet Another Movie?
Pacquiao's fading popularity can be seen in the boxing odds for Saturday's matchup. As we saw just a few days ago, Bradley's odds to win have shortened considerably; that trend continued over the weekend and into Monday, with the underdog moving from around +205 to +190. But judging from the public reaction, this has more to do with Pacquiao than Bradley. Fans are either upset with Pac-Man's comments, or they're upset about his choice of opponent. Batman v Superman (29 percent at Rotten Tomatoes) is getting better press that this fight.
But what do the sharps think? There seems to be a growing consensus that Bradley has a good chance of stopping Pacquiao on Saturday. Our own Swinging Johnson has recommended Bradley for your boxing picks, citing Pac-Man's age and Bradley's decision to hire Teddy Atlas as his new trainer. Lyle Fitzsimmons at Bleacher Report has Bradley winning on points. Miguel Iturrate didn't make a specific pick over at The Sweet Science, but his analysis supports the idea that Bradley is an undervalued commodity in this contest.
You can add top-name boxers Shane Mosley and Andre Ward to the list of people who are warming up to Bradley. Way back in January, before the anti-Pacquiao backlash, Mosley said Saturday's fight was a pick 'em, while Ward threw his support behind Bradley, calling him the toughest opponent of his career – they faced each other as teenagers in the amateur ranks.
We're sticking with our original cocktail of boxing picks here at the ranch: Pacquiao for the outright win, and a small side bet on Bradley to win by KO/TKO/DQ. The fact that promoter Bob Arum chose Bradley as Pac-Man's opponent should not be overlooked, nor should Pacquiao's stated desire to hang up the gloves after this bout and focus on politics. The onus is on Bradley to take this situation and turn it in his favor. May the best man win, and may the squared circle be with you.