The upcoming fight between Timothy Bradley and living legend Manny Pacquiao will complete the trilogy and the rubber match. Let’s analyze the style matchups between the two and make our boxing picks.
New Trainer, New Power for Bradley?
Timothy Bradley replaced his longtime trainer Joel Diaz with the legendary Teddy Atlas and if the first fight with Atlas in his corner is any indication, then look out Manny! Bradley had not finished anyone since 2011 but on November 7, 2015 that all changed as Bradley dominated Brandon Rios from box to wire. Bradley relentlessly worked the body with sledgehammer blows to the midsection that ultimately collapsed the 29-year-old challenger, who announced his retirement after nine rounds of Bradley’s punishing onslaught.
To say that Bradley does not own knockout power would be erroneous if one considers his 13 knockouts in 33 victories. However, to classify him as a KO artist would be overstating the case. Bradley is a complete fighter who can decimate those who do not possess his physical gifts but when faced against elite competition, he can get sloppy and make mental errors. That has occurred even in victory for the 32-year-old Palm Springs native but was most evident against Pacquiao not only in his loss but in his highly controversial win.
Perhaps the greatest evidence of Atlas’s handiwork came in the form of getting Bradley to circle and not merely square up and trade with his adversary. In the Rios fight Bradley worked the body using angles and ducked his head repeatedly to avoid damage. Clearly Brandon Rios is not Manny Pacquiao, however Atlas only had a few months to work with and prep Bradley for the fight. He will now have a full camp with his new protégé and the full effect of a new trainer with a more veteran skill set should be nothing but beneficial for Bradley in his third match with Pacquiao.
Manny Being Manny
As Manny Pacquiao enters the twilight of his storied career we know what we’ve got with him. He is a brutally strong fighter who possesses blinding speed when on his game. He throws early and often which can lead to open opportunities for his adversaries but his punching is so precise that often his opponents cannot take advantage of the openings he allows. Pacquiao possesses knockout power that has starched 38 of his opponents in his 57 victories. He is not afraid to stand and trade but stylistically can box with the best of them, save for Floyd Mayweather. Counterpunching is not his strong suit as Pacquiao is more the hunter than the hunted but he is adept at adapting to his opponent.
Pacquiao is known for his head movement and will often lean to his right and throw left. Pac Man is also underrated in boxing odds for his ability to feint and catch his opponents off guard. His southpaw stance is made even more dangerous for his orthodox opponents when he uses a double jab to set up his devastating straight left. Often times he will time his opponent’s jab and unleash his power punch and will even leave his back foot to do so. His foot movement combined with his blazing speed allows him to throw from a completely different angle than where he ultimately ends up once his opponent has countered.
Style vs. Style
The odds on this one have dropped on the favorite Pacquiao from an opener of -260 all the way down to -220 at at Heritage. Clearly the steam is coming in from all of those viewing Timothy Bradley as a live dog and will include him in their boxing picks. But how will Bradley’s clean, tight and newly polished form, courtesy of Teddy Atlas, compare with Pacquiao’s devastating power and speed? In the previous two fights Bradley could not compete despite winning by split decision in the first bout which was universally derided by virtually everyone but those in the Bradley camp.
Pacquiao’s shoulder surgery after his disappointing effort against Floyd Mayweather may render his once dazzling speed and raw power far less effective. If that is indeed the case we know Bradley has the chops to hang and bang with any of the world’s best. Is Pacquiao still in that rarified air? We will know after April 9th.