Much has changed for Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley since their first fight, which Bradley won by controversial split decision.
Pacquiao was considered one of the two or three best fighters in the world entering the June 9, 2012, encounter. He was the WBO 147-pound titleholder and THE RING’s No. 1-rated welterweight, and he shared the top position in the magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings with Floyd Mayweather Jr. The Filipino icon had earned his lofty status with a 22-1-2 run since he burst onto the U.S. scene as a junior featherweight in 2001.
However, his success in against a string of elite opponents over an astounding eight weight classes obviously took a toll. Most observers thought he outpointed Bradley, but he lacked his customary intensity during the fight. When Pacquiao suffered a shocking one-punch knockout loss to arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez in his very next bout, some wondered whether his fighting days were over. Pacquiao proved he is still a world-class fighter by easily outpointing Brandon Rios last November. Again, though, that old “PacMan” fire was missing during his boxing clinic.
Can Pacquiao regain his once-dynamic form? Is he still an elite boxer? He seeks to answer that against Bradley, who is No. 3 in THE RING’s pound-or-pound rankings.
Pacquiao won’t face the same man he fought in 2012. The undefeated American narrowly outpointed a dangerous Ruslan Provodnikov in THE RING’s Fight of the Year last March, and then he put forth the best boxing performance of his career by defeating Marquez by a split (but deserved) decision last October. The 30-year-old veteran enters their rematch with more maturity and confidence than he carried into their first bout. But how much has he improved technically? How much has Pacquiao faded athletically and in terms of desire?
Here’s how the 2014 versions of Pacquiao and Bradley match up in 20 categories, both physical and intangible, with each fighter rated on a scale of 0 to 5. (A score of 100 would denote the perfect fighter.)
Summary and prediction: Bradley will try to set the tempo of the fight, out-jabbing and outmaneuvering Pacquiao from a distance. However, Pacquiao will occasionally land eye-catching left hands during their exchanges, and the crowd favorite will turn up the heat in the final minute of each round, backing Bradley up with blazing one-two combinations. When the two engage on the inside, Bradley will have the edge either by working Pacquiao over with body shots or by tying him up.
Bradley will win a close and competitive split decision, which will be disputed by some but not nearly as controversial as their first bout.