Saturday, June 09, 2012

Pacquiao vs. Bradley: Top level welters clash in the desert

By JE Grant

The buzz on Twitter on this day of the biggest fight not involving Floyd Mayweather is that Manny Pacquiao may be vulnerable against the determined Timothy Bradley.

To be sure, Bradley is a strong champion in his own right. As the true junior welterweight champion with an undefeated record, he is at once proven and somewhat unknown at this new weight class. He's been here only once before.

What is known about Bradley is that he has a big motor that can keep chugging. It is equally clear that punching power has never been his major strength.

His appearances on HBO's 24/7 have convinced some that he is on a crazed mission to success. As he whips through long runs in the desert and crushes himself in maniacal gym workouts, one cannot help but be impressed by his ethic. Just as it should be for a world champion.

But, we've seen this before -- from Manny Pacquiao. His dedication and bruising training camps are legendary, and none of that has disappeared for this contest. Despite his 24/7 appearances that emphasized his religious awakening, focus is still likely there.

The difference in this fight will come down to power. Pacman has seemingly had the edge taken off his power at 147 and 154 in recent fights. But in each of his recent bouts, it was more than obvious that his opponents had to strategize a bit to work around his considerable power.

Bradley is a workhorse. While he's scored his share of knockdowns -- ask Junior Witter -- he's not a particularly renowned hitter or finisher after hurting an opponent.

His style is punches in bunches and is basically straight ahead (although one of my Twitter experts Tom Gray @tgraysecondsout points out that Bradley does indeed show some angles). Nonetheless he won't be running from Manny.

That fact will be the difference in this bout. Manny's fast pace consisting of sharp punches will force Tim out of his game. While Bradley does not have an ounce of quit, he will have to resort to tactics (i.e. movement, holding) to see the final bell.

PREDICTION: Bradley makes a fight of it and lives up to his reputation for toughness and effort --- and gets knocked out by Pacquiao inside 10 rounds for his trouble. No one can discount Bradley because any fighter that works as hard as he does always gives himself a chance.  He won't win on this night but we'll hear from him for years to come.  Pacquiao by KO in 9.
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