Close Encounters of the Third Kind

By Robert Ecksel on April 6, 2016
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Manny has already beaten Bradley twice, so the third fight is a rubber match in name only.

Maybe the fight, which is for a minor vacant title, will surprise us all and we won’t be talking about the trainers when it is over…

On Saturday, April 9, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a fight televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View, former eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs), the congressman from General Santos City, Philippines, fights former WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs), from Palm Springs, California, a third time.

The bout is being billed as a superfight, which is accurate only insofar as there are so few superfights on the horizon.

Pacquiao is 37 years old and is flirting with retirement. He seems unable to make up his mind. But no matter what he decides, which may be determined by how things pan out Saturday night, Manny is on the downside of his career. He has not fought in almost a year. He has gone 3-3 in his last six fights, including an embarrassing loss to Floyd Mayweather in his last fight, and has not knocked anyone out since his second round stoppage of Ricky Hatton in 2009.

Bradley is 32 and is the fresher fighter. Aside from one no contest and a draw, his only official loss was to Pacquiao in their second fight in 2014. But Bradley, who is an elite fighter, despite his lack of power, has received more gifts than a well-behaved child on Christmas Day. One of those gifts was in 2012 when he and Manny fought the first time. Bradley got the split decision, but most sensible observers believed then as they believe now, that Pacquiao won the fight.

Official scorecards aside, Manny has already beaten Bradley twice, so the third fight is a rubber match in name only. That it is being sold as such speaks volumes, about short memories and misperception, about emotion and wishful thinking, as well as Top Rank’s insistence that Top Rank fighters fight Top Rank fighters.

The pre-fight hype less concerned the fighters than their trainers. Freddie Roach (Pacquiao) and Teddy Atlas (Bradley) always have plenty to say. Both have promised that their fighter will win by knockout, which seems unlikely given the givens. And Pacquiao’s remarks about the LGBT community, that they are “worse than animals,” ranks right up there with “I hurt my shoulder” after his loss to Mayweather as something better left unsaid. Manny can say whatever pops into his head and walk it back after the fact by claiming he was misquoted, but his foot in mouth disease has not served him well, nor has Arum’s “No Trump Undercard,” which has been a distraction, at best, from the fight at hand.

The hope here is that it will be a good fight, a competitive fight, and that there will be a clear-cut winner. But the lack of buzz surrounding the bout is palpable and could have been prevented. If this is indeed Manny’s final fight (or Bradley’s final fight as he has hinted), a different opponent would have made it more of an occasion, an occasion better suited to the retirement of a much-loved, at least in some quarters, former world champion.

Enough people will tune in to the bout to make it worth everyone’s worthwhile. Unlike Floyd Mayweather’s final bout against Andre Berto, which was a thumb in the eye to hordes of loyal fight fans, the winner of Pacquiao vs. Bradley is not a foregone conclusion. But since the promotion never quite got off the ground, maybe the fight, which is for a minor vacant title, will surprise us all and we won’t be talking about the trainers when it is over.

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Top Rank: Pacquiao vs. Bradley Preview Show

Legacy On The Line: From Bradley to Pacquiao – Full Show (HBO Boxing)

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  1. Eric 08:32am, 04/06/2016

    Bradley & Pac are two-class acts.  At first when I heard about this matchup, I had ZERO interest but the closer it gets, the more this fight holds my interest. Both fighters will be fighting to go out with a W and I have a feeling that both will put it all on the line. Bradley’s lack of power will make this competitive, but Manny is just too far gone to take this one, even though he will have his moments. Bradley by decision or maybe even a late round stoppage. Bradley-Pac IV? Hope not, Pac needs to retire, win, lose or draw, and a Bradley-Broner match needs to be made.

  2. Lyin' Ted 06:00am, 04/06/2016

    “No Trump Undercard?” Sheesh, looks like Arum thinks the sheeple really have bought his caca. Arum cares about hispanics as much as a wolf cares about the sheep it preys on. Once again the duplicity and hypocrisy of people like Arum are to be ridiculed and mocked. I’m sure Arum has no problem with other countries having “walls” or borders, in fact, he probably is one of their biggest supporters. No “walls,” no official country, comprende, Booby. This fight should be pretty entertaining and look for some more fireworks if the Trumpster gets dumped by the neo-con led cuckservatives in Cleveland. Cleveland could very well be Chicago 1968 all over again.

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