When: April 9th, 2016
Where: Las Vegas, NV
Network: HBO PPV
The Pacquiao-Bradley trilogy will not go down in history as one of the best despite the fact that each boxer has won once. Most believe that Pacquiao won both fights and it’s hard to argue otherwise. Even Bradley Jr. had to be shocked when he was gifted the first fight but a lot things have changed since the end of the second fight. Pacquiao has said this will be his last fight but very few believe that it will be for various reasons.
Throughout Pacquiao’s career he’s fought twice a year to stay in rhythm but this time around he’s taken roughly a year off since his loss to Mayweather. In the Mayweather fight, Pacquiao had a few moments but for the most part, he had problems dealing with Mayweather’s movement and speed.
Now, in the third fight with Bradley Jr., Pacquiao won’t be facing the same corner they had faced before. In what could be the most compelling story about this fight, Bradley Jr. will have Teddy Atlas in his corner for the second straight fight. In their first fight together, Bradley Jr. dominated the slow and overmatched Brandon Rios.
The matchup of Teddy Atlas vs. Freddie Roach is almost getting the same amount of coverage as the fighters. Atlas’ relationship with Bradley Jr. was born out of a radio interview after Bradley Jr’s victory over Jessie Vargas which is polar opposite than Roach and Pacquiao’s.
Roach and Pacquiao have been together since 2001. In that time, Roach has transformed Pacquiao from an out of control fighter to a one of the most exciting fighters over the last 15 years. In that time, Pacquiao has beaten Juan Manuel Marquez three times, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales twice, and Oscar De La Hoya.
Keys to Victory for Tim Bradley Jr.
- Be a Body Snatcher – Bradley Jr. must be committed to working Pacquiao’s body. This could lead to two positive outcomes. First, it will slow Pacquiao down and second, in an effort to respond to the body work, it could also lead to Pacquiao getting out of position that could allow Bradley Jr. to land big shots.
- Turn The Fight Into a War – There’s only one Floyd Mayweather so Atlas-Bradley Jr. can take some things from that fight but Bradley Jr. isn’t that type of fighter. Looking to make this a war similar to the Marquez-Pacquiao fights will allow Bradley Jr. to exploit Pacquiao’s mistakes with power punches. Also, when Bradley Jr. is inside, he needs to get physical with Pacquiao. Rough him up. Make him feel uncomfortable. Even though Pacquiao has had a long layoff and should be well rested, ring rust could come into play.
- Stay Off the Ropes – When Pacquiao had success against Mayweather it was largely because he led him to the ropes or Mayweather willingly put himself there. This is something Bradley Jr. can’t afford to have happen. Keeping the fight in the middle of the ring or pushing Pacquiao to the ropes is imperative if Bradley Jr. wants to come away with a victory.
Keys to Victory for Manny Pacquiao
- Get Off First – Pacquiao is always dangerous when he gets off first because he immediately puts his opponents in a defensive posture. In the first two fights, when Pacquiao got off first, Bradley Jr. went backwards (frequently straight back) and Pacquiao easily won those rounds. If an aging Pacquiao has anything left in the tank, getting off first is a good start to a potential victory.
- Be Active – Whether it was because he was overthinking the fight or the fear of being countered, Pacquiao wasn’t as active as he should’ve been against Mayweather. Too much was made out of Mayweather’s movement and not enough about Pacquiao inability to take advantage when Mayweather was in the pocket. Against Bradley Jr., Pacquiao will have more opportunity to score and must take the chances that he was unwilling to take against Mayweather.
- Angles – Pacquiao has always been known for throwing punches from odd angles. In his second fight against Bradley Jr., he used odd angles to his advantage in two ways. First, Bradley Jr. started thinking before punching something he wasn’t doing early on when he was still confident and second, the most dangerous punch is the one you don’t see coming. Pacquiao could use this to his advantage.
Pacquiao’s long layoff coupled with the Atlas/Bradley Jr. combination makes Bradley Jr. an interesting choice. Out of the three fights this one seems to be the one he has the best chance at winning. I see both fighters trying to get off early in the bout which could lead to a knockdown in the early or middle rounds.
I believe the difference will be Teddy Atlas and his ability to will Bradley Jr. to a win.
Follow Marcus “Mook” Washington on Twitter at @mtcwithmook