Maybe a win for Pacquiao in that fight would have gotten him that Floyd Mayweather bout he has been trying to get, but history took a different course. Pacquiao lost a fight everyone knew he actually won, and even though he doesn’t really care about one more or one less loss in the column, it pushed him towards fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Eager to show he can be aggressive, Pacquiao lost a bit of caution and got knocked out badly.
The Brandon Rios win wasn’t vintage Pacquiao, but it did quell some worries about his ability and relevance at the top echelon of boxing, where Bradley belongs to as well. Not just because of his undefeated record, but also because he is a very good, disciplines, patient and accurate boxer. He showed he can put on a show in that monster fight with Ruslan Provodnikov, that had Bradley taken to a hospital with a concussion, even though he won the fight.
A lot of theories are built based on personal views. Pacquiao isn’t at his best – that came when he destroyed Miguel Cotto with a brutal TKO. He hasn’t looked that fast, that powerful and that hungry since. Some might say his loss to Bradley can be explained by Pacquiao coasting in the final few rounds, knowing he had the win based on his more accurate hitting in the previous rounds. For terrible ringside scoring judges, it wasn’t enough, basing their decision on Bradley throwing more punches, regardless of hardly landing any of them.
Maybe religion or other out-of-the-ring interests have hurt Pacquiao the boxer and his ability to get the job done, but that might an excuse to try and hide the fact that age has caught up with him. If Pacquiao’s heart is truly not completely in this, then there’s a real concern that this time, a very well prepared and tactical Bradley won’t walk away as the winner based on judges making mistakes, but simply on being the better boxer.
Right now, Pacquiao is the favorite, but maybe it’s good for him that there are some doubts regarding his ability and how much of a threat he really is. He can surprise Bradley because he isn’t the same fighter he was before getting knocked out by Marquez, a fighter Bradley beat six months ago with a split decision that probably wasn’t that close. Bradley is fighting for his honor, saying that the win against Pacquiao last time didn’t bring him the recognition and accolades he thinks he deserves. Manny should be in this to prove a point about being the better fighter, but it’s hard to tell with him these days.