The biggest combat sports event this month approaches, and Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley are set to enter the ring in just a few short hours.
On yesterday's weigh-ins, a chiseled Bradley tipped the scales at 146 lbs. Pacquiao, on the other hand, weighed in at the welterweight limit of 147 lbs. It's the heaviest he's been in his entire career, leading to a few questions of Manny possibly being "out of shape". The Filipino has been an overwhelming favorite in most books, but will this affect people's judgements in the last minute?
Are people looking too much in to it? Will it affect the fight? We'll see for sure come fight time, but in the mean time, here are some predictions from analysts in combat sports:
Scott Christ, Bad Left Hook: I do think Timothy Bradley can win this fight, but let's put it this way: Everything has to go exactly right for him, and a lot of stuff has to go wrong for Manny Pacquiao. Timothy Bradley can beat Manny if Manny is truly distracted, truly not 100% in it anymore -- hell, he'd have to be about 80% in it, in my estimation, for Bradley to have the chance to do enough things right to get this win.
I am certain that Timothy Bradley cannot stop Manny Pacquiao. That means he's going to have to do something really impressive. He's going to have to back him down. Hurt him. Out-quick him. Out-box him thoroughly -- and I mean thoroughly. He has to be better than he's ever been, and by a pretty fair amount.
Is Timothy Bradley great, or just very good? Are we asking too much of Timothy Bradley if we ask him to win this fight? Is it simply beyond his ability as a fighter?
...When you match good fighters against good fighters, someone has to lose. When you match good fighters with great fighters, guess who usually loses? My money is on Bradley not being great. Of course, I've been wrong a few times before. I'm sticking with it though: Pacquiao by unanimous decision, this time with no real debate.
Brent Brookhouse, SBNation.com: Pacquiao didn't accidentally become one of the best fighters on planet Earth. He has climbed up in weight and now, at 147 pounds, handles bigger men than himself with relative ease. But he also struggled against the smaller Marquez and, as pointed out earlier, his opposition hasn't exactly been athletically peaking.
Bradley isn't without issues. He doesn't hit particularly had, despite what his camp has said in public about his ability to get a stoppage. He also isn't quite as fast as Manny. In terms of purely who is a better fighter when at their absolute best? It's Manny all day.
But this isn't the best Manny Pacquiao. This is an aging fighter who is clearly distracted and also doesn't seem to have the "fire" that he had when at his absolute best.
I think that a young, determined Bradley, capable of making fantastic mid-fight adjustments, will be able to simply outwork a fighter whose legs have been failing him over the past couple years. Bradley is going to make it a little dirty and he's going to be able to do things that Manny can't keep up with at this point in his career.
I know it sounds like hedging and I don't mean it to, but there's a real chance I'm completely wrong and Manny either stops Bradley with ease or simply proves to be too high of a quality over twelve rounds. But I'm going to stick with what I've said since the fight was announced and say that I'll take Timothy Bradley by unanimous decision in an upset.
After the jump, quick predictions from Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Brian Viloria, Amir Khan, and Floyd Mayweather Sr. They aren't exactly unbiased, but they do give out some interesting insights on the upcoming fight.
Amir Khan: "I give the fight to Pacquiao by knockout. Maybe mid rounds. Manny will start finding his openings and start hurting him towards the mid rounds and put pressure on him. I don’t think Bradley’s fought anyone of [Pacquiao’s] caliber or as strong as him." Manny Pacquiao by KO.
Floyd Mayweather Sr. still hinting on Pacquiao and PEDs: "If things are on equal terms, I will go along with Bradley I believe. If things are on the same flat ground. They might not be on equal terms, they might not be on equal terms. I'm not saying anything. All I'm saying is if they're not on equal terms (Bradley) might not prevail."
Juan Manue Marquez: "Tim Bradley will be a tough fight for Pacquiao, but Manny is the better fighter. Bradley is very physical but Manny will win... I think Pacquiao will win the fight by decision. Bradley is very smart, very quick. The problem is Bradley doesn't have power."
Shane Mosley: "(Bradley) wins on points. Bradley has the look in his yes like ‘You’re not going to beat me.’ Pacquiao has a different attitude, but his sparring sessions have not been as good, and he’s looking a little older and he doesn’t see as hungry."