The renowned HBO boxing commentator once described “Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao as a storm racing across the Pacific.
Odds are that he will rip Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley apart when they clash for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on June 9 which will be in the morning of June 10 in Manila and have Bradley downgraded to a mere depression.
While this fight hasn’t excited Filipino fans as much as Pacquiao’s battles against Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, all of whom were bigger than Manny, the interest centers on whether Pacquiao can erase the memory of two disappointing back-to-back performances.
The first was against an ageing Shane Mosley who has since announced his retirement, and Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez who will be watching at ringside, hoping to entice Pacquiao into one last showdown later this year.
While Pacquiao dropped Mosley with his patented left in round three and did jolt his head back throughout with a number of solid punches, the general impression was that Pacquiao, well known for his compassion, eased up and merely coasted to a near shutout decision.
It was a vastly different story against Marquez who gave Pacquiao all he could handle and then some in the last of an enthralling trilogy that many people felt Marquez should have won. It was certainly the closest and the most controversial of their three fights with judge Burt Clements admitting his error in the first fight in which he scored the first round 10-7 instead of 10-6 for Pacquiao who dropped Marquez three times resulting in a 113-113 scorecard.
The judge’s mistake enabled Marquez to salvage a draw with a clinical exhibition of counter-punching.
A knockdown scored by Pacquiao in a rematch helped the eight-division world champion win a split decision while the third divided both the media and fight fans over the result in which the judges handed Pacquiao a majority twelve round decision.
The issues that wrecked Pacquiao’s focus and his mental state prior to the fight and disrupted his preparation were linked to his extra marital affairs which so upset his charming wife Jinkee that she was ready to serve him with separation papers. The late nights, gambling and even drinking paled in comparison to the damage inflicted on him by his marital woes.
Somehow, Pacquiao was able to turn things around by doing what he often does — resorting to prayer and turning to God and the words of the scriptures, to return to the road of righteousness in a hurry and to seek guidance.
To be sure Pacquiao’s lifestyle has changed dramatically. He no longer gambles or drinks, has disposed of his hundreds of fighting cocks, sold a small casino operation he ran in Manila, shuns late nights and stays away from other distractions, spending long and loving hours with his wife and their four kids who are with him in Las Vegas.
Of all the pluses Pacquiao enjoys over Bradley that one can enumerate, decidedly the crucial edge is his quiet and untroubled family life which has enabled him to maintain his sharp focus on the fight at hand and to maintain his fine physical condition which is essential as his summers pass and he enters the ring against a much younger, hungry unbeaten champion in Bradley.
Celebrated trainer Freddie Roach belittled Bradley’s chiseled body loaded with muscle pointing out that the light welterweight champion looked more like a bodybuilder and would move in slow motion.
Although Bradley said he doesn’t care what Roach thinks, the fact remains that Pacquiao’s incredible hand-speed should help him dominate Bradley because as Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has often pointed out “speed kills.”
Beyond that, even his rugged Russian sparring partners have spoken of Manny’s awesome punching power and his excellent footwork.
Put them all together with a desire to make a statement to prove he remains the best pound-for-pound fighter especially with Floyd Mayweather languishing in prison, Bradley, despite his fine physical condition and his public confidence should make for an interesting fight in the early rounds before Pacquiao whips up a storm and ensures that the desert storm fizzles into nothing more than a depression.
Note: Yahoo! Sports PH will be live-blogging the Pacquiao-Bradley fight. Visit Ringside With Manny for the live-blogging which will start 9AM on Sunday.
Categories: MANNY PACQUIAO