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BRADLEY WINS SPLIT DECISION

 

Timothy Bradley sees opening to beat Manny Pacquiao based on last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez

That has been his instruction manual for how to beat Pacquiao

By  Tim Smith
 
LAS VEGAS - In his last match, Manny Pacquiao did not look like the same boxer who had roared through the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley like a Texas tornado.
 
Boxers Manny Pacquiao (L) of the Philippines and Timothy Bradley of US stand face to face during the weigh-in session at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 08,2012. Pacquiao and Bradley will fight on June 9. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMARJOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Boxers Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley (r.) take center ring on Saturday night at MGM Grand Arena.

Making effective use of counterpunching, Juan Manuel Marquez threw Pacquiao off his game, neutralizing his power and making it tough for him to use the odd angles from which he likes to land punches. Pacquaio won a controversial 12-round majority decision, but Marquez made Pacquiao look vulnerable.

In light of that less than stellar performance, Pacquiao revealed he was going through marital problems that affected his preparation for the fight and that because of an argument with his wife he had arrived late to the arena and only had 10 minutes to warm up before the match.

Timothy Bradley has heard all the reasons why Pacquiao didn't look like the indestructible force that he has in the past. But he is not buying any of them. He is going by what he saw in the ring against Marquez last Nov. 12. That has been his instruction manual for how to beat Pacquiao.

Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs), a junior welterweight champion, will be armed with that knowledge when he steps into the ring against Pacquiao in a 12-round WBO welterweight title match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.

At the weigh-in at the arena on Friday, Bradley, who came in at 146 pounds, wore a mean scowl, suggesting that he was ready for war. Pacquiao, who weighed 147 pounds (the highest of his career), was all smiles. He will earn $26 million, so there's no reason to frown.

This represents a step up in class for both Pacquiao and Bradley. Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) hasn't fought a young, hungry, undefeated boxer such as Bradley in several years. He has feasted on a slew of aging former champions, often forcing them to fight at a catch weight much lower than they had been competing at.

Though Bradley's recent competition has been in its primes, none of the fighters has had the status of Pacquiao, who is No. 1 or No. 2 on the pound-for-pound list depending upon your point of view on Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, doesn't think there is any slippage in the 33-year-old Pacquiao's skills. He sees the fight against Marquez as an off night for Pacquiao, precipitated by the marital discord. He said he has seen a re-focused Pacquiao in camp now that the Filipino champion has eliminated all of his vices and rededicated himself to religion. Roach said Pacquiao came to training refreshed, having given up carousing and late night runs to the casinos and replaced them with nightly Bible study.

Bradley, a 4-1 underdog, wants to play the role of spoiler for a potential Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. To have a chance at that he will have to avoid Pacquiao's power punches.

"Manny will have more power than I have. He has more knockouts on his resume,'' Bradley said. "But power doesn't win fights. It's all about skills. You've never seen a guy come straight to me and walk through me. If they do try that, they get put on their backs. Soon as he gets tagged he's going to respect me.''

Bradley is a straight ahead banger who likes to fight in close. That has led to head butts. It is something that both boxers are aware might happen. Pacquiao, who doesn't like seeing his own blood, has trained to avoid such a clash of heads. Bradley has also worked hard to avoid the head-butt issue.

"I'm a rough fighter. I can be aggressive,'' Bradley said. "We've been working to keep our heads out of the mix. I don't want there to be a clash of heads and have the fight end on a cut because of a head butt. That wouldn't be good for the fans who have paid a lot of money to see the fight. If that happens I'll be in tears.''

Bradley, a workman-like brawler who doesn't possess single-punch knockout power, has not been noted as a spectacular fighter. This could be his opportunity to break out of that mold.

"Maybe you'll see greatness in this fight because Pacquiao will bring it out of me,'' Bradley said.

PUNCH LINE

Bob Arum of Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, said he will delay the HBO PPV broadcast of the main event between Pacquiao and Bradley until the conclusion of Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and Heats so that sports fans will not have to decide which event they want to watch. The PPV broadcast will still begin at 9 p.m. EST, but the main event might not get started until after midnight.

 

 

 

 

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