Ahead of this Saturday’s super fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley DAILY SPORT caught up with Primetime commentator Benny Ricardo to get his thoughts on the keys to victory;
Manny Pacquiao has won his last 15 fights in a row since losing to Erik Morales back in March of 2005. He has moved up in weight and has broken the orbital bones of his opponents while launching 474 blows during the Antonio Margarito fight. But did he lose to his counterpunching nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in his last fight? He did on my card, 8-rounds to 4.
Tim Bradley was born in the scorching hot California desert in the Coachella Valley in a city known as Cathedral City. The summers have regular temperatures of 108-(42.6) and the heat is a dry one, very similar to the heat in Las Vegas. The heat makes the men tougher than the skin on a gila monsters that live there too.
Boxing since the age of ten, Bradley learned his craft inside the ropes as an amateur fighting in 140 fights. He became a two-time National Champion and fought for the United States in Germany, Tahiti and Frnace. Andre Berto beat Bradley twice, once in the 2003 National Golden Gloves and then at the United States Amateur Championship. Bradley lost to Vanes Martirosyan at the Olympic Trials in 2004 and turned pro right after that.
With his origins in the desert and as a tribute to the men and women who serve in the armed forces of the United States and are stationed and trained in the desert for their missions, Bradley adopted the name “Desert Storm”. Bradley said “Desert Storm” describes his all out war style he offers his fans and opponents each time he steps into the ring.
When you talk about athleticism you always talk about speed and footwork. From the waist above its cosmetic, but from the waist below, that’s the franchise. Both of these fighters have franchise legs, lightning like speed, but Pacquiao packs power with his speed, Bradley does not.
So how does Bradley end up with an undefeated record of 28-0 and is a two-time WBC Light Welterweight Champion as well as the current WBO Light Welterweight Champion? The answer is ‘Ring Generalship’.
Bradley is the ultimate example of a Ring General. He has to be as he was born with a feathery touch and only has 12 knockouts, two of them in his first 5 fights. Bradley has to use everything he has in the ring, foot speed to get around effectively, hand speed to even double up on jabs to set up his right hand. Bradley also brings with him tremendous physical conditioning that allows him to use ring generalship to the fullest for the entire fight. He has gone 12-rounds many times and growing up in the hot California desert of the Coachella Valley, he knows the value of sweat and hard work.
Bradley is 28 while Juan Manuel Marquez was 38. I think at this point in their careers, Bradley is a better counter puncher than Marquez, yet look at the way Marquez neutralized Pacquiao’s backhand. Pacquiao’s backhand was never in the fight against Marquez.
Prior to Pacquiao’s last fight with Marquez, I said “Defensive counter punchers like Juan Manuel Marquez have always given Pacquiao problems.” At no time was that more evident than in his last fight with Marquez. Freddy roach was predicting a knockout by Pacquiao of Marquez within 6-rounds and I agreed with him. But Marquez countered every Pacquiao move better than any Anti Virus software counters a computer virus.
Bradley is the consummate defensive counter puncher who loves to fight inside and use his head – literally. Yes, the third punch – physically using his head just like Evander Holyfield used to do. If Bradley is allowed by the referee to fight Pacquiao inside, the head butt is as inevitable as a loser at a Black Jack table in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao has those incredibly chiseled like calves that seem like they can carry the weight of George Foreman on them. His blazing fast footwork is called “the Riverdance” and those chiselled diamond shaped calves power them through it. Those calves are the reason that Pacquiao can carry the extra weight and not lose any speed. He’s got the landing gear of an A-380 on a Gulfstream G500 body.
For Timothy Bradley this is the biggest fight in the biggest stage of his entire life. This is what he sweated rivers of water for in the blazing heat of the California desert. An upset guarantees him a rematch with Pacquiao and more millions to take with him to his desert home.
For Pacquiao it is about redeeming himself from a lackluster performance against Marquez. Leg cramps, rocky relationship with his wife Jinkee, the distraction of his cock fighting business all of them were offered as excuses for his inability to stop Marquez as was predicted by Roach.
The biggest motivation for Pacquiao is to put on a phenomenal show and take out Bradley early. The world will then demand the Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight of the century to happen.
While Mike Tyson was watching Manny Pacquiao train he told Freddy Roach to slow him down. Training includes 1,400 plus rounds of sparring, hill runs, enough to cover the height of Mt. Everest. Pacquiao’s endurance, speed and lung capacity are legendary. Alex Ariza his conditioning coach seemed to have some problems with Roach and left the Pacquiao camp to work with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Roach thought Ariza should be fired, but they have since patched things up. At Roach’s request, Pacquiao did cut out basketball games while training for this fight.
For Bradley his training in the desert did not change with Diaz and his father supervising it all. He did leave the desert last week to come to Los Angeles to train. What is very difficult for Bradley to do – is to find someone who can duplicate the speed of Pacquiao in sparring. That is going to be the key to this fight early on, how Bradley adjusts to Pacquiao’s speed and if it is even faster than he thought or prepared himself to be.
What I worry about Pacquiao’s legendary training and based upon - the supposed cramps he suffered in his last fight against Marquez, is he overtraining and is he leaving his best in training. At no time in Pacquiao’s career is his conditioning going to be tested like it is going to be tested in this fight with Bradley.
Bradley is a naturally bigger man and will be stronger than ever at 147/ 66.67kg. Though he may lack punching power – Bradley has the physical strength to bully Pacquiao and make it a street brawl.
So training is where Pacquiao usually gets my vote as an advantage here. The Ariza absence and when is too much, too much, in lieu of the cramps in his last fight?
Height 5-6 1/2 / 169 cm 5-6/168 cm
Reach 67”/170cm 69”/175 cm
Age 33 28
Stance Southpaw Orthodox
KO % 64.41 41.38
As you can see, physically Pacquiao and Bradley are very similar. But keep in mind that Bradley is the bigger man. Bradley has been having problems making 140 pounds or 63.50 kg. Before his last fight against Joel Casamayor, Bradley was weighing 145/65.77kg with 2 per cent body fat two days before the fight.
Pacquiao weighed 143/64.86kg in his last fight with Marquez. Bradley expects to weigh no more than 145/65.77kg. Pacquiao should come in at 143/64.86kg like he did against Marquez.
THE WAY I SEE THE FIGHT
This is one for the ages as you are taking a relative unknown in Timothy Bradley and you are putting him against arguably the biggest draw in boxing. Close to 95 million people that populate the Philippines will be hanging on to every punch their Congressman launches and takes. But Pacquiao is that rare human being who relishes pressure while never letting it enter his mind and cloud his performance.
Pacquiao’s speed is so amazing Antonio Margarito thought he was getting hit by three people, Manny, Moe and Jack. Speed is going to be the key very early in this fight. Will Bradley be ready for the speed of Pacquiao? Marquez was the third time around and I thought beat Pacquiao.
What made it easier for Marquez the third time around was the point that his trainer Nacho Berenstein was making to me during Marquez’s training. “Paqcquiao is a much more balanced fighter, more down the pipe and much better technically under Roach’s tutelage, but that will also be his demise” said Berenstein “Before his punches came at such odd angles and with such speed there was no way of seeing the punches coming.”
Bradley needs to do the same and he is younger than Marquez. From the opening bell I see Bradley going right after Pacquiao and turning it into a street fight. About Pacquiao Bradley said “He’s one of the best in the world and has been for a long time. But he’s human. He has two hands and two feet, just like me.”
The matchmaking formula for Pacquiao’s opponent has been to find opponents with names, some past their prime and others below their regular title weight. Not this time, Bradley will not struggle to make weight – he will be stronger than ever and is in his boxing prime.
To date I think Bradley’s finest performance came against Lamont Peterson. He overwhelmed Peterson taking Peterson’s best body shots in the first four rounds, knocking down Peterson with an overhand right in the third and then outworking him the rest of the fight. Yes Peterson was cut after a head butt but not until the 12th and final round. Both fighters were undefeated coming into the fight and both came in extremely confident they would get the win. But Bradley found the way to get it done and that was by outworking him.
Pacquiao is ripe for an upset and Bradley just might be the man. But I worry about his lack of punching power to deliver the big win by KO. With Pacquiao I have to ask if at 33 and with 59 professional fights, is he losing a step here and there? Marquez totally neutralized his speed and back hand. Bradley is quicker than Marquez though not as precise a puncher as Marquez.
At the end of the day, my prediction means nothing and I am not one for predictions. I love the sport of boxing and especially love weighing in all the factors that could lead to victories.
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