Manny Pacquiao (-215) vs Timothy Bradley (+200)
The first fight between Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts) and Timothy Bradley (33-1-1, 13 knockouts) lives in infamy. Back in 2012, Bradley was awarded a split decision by the ringside judges, but literally everyone else scoring the fight had Pac-Man as the clear winner.
The post-fight furor was such that the WBO Championship Committee went so far as to have five independent international judges review the fight. Each one scored it in favor of Pacquiao (118-110, 117-111, 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113).
But the official decision couldn’t be overturned, and the Filipino legend had to wait to get his WBO Welterweight title back.
Pacquiao and Bradley squared off again in 2014. Ironically, the fight was more even, but Pacquiao came out on top via unanimous decision (118–110, 116–112, and 116–112).
You’d think that would be enough to avoid any clamor for a third fight. (Pacquiao is essentially 2-0 against Bradley.) But the boxing world loves a good trilogy, so the pair are set to battle again on April 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
According to Pacquiao, this will be his last professional fight. And, given the passage of time, things could play out differently on the third go.
Pacquiao is now 37 years old and past his prime. His last fight was the super-bout against Floyd Mayweather back in May. That’s the only time he’s been in the ring in the last 15 months. He still has a ton of power for a man his size, but the hand speed isn’t what it used to be.
At 32, Bradley is no spring chicken. But he’s still got five years on Pacquiao (in a good way), and rounded out 2015 with impressive wins over Jesse Vargas (UD) and Brandon Rios (ninth-round TKO). He doesn’t have nearly the power of Pacquiao, but does have a two-inch reach advantage.
I actually like Bradley to give Pacquiao a serious run in April. If the fight was being scored after the fact by five independent judges, I’d say there’s good value on Bradley at +200.
But it’s not.
Pacquiao is basically a boxing deity. If the fight is at all close and goes to the cards, I can’t see him losing another decision to Bradley, not in his farewell fight. The crowd will be on his side. The announcers will be on his side. Subconsciously, the judges will be on his side.
So that means Bradley basically needs a stoppage in order to win, and that’s not his forte with only 13 career KOs. At the end of the day, even though Pacquiao is a fading fighter, the smart money is still on the man from Manila. (He’s actually from Kibawe, but that doesn’t sound as good.)
Betting pick: Pacquiao (-215)
(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roger_alcantara/ [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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