But say Bradley has a chance to win
MANILA, Philippines – Fight pundits are already giving out their fearless forecasts with just a few days to go before the highly anticipated welterweight clash between Filipino champion Manny Pacquiao and his challenger, unbeeaten boxer Timothy Bradley Jr.
|Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao (L) prepares to pose with U.S. boxer Timothy Bradley Jr. during an official weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada June 8, 2012. Pacquiao will defend his WBO welterweight title against the undefeated Bradley at the arena on June 9. REUTERS
In Las Vegas, boxing analysts and veteran sports writers are banking on Pacquiao’s speed to be the difference in the fight, but they are not counting Bradley out either.
“I think Timothy Bradley is gonna give Manny some difficulties early on, but the one thing is, Timothy Bradley is gonna come to fight and he is gonna try to knock Manny out. That’s gonna ultimately play into Manny’s hands,” said Kieran Mulvaney, who writes for HBO.com and ESPN.
In ESPN, Mulvaney predicted that Pacquiao will use Bradley’s aggression against him and “land with authority en route to a late stoppage.”
The predictions range from a decision to a late knockout.
“Pacquiao by decision,” said Yahoo! Sports Kevin Iole. “It’s a tough fight, a fight that Bradley has a chance to win.”
Iole added that the fight is closer than the odds suggest.
“Pacquiao had a bad fight last time, and I think he’s gonna want to come out and do this. I questioned whether Bradley has the power to keep Pacquiao off of him,” he said.
“But I do think people who are expecting a blowout are wrong. Bradley is a good quality, professional fighter, and he is going to give Manny a lot of trouble,” Iole added.
“But I do think Manny is a little but cut above and I think he’ll win the fight.”
Las Vegas Now sports anchor Chris Maathuis, for his part, said Pacquiao will knockout Bradley by the eighth round.
In a RingTV poll, 23 out of 25 boxing experts believe Pacquiao will win the fight.
Many of the boxing analysts see Pacquiao winning via a late-round stoppage or decision.
“Manny simply has too much power, throws too many punches and has too much know-how at this level,” said Jeff Powell of the London Daily Mail.
Michael Rosenthal, editor of The RING Magazine, expects a Pacquiao knockout by round 9.
“I suspect Pacquiao hasn’t slipped. I believe he is extremely motivated because of the doubters that emerged after the (Juan Manuel) Marquez fight,” Rosenthal wrote.
In the Philippines, analysts are not expecting an upset from Bradley, who is undefeated with a 28-0 record.
“Di naman ganoon kagaling ang mga pinatumba n’ya, so hindi dapat talaga katakutan,” said Ronnie Nathanielsz.
“Like what (trainer Freddie) Roach said, he looks like a body builder, which is a correct assessment of Bradley. He is so muscle-bound that he can be slow. That will be his major problem,” he added.
But sports columnist Al Mendoza fears that Pacquiao’s renewal of faith will cause him to take pity on Bradley and lead him to pull his punches.
“Baka dahil doon, hindi n’ya babanatan ng husto. Baka doon maka-singit si Bradley at mabigyan ng isang malakas si Manny at baka pa s’ya ma-knock out,” Mendoza said.
Nathanielsz disagreed, however. He said: “If you look at his previous fights, he’s always had compassion for his oppnents.”
“He embraced (Oscar) De La Hoya after pulverizing him, he wanted to pick up Ricky Hatton, he looked at the referee when he was battering Antonio Margarito. He has always had compassion,” he said.
Bradley has often said that he has no problem with being the underdog, and his manager, Cameron Dunkin, said the tag will give his boxer a chance to shine inside the ring.
“It’s all right with him. He actually thrives on it and I think you’re gonna see a great performance,” Dunkin said.
There is at least one prominent boxing writer – ESPN’s Dan Rafael – who thinks Bradley will pull off the upset of the year.
“I'll go out on a limb. Bradley, with his youth, incredible desire and speed to match Pacquiao's, will find a way to frustrate Pacquiao and edge him via decision in an upset,” Rafael wrote in ESPN’s Fight Credential. -- Reports from Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN News Las Vegas; TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News
Visit our Pacquiao Punch microsite for Pacquiao-Bradley fight round-by-round updates via chat, 10 a.m. Sunday.