While the rubbermatch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley this Saturday night in Las Vegas has drawn minimal excitement from boxing fans, for Bradley, this is a chance to add a critical line to his career resume. While the record book credits him with a split-decision win over Pacquiao in June 2012, it was a widely condemned verdict. In their April 2014 rematch, Pacquiao won decisively.
An undeserved win can do more damage to a fighter’s reputation than a loss. No other moment of Bradley’s career has stood out more to the general public than his controversial defeat of Pacquiao.
It’s unfair to Bradley and diminishes what has otherwise still been an outstanding career. He’s been a world champion in two divisions, consistently defeating top contenders and other belt holders over the past eight years. While I can’t really credit him much for his “win” over Pacquiao, I thought he won eight rounds against Juan Manuel Marquez in October 2013, which is far better than Pacquiao ever managed against his great Mexican rival.
Timothy Bradley is an exceptional technical fighter. He has very good defense and athleticism. He is one of the physically strongest fighters in the division and has a special talent for turning fights awkward and bruising and then out-hustling his opponents.
Above everything, Bradley should be respected for his grit and heart. His March 2013 victory over Ruslan Provodnikov would be my choice for the most exciting fight of recent years. Bradley was hurt badly and out on his feet in both of the first two rounds. He had to climb off the canvas to hang on in Round 12. But through most of the fight, he was able to get the better of the Siberian Rocky in a fierce, back-and-forth slugfest. Both corners threatened to stop the fight at separate points during the bout.
It could be argued that Timothy Bradley has never really been the same since that fight. Still, he’s remained a top fighter in the welterweight division. And while it’s hard to generate a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for his fight this Saturday against Pacquiao, there is the chance he’ll make significant history in the desert.