It’s fight week in Las Vegas, and there is a legitimate feel that an upset could be in the making on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Timothy Bradley (28-0 12 KO’s) is a viable and worthy challenger to Manny Pacquiao’s (54-3-2 38 KO’s) WBO welterweight championship. When you first heard about Bradley “calling out” Pacquiao, it would be easy to dismiss it as another up and comer trying to make a name for himself against one of the two best fighters on the planet.
But Bradley’s story and journey to the mega fight is one out of a movie. He has on three junior welterweight title bouts and slayed every dragon on his way to to the Pacquiao fight (HBO PPV, 8 CDT, $54.95)…
“Getting prepared for this moment has been 18 years of my life, eight years as a professional,” Bradley told the media in a nightclub in the MGM Grand. “I fought in California on the Thompson [Boxing] cards in Corona. I came from the lumberjack yards in California fighting in little ballrooms probably about the size of this place right here.”
It’s easy to root for the calm, poised & confident Bradley because of his underdog story and the fact that he’s not a “look at me and my swag” type of boxer. He worked as a waiter to help pay the bills when he was coming up through the ranks because he and his wife were once down to his last $11. Imagine that added pressure before a title fight. Damn.
Bradley defeated Junior Witter to move to 22-0 and was on his way. Now, he’s set to make $5 million to face a man many consider the best in the world. No matter what anyone says, money always settles the mind.
But watching Bradley’s fights on YouTube and seeing him train on HBO’s 24/7 gives credence to the legitimate upset bid. This isn’t some hand picked stiff like Victor Ortiz or Union Cane. Bradley is quicker than Marquez, and simply isn’t afraid of Pacquiao’a skill and aura. It isn’t tough talk, but a belief that hard work pays off. He’s busted his ass for this moment and isn’t in Vegas to solely collect the check.
An upset is possible because you can question where Manny’s head and abilities are at. He has become devoted to his faith, which is great, but you have to wonder if he is side tracked by it. It’s a serious concern for someone that is trained to destroy his opponent. And let’s face it, Pac-Man wasn’t at his best in his last fight vs Marquez and could be showing signs of slowing down.
He blames the lack of plyometric training for the Marquez fight, but boxing isn’t a sport where one ages gracefully. This isn’t to say that Pac-Man is on a ’00-’02 Tyson like slide, but it’s another reason to tune in Saturday night. Does he still have it, or will this be the night where it all went away? Plus, the distractions in Pacquiao’s camp with Alex Ariza (Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach) leaving camp during training could be a factor. Freddie Roach wanted him fired, but Pac resisted.
There’s a lot of drama surrounding Pacquiao and shockingly, it doesn’t only involve a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather. Bradley on the other hand, is the picture of focus and determination. An upset is definitely possible, but there’s a reason Pac-Man is a 4-1 favorite. The heart says pick Bradley, but the head says go with Pacquiao. The bet here is Pac-Man winning a close decision that will only fuel the speculation of when the two best fighters alive will finally give boxing fans what they want.