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Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Square Off This Saturday in Vegas

by Photo of Erik Reitmeyer

Undefeated yet underdog Timothy Bradley tries to take down Philippine sensation Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Square Off This Saturday in Vegas

Two of boxing's biggest stars, Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2) and Timothy Bradley (28-0), face off Saturday in one of the world's most exciting cities, yet you wouldn't know it judging by the public's reaction leading up to the big matchup.  In what is understandably another disappointment regarding Pacquiao's opponent, the buzz surrounding this match isn't nearly what it was when Pacquiao fought Manuel Marquez, or even Antonio Margarito.  That's because everyone dreams of one matchup: Floyd Mayweather.  

The desire for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is obvious among those who follow the sport, and the failure to come to an agreement in which those two fight is once again discouraging for everyone involved, especially the fans.  It would've been extra satisfying to see that fight happen now because coming off a bout in which he didn't really look himself, Pacquiao's aura took a bit of a hit when he was once again unable to knock out, or at least clearly defeat his rival Marquez.

Coming off the Marquez fight in which he was apparently distracted beforehand and barely escaped with the victory, Pacquiao now faces almost a first for him in his career: a fighter who's actually shorter than he is.  Pacquiao shouldn't take Bradley lightly however, and it's apparent that he isn't.  Pacquiao sites his newfound deeper relationship with God as a driving and motivating force in his day-to-day activities, boxing included.

Bradley on the other hand is fighting for a reason much more tangible to most: his family.  He recognizes himself as a family man and that's the reason why he steps into the ring, to provide for them.  When Bradley fought for his first world title against Junior Witter, he did so broke.  It's the desire to ensure that his family never has to endure that predicament that drives Bradley to succeed, and it's what makes him so dangerous.  If he's able to defeat Pacquiao, he has the chance to reach that upper echelon.  And that level has the largest paychecks.

If Bradley is to pull off the upset, he is truly going to have to go into the ring fearless because that's what it takes against Pacquiao.  He must stay in there when Pacquiao attacks and wait for his opportunities to counter punch, just as Marquez did, and just as Erik Morales did when he beat Pacquiao in '05.  Bradley is a tough scrappy fighter, but he's never faced anyone quite like Pacquiao whose speed is unmatched in the sport.

Expect a long, drawn out fight fight that goes the distance, but ultimately it's Pacquiao's fight to lose.  He has the experience and the talent advantage over Bradley, and if he's as focused and prepared as he says he is, then he should come out on top once more.  But if it is Bradley who comes out on top then what?  

Would the sport of boxing crumble never being able to see an untarnished Pacquiao-Mayweather fight?  Would Bradley then become the next big thing in the sport?  Only more reason to check out the fight this Saturday and see which direction the sport heads.

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