MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV, April 9
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim
The general consensus is, since their last encounter, Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KOs) has slipped downhill a notch or two, while Bradley (33-1-1, 13 KOs) has stayed the near the top of his game and perhaps even improved a tad under the guidance of new trainer Teddy Atlas. Also in Bradley's favor is Pacquiao's 11 months of ring rust and shoulder surgery that resulted in additional time away from the gym.
But Pacquiao won at least 20 of the 24 rounds they fought so he might have Bradley's number, Teddy Atlas notwithstanding. Pacquiao probably picked Bradley for precisely that reason in what will likely to be his swansong bout.
Although Pacquiao isn't as sharp as he was in his last fight with Bradley, he still manages to be first on the trigger and lands the harder punches in the exchanges. Should Bradley find enough success to force Pacquiao out of rhythm and fight more recklessly, it might ultimately be a disservice to him because he is more vulnerable to wild, looping punches than he is to straight, calculated shots. He was caught and badly hurt by Ruslan Provodnikov and Jessie Vargas who were fighting on desperation mode, and Pacquiao hits harder than both of them.
Pacquiao might not completely dominate Bradley as he did in their last two fights, but he still wins a clear-cut decision.
The 37-year-old Pacquiao may not be as fun to watch as the 27-year-old version but he still has the skills, if not the hunger, to compete at the highest level of the game. Bradley is no slouch.