On the surface, the idea than a relatively unknown boxer like Tim Bradley could defeat the best fighter in the world (sorry Mayweather!) seems ludicrous. But Tim Bradley could be the best match-up against Pacqiuao, short of Floyd Mayweather himself.
Manny’s last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez was not his finest, though he did pull off a split-decision (7–1) victory. Unless Pacqiuao has suddenly hit the end of his prime, which most boxing experts don’t believe, then he’s not likely to repeat his sub-average performance against Bradley.
Tim Bradley is a hungry up-and-coming pugilist. He’s an attacker who can and will trade punches with Pacqiuao. This will make for an interesting dynamic, since both fighters are offensive-minded, unlike Mayweather, who is one of the finest defensive-minded boxers in history.
The one area where Bradley has a big advantage over Pacqiuao, in my opinion, is his footwork. This could help him better deflect and absorb Manny’s punches. Bradley is also in fantastic shape, and will be capable of going the distance against his more experienced opponent. It’s been more than two years since Manny last knocked out an opponent, so it’s entirely possible that this fight could go the distance.
Manny’s advantages over Bradley are well-known. He has faster hands, stronger punches, and more experience. The conventional wisdom is these advantages will be too much for Bradley to overcome, and even if Pacqiuao can’t knock him out, he should still win.
I’m not so sure. Boxing is a sport that is all about intangibles. Does he have the will to trade punches? Can he muster enough courage to get up after getting knocked down? To what extent is a fighter willing to risk his own health? Will that accidental head-butt end the fight?
Bradley oozes with intangibles. He is a confident fighter who seems to have good luck. Because he is so aggressive, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another “accidental” head-butt knock Pacqiuao off his game, giving Bradley an advantage.
My prediction: Bradley wins by split-decision.