Top Rank Promotions announced today that an agreement has been reached for undefeated Tim "Desert Storm" Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) to defend his WBO welterweight title against boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) in a long-awaited rematch of their controversial first bout. Pacquiao-Bradley 2 will occur on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and will be shown on HBO Pay-Per-View.
When Pacquiao and Bradley first fought on June 9, 2012, Bradley won a controversial split decision that ended Pacquiao's 15-bout winning streak. Most boxing experts, including this writer, believed that Pacquiao dominated the bout and that he was robbed by a pair of incompetent judges.
Pacquiao clearly won the majority of the early rounds, as Bradley suffered from two leg injuries early and seemed intimidated by Pacquiao's speed and power.
The fight seemed so easy for Pacquaio in those early rounds that he had the look of a fighter competing in a routine sparring session. Perhaps that is how Bradley was able to steal a few of the closer late rounds from a bored Pacquiao, at least in the eyes of the judges.
One of those judges, C.J. Ross, has since stepped down and is no longer judging fights after producing another incompetent score in the recent Mayweather-Canelo bout.
Although the entire boxing world still views Pacquiao as the obvious winner, Tim Bradley has repeatedly informed several of The Daily Sports Herald's boxing writers that he believes he won 8 out of the 12 rounds in that fight.
Ironically, it was Bradley, the winner on the scorecards, who might have been the loser in the end.
The win caused a backlash among fans that not only damaged Bradley's credibility as a fighter, but also affected his overall spirit. He has since resolved both of those issues with quality, exciting wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez.
More importantly, there are reasons to believe that the rematch will be a better, more competitive fight than the original.
First, Bradley sustained two separate injuries to each leg in the middle of that first fight that certainly diminshed both his mobility and the leverage on his shots. It would be unlikely for such bad luck to occur again, and thus, Bradley should have the physical capacity to perform better in the rematch.
Second, Bradley is a more confident and improved fighter now compared to that first bout. After surviving twelve rounds of war with Provodnikov in 2013's Fight of the Year, and after causing the iconic Marquez problems with his speed and boxing skills, Bradley now has proof, rather than mere self-belief, that he can beat the best in the division.
Third, the ever-dangerous Pacquiao himself is older and perhaps somewhat diminished since suffering his knockout loss to Marquez. He has since bounced back with a dominant win over Brandon Rios, but Father Time nevertheless could be an issue for the Congressman.
In a perfect world, the winner of this fight would be the logical candidate to fight Floyd Mayweather in the fall, but of course the imposing obstacle of boxing politics and promotional rivalries would first have to be overcome.
Both fighters and their teams will embark soon on a U.S. media tour, with an upcoming local press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, February 4.
By Mike Elliott
Editor for The Daily Sports Herald