It was a mere formality, but this past Friday Timothy Bradley finally agreed to terms for a Spring 2012 fight against Manny Pacquiao. Between Bradley signing on the bottom line and Pacquiao’s agreement to the same terms earlier in the week, the bout officially became set in stone – Pacquiao vs. Bradley will go down at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 9.
At this point, everyone is aware of the timeline that brought us to this juncture. Last year, in the weeks before and after Bradley’s decision to sign with Bob Arum and his Top Rank company, there was a lot of speculation that this was the match that was on horizon. It made sense. After all, Bradley was something of an up-and-comer and probably the most legitimate challenger on Pacquiao’s “potential opponents” list aside from Floyd Mayweather Jr. It wasn’t the best available fight, but it was one that could be justified to the fans.
Then, in what was apparently a two month exercise in futility, Pacquiao and Mayweather tried their damndest to make it seem as though they were working towards putting together a fight against each other. Predictably, they didn’t. And at long last, Pacquiao found himself back where he started in late 2011 – with Bradley in his sights.
Already the banter and trash-talk necessary to hype this fight up has begun, and you can bet that Arum will do his very best to make it seem as though Bradley has a shot in this one. Truthfully, though he probably has a better shot than Miguel Cotto would have, Bradley likely won’t be able to shock the world.
A lot of people will point to Juan Manuel Marquez’s success versus Pacquiao last November and use that as some sort of proof that the Filipino champion has a lot a step, but the way that fight ultimately ended up going was far more a result of Marquez’s excellence than Pacquiao’s failures. And while Bradley certainly has the speed and athleticism to challenge the best, his lack of power becomes more and more apparent every time he faces a worthy opponent.
So, yes – out of the available options, Bradley probably makes the most sense. (However, you could also make a very good case for another fight versus Marquez). But in comparison to what we could have had (Mayweather), it’s tough to look at this match and not let out a sigh.
Who’s the big winner now that this match is official? Arum, of course. As usual, the Top Rank head honcho has found a way to maximize potential profits by pitting two of his guys against one another and ensuring that he gets a piece of two slices of the pie. At the same time, he left a possible Pacquiao vs. Mayweather match on the table for later. That's a win-win if ever there was one.
As far as the fighters go, what’s on the line for them is fairly obvious. If Bradley can pull off the stunner of all stunners, he becomes an instant legend. If (read: when) Pacquiao wins, he shuts down all the talk about how he’s past his prime.
Over the next few months we’ll analyze this bout from every possible angle, but for now we want to know what you think: what are you looking forward to seeing most in this Pacquiao vs. Bradley showdown?