By Steve Silverman
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It must be difficult to look at yourself in the mirror when your name is Tim Bradley.
When Bradley makes his final preparations for tonight’s fight with Manny Pacquiao, he knows he will have the opportunity of a lifetime with the chance to make his reputation against one of the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Then, he will make his walk to the ring, looking determined and mean. There is little doubt that the 146-pound Bradley is an impressive physical specimen whose training regimen is demanding and impactful. But then the bell will ring and he will have to try to assert his will by dominating Pacquiao in the ring.
It’s not going to happen. Bradley has an impressive 28-0 record and he is coming off the most impressive win in his career when he stopped Joel Casamayor in the eighth round last November to retain the WBO welterweight title.
But this time Bradley is not facing Casamayor. He is facing a fighter with three times the skill level and the experience who is not going to be intimidated by an opponent who trains well and looks like a bodybuilder.
Bradley portrays himself as something of a tough guy and an intimidating force in the ring. However, his record is something quite different. He has stopped only 12 of his opponents. The other 16 victories have come by decision. He’s not the kind of fighter who can exploit an opening and deliver a series of blows that will hurt an opponent.
Especially when that opponent is Pacquiao, who appears to have plenty left in the tank at the ripe old age of 33. Pacquiao, 54-3-2, does one thing that the 28-year-old Bradley does not: he throws punches from all angles and his explosive combinations produce devastating results.
His last fight was not his best as he came away with a split decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez to retain his WBO welterweight title. Marquez gave as good as he got in that fight and if he had been given the decision, Pacquiao would not have had much of an argument.
The 147-pound Pacquiao is very likely to make up for that showing in this fight. The Pac Man’s last three opponents prior to Marquez have been Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley, meaning he has fought and defeated as tough a group of boxers as he could put on his dance card.
Now he gets a chance to fight a boxer who simply doesn’t have the weapons to hurt him. Bradley has never shown the ability to throw punches in serious combinations. That’s how you stop good fighters. Bradley may hit Pacquiao with the occasional straight right or hard left, but there’s nothing in his history that shows he will be able to string punches together against a fighter with Pacquiao’s quickness and talent.
Bradley, a 4-1 underdog, acknowledges that Pacquiao is the harder hitter with the ability to deliver the more punishing shots. Combine that with Pacquiao’s shocking speed and it looks to be an all-but-impossible night for Bradley.
Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach are not worried about this particular bout. Perhaps they’ll be a lot more concerned if a long-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever materializes. That’s what the public wants to see and would clearly give boxing center stage in the sporting world.
If Pacquiao has a problem with Bradley, it would be a very bad sign if that super fight ever comes about. It would mean that age has taken far more out of Pacquiao than had been suspected. Bradley simply does not have the skills to stay with Pacquiao, even if he is only at 75 or 80 percent of what he once brought into the ring.
Pacquiao will get paid $26 million for showing up at the MGM Grand and putting his skills on display, while Bradley will earn $5 million. That’s clearly the best part of the fight for the challenger.
The tough part will come when he looks in the mirror prior to the fight and comes face to face with the reality that he doesn’t have the skill level of the man who will be on the opposite side of the ring. He will know in his heart of hearts that he will need a minor miracle to survive.