It’s a big(ish) fight week so we’ve done what we always do, and got the team together for a big chat about it. Pacquiao vs Bradley III might have all the buzz of a fart in a bathtub, but we’re on it anyway.
Are you at all interested in Pacquiao vs Bradley III?
Sam Sheppard: Yes, I am actually. As time has gone on since the announcement was made — and it was underwhelming given how great it would have been so see Crawford as the opponent — I’ve found myself drawn closer to this than other ostensible top fights in the division. Porter vs Thurman feels way past its sell-by date, whereas Bradley vs Pacquiao is a meeting of the two best in the division, hall of famers each, with titles on the line and the chance for one to establish a single win as good as any other active welterweight. I actually think it’s being criminally underrated, especially when set against some of the guff being served up by the likes of Kell Brook and the PBC roster.
Matthew Swain: I’m slowly coming around to finding it interesting. I didn’t find the first two competitive or entertaining, so I was underwhelmed by this when it was announced. There are several story lines that make me want to see it, plus I get to do Rabies Watch and Jim Lampley might cry.
Lou Catalano: Not interested in the slightest. I really wasn’t interested in their second fight. I know Pacquiao isn’t the same fighter he once was, so yes, Bradley might beat him. So what. I’ve seen 24 rounds of mostly noncompetitive action, and I don’t really want to have to pay to see more. I really wish Manny would have gone a different route here, and I’m not so sure that Terence Crawford would have been too much for him at this point. But Pac and Bradley are still two of the best fighters at 147, so I guess that’s something. Also, there’s Teddy Atlas, so bonus points for getting to watch his psychotic screaming and spitting directly into Bradley’s mouth while Max Kellerman gleefully explodes over Bradley’s super-humongous heart.
Jonathan Moreland: No, not at all. I was underwhelmed by the announcement and I’d describe the build-up (or lack thereof) as being more groan-worthy than anything resembling “interesting.” Despite the controversy surrounding the first fight, Pacquiao has twice showed himself to be the superior fighter. Nobody was asking for a trilogy. Now, we’re simply hoping an aged Pacquaio is still interested enough to finish his career in a competitive manner. And if we’re worried the fighter’s not interested…
Jeff Pryor:I’m in the definitive “no” category. This is a match of convenience and after the first two meet ups there’s really no question who the better fighter is. It’s the trilogy that no one was begging for, after the sequel that no one was begging for. It’s a waste of time for the fighters’ legacies and probably a waste of money for boxing fans. All that said, anyone who loves boxing knows that an amazing fight can crop up when you least expect it. I just don’t think we should expect it on Saturday.
Tim Starks: “At all?” Yes. As I was saying in my preview, it has some things going for it that ought to make it good, but only if you forget that they’ve done it twice and Pacquiao won both times without too much trouble. But my opinion of the fight is enhanced to “just somewhat above ‘meh'” by my answer to the next question.
Alex McClintock: Intellectually, I am interested in this fight. I know that Pacquiao and Bradley are still two of the best welterweights in the world. I know that Pacquiao might have faded enough to give Bradley a chance. But we’ve seen it before, heard it before and the build-up has been so lackluster that might heart just isn’t in it.
Do you give Bradley any chance to get an honest win in the rubber match?
Sam Sheppard: Not really. He’s a phenomenal fighter, but I think Pacquiao has his number. I’m sick of reading revisionist articles about their first two meetings, stating either that the first fight was close (it wasn’t) or that Bradley lost the second fight (he didn’t, Pacquiao just beat him). I’m not convinced Teddy Atlas’s presence is enough to bridge the obvious gap between the two fighters. But that’s not to say there’s any shame in defeat here, and we know Tim Bradley will give it his all.
Matthew Swain: Absolutely. If Pacquiao looks as faded as he did against Mayweather or as disinterested as he did in his previous few outings, Bradley should get a win. Bradley is always in peak condition and shows up ready to fight. That being said, I’m still not picking him to win.
Lou Catalano: I feel the same way Shep does, in that Bradley just isn’t the right guy to beat Manny. He likes to attack, and he gets hit cleanly. Manny has had issues with boxers who counterpunch; guys who wait him out and force him to make the first move. Bradley has always been a fighter who seems to swim upstream, always making life harder for himself. When he should be boxing, he brawls. A soft puncher cannot win a brawl with a hard hitter, even if Pacquiao isn’t the puncher he used to be. Bradley tries to fight fire with fire, except in this case, he’s holding a candle while Pacquiao wields a blowtorch. While I don’t think Pacquiao is even remotely interested in this fight (despite Freddie Roach’s assertion for like the 15th straight fight that the old Manny is back), he’s still better than Bradley. I predict a 116-112 win for Manny, followed by an interview where he talks for five minutes without actually answering a single question, followed by an iffy rendition of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” followed by another fight in October.
Jonathan Moreland: I do. We know who Bradley and Pacquiao are, and we know how they match up. But what we don’t know is how shot Manny is physically and mentally. Rumors of his “fade” and “disinterest” might not be understated. Bradley is tough and going to bring the heat. If Manny’s edge is dulling as fast as we think, he’s going to have a far more difficult time in this bout than he did in either of the first two. I still pick Pacquiao to win a competitive decision, but this is closer to a coin flip for me than how Vegas odds list it.
Jeff Pryor: Bradley has a shot, he’s a very talented fighter and as determined as anyone in the sport. Pacquiao has a lot of mileage on him at this point and if he’s slowed enough, then of course it’s anyone’s fight. If nothing much has changed between the two physically, then we’ve already seen this fight twice and Pacquiao should handle things in similar fashion.
Tim Starks: Since I’m picking him to win, I’d say I give him a chance. I didn’t make the pick to be a boxing hipster — I think it’s the likeliest outcome in a fight that depends a great deal on Pacquiao’s physical and mental condition, and I don’t have much confidence in either.
Alex McClintock: I’m with Loua and Sam on this one. Unless Pacquiao is horribly, horribly faded, this is going to be a do-over of the last two fights. I fully expect Bradley to have his moments, but Manny has his number.
If Pacquiao does retire after this fight, how do you see him going down in boxing history?
Sam Sheppard: Despite his moronic comments earlier this year and poor behaviour following the Mayweather loss (which was shocking in part because it was so out of character), I think it’s important not to lose sight of how much good Pacquiao has done for the sport. In my view, he’s by far the greatest offensive fighter of his generation, and one of the most exciting boxers of all time. His politics may leave something to be desired, but he’s had a spectacular career and will be sorely missed.
Matthew Swain: The second best fighter of an excellent generation for welterweights and under.
Lou Catalano: One of the best to ever lace ’em up, whose only weaknesses for most of his career were Juan Manuel Marquez and a microphone.
Jonathan Moreland: An all-time great and wildly entertaining fighter whose quirks later in his career will lead fans to underrate him over time.
Jeff Pryor: Pacquiao was a true phenom during most of his career and a fan favorite for legitimate reasons. He fought everybody and had spectacular fights that were violent and entertaining. If he retires after this bout, he’ll go down as one of the very best of the era and probably be included in any conversations of all time match ups in most of the weight classes he competed in.
Tim Starks: I think the team underestimates him a little. He’s the best Asian fighter ever. He’s the best southpaw I can think of, and if I remember correctly, Bert Sugar had placed him #1. He was the best fighter of the past decade, spent a lot of time at pound-for-pound #1 and has been in the top 10 forever. At his peak he took on and beat a murderers row of Hall of Famers who, while not quite as young as him, also were still top 10 fighters themselves. I think you can make an argument for him as top 20-30 all-time; if only he’d beaten Mayweather, we might be talking about him getting near the top 10. We’ll forget some of the political missteps when we look back on his boxing career, unless of course he goes on to become president of the Philippines and gets all Leviticus on homosexuals, in which case, never mind.
Alex McClintock: I think Jonathan and Tim make an interesting point about Pacquiao being underrated. In part, I think that’s a reaction to the breathless, premature discussions of his greatness that seemed to dominate the boxing conversation at the start of this decade. He also lost to Floyd, which doesn’t help. But he is all the stuff that Tim said, and a top 30ish all-time ranking seems about appropriate I reckon.
(Image: Getty Images/Christian Peterson)