Photo Credit: Will Hart/HBO
When Timothy Bradley fought Brandon Rios, in the first fight with his new trainer, Teddy Atlas, it was obvious a transformation was underway in their limited time together. Bradley, who has stopped fewer than 35 percent of his opponents, managed to collapse Rios in round nine with a debilitating body shot that forced Rios to call it quits.
The performance was masterful and a testament to his newfound relationship with Atlas, the man who guided Michael Moorer and Alexander Povetkin to heavyweight titles. Under the tutelage of Atlas, Bradley is a much more cerebral fighter and fundamentally sound. Now he fights on a pivot and slips punches fluidly while staying in range to counter.
The third installment of #PacquiaoBradley will look vastly different from the first two fights and Atlas will have everything to do with it. Atlas is a disciplinarian and, from a technical standpoint, Bradley proved to be much more disciplined in the Rios fight. His unheeding approach in the ring and looping punches are no longer in the game plan.
Atlas will have Bradley turn Pacquiao constantly in order to neutralize his power and have him moving in and out of the pocket in a timely manner.
Somehow Bradley won a split decision in his first fight with Pacquiao in 2012. Even someone with the most limited capacity to respond to visual stimuli could see Pacquiao won the first fight. And yes, Atlas believed Bradley lost, too. Although he later backtracked after signing on as Bradley’s trainer and said he watched the fight again, but with the sound off, and concluded his fighter won six rounds.
Whether that’s true or not isn’t important. The only thing that matters is Bradley has something to prove. According to the judges, he won the first fight, but in the words of Gloria Clemente, “sometimes when you win, you really lose.”
Winning a decision in a fight everyone thinks you lost doesn’t feel good, but losing a decision in a fight everyone thinks you lost feels even worse. The final chapter of this trilogy is Bradley’s last chance at redemption and if he truly believes he won the first fight then he must believe he can do it again.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Pacquiao looked past Bradley with his eyes set on a Mayweather rematch since it’s not always easy to get up to beat a guy for a third time straight.
Last year Mayweather outworked Pacquiao in their mega fight and landed 148 of 435 total punches to Pacquiao’s 81 of 429. Over half of Mayweather’s total punches thrown (267) were jabs. On average, that’s 22.25 jabs per round.
Using the jab to control range is Mayweather’s forte and there’s no reason Bradley can’t have success doing the same thing. He’s just as athletic and can be as equally elusive when he fights intelligently. Mayweather has a reach advantage over Bradley but Bradley’s reach is still two inches longer than Pacquiao’s.
However, Floyd ‘Money’ isn’t the only money factor, there’s also cash money. Bradley is guaranteed $4 million + PPV points, while Pacquiao is guaranteed $7 million + PPV points. The points are the differentiator. Bradley’s points deal can earn him up to $7 million, which is a nice payday. But, Pacquiao’s deal can earn him up to $25 million.
If Bradley wins, a fourth fight will be on the table and so will a whole heap of money.