It’s been almost two years since Manny Pacquaio lost to Timothy Bradley in one of the most controversial decisions in recent memory. On Saturday night, they meet again in a fight that’s hotly anticipated both as a rematch of that much-debated result, and as, potentially, the final bout of Pacquiao’s career.
Pacquiao entered the June 2012 fight as the overwhelming favorite and dominated the first half of the fight. Bradley turned the tides by switching up his strategy in the seventh round of the fight, but Pacquiao countered by winning the next round. The back and forth battle ended with Bradley winning the final two rounds of the fight, but the overwhelming majority of analysts believed Pac-Man’s hand was going to be raised after the 12th round.
Instead, Bradley was announced as the winner of the WBO welterweight title by split decision. The boxing world erupted and Pacquiao went home with his first loss in seven years. After the match ended, the WBO ordered a review of the bout and all of the judges on the WBO’s committee scored the fight in favor of Pacquiao, but could not overturn the fight because they do not have the power to do so.
Pacquiao went on to get knocked out by longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 and took most of 2013 off. Bradley went on to successfully defend his title against Ruslan Provodnikov and then Marquez.
For Pacquiao this is a classic crossroads moment in his career. If he loses this fight by anything less than a controversial finish, he will likely walk away from the sport, which means that a once in a generational talent will have ran his course without facing the other once in a generation talent (Floyd Mayweather Jr.).
It will also mean that this highlight reel featuring the greatest moments in Pacquiao’s won’t have anything new added to it:
For Bradley this is an opportunity to validate his evolution since the first time these two faced off. It’s also a chance to prove that what we saw towards the end of Pacquiao-Bradley I wasn’t a fluke. If Bradley can get off to a good start in this fight, Bradley might add Pacquiao to this highlight reel:
What we do know is this: Either Manny Pacquiao is going to complete his quest for redemption against Timothy Bradley and hand him the first loss of his career, or Bradley is going end Pac-Man’s reign as a star in the world of professional boxing.