Will ''Desert Storm'' prove to be Pacman's toughest test yet?
Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao has agreed to defend his WBO welterweight title against American Timothy ''Desert Storm'' Bradley, the WBO's junior welterweight champion, at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas on June 9. Although it is understood that Bradley has yet to put pen to paper, it is surely just a matter of time, and the matchup is considered a done deal. Both Bradley and Pacquiao are promoted by Bob Arum's Top Rank Promotions.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of the recent confirmation that Floyd Mayweather, holder of the WBC version of the welterweight title, will step up to 154 pounds and challenge WBA light middleweight champion Miguel Cotto on May 5, also at the MGM Grand. There had been hopes that Pacquiao and Mayweather, universally regarded as the two best fighters pound-for-pound on the planet, would finally put aside their differences and get together in May, although Arum has recently expressed his confidence that the fight all boxing fans have been looking forward to for the past three years could still take place this November.
The other names in the frame to fight Pacquiao had been newly crowned WBA/IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson, and the Filipinos bitter rival Juan Manuel Marquez, in what would have been their fourth encounter. This writer had speculated as long ago as last November on BettingPro.com, CruchSports.com and Boxing-News.com that it would be Bradley who would get the gig against Pacquiao.
As currently the two biggest draws in all of boxing, whichever fighters are fortunate enough to be chosen to face either Mayweather or Pacquiao are guaranteed to make by far the biggest purses of their boxing careers. Bradley could make as much as $10 million from his purse and his share of PPV.
While many fans have been quick to dismiss Bradley as any kind of threat to the Filipino, on paper at least the American shapes up as potentially his toughest test in years. 28 year old Bradley is 28-0 as a pro [12 KOs], has held at least one version of the world light welterweight crown since 2008, and has defeated fighters of the caliber of Junior Witter, Kendall Holt, Devon Alexander and Joel Casamayor.
While by no means a knockout puncher, Bradley is a highly effective ring technician. Just 5'6'' but with a long 69'' reach, Bradley is strongly built and super fit, with stamina to burn. Although an outstanding boxer, he is not adverse to rough stuff in the ring, and is notorious for his use of the head, particularly in his unification win over Alexander in 2011 that saw his opponent sustain deep cuts over both eyes.
Bradley will be the youngest opponent 33 year old Pacquiao has faced since Emmanuel Lucero in 2003, the first fighter he has fought that is younger than himself since Miguel Cotto in 2009, and the only unbeaten world champion he has ever met.
Pacquiao [54-3-2, 38 KOs] has established himself as a genuine boxing icon, a unique figure in the sport, one that has climbed the weight divisions from flyweight to light middleweight, becoming the first ever six-weight world champion. An established figure in the flyweight division during the late 90's, in the new millennium Pacquiao began his ascent of the weight classes and engaged in a thrilling series of bouts against a trio of great Mexican warriors, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, emerging with a 5-1-1 record against them and earning the nickname the ''Mexicutioner.''
On the eve of his 30th birthday, Pacquiao launched what seemed like an impossible campaign on the welterweight division in December 2008, yet his eight round destruction of Oscar De Hoya was only the beginning of a reign of terror that has seen him beat up much bigger foes like Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley.
Ironically it was a ghost from his past in the shape of 38 year old 5'7'' lightweight Marquez who almost did for Pacquiao when the two met for the third time last November, the Mexican going down on a controversial majority decision, though most at ringside and millions more watching on TV thought he had been robbed. For the first time in years, Pacquiao looked confused and off the pace. Everything he tried, Marquez had an answer for.
Now Pacquiao faces a short, smart-boxing counterpuncher, a reigning world champion who is ten years younger than Marquez. Forget what the critics and naysayers may tell you – this one has the potential for upset written all over it.