We’re mere hours away from what just might be the final fight of Manny Pacquiao’s amazing career. While few were calling for a third meeting between The Pacman and Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, boxing fans are accustomed to settling for what they can get, which, in this case, is a showdown between the two best welterweights in the world. While Kell Brook and Keith Thurman appear poised to usher in a new era at 147, no one ranks them higher than Pacquiao and Bradley.
Questions abound: Is Pacquiao’s heart in this fight or is he counting the minutes until he can finally walk away? Has Teddy Atlas rejuvenated Bradley’s tactical prowess and mental focus? Will Manny be motivated to end his career on a high note and make up for his disappointing effort against Floyd Mayweather? Is Bradley’s chin as suspect as it appeared to be in the final round of his fight against Jessie Vargas? Herewith, the staff of The Fight City chimes in with their predictions.
I’m actually going for Bradley by split decision here, only this time it will be legit. Accuse me of being on the hype train if you want, but I think Bradley truly is a new man with Atlas in his corner, though that’s no knock on Joel Diaz, my favorite interview in the game. So long as he stays disciplined and active, Tim takes this one. Bradley by decision. — Sean Crose
Bradley is the fresher fighter and has some momentum. Pacquiao looks to be going through the motions. Expect scoring shenanigans. Bradley by decision. — Chris Connor
Bradley, in my humble opinion, does not have the power to make Pacquiao think twice. Simply put, there is a reason he was picked as Manny’s “final” fight. Pacquiao by decision. — Alfonso Jasso
We have question marks here for both fighters, including Pacquiao’s recovery from a shoulder injury and a rumored foot problem, along with Bradley’s lackluster performances in 2014 and 2015. When that is the case, I rely on history. “PacMan” has beaten Bradley once officially and twice unofficially and I suspect that his speed and power will once again be too much for “Desert Storm” to handle. Pacquiao by decision. — Thad Moore
I didn’t give Bradley much of a chance to defeat Pacquiao in their first two fights, but the third time will prove a charm for “Desert Storm.” This is due as much to Bradley arriving to fight night in great shape physically and mentally–thanks in no small part to his new trainer, Teddy Atlas–as it is to Pacquiao being ripe for the picking. The fighting Congressman is on the verge of retirement and is distracted by his career in politics while dealing with the backlash over his homophobic comments and coming back from almost a full year of inactivity. In short, Pacquiao is like butter spread over too much bread and I’ll happily take Bradley at +200 every day of the week, and twice on Saturday. Bradley by decision. — Rafael Garcia
Much has been made of the recent Atlas-Bradley partnership, but one win over an underprepared Brandon Rios doesn’t convince me Bradley has what it takes to beat Pacquiao. Despite the unsavory verdict in their first fight, it’s clear to me that Manny is a superior fighter, and barring some unforeseen exodus of skill on his part, the result will be a close victory for the Filipino great. Pacquiao by decision. — Daniel Attias
The biggest question in this fight is how much Pacquiao has left to offer. For me, the first fight was a lot closer than most people thought, and Bradley was holding his own in the second fight until he was hampered by injury. We haven’t seen the Pacman firing on all cylinders for a long time now, and Bradley seems to be the one who’s improved in the last two years. Bradley by decision. — Matt O’Brien
I think Bradley is in the better frame of mind and more prepared with Teddy Atlas in his corner. I sense Manny feels he already beat Bradley twice so there might be some complacency there. But at the same time, I believe Pacquiao has enough left to dictate the pace and outland Bradley. Pacquiao by decision. — Jamie Rebner
In my view, a pointless fight, with a predictable outcome. Teddy Atlas might be a fine trainer but I don’t see him making a huge difference for Bradley. “Desert Storm” was clearly dominated in the first two bouts and I expect Pacquiao to put on another good performance Saturday night. Pacquiao by decision. –Rene Ricardo Bernal
The key factor in this match is a seemingly uninspired Pacquiao who is winding down a fantastic career. He appears content and being hungry and driven was part of what made him so formidable. I detect now a kind of detached, “if I win, I win” attitude, and if that’s the case, I see no positive outcome for him. As for Bradley, his renewed vigor and hunger for victory is the most important part of his recent success. With Atlas there to keep him focused, I suspect he will be difficult to stop. Bradley by decision. — Manny Montreal
In spite of each man’s physical regression (or rather, because of it), I’m more excited for this fight than I was for either of the previous Pac-Bradley bouts. Pacquiao’s most explosive work is done by his social views these days; in a boxing sense, he’s more vulnerable. If Manny fights with flat feet, an energized Bradley will score frequently and we’ll get a dramatic fight that will be momentarily overshadowed by some Teddy Atlas rants between rounds. This style of bout should favour Bradley, but I have difficulty imagining he has enough in his offensive repertoire to overcome the faster and more powerful Filipino, who should still be able to move enough to get out of range and attack from odd angles. Pacquiao by decision. — Eliott McCormick
I think Bradley’s performance against Brandon Rios may have flattered both him and Teddy Atlas a little. Granted Tim’s punches were a lot tighter, and his movement more refined, but Rios, who did little else but stand directly in front of Bradley and cover up, was clearly a shell of his former self. Manny Pacquiao won’t be so accommodating.
Even with Teddy Atlas in his corner, I don’t think Bradley can remain focused and disciplined and stick to a gameplan for 12 rounds while under duress. Further, I think the improved technique that we saw against Rios will soon go out the window once Pacquiao starts timing Bradley’s jab and countering it with his straight left hand and right hook. Bradley will no doubt have his share of moments, but I think Pacquiao, with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove, will produce the more effective and eye-catching offense. Pacquiao by decision. — Lee Wylie
If Manny Pacquiao really is fighting for the last time this weekend, how much of his heart and mind could truly be in this matchup against a guy he’s essentially beaten twice already? Is it possible Tim Bradley isn’t the same fighter he was the first two times around? It might make more sense to pick Pacquiao by decision once more, but for some reason he looks to me ready to be taken. Bradley by decision. — Patrick Connor
Considering his age, all the distractions, and how he looked against Floyd, it’s pretty much impossible to have any kind of certainty about what Pacquiao has left, but according to his sparring partners, it’s plenty. I think Manny wants to redeem himself and will come on strong in the late rounds to put some serious hurt on Bradley. Pacquiao by 11th round TKO. — Robert Portis
A third battle between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley has to go down as one of the most unnecessary bouts in the history of high-profile, pay-per-view boxing events. No one was asking for this match and the buzz for it is almost non-existent. I hope I’m wrong, but count me among those who are not expecting much from Saturday night. Pacquiao is clearly not the fighter he once was and has likely slipped some more during his long layoff; Bradley will be entering the ring with a tactical plan devised to avoid unnecessary risks and methodically put rounds in the bank. The fight will go the distance and most of the rounds will be very close, if not tedious. Who will win? Might as well toss a coin in the air. My guess: Pacquiao by decision. — Michael Carbert