Pacquiao-Bradley: Streaking Manny no longer a lock?
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing Boxing Editor
(Sports Network) - This time around, it's a matter of extremes.
Though he's a significant favorite of the odds-makers heading into the fourth defense of his WBO welterweight title on Saturday night, the aura of multi- division belt-collector Manny Pacquiao has taken a hit when it comes to media members forecasting his meeting with Timothy Bradley.
Bradley is 28 years old, the reigning WBO champion at 140 pounds and hasn't lost a fight since turning professional just days before his 21st birthday back home in California in 2004.
It's the 60th bout in Pacquiao's 17-year career, but just the fifth time he's faced a foe with neither a loss nor a draw on his record. Each of his last six foes since 2008 had lost at least one of his previous four fights, and four of the six -- Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey and Oscar De La Hoya -- had lost one of their last two before getting in with the streaking Filipino.
Now 33 years old, Pacquiao is 54-3-2 as a pro and hasn't lost since dropping a unanimous decision to Erik Morales at 130 pounds in 2005. He's won 15 in a row with eight knockouts in four weight classes since, and later avenged the Morales loss with stoppage victories in January and November of 2006.
According to World Sports Exchange (wsex.com), a $450 wager is required on Pacquiao to earn a return of $100. Meanwhile, a $100 bet on Bradley would net a $330 payoff in the event of an upset.
The over/under number for rounds is 10, with a $250 bet on the "over" needed to win $100 if the fight lasts beyond the midway point of round 10. A $100 bet on the "under" would pay off if the match is halted before the 90-second mark of the 10th.
ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael thinks the streak ends with Bradley.
"This is (Bradley's) Super Bowl," he said in a fight-week column. "This fight can change his life and make him a star. Talking to him, you almost feel as though he can taste it -- that's how badly he wants it. He is as up for this fight as any fighter I've ever seen. I believe this one will result in a close upset decision victory for Bradley. See you in November for the rematch."
Also chiming in with a Bradley pick is Sports Illustrated's Richard O'Brien.
"Bradley's no washed-up or over-blown opponent," he said in an SI.com staff predictions piece. "He's young but experienced and palpably hungry. He's also in fantastic shape. That might not be enough if he gets caught by a Pacquiao bomb early. But if he can control the distance, use his speed and keep Pacquiao from blasting away from angles, it could be a difficult affair for Manny."
Bradley has fought once above 140 pounds since winning his first title in 2008 and has been a vocal counter during the pre-fight promotional tour to the subdued Pacquiao, who's made headlines with an increased devotion to religion and marital troubles that many in his camp claim impacted him in a subpar performance in a controversial win over Juan Manuel Marquez in November.
Bradley last fought on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard and successfully defended his WBO junior welterweight title for the third time with an eighth- round TKO of Joel Casamayor. His previous three opponents -- Devon Alexander, Luis Abregu and Lamont Peterson -- were a combined 77-0 before facing him and losing unanimous decisions.
Pacquiao will earn $26 million for the fight and can make additional money based on pay-per-view revenues. Bradley will make at least $5 million, with the same chance at more based on PPV sales.
"There is no secret to this," Bradley said. "In order to beat the champion you've got to take it to the champion. We are setting out to win this fight and not sit around and look pretty. I don't care what (Pacquiao trainer Freddie) Roach says or what Pacquiao says, I am ready to go.
"I am going to take it to Pacquiao. I don't know if it will be a knockout. I'm not a prediction kind of guy but I know at the end of the fight I will have my hand raised. I am going to be the winner, plain and simple. I am going to have my hand raised."
This week's title-fight schedule:
Vacant IBF welterweight title -- Las Vegas, NV
Mike Jones (No. 1 contender) vs. Randall Bailey (No. 2 contender)
Jones (26-0, 19 KO): First title fight; Third fight in Las Vegas (2-0, 1 KO)
Bailey (42-7, 36 KO): Ninth title fight (3-5); Held WBO title at 140 (two defenses)
Fitzbitz says: "Jones might not be ready for the truly elite in the division, but he should pass any test presented by a 37-year-old whose last title-fight win came when Jones was 17." Jones by decision
WBA super bantamweight title -- Las Vegas, NV
Guillermo Rigondeaux (champion) vs. Teon Kennedy (No. 14 contender)
Rigondeaux (9-0, 7 KO): First title defense; Third fight in Las Vegas (2-0, 2 KO)
Kennedy (17- 1-2, 7 KO): First title fight; Winless since March 2011 (0-1-1)
Fitzbitz says: "Cuban-born professional prodigy chalks up another resume- builder while staying in the mix for big-money fights in corridor between 118 and 126." Rigondeaux in 9
WBO welterweight title -- Las Vegas, NV
Manny Pacquiao (champion) vs. Timothy Bradley (unranked)
Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO): Fourth title defense; Fifth opponent with no losses/draws (3-1, 3 KO)
Bradley (28-0, 12 KO): Eighth title fight; Second fight above 140 since 2007 (1-0, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Bradley promises an intense and action-filled challenge, but it says here that he won't have the pop in his punches to deter Pacquiao from his usual punishment." Pacquiao by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. For example, fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Last week's picks: 4-0
Overall picks record: 405-137 (74.7 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz
06/08 12:17:46 ET