Manny Pacquiao's Last Stand

By kevinkuljis
Manny Pacquiao
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April 12 is fast approaching, and Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao has arrived at yet another crossroads in his Hall-of-Fame career. His date with Tim Bradley on April 12 has the potential to either be his last hurrah or the beginning of something truly sensational.

It seems that the last time Pacquiao was in  a “do-or-die” situation was only a few months ago, just before his welterweight bout against Brandon Rios. There was quite a bit of conversation regarding how much Manny had left in the tank after a brutal sixth-round KO loss to Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez.

But following his dominant 12 round unanimous decision over Rios, we saw that at 35 years young, Manny can still hang with a strong, iron-chinned, B-level fighter. Nevertheless, Bradley is a whole different beast.

Two years removed from Pacquiao-Bradley I, Bradley has only seen his status blossom. He is coming off a superb 2013 with a Gatti-like performance against Ruslan Provodnikov and a fairly convincing unanimous decision over Marquez. Despite such a stellar year, Bradley continues to live with the criticism of his first fight with Pacquiao. It can be said without much objection that Pacquiao won that fight handily and up until the last few months, there was no need to discuss a rematch.

He already beat him once regardless of what the judges determined, but that was before the KO to Marquez. So how would he fare against Bradley today?

Regardless of what happened in 2012, Bradley has proven he can hang with the best and beat them. The question is: can Manny still beat the top 147-pounders in the world? Though we already saw him beat Bradley, doing it again would give his late-career prospects a big boost.

A convincing victory for Manny would be enough for one last push for the super showdown we all fantasize about. Floyd Mayweather Jr. has a fight scheduled against Argentinian Marcos Maidana on May 3 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Maidana, even with his resounding upset of Adrien Broner, doesn’t seem to have the class to hang with Mayweather. Even though he’s the hotter fighter right now, he was outboxed by Amir Khan. Either way, it would likely be another dominant performance by Mayweather and would perhaps draw relatively weak numbers.

For us fight fans, this could be a blessing in disguise. A weak spring PPV for Mayweather and a strong victory for Manny could spark the fire one last time. With Floyd scheduled to fight May 3 and Manny on April 12, the timing could be just right for September 14, the unofficial Super Bowl of boxing. If Pacquiao shines, Mayweather might find himself in a corner where avoiding Pacquiao again would make him look quite bad.

Ultimately, for the Pacquiao vs. Bradley rematch, we already saw this fight. The fight wasn’t that good, and it seemed pretty clear who should have won. The only controversy was created by inept officials. If the bout had been called correctly, there would be no need to revisit it.

The bottom line is that Bradley got credit for the win, adding an air of “unfinished business” to the bout, whether legitimate or not. Combined with Bradley’s banner 2013 campaign, Pacquiao could accomplish a lot by doing what most of us thought he already did in 2012.

For Pacquiao, it makes a lot of sense. He can beat a guy he already beat easily — and if he does, it pumps a lot of air into the last stretch run of his career.

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