Expect high level Pacquiao against Bradley

March 29, 2016 3:03 AM
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Fighter Manny PacquiaoThis coming Saturday night the MGM Grand Garden Arena will play host to a third fight in the last four years between Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 KO’s) and Timothy Bradley (33-1-1-1, 13 KO’s).

Many are wondering why a third fight is even needed, since few would argue “Pac-Man” hasn’t already beaten “Desert Storm” twice. But the official record shows each fighter has registered a win against the other, therefore setting the stage for the rubber match.

According to oddsmakers, who installed Pacquiao as high as a -265 betting favorite, not much is expected to change the third time. Back in April 2014, the “Fighting Pride of the Philippines” entered the ring as an almost identical -260 favorite. Though this time around the betting market appears to disagree as early money wagered on Bradley has forced an adjustment, and the current line is now as low as -210.

Pacquiao has been idle for almost 11 months due to a much needed shoulder surgery, which was blamed for his lackluster performance against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his last fight. It’s been said the former eight division world champion is the one who wanted this rubber match with Bradley, and many point to this fight possibly being Pacquiao’s swan song.

For Bradley, this bout marks another opportunity to prove he deserves to be mentioned among the top pound for pound, and more importantly attain the star status he believes has eluded him to date. It’s no secret Tim faced his greatest challenge after being awarded the victory against Manny in their first fight. Bradley claims he never was afforded the opportunity to celebrate that controversial split decision win and the burden to prove his critics wrong ended up costing him in the rematch.

There are many uncertainties and questions looming as we head into the rubber match, most notably whether or not Pacquiao still possesses the physical skill set at 37 years old, and the desire. Coupled with the addition of head trainer Teddy Atlas now in Bradley’s corner, rest assured this third fight comes with plenty of intrigue for us fight fans. But for us bettors, the only question we need to answer is whether or not backing either combatant on Saturday offers us value?

Simply put, I say yes.

The bottom line is this, the fight game always does a masterful job when marketing a high profile bout. It almost always appears these contests will be much more competitive than they ultimately end up being, and more times than not, all of the hype leading up to the bout helps very little in deciding the outcome.

 Therefore, the goal of us bettors should be to ignore the noise and focus on the facts.

For this fight we have plenty of data to work with and more importantly, 24 rounds of history between the two participants. After going back to revisit those two bouts for this column, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind Pacquiao is the superior fighter.

The fact he was able to handle Bradley rather easily both times is even more telling. Granted, the official record shows a split but I highly doubt any unbiased observer could conclude anything other than a clean sweep for “Pac-Man.”

Though Bradley is known as a very elite boxer, he was unable to outbox Pacquiao. His excellent jab was never able to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm, nor was he able to show Pacquiao enough angles and avoid his straight left.

When Bradley attempted to make it a brawl, he didn’t show the kind of power needed to get Pacquiao’s respect, or pose much of a problem in close quarters.

Bradley’s greatest asset has always been his awkward and difficult style to emulate and prepare for in training.

That will not be the case against Pacquiao, even with Atlas in the corner and all the talk about employing a new game plan.

I expect to see an aggressive and determined Pacquiao, who will once again bring the fight to Bradley.

 Though it will be a chess match early, eventually Pacquiao will test Bradley’s chin and begin taking control of the fight in the middle and late rounds.

I won’t be at all surprised if this third fight doesn’t make it to the final bell, but even if left in the hands of the judges, the decision won’t be a difficult one to make.

When I initially saw the opening betting line I thought we may have a “live dog” in our midst, but after breaking the fight down and silencing all the noise surrounding it, I’ve come to the conclusion this line is just not high enough.

PICK: PACQUIAO

Vegas-Runner is a professional bettor/handicapper featured on CNBC, ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, CBS This Morning, The Herd, JT the Brick, & More. Follow VR on Twitter @Greek_Gamblerand at the home of the Animals, Phillygodfather.com. Contact Vegas Runner at VegasRunner@GamingToday.com.