The MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas is bracing itself this weekend for the biggest fight of the year so far, when the undefeated WBO welterweight champion of the world Timothy Bradley, takes on eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, in a redemption match-up for both fighters.
It has been almost two years since a controversial judges decision ruled that Bradley had done enough to take the WBO title away from Pacquiao and from the moment the American raised his hands in victory a much anticipated rematch was on the cards.
It was Bradley's first fight at welterweight back then after establishing his credentials at light-welterweight with victories over Lamont Peterson and Devon Alexander and holding the WBO and WBC titles. With Mayweather dodging the calls of a fight with the Filipino superstar Bradley got his shot against Pacquiao which most regarded as a complete mismatch.
"The fighting pride of the Philippines," came into the fight as the pound for pound king in the ring.
Over a seven year period, Pacquiao reeled off 14 consecutive wins over world champions like Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez twice, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Sugar Shane Mosely and a brutal victory over Antonio Margarito, one of his most impressive performances, where he battered the Mexican into submission at the Cowboys Stadium, fracturing his eye-socket.
Their first clash was billed as the, "The Perfect Storm, " with Pacquiao the firm favourite. The pace was frenetic with the Filipino utilising his incredible hand-speed and power to great effect in a display that saw him dominate his opponent for the first six rounds.
Bradley appeared to recover as he squeezed a round or two in the back end of the fight however when the final bell rang and Michael Buffer announced the judges result, the MGM Grand erupted into a chorus of boos as the decision went in favour of the American, leaving fight fans around the world stunned in what was a clear cut and comprehensive win for Pacquiao.
With Mayweather beating Cotto, a Pacquiao win would have more than likely set up the fight the world wanted to see however the judges decision put an end to any hopes of that happening as later that year the Filipino stepped into the ring for a fourth time against Marquez, the Mexican finally getting his revenge with a stunning 6th round knock out win.
With a career in politics developing away from the ring and two consecutive losses in the ring, Pacquiao's career looked to be coming to an end - however the Filipino has decided to go out on his terms.
After a year of careful consideration he stepped back into the ring late last year with a 12 round decision against Brandon Rios in a performance that showed signs the former champion was rediscovering his old spark, the win setting up his rematch with Bradley for the WBO title.
Since Bradley's controversial win he has retained his unbeaten record and his WBO belt with wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez over 12 rounds, a win that will surely give the Californian confidence.
The stage is set with both fighters seeking redemption on Saturday night, Pacquiao wanting to show the judges they got it wrong first time out, while Bradley wants to put in a performance that supports they were correct.
Pacquiao's record coming into the fight stands at 62 fights, 55 wins, 38 by KO, 5 losses and 2 draws. He is a 10 times world champion and the only fighter to win world championships across 8 weight divisions, an exemplary career.
Bradley remains undefeated in 31 with 12 KO victories.
Come Saturday you can expect another punishing 12 rounds during the second installment and if Pacquiao can deliver his trademark hand-speed and power I believe it wont be the last time the 2 fighters step into the ring against each other.
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