35-year-old Fillipino Manny Pacquiao will stand at a crossroads in his career come April 12.
Pacquiao will go head-to-head with the unbeaten American Timothy Bradley for a second time in a highly-anticipated rematch. Pacquiao is at a point in his career where a loss could prove to be the end.
Pacquiao is one of the true legends of the sport and holds world titles over an incredible eight weight divisions. He is right up there with the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Ray Robinson.
Pacquiao has had an extremely distinguished career and has thrilled fans over the years with his exciting style. A flashy, fast combination thrower with real power in his punches, the 'Pac Man' has become a fan favourite. The way in which he conducts himself is exemplary and he is the true symbol of what a professional boxer is.
The first fight between these two ended in controversial fashion with Bradley being declared the winner via a split decision on the scores of 115-113, 115-113 to him and 113-115 against. Pacquiao won the fight clearly. He landed the harder punches continuously and in the eyes of many was the winner by a large margin.
Bradley had put up a very brave performance and boxed well at times but Pacquiao seemed to be doing the better work and taking the rounds relatively easily. Such controversy has created a demand for a rematch between the pair.
Pacquiao is however in the twilight of his career having had a very tough spell. His style has meant that at times he has had to take big shots and that doesn't lead well to very long careers. Pacquiao will be heading into this rematch on the back of one loss and one win since the first fight.
Pacquiao faced long-time rival Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012 and looked very good until he was knocked unconscious by a brutal shot in the sixth round. He was caught absolutely flush and that was the end of the fight.
Following the defeat, many began to question whether Pacquiao still had what it took to fight at the top of the sport and perform as he had done for years. Pacquiao then stayed out of the ring for over a year before returning to face Brandon Rios in Macau last November.
Pacquiao then seemed to roll back the years and put on a very dominant performance. Perhaps the one thing lacking from the old Pacquiao was the power in his shots. He was unable to force a game Rios out of there despite absolutely destroying him.
In contrast to the mixed fortunes suffered by Pacquiao since they first faced-off, Bradley has gone from strength-to-strength in beating Ruslan Provodnikov and the aforementioned Marquez.
Bradley's fight with the tough Provodnikov was an absolute classic with both men looking to assert control. Both men showed amazing levels of determination and how Bradley got through that fight I will never know.
He got hit and wobbled several times in the fight but he refused to go down and continued to throw back and trade when it may have been more sensible to hold on. It was a fantastic display from both men and Bradley really earned respect that night following all the criticism he received after the controversial fight with Pacquiao.
Bradley then fought the man who had beaten Pacquiao the previous year, Marquez. Bradley fought a tactically astute fight and controlled the contest. He rarely looked troubled and he made Marquez look slow.
All of the above has now left us facing an intriguing rematch between two of the top boxers in the world. Both men will go into the fight determined to prove a point and both will be fully confident of success on the night.
Picking the winner is an extremely difficult task. If both men are at their best, then Pacquiao will win but if he is not then Bradley is more than capable of winning. Stylistically the two are well matched with both men looking to come forward.
Pacquiao is the bigger puncher but Bradley has the better punch resistance. Pacquiao should look to do the same things that gave him success in the first fight because no matter what the record book says, he won that fight.
Bradley should look to use his boxing skills and not stand and trade. Bradley has shown against Marquez that he can fight his natural instincts and stick to a game-plan.
The fans should be in for a real treat with this fight and the winner can legitimately claim to be the better man.
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