Bunce: ‘Bradley most important fight of Pacquiao’s career’
Primetime pundit Steve Bunce reckons Saturday’s WBO welterweight meeting between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley could be the most important outing of the Filipino’s career, as only a statement-making performance would keep any prospective bout with Floyd Mayweather alive…
‘This might be the most important fight of Manny Pacquiao’s career, the reason I say that many people thought that Juan Manuel Marquez nicked that last fight, on a night when Manny was given a tight decision. What that did is shifted the power bases from Pacquiao to Floyd Mayweather for that mythical pound for pound title,' said Bunce.
‘As the rounds progressed it shifted further away from Pacquiao and landed firmly in Mayweather’s camp. With the fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao still waiting to be made, Manny knows that to keep that fight the prospect of breaking all box office records alive he needs to beat Timothy Bradley and make a statement.
‘He’s done this before, remember. Going into the Ricky Hatton fight he pulled out the performance of performances to shock Mayweather and force him into a corner. Mayweather managed to squirm away that time but now again holds the position of the high moral ground. This is purely because he is saying he wants the fight placing the pressure is squarely on Pacquiao.
‘This is what makes it such an important fight. Pacquiao can’t just win; he can’t just knick this and claw out a decision. It can’t even be close – he needs to pull out a performance like he did that night against Ricky Hatton.
‘This is going to be hard against a guy as elusive and as good at surviving as Bradley. I think this has the makings of being a make or break fight and that’s before you even start looking at what this means for Bradley.
‘A few years ago we thought maybe Pacquiao was coming to the end of his peak but he kept on pulling out performances and moments in fights that make us re-evaluate things.
‘At times Freddie Roach has questioned his commitment, not his commitment in the gym but his commitment to fighting in general. Is this a guy with his eye now too much on the politics?
‘Pacquiao is not just a guy wanting to make up the numbers in politics, in the Filipino government he wants to be a guy who makes changes. He wants to be a guy who matters and makes the difference. It’s a hefty challenge he’s taken on there.
‘In the build up to the Marquez fight, as Freddie warned us, he’d taken his eye off the ball. I don’t think he’s a fight away from retirement but let’s not mince our words – he needs to perform this time. It won’t sit comfortably with Manny, Freddie Roach or anyone in the ‘Pacquiao’ business that Mayweather is now occupying this lofty moral position. And only in boxing could a guy starting a prison sentence occupy the high moral ground!
‘In my honest opinion Bradley is still in some ways under achieving in the fight game. Bradley, while he has been hard to negotiate with at times, is a seasoned fighter who has never turned away from a challenge. Bradley won’t find himself short on the night; he won’t leave that ring with any regrets. I think he is the kind of fighter who could give this or any Pacquiao problems.’
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