Timothy Bradley isn't a counter-puncher by nature, but will he make that a bigger part of his game against Manny Pacquiao? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Timothy Bradley is getting more attention already for his June 9 fight with Manny Pacquiao than he has for any other fight in his entire career, and it's to be expected, as the world's top 140-pounder is stepping into the true biggest of the big leagues in boxing with this bout.
The biggest debate so far is whether or not Bradley (28-0, 12 KO) has the style to defeat Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO). Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao's greatest rival, doesn't feel that Bradley has the power to contain Manny. But Bradley is confident enough that he believes Freddie Roach is worried about this fight, and many do believe that the 28-year-old from Palm Springs, Calif., presents a significant stylistic challenge for the Filipino ring idol, whose career may well be coming to an end sooner than later.
Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com asked Bradley how he'll attack Pacquiao, and specifically, if he planned to counter-punch more often in this fight than he has in the past:
"I really don't know. I haven’t been in the ring with him yet. I really don't know exactly how it’s going to go. It all depends on how Pacquiao comes out and then I'll make my adjustments in there. I already have a couple of game plans in my mind. When I get into the fight, I should prevail, I should definitely prevail -- land shots on Pacquiao that other fighters didn't land and get out of trouble, counter-punch when I need to. I know Pacquiao likes to come forward and likes to bang as well."
The assessment of Bradley not really being a pure counter-puncher is quite true -- it's not his game, he's not a Juan Manuel Marquez guy who can really feed off of an opponent's aggression. Or at least, he's never been that guy to date.
But he could certainly do more of that in this fight. I don't think there's any secret that Bradley and his team will be looking over what Marquez has done against Pacquiao and trying to work some of that into their approach for June 9.
Bradley has his own strengths, and some of those can be trouble for a fighter like Manny Pacquiao. Bradley's physically strong in the upper body, has terrific stamina, moves very well, and knows how to push a fight where he wants it to go. If he has to do that by using his head or otherwise making it rough, he'll do so. Pacquiao's really not used to those tactics at this point, as most of his recent opponents have been guys who were there to be hit all night, either because their face is their defense (Margarito, Hatton), Pacquiao breaks their spirit (Cotto), or they don't intend to throw back enough (Clottey). And then there was Mosley, who eventually wanted nothing to do with the fight.
I think, though, even more than believing in Bradley's ability, there's a hope that he will be a tough challenge. I'll take the controversy of Pacquiao-Marquez III and the good fight that came with it over a "dominant" Pacquiao performance against someone who can't or won't fight him. Give me the endless debates over the yawn-and-forget fights.