He Who Would Be King: Why Tim Bradley Beating Manny Pacquiao Would Be Good For Boxing



****

If Tim Bradley defeats Manny Pacquiao on June 9th, knocking one of boxing’s celestial bodies off its orbit, melancholy predictions for the sport’s future surely will follow. Somber though the mood may be, boxing will persist—violence always finds an audience. But the consolation of boxing’s survival is too modest an expectation. Despite inclinations to settle for mere palliatives, there is cause for genuine optimism with a Bradley victory.

One reason for this optimism is evident in a change in public sentiment toward Pacquiao. The Filipino fighter’s ascension to the sport’s summit began with his 2008 rematch victory over tormentor Juan Manuel Marquez. His superiority at and below 130lbs generally conceded, Pacquiao went trophy hunting. Between March of 2008 and December of 2009, Pacquiao destroyed David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto. However historians may choose to look back on Pacquiao’s run—inserting asterisks based on catchweights and shrewd matchmaking—it was comprised of captivating performances and resuscitated casual interest. Even if he was strafing your favorite fighter, Pacquiao’s brand of belligerence, and the mania he spawned, were undeniably remarkable.

What followed was a tiresome trio of victories over Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, and Shane Mosley, and another disputed decision over Marquez. After the Marquez fight a rumble of animosity toward the Filipino fighter could be detected: people felt that Pacquiao had been gifted a decision, benefiting from favoritism garnered over the course of the previous years. Pacquiao’s image as a fighter was changing. There is little recourse to the endearing underdog narrative when Pacquiao spars (spares?) an aged Shane Mosley or gets the nod against Marquez despite looking baffled and ineffective for surprisingly long stretches of the fight. Resentment has begun to percolate as fans tire of the global icon (while eager to embrace another, of course). Given the criticism directed at his most recent fights, it looks as if the gripping summer romance with Pacquiao may finally feel the chill of autumn. This may be unfair, but the significance of this fading romance lies in its prevalence, not its validity.

For some, Pacquiao’s polarizing gay marriage stance is probably expediting this change in sentiment. To parse the issue in its entirety is more than is required for purposes here. Suffice to say that one’s position on gay marriage is is fundamentally personal. To disagree with Pacquiao is to hold him in opposition to your worldview, your understanding of human worth. Given the ontological significance of the debate, Pacquiao’s opposition to gay marriage is a tipping point, grounds for repositioning oneself in opposition to him. Even those ambivalent about the sport may find themselves forced to choose sides when informed of Pacquiao’s stance. Given that Pacquiao has entered an existential debate, a Bradley victory could be unjustifiably celebrated as a triumph of a particular worldview. What this could do for Bradley’s Q-rating is more than the deed alone would accomplish, and would be an auspicious start for a fighter who just committed regicide.

Bradley has other advantages that make a victory over Pacquiao cause for optimism. Unlike recent Floyd Mayweather victim Miguel Cotto, Bradley gives every impression of a fighter on the rise. It is possible that, at 28 and with only 28 professional bouts under his belt, the earnest pug from Palm Springs, California, has yet to give his best performance. A propensity for head butts and lack of power aside, Bradley’s future holds great promise. If one of the sports citadels were to fall, it’s likely that Bradley could construct more from the rubble than Cotto would. He may never draw like Cotto, but he figures to remain in the sport far longer. Bradley is in his physical prime, and he has yet to achieve the financial success he undoubtedly believes he deserves. Furthermore, there is a charm about Bradley, an indigo tint to his collar that makes him compelling. He is also promoted by Top Rank, who have proven—with a few exceptions—that they can maximize a fighter’s appeal. All of these attributes would be augmented by a win over Pacquiao. Were someone to beat Pacquiao, Bradley is as attractive a candidate as any.

****

Follow The Cruelest Sport on Twitter & Facebook and help end global warming!

Tags: Floyd Mayweather Jr. Manny Pacquiao TIM BRADLEY

  • Michael Nelson

    Hey JT,
     
    Good stuff.  You’re right on the money about Bradley continuing to improve, adding a bit of something to his game in each fight.  Heavy-footed and sloppy during his shobox days, he’s now versatile enough to be a serious threat to Pacquiao’s throne and his best performances are likely yet to come.
     
    I’d love to see a new face serve as a reprieve from Pac-Mayweather fatigue.  And as you said, he’s good enough to stick around. 

  • jet79

     @hans castorp 
    Hi Hans,
     
    I’ll concede that perhaps I made too much of the same-sex controversy, but allow me an explanation. I considered the different lenses it could be viewed through (political, ethical, etc.) and ultimately, since the political issue was indicative of an ethical one, and the ethics involved predicated on deeper, broader beliefs about the world, I reduced the same-sex issue to an ontological one. For myself anyway, that’s where my mind goes when ethical issues pop up, because the premises in ethical arguments always seem to assume a state of affairs about the world. This state of affairs is what I intended to imply by “world-view”. Admittedly, I could’ve selected a clearer term. And you’re right, this is not a Schmeling-Louis level ideology war.
     
    As for Bradley being a superstar in league with Pacquiao, I don’t see it either. And he’ll never draw like Cotto. Pacquiao won’t be replaced immediately. The idea was that, Bradley might be ready to fill some of the void left by Pacquiao, which makes a victory for Tim less damaging for the sport. He may not be exciting for the casual boxing fan, but if he beats Pacquiao, which will require a rather spectacular performance (or two, if there’s a rematch), that could very well change.
     
    Anyway, thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights.

  • jet79

     @Michael Nelson 
    Hi Michael,
     
    I completely agree with everything you wrote. I’m ready for a change, and I’m okay with Bradley being the guy who initiates it. As long as he doesn’t do it head first.

  • jet79

     @edgar_ian_lim 
    Hi Edgar, thanks for reading,
     
    Quick point of clarification: I never said Bradley would be able to replace Pacquiao, only that if someone were to do it, Bradley would be as good a candidate as any because he has a future in the sport and is with a good promoter. 
     
    I would say that Bradley’s undefeated record indeed qualifies him as good, and he’s proven himself a tough, adaptable, earnest fighter.
     
    If Bradley besting Khan, Maidana, or Ortiz would impress you, what would a win over Pacquiao do for your estimation of him? Or even a loss in a close fight?

  • thenonpareil

     stephensaldivarcagulada Hi,
    usually I block and ban fools like you, but Jimmy is new here and I just thought I would make him feel welcome. 
    Your entire comment is stupid, but the the funniest part, to me, is the “per click” one.  I assume you mean “penny click.”  Anyway, this is the first Pacquiao post on this website in seven months.  Seven months!  So there goes your penny-click theory.  Now go back to your moldy chew toy. 
     

  • thenonpareil

    Hi JT,
    interesting take.  Judging by the lack of Pacman outrage this post has generated, maybe you’re right about people being a bit tired of him.  Usually, anything even perceived as slightly negative about Pacquiao will bring cries of “BIAS” and homophobic comments about Floyd Mayweather.  Oh, well.
    As for Bradley, I wonder what would happen  if he did beat Pacquiao.  I remember how disappointed and frustrated Shane Mosley was when he didn’t become an instant star after beating Oscar De La Hoya the first time.  But he had Cedric Kushner as his promoter at the time, so maybe that’s all that needs to be said there. 
    Anytime an underdog beats a big name, it’s good for boxing, and here it would be no different.  Despite what geniuses say about Arum being afraid to risk his golden goose against Mayweather, one loss is not going to derail the Pacquiao train.  There would be a comeback fight and then a rematch…in the meantime Bradley would be a third part of the boxing superstar equation in America. Everybody wins, a least for a little while, which is as long as anything good in boxing lasts.  

  • jet79

     @KAZHAK BOY OLYMPIAN 
    Hi KBO,
     
    If you read this and thought I suggested in any way that Bradley could supplant Pacquiao, I must have failed to make myself clear. I certainly don’t think Bradley can fill Pacquiao’s shoes. I only suggested that, far from being Armageddon, it might be good if Bradley won.
     
    Mayweather not fighting isn’t good for boxing, and I don’t think he should go to jail forever unless he’s convicted of a crime that carries such a sentence.
     
    Question: What if he who dares is not the best man? Who wins in that scenario?
     
    Not sure the outcome of a bout is irrelevant, regardless of the effort put forth. Nor am I convinced than Pacquiao always gives his best. But hey, I’ve been wrong before. I mean, I wrote about Pacquiao possibly losing, so I’m clearly an idiot.

  • jet79

     @StephenSaldivarCagulada 
    Hi!
     
    Hey, mediocre isn’t “garbage” so I’m on my way! I’ll keep writing after the Pacquiao – Bradley fight regardless of the outcome, though I’ll probably steer clear of topics that get the cavemen waving their cyber-clubs (mostly because said topics are boring, and certainly not worth waging wars over).
     
    I’m not American, and Floyd Mayweather isn’t my countryman. Nor is he the topic of this piece. What are you overcompensating for?
     
    Dreaming is free! So your dreams about one day having oposable thumbs, or breathing with your mouth closed won’t cost you anything. Dream big Caligula!

  • jet79

     @thenonpareil 
    Hi CA,
     
    I feel a bit like a guy who’s been duped into changing a diaper for the first time.
     
    I’ve written thirty something articles, not one has been about Mayweather or Pacquiao – it’s always felt a bit like pandering to the lowest common denominator, or a lazy attempt to generate traffic. But I think there’s some merit to what I wrote, or I wouldn’t have written it.
     
    I’m not really a fan of Pacquiao, and yet I don’t like Mayweather – apparently this position is rare among the missing link constituency, who deal in extremes because their underdeveloped brains struggle with nuance. 
     
    Guess I’ll shelve that first-person, pound for pound piece I was going to write on who between Floyd and Manny is better in the sack. I wouldn’t wanna get a pipe bomb in the mail.
     

  • jet79

     @scottchristianson4 
    Skillz!
     
    I’m with you in thinking that Bradley probably won’t win (though I’m not convinced he couldn’t win seven rounds, if you know what I’m saying).
     
    The excitement factor is certainly a problem, as Bradley’s aesthetic leaves much to be desired. That, and the lack of power probably determine the ceiling for Bradley’s popularity even if he keeps winning. Personally, I like watching Bradley fight: he’s determined, collected, tough. But there just aren’t enough Sports Center worthy highlights in a Bradley fight. He’s never going to “Hatton” anybody. Maybe he should try Dancing With the Stars?
     
    What with VADA cleaning up the sport one cancelled fight at a time, I’m with you – I’ll settle for a decent scrap right now. I think Bute – Froch gives us just that, and so does Pacquiao – Bradley. I hear the NHL is really exciting right now. Wish I could get into that.
     
     

  • jet79

     @MoiraFajardoChance 
     
    Hi Moira, thanks for reading.
     
    I think Manny is certainly in a low stretch, though his low remains greater than the highs for damn near everybody else. And Bradley may be benefiting from a bit of a hype job, but he’s earned this shot. I’m not sure the Manny who showed up for Cotto has been seen since, to be honest, which is both part of why Manny is in a “low” and why this fight is so interesting.
     
    You’re right, a loss isn’t the end for Bradley – a loss isn’t the end for anyone (which is both great and sad depending on the fighter). I wish more young, promising fighters would embrace the risk to earn the reward.
     
    At any rate, I expect to be entertained June 9th.