By Kieran Mulvaney
Emanuel Steward, Hall-of-Fame trainer and HBO boxing analyst, sees a lot to like about Saturday’s clash between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao is the big favorite, but Steward warns fans not to sleep on the American. “Bradley is not known as a superstar fighter, but I’ve known him since he was a young amateur; I coached him for the United States program, and I know one thing about him is his consistency,” he says.
He shared some of what he thinks are the key points and matchups to look out for on Saturday night.
Is Pacquiao vulnerable to the upset?
I think he is vulnerable to some degree. It’s only natural. The guy has just about held this sport together for the last five years. it’s amazing that a little guy from the Philippines is who the sport has been surviving on, but it’s because he makes exciting fights and he consistently fights the best. Even though there are times when other fighters, like Floyd [Mayweather] for instance, takes his breaks [from the sport], Manny has been consistent. I think that sometimes all those super fights can create some wear and tear, and also now he has a political career that he seems to be very serious about. A person just has so much energy – physically, emotionally and spiritually – and I think a lot of that has been expended right now in his case because of this job, and he takes that job extremely seriously.
Who can get respect first?
Manny’s going to have to come out and get some respect by hurting Timothy early. Bradley needs to come in and put a lot of pressure on him. He needs to come in with pressure, pressure, and a tight defense.
Move those feet
Pacquiao needs to come out and try to take advantage of his much better footwork. The main thing is: he needs to be Manny, do what he does naturally, but not get too far out of position when he punches. Timothy doesn’t need to worry about lateral movement or anything like that; that’s not the kind of fighter he is. He just needs to come straight up the middle, and apply speed and pressure.
Swing and a miss
When Manny comes in, Bradley should take a little step back and make Manny miss with his punches. Because a lot of times, Manny is so aggressive, he punches and gets out of balance. And this is what [Juan Manuel] Marquez does very well; Marquez lets him punch and miss so that, because he punches so hard, particularly with that left hand, he can fall out of position, and then you go back to putting pressure on him again. Timmy’s a smart, tough little guy like Marquez, and he has speed. Timothy’s not known as a fast fighter, but he has speed still.
The end result?
Bradley is a mentally very strong individual. So it’s going to be two strong-minded guys, which I think is going to make for a super fight. Even though I favor Pacquiao, I think this is a very close fight, almost borderline toss-up.