For WBO welterweight king Timothy Bradley and challenger Manny Pacquiao, Saturday's rematch is all about redemption. Pacquiao's reasons are obvious; the split decision loss snapped a 15-fight winning streak that saw him win titles from 130 to 154 and started what would become a two-fight losing skid. But for Bradley, the rematch is an opportunity to erase the stigma created by the outcry over the first fight's verdict. Many mistakenly blamed Bradley for the 115-113 scorecards turned in by Duane Ford and C.J. Ross and that ill will plunged Bradley into a depressed state. A decisive win over Pacquiao would drive home the point that he should be perceived as the better fighter between the two.
Which man will have victory soothe his soul and which fighter will have to endure defeat's sting -- perhaps for the rest of his life? Statistical factors that may influence the outcome include:
Minutes to Win It: The overall numbers paint a dominant picture for Pacquiao: Connect leads of 253-159 overall, 63-51 jabs and 190-108 and equally dominant connect percentage gulfs (34%-19% overall, 24%-11% jabs and 39%-28% power) despite Bradley having thrown many more punches (839-571 overall). But the minute-by-minute breakdowns paint a somewhat different picture. Judges Ford and Ross may have credited Bradley for his more consistent work over the course of each round over Pacquiao's eye-catching last-minute surges. Consider:
Pacquiao -- Total punches
1st minute: 42/153 (16.6% of total connects, 20.4% of total output)
2nd minute: 89/233 (35.2% of total connects, 31% of total output)
3rd minute: 122/365 (48.2% of total connects, 48.6% of total output)
Bradley -- Total punches
1st minute: 52/299 (32.7% of total connects, 35.6% of total output)
2nd minute: 48/269 (30.2% of total connects, 32.1% of total output)
3rd minute: 59/271 (37.1% of total connects, 32.3% of total output)
Pacquiao -- Power punches
1st minute: 32/77 (16.8% of total connects, 15.6% of total output)
2nd minute: 60/155 (31.6% of total connects, 31.5% of total output)
3rd minute: 98/261 (51.6% of total connects, 52.9% of total output)
Bradley -- Power punches
1st minute: 34/115 (31.5% of total connects, 29.5% of total output)
2nd minute: 32/123 (29.6% of total connects, 31.5% of total output)
3rd minute: 42/152 (38.9% of total connects, 39% of total output)
Bradley's edges in first minute connects (52-42 overall) and first-minute attempts (299-153 overall, 115-77 power) as well as his more consistent work over the course of the round may have planted seeds in Ford's and Ross' minds that Pacquiao needed to make up ground as the rounds swung into the second and third minutes. The stats showed that Pacquiao clearly saved the best for last as nearly half of his total offense took place in the final 60 seconds but that apparently wasn't enough to flip Ford and Ross in enough rounds.
Did they react properly? In many minds no. But given the emphasis on superior activity these days, the minute-by-minute breakdowns might provide a possible explanation behind Bradley's split decision win.
Since Then: Each man has fought twice in the interim and much has occurred. Eager to regain fan support in the wake of the Pacquiao verdict, Bradley engaged in Ring Magazine's 2013 Fight of the Year against Ruslan Provodnikov in which he overcame a severe concussion and a 12th round knockdown to win a razor-thin unanimous decision. Bradley out-landed Provodnikov 347-218 overall and 129-32 jabs but only 218-186 in power shots. As was the case in the first Pacquiao fight, activity was the difference as Bradley fired 83.3 punches per round to Provodnikov's 56.3 and he also was the more precise man (35%-32% overall, 26%-20% jabs, 43%-36% power).
Many thought Bradley's skills were waning but "Desert Storm" emphatically answered his critics seven months later against master boxer Juan Manuel Marquez. Using supreme ring generalship, Bradley forced Marquez to become the aggressor and ended up out-landing him 168-153 overall and 82-38 jabs to off-set Marquez's 115-86 lead in landed power shots and the Mexican's better accuracy (34%-30% overall and 40%-38% power). The decision was split but most observers believed it should have been unanimous.
After facing Bradley, Pacquiao suffered a historic one-punch KO loss to Marquez that prompted Pacquiao haters to litter social media with rueful avatars. But that single punch obscured the fact that Pacquiao was statistically dominant to that point: Connect leads of 94-52 overall, 26-11 jabs and 68-41 power as well as percentage bulges of 37%-21% overall, 24%-11% jabs and 46%-27% power. He suffered a knockdown in the third butscored his own in round five and in the process he rendered Marquez's face a bloody mess. But in boxing the final result is everything and Marquez's huge punch erased everything that had transpired before it. Like Bradley, Pacquiao's first post-Bradley fight was voted Ring's Fight of the Year.
After taking a career-long 350-day rest, Pacquiao faced Brandon Rios, whose slower hands, softer punch (at least at 147) and accessible chin were made to order. Pacquiao didn't disappoint as he dominated from first bell to last, out-landing Rios 281-138 overall, 58-25 jabs and 223-113 power and landing 36% overall and 48% power. One sobering stat: Pacquiao was still hit by 43% of Rios' power shots (Rios landed an avg. of 9 of 22 power shots per round- welter avg. is 13 of 34 per round), an indication that the 35-year-old Filipino's reactions are slowing. Still, the performance extricated Pacquiao from his two-fight slide and justified Saturday's date with redemption.
Prediction: Rios' tailor-made style obscured the effects of Father Time for Pacquiao while Bradley's will magnify them. If Pacquiao can be hit by 43% of Rios' hooks, crosses and uppercuts, how much worse could it be against the faster and more mobile Bradley? "Desert Storm" is not a defensive wizard (Pacquiao, Provodnikov & Marquez landed 38% of their power punches) but his still-springy legs will dictate pace and range. And this time Bradley won't be fighting with a broken foot for half the fight as he did in fight one or with a concussion as he did against Provodnikov. If Bradley chooses to box as he did against Marquez, he'll win a comfortable decision but if he foolishly opts to trade with Pacquiao all bets are off.
This fight will likely go the distance as Pacquiao hasn't scored a knockout since stopping Miguel Cotto in November 2009 while Bradley has scored only one stoppage since April 2007. The guess here is that Bradley will be on his strategic Ps and Qs and will smartly box his way to a points win.