In the summer of 2012, Manny Pacquiao faced perhaps the most controversial decision of his two decade, 63 fight professional boxing career. At the end of the highly-anticipated bout between Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, CompuBox scored punches landed as 253-159 in Pacquiao's favor. Despite this overwhelming display of dominance with his striking game, the judges decided, in a split-decision, to award the victory to Bradley.
Life after this controversial loss to Bradley did not improve for Pacquiao. In his next match-up against Juan Manuel Marquez in December of 2012, Pacquiao was knocked out in the sixth round.
Despite the back-to-back losses, Pacquiao was able to rebound with a victory over Brandon Rios this past November. Since then, Pacquiao has been training like a man possessed to revenge the loss he suffered against Bradley in a contest slated for April 12.
After conducting the first half of his training in the Philippines, Pacquiao has returned to Los Angeles to resume training with his coach, Freddie Roach.
For his rematch against Bradley, Pacquiao and Roach have been working on a new strategy that relies upon being more aggresive: "I don't think he's going to try to go toe-to-toe with me, but I have to be more aggressive than I had been. I have been working on being aggressive," stated Pacquiao.
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) March 9, 2014
Part of that aggressive strategy involves Pacquiao throwing more jabs. While Pacquiao has questioned the strategy, stating "He'll [Bradley] just block it and back away," coach Freddie Roach believes that the jab is key to Pacquiao changing the end result this time around:
"I told Manny the other day, 'Manny, you have the best jab in the world and it drives me crazy that you don't use it. He can knock guys out with his jab. It's fast, hard and quick and I've been telling him he needs to use it more. In sparring, I've been getting him to double, triple and even throw four at a time. It sets up his left hand well."
In order to help Pacquiao throw as many jabs as he possibly can, the camp has brought in a new, yet familiar, trainer. Justin Fortune has rejoined with Pacquiao after the boxer parted ways with former trainer Alex Ariza.
“Against Bradley, Manny will be strong and quick. (There will be) no problem with cramp issues, those will be addressed. He’ll be in the best shape of his life,” assured Fortune.
While the Pacquiao camp may be exuding confidence, Timothy Bradley is not intimidated. The American boxer has been preparing for his rematch with Pacquiao as well and believes that he will emerge victorious once again: “I know he is gonna try to bring the pressure on me. It’s not gonna work. Right now, it’s not gonna work. He is gonna have to definitely out-think me in there. He has to be a lot faster,” stated Bradley.
Bradley believes that "The only way he's going to beat me is if he puts me to sleep and he's not going to do it." - a sentiment the Pacquiao camp shares:
"A lot of times I tell Manny he needs to go for the knockout and he says, 'Yeah, you're right,' and then in the fight, his compassionate side kicks in and he doesn't do it. But the difference this time is that Bradley said it to him. Bradley said at that first press conference that Manny lost his killer instinct... That must have bothered him, because more than once, Manny has said to me, 'Can you believe he said that to me?' And you can see by the way he's working, he wants to give people what they want, which is a knockout."
Pacquiao is training as if all of the chips are in, and perhaps they are. Before Pacquiao entered the ring against Brandon Rios, coach Freddie Roach advised the boxer to retire if he lost the fight. While Roach has yet to advise Pacquiao on what to do if he loses again, Bradley understands the importance of the fight:
“Manny knows this is do or die for him. If Manny doesn’t win this fight then his career will be over. So this is a must-win situation for Manny Pacquiao."
Image via Twitter