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Pacquiao faces tough test in Bradley

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has begun his three-month sentence inside a Las Vegas jail cell. But boxing’s pound-for-pound king could have company soon.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

If Timothy Bradley upsets Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night, jail might be the best place for Bradley to go to escape the wrath of boxing fans enraged over what surely would be the end of their dream matchup.

Not that Pacquiao-Mayweather is ever going to happen anyway, but a Bradley win would KO any chance of it occurring.

Maybe it’s just as well. Maybe it’s simply time to move on.

At least in Bradley-Pacquiao, there is hope of a competitive fight. Many are even predicting a Bradley victory.

There is reason for this. Unlike many of Pacquiao’s recent opponents — Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey — Bradley is a live body.

He’s an undefeated fighter (28-0, 12 KOs), who hasn’t learned how to lose, who fights with energy and, perhaps most importantly, is only 28 years old.

It’s been a while since Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) has fought a good fighter like Bradley who is in his prime.

Bradley appears to be a devout family man and is hungry, but the advantages he has in age — he is five years younger than Pacquiao — may not matter much.

The important number is the low knockout ratio — 12 in 28 bouts — which, coupled with Bradley’s aggressive style, could spell trouble.

Kendall Holt knocked him down early in 2009 before Bradley rallied to win. But Holt is no Pacquiao.

It will be interesting to see how Bradley reacts after first tasting Pacquiao’s power, how aggressive he continues to be, and how much damage he can inflict with his own punches.

“In order to win, you’ve got to take chances,” said Bradley, who is moving up to 147 pounds from 140, where he held the WBC and WBO titles. “I’ve got to hurt him.”

The question is, can he do so? If not, this fight doesn’t last long. If not, Pacquiao puts to rest all those whispers that his skills may be slipping, whispers that grew louder during his last fight, a 12-round majority-decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez in November in the third thrilling fight of their trilogy.

It also puts to rest the notion that Pacquiao is too distracted with politics and struggles within his camp — trainer Freddie Roach reportedly wanted Pacquiao to fire longtime strength coach Alex Ariza — in order to continue to fight at a championship level.

Pacquiao says he has a renewed commitment to family, while recently experiencing a spiritual reawakening and rededication to boxing.

We’ll see. At any rate, it should be an entertaining fight. It’s interesting to note that there is a rematch clause in the contracts.

If a rematch becomes necessary, you can kiss Pacquiao-Mayweather goodbye for good.

If Bradley wins Saturday, he will be the fighter people will want to see challenge Mayweather, not Pacquiao. But he may need to enter the witness protection program.

Prediction: The longer the fight goes, the better for Bradley. This is a dangerous fight for Pacquiao, but it’s been hard for his opponents to win a close decision in Vegas. Look for this trend to continue and Pacquiao to march on.



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