Merchant interested in seeing if Pacquiao still has it in his fight against Bradley

By Rob Smith: There are more than a few boxing fans who think that WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao has been on the downside of his career since his impressive catchweight assisted win over former WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto in 2009. Indeed, Pacquiao has looked like the shell of his former self in four fights since then, beating Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez. In each progressive fight, Pacquiao looks a little slower and less impressive.

Itís unclear why Pacquiao has slowed down so much since the Cotto fight, but it could be he took a lot of heavy shots in that fight and it wore him down a little. Pacquiao also took a lot of hard jabs from Clottey and some heavy shots from Margarito that obviously didnít help.

Larry Merchant, a longtime analyst with HBO, said to writer Chris Robinson ďThis is a fight [Pacquiao-Bradley] that could show us whether Pacquiao still has the zeal and the capability to fight on the level he was, say against Cotto. And I think itís important for him to make a good fight after the Marquez fight and some of the other fights. I think he wants to prove himself as well as others that heís still the potent force we saw as against De La Hoya and Cotto.Ē

It may not be possible for Pacquiao to get back to the level he was at in the Cotto fight, because if you look at tape from that old fight youíll notice that Pacquiao was quick and able to change angles lightning fast. Since then, Pacquiao has been more or less a plodder, a flat-footed fighter that moves around the ring like heís skating or shuffling. His movements arenít nearly as quick and he seems to get hit a lot more than he did in the past.

Thatís not to say that Pacquiao canít get by Tim Bradley on June 9th, because heís still got a big power and speed advantage over Bradley. But it does suggest that unless Pacquiao is able to find his way back to the type of performances he put in before the Cotto fight, weíll likely see Pacquiao struggle to beat Bradley. Heíll still likely win, because Bradley has well scouted out and itís clear that he doesnít have a lot of power, but Pacquiao could take a lot of punishment in winning this fight.

Article posted on 24.05.2012

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