It's not everyday that the winner of a game, sport, or match-up has to get revenge for winning. It's not everyday where the winner ends up being the loser. Welcome to the sport of boxing, perhaps the only sport in the world where you can win a match-up convincingly but somehow end up losing or win a match-up but not actually win it. As Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley square off again on April 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV both fighters find themselves in odd scenarios. Pacquiao will seek to avenge the loss he suffered in the first fight to Bradley in June of 2012, however if you ask 90% of the people that watched the first fight it was very clear that Pacquiao won convincingly. The judges saw it differently and now Pacquiao finds himself in a unique situation. Avenge a fight that he won. Timothy Bradley despite winning the fight was deemed a loser by the boxing world. Fans scorned him, sent him death threats, and vowed never to watch him in the ring again. The hatred that came with the win made him feel like a loser despite his victory. Most saw him a loser in the fight. He also finds himself in an odd situation. Avenge a fight that he won.
From the opening bell of the first fight Manny Pacquiao seemed to control the pace of the fight. Pacquiao's power and speed was to much for Bradley who spent most of the fight backing up trying to counter the aggressive Pacquiao. The fans seemed frustrated more than anything as the fight produced less action than a normal Pacquiao fight. As the fight finished it appeared that Pacquiao had won a boring unanimous decision over Bradley. Most editors, journalists, and fans scored the fight 118-110 or 119-109 in favor of the Pacman. Some would say that 117-111 was a possible score but that would be a very generous gesture for Bradley. Enter CJ Ross and Duane Ford, whose scores of 115-113 in favor of Bradley produced one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history.
It's taken two years for the rematch to occur. An immediate rematch had been discussed back in 2012 but because of the outrage the first fight produced from the boxing world it was put off. Pacquiao didn't want a rematch because he didn't feel the need to avenge a fight that he clearly won. Bradley had taken so much hatred from the boxing fans that he was forced to go into hiding for the rest of 2012. Looking back on it now it was the best decision for them, and Top Rank, to hold off on the rematch.
Since the first fight a number of factors have contributed to make this fight one of the most highly anticipated fights of 2014 so far. Two years ago a rematch would have been scorned by the boxing fans. Things have changed since then. Pacquiao was brutally KO'ed by Juan Manuel Marquez in his first fight after Bradley. Many thought that would be the end of Pacquiao. After taking some time off Pacquiao returned to the ring just a few months ago with a very convincing win over Brandon Rios. The win showed that Pacquiao's speed, accuracy, and movement was still very much in tact. It showed the world that the one punch KO loss to Marquez was put behind him and that it hadn't changed anything about who Pacquiao was in the ring.
However, the main interest in the rematch comes at the hands of Timothy Bradley whose Fight of the Year win over Ruslan Provodnikov and split decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez has put him back in favor among the fans. In fact, the general consensus among the public is that Bradley is not only going to give Pacquiao all he can handle in the second fight but that he has a good chance of beating him. Not many people would say that about a rematch where the first fight was so one sided. It's guaranteed that no one would have said that if Pacquiao and Bradley had rematched in 2012.
Just like a chess match all the pieces had to be moved strategically for the rematch to be interesting to the public. It seemed that Timothy Bradley would never be in the public favor again after the first fight with Pacquiao. However, everything fell into place with the close of 2012 and in the year 2013. Pacquiao became vulnerable. Bradley became a star. The rematch became a must. In a little over two months from now they will face off in the ring for a second time. If the first fight taught us anything, then only one thing can be certain, the outcome of the fight is one that no one can confidently predict.