By Rudy Mondragón
Boxing fans and analyst alike look at a variety of factors to construct their argument for the fighter they believe will win a match. A boxer’s record, ability to combat orthodox or south paw opponents, their record, rock-paper-scissor theory, technique, or episodes of 24/7 (yes, I look at 24/7 to some extent). For the upcoming Pacquiao//Bradley, I ask myself, what is the most important thing to look at in determining my prediction for their upcoming June 9th bout? To answer that question, it is important to look beyond Pacquiao//Bradley and look at how Top Rank has framed Pacman’s identity.
To the blind eye, Pacquiao’s rise from 130 lbs to his current welterweight can be elementary juxtaposed to a David and Goliath tale. Beating drained boxers at catch weights, psychological damaged fighters, and past their prime opponents has been a challenge for Pacquiao… A challenge that the powers that be knew Pacquiao could win and in the process, construct an identity for the man from Manila to cash in on.
Prior to that rise, Manny was widely known as the “Mexican Assassin,” an identity that framed Manny in a negative light. Through careful marketing and cleverly scripted 24/7 episodes, Manny’s identity took a turn in a direction that framed him as a hero and underdog. Through his fights with bigger fighters like De La Hoya, Hatton, Cotto, Clottey, Margarito, etc Manny was being set up to be the smaller fighter of the two and appear to be the underdog in a David and Goliath match.
The fight between Pacquiao and Marquez however, complicated this master plan. What happened on that night in November stained the identity that folks were carefully trying to create for Manny. He all of a sudden turned into the villain of boxing because he was associated (indirectly and directly) with the controversy of the decision of the Marquez//Pacquiao fight (a decision that went in favor of Paquiao, which many believe should have clearly gone the other way). In continuing this conversation and connecting this to the bigger picture, it is critical that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is included in the equation. Mayweather has embraced the villain role and plays it well. Now, a pay per view event can be framed between to villains, but that would not work between Manny and Mayweather because that identity does not fit Paquiao.
And that is where T Bradley comes in. T Bradley represents Manny’s opportunity to become the good guy again who is still in his prime. Through 24/7, Manny is being framed as this righteous man who has seen the light and has turned to God. He is framed as a boxer who is not focused and has too many distractions. T Bradley is set up to appear to be the hungrier fighter who is not distracted and ready to take Manny’s crown. Top Rank is known for not setting up their biggest fighters for failure (unless the cash in is huge and there is no mileage left in that fighter). By just watching one episode of 24/7 Pacquiao//Bradley, I can confidently say that the show is being used as a tool to sharpen the image of Manny and bring him back to the role that he play’s well, the protagonist. There is something that Top Rank analyst see in T Bradley’s style that makes him the best fighter for Paquiao to use as a stepping stone. A stepping stone that will either take Paquiao in the direction of taking on the protaginist role in a fight against Mayweather OR it will set Pacquiao up for another mega fight against someone else.
With that said, the June 9th fight in my eyes is already decided for. 24/7 is the tool that the people can use to predict and justify the results of the Pacquiao//Bradley fight. It is unfortunate. A part of me says, “let’s get this fight over with because we all know that Pacman is being set up to win this fight.” The other part thinks that T Bradley can pull off the upset, beat Pacquiao and fuck Top Rank’s master plan. We’ll find out June 9th.
My early prediction: Pacquiao might have issues with his marriage, drinking, and starting some kind of religious empire, but when it comes to boxing, he’s ready, PERIOD. We would be naive not think so. Pacman beat’s T Bradley convincingly. Top Rank’s hope is that this victory will put some pressure on Mayweather (which it won’t, Money win’s that fight in his sleep, but thats a whole different blog entry).