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PREDICTION PLANET: Big Mac’s Expert Panel–Pacquiao-Bradley 2 Edition

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— Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank

It’s that time of year again. A big fight beckons, so your old pal McCarson gathered picks from around the boxing world to see who will come out on top Saturday when Manny Pacquiao faces Timothy Bradley at the MGM in Las Vegas.

While the majority of TSS writers like Pacquiao to win a decision, a panel of 15 other boxing gurus ended up muuuuuch closer: 8 see Bradley winning, 6 see Manny the victor, and one abstained, on principle.

One panelist, boxing writer Matt McGrain, gave perhaps the most interesting response of the bunch. McGrain won’t pick a winner and won’t even watch the fight because he says fight fans “were robbed” back in 2012 when two boxing judges gave Bradley the nod in a bout most everyone else saw a clear Pacquiao win.

Without further adieu, here are Pacquiao-Bradley predictions from boxing’s best panel of pickers.

TSS Crew Picks Pacman 8-1, Woods Says Draw

I’m going with Tim Bradley again. I picked him in the first fight and I pick him again in the rematch. He cleaned out the junior welterweights and now is targeting the welters. Bradley by TKO. — David Avila, TheSweetScience.com

I’ve never been so timid to call a fight with conviction… I can genuinely see this going either way. I’m going with Pacquiao via majority decision, with one knockdown being the difference in the fight. — Blake Hochberger, TheSweetScience.com

Pacquiao won the first time and did everything right except get the decision. Manny will try and turn up the heat and pressure more this time (because he doesn’t believe Bradley can really hurt him) and Bradley will try to box and move a little more…The fight will go the distance and Pacquiao’s hand will be raised regardless of whether or not he deserves the decision. — Frank Lotierzo, TheSweetScience.com

I am not going to want this fight to end. I love Bradley’s game. He continues to get better and looked great against Marquez. I would love to see Bradley fight Mayweather because of their styles. But Bradley doesn’t have an answer for Pacquiao’s speed. If I have to choose a winner, I like Pacquiao to win a close, highly competitive fight by KO. Pacquiao’s speed and timing will be the deciding factor. — Raymond Markarian, TheSweetScience.com

Bradley is going about it all wrong. He convinced himself he won the first fight when all but a very few people actually believed that to be the case. He’ll go into the rematch thinking he can do the same thing and get the win. He can’t. Pacquiao will defeat him more convincingly this time and win a wide unanimous decision. — Kelsey McCarson, TheSweetScience.com

Freddie, as always, is making big promises about the “Old Manny” returning. It might sound like a tired tune, but the last time he said it, Manny almost finished off Marquez, even though it didn’t quite pan out. If Freddie isn’t just blowing smoke, an aggressive Manny could be all wrong for Bradley. This is a different Tim Bradley, though. After surviving Provodnikov and legitimately beating Marquez, Bradley rightly believes he’s ready for prime time. I see a close, exciting fight with the difference being that Bradley won’t be able to really hurt Pacman. That will allow Pacquiao to eek out a tight, unanimous decision. — John Nguyen, TheSweetScience.com

After Bradley beat Pacquiao by split decision in 2012, Lennox Lewis said the outcome was “maybe not worse than my draw with Holyfield but still bad nonetheless.” In that particular rematch, Holyfield performed better, but Lewis still won a unanimous decision. In this rematch, Bradley will show that he has the skills of a top-level fighter, but Pacquiao will walk away with a unanimous decision. A rubber match is inevitable. — Aaron Tallent, TheSweetScience.com

Tim Bradley is good. Real damn good. I thought he’d be damaged goods after Ruslan gave him some wicked thumps. But he showed me YET AGAIN that my omniscience is a work in progress. The man has skills, and even if those skills don’t include much in the pop department, he can box a doozy. The other guy can still too, and his flashy, still-present hand speed will get judge love onApril 12. And maybe you recall, they kind of owe Pacquiao one, don’t they? I see 12 rounds that can go either way, though, and a MAJORITY DRAW. — Michael Woods, TheSweetScience.com

Pacquiao’s turn to take a close, questionable call, as he’s done in Vegas a few times already. This time Arum will borrow a page from Bradley’s book and show up with a poster for Pacquiao-Bradley 3. — Phil Woolever, TheSweetScience.com

Contrary to popular belief, I thought the first fight was highly competitive. I’m expecting more of the same. However, this time, whether he deserves it or not, Pacquiao will be the one who has his arm raised.Pacquiao by SD. — Lee Wylie, TheSweetScience.com

Other Panelists See Bradley A Winner, 8-6, McGrain Abstains

I like Pacquiao to win a competitive unanimous decision. He will be a lot more active in the ring and throw more eye-catching shots than Bradley will. I also think Pacquiao’s power will be a big difference in the fight. He throws the type of punches that judges respond to—at least the competent ones. — Adam Abramowitz, SaturdayNightBoxing.com

In their first tilt, Pacquiao did not land fractionally as often as he was expected, or in many cases seen, to do. Bradley’s performance, too, was sub-par. Pacquiao will be slower but more aggressive this time. Bradley will be quicker but less aggressive. And it will be make-up day on the scorecards: Fans and pundits will see Bradley win on effectiveness, Las Vegas judges will see Pacquiao win on activity, and acrimony will ensue. — Bart Barry, 15Rounds.com

Two years removed from a decision win he didn’t deserve, Timothy Bradley Jr. has done nothing in the interim but improve. Now, at the peak of his absolute prime, expect the versatile boxer-puncher to utilize his speed, guile and fearlessness to claim a tight decision that’s justified. Pacquiao remains one of the very elite fighters in the sport. But he’s slowing down just a bit. Look for Bradley to utilize the confidence gained in the final few rounds of their first fight when he outboxed Pacquiao to score enough points to offset the Pacman’s power shots that will likely sway the crowd in his favor. — Brian Campbell, ESPN.com

While I agree with the masses that Pacquiao deserved to win the first go-round in 2012, I also think the intervening two years have been kinder to Bradley. Particularly in his Marquez fight, he showed the varied skills he’ll need to handle a Manny who’s either still what he was back then, or a trifle diminished. He’s got speed, he’s got guts and he’s got the patience and the smarts to stick to a game plan that might make for a dull fight… but a successful ending. Give me Tim by a close decision, 115-113 let’s say, and get ready for the third match. — LyleFitzsimmons, CBSSports.com

It seems that most of the questions for this fight revolve around Manny. Is he still hungry? How much has he slipped? Does he still have that old killer instinct? Bradley is solid and has many tools. However, Manny looked quite good against Rios in November. So I say he’s still got it. Pacquiao by unanimous decision. — John DiSanto, PhillyBoxingHistory.com

There are very few ELITE fighters and even fewer elite fighters that love to slug it out: we are getting a combination of both in #PacBradley2. It’s going to be a battle of who has the toughest chin, and right now, I think that is Bradley. But who has the most heart? — GeorgeForeman IV, Foreman Boys Promotions

I’m still not convinced about the “not wearing socks” excuse. At the highest level, I’d imagine Bradley’s feet being conditioned to fight without socks and to also prepare for “spongy” rings. I’ve fought all over the world in different conditions. A fighter shouldn’t be surprised of the environment. Second, Bradley was able to utilize his skills against a much slower Marquez, who also took a lot of punishment from his last fight, which was with Pacquiao. Can we agree that Pacquiao is much faster than Marquez? I can’t base Bradley’s performance with Marquez being a “litmus test” of how much he’s improved. No disrespect to Bradley, he’s a great fighter, but whether he wears socks or not, I give the edge to Pacquiao winning. — boxer Ana Julaton, former world champion

I like Bradley by unanimous decision with a display of athleticism and skill. — Andy Lee, middleweight contender

PACQUIAO BY UNANIMOUS DECISION. I had Manny up by two rounds in their first fight. Even though he out-landed Bradley, in the middle round his activity level slumped after the 6th stanza. Manny is inspired for this one and I believe he will consistently press the attack this time around. In their first fight, Bradley was often able to slip Pacquiao’s third and fourth punches. The Pacman has to change that on Saturday night and score his signature long combinations. Pacquiao has no respect for Bradley’s power – which is both a plus and a minus. The minus is, of course, that Bradley could surprise him with a potent counter-right. The plus is that the power differential will make Pacquiao more comfortable staying in the pocket and throwing punches in bunches. Either way, I can’t wait for this one – two amazing fighters and ambassadors for boxing. —Gordon Marino, Boxing.com

Pacquiao by decision. He won the first fight, no reason to think he won’t win the second one as well, especially since he’ll be coming in hungry to right the past. — Rachel McCarson, Boxing Photographer

Not only am I not picking a winner for Pacquiao-Bradley II, I won’t be watching. The day after the first fight I wrote that “anyone who buys the sequel is in some way endorsing the decision in the first fight”, and that is how I feel about it. In the summer of 2012 we were robbed – you, me, every other boxing fan, Pacquiao, and not least of all Bradley, who supposedly came close to retiring in the wake of the hatred that enveloped him in the wake of that first ridiculous decision. Who robbed us? Some s——d that was after our money or two idiots that don’t understand boxing. Doesn’t matter. Pacquiao outclassed Bradley last time around, and the only reason there is a rematch is because of those idiots – or those criminals. My prediction is losers all round – the writers that cover it like it is a real fight, the fans that buy tickets, the fighters that got duped the first time around. Bob Arum will win though. Unlike other picks, this one is inarguably correct, and unaffected by the outcome. — Matt McGrain, Boxing.com

Timothy Bradley Jr. is a dangerous fighter. He’s highly skilled, determined and feels like he has something to prove. That’s a dangerous mix, especially against an opponent who has been half in and half out of boxing for the past several years. In this fight, you can expect a lot of close, competitive rounds. But when the judges award them to Bradley, this time, he’ll have earned them. He’s just more intense and more desperate to prove himself than Pacquiao. Bradley “avenges” his win in the first fight with a close unanimous decision. — Kevin McRae, BleacherReport.com

Many observors are picking Pacquiao, and understandably so. He’s come back well after the sickening knockout loss to Marquez, as he looked fairly decent against Rios last November. Personally, I thought Manny would’ve been damaged goods after Marquez planted that bomb on his chin, but he’s proved me wrong so far. But let’s see what happens when he’s hit regularly with full blooded punches and is truly tested. Bradley doesn’t need to fully commit himself – yes, I’m talking about being pretty aggressive – to win via knockout or on points. He should hang back a little bit behind the jab while using his speed and movement, occasionally stepping in with countering power punches, then swiftly departing – Marquez style.  To sum that up in a simple format: Boxing combined with sporadic attacks, making himself multi-dimensional. He’s got the speed, timing, athleticism and style to accomplish such a strategy. However, he’s got to adjust to what Manny does as the fight progresses. Another thing he needs to do is match, or surpass, Manny for workrate to hang in there when it comes to convincing the judges. Crucial. When Manny is in the mood and firing on all cylinders, he’s no joke. Although not with concrete conviction, I’ll go for Bradley on points. –fighterwriter Robbi Paterson

A lot has happened since Pacquiao and Bradley first met in the ring. The Bradley vs. Provodnikov fight is one of the most memorable I’ve seen. I remember where I was, who I was with, and thinking, “HOLY?COW.” Although Tim took quite a beating, he served one greater. I think he will do the same with Manny. This is Tim’s chance to shut people up for all the detestation after their first fight, and I think he will take full advantage of it. In other circumstances, the idea of having to avenge a win doesn’t make sense, but here it does. Hopefully this will be the final statement to bring Tim the respect he deserves. Of the Bradley fight, JMM said, “…you don’t have to knock a guy out to win.” But with Tim Bradley, maybe you do. That is something I don’t see happening. It will be a battle, and I can’t wait to see it. Bradley SD — Stephanie Trapp, Trappfotos.com

Pacman moved up to a weight class where within the past 2 years, he has not been able to knock out an opponent. Timmy is younger, and very strong-willed. Two hungry fighters, I do not see a knockout… But I see a close decision for Timothy Bradley. Unless of course that one lucky punch comes. — boxer Kaliesha West, former world champion

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David Avanesyan: “My Aggressive Style is Going to Give Crawford Problems”

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With determination and total confidence in his abilities, Russian David Avanesyan rejects the idea that he will be the “ugly duckling” when he faces Terence Crawford who will be defending his WBO welterweight title for the sixth time this December 10th.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for my family and me, one I will not take for granted,” Avanesyan said. “I know going in that I’m a huge underdog and no one is giving me a chance, but let me tell you, I’m going to surprise everyone watching. I’ve had enough time to prepare, so I’ll be ready for the southpaw.”

Thirty-four-year-old Avanesyan (29-3-1, 17 KOs) was born in Russia but resides in England, where he has been preparing for the momentous matchup against Crawford.

European champion in the welterweight division, Avanesyan has won six straight, all within the distance; the most recent being in the first round against Finnish Oskari Metz (16-1, 6 KOs) in London.

Ranked sixth by the WBO and seventh by the IBF, Avanesyan says he has learned many tricks over the years and is now a completely different and more mature boxer.

“Coming from the amateur ranks, I had to learn how to sit on my punches correctly, which can take a lifetime for some fighters. The bad habits that plagued me early in my career are now fixed. Today I’m a completely different fighter in the ring, and my last six fights have shown my growth when it comes to my power punching. I believe my aggressive style is going to give Crawford problems,” said Avanesyan.

Prior to his six-fight winning streak, Avanesyan was knocked out in the eighth round by California-based Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the city of Reno, Nevada where they fought for the NABF belt.

Avanesyan is not misguided as he assesses the enormous task ahead. “There’s a reason Terence Crawford is considered the best fighter in boxing, his skill set is amazing, and he knows how to win,” stated Avanesyan. “I know my hands are full, but I’m going to do everything I can to become a world champion. I need to stick to the game plan we have in place, and if adjustments need to be made during the fight, I will have to make them.”

Although Avanesyan logically praises Crawford’s career, the match-up has created a sea of ​​criticism for the undefeated Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), who is ranked among the best pound for pound fighters. The vast majority of fans wanted to see him face his countryman, the undefeated Errol Spence Jr (28-0, 22 KOs), the current title holder of the other three most prestigious belts: the WBC, WBA and IBF.

But the thirty-five-year-old Crawford from Omaha, Nebraska says that regardless of his results and whatever adversary he faces, he will continue to be blamed by the people who just don’t like him.

“Before, I always cared a lot about what the fans say and say about me,” stated Crawford. “But the older I got, the more I came to the fact that you can’t please everyone. No matter what you do, no matter who you beat and how many fights you won, how many divisions you conquered, there will still be those who will not love you for their own reasons. It seems to me that all the great fighters went through this. All the greats who were before me, and all those who will be after me, it will be the same with everyone.”

In his brilliant professional career, Crawford has been world champion in three divisions: lightweight, super lightweight and welterweight.

Six years after his professional boxing debut, Crawford claimed the WBO 135-pound world title by unanimously defeating host Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland.

Thirteen months later, Crawford added the vacant WBO 140-pound title by anesthetizing Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round. Dulorme could not endure Crawford’s powerful punch and visited the canvas three times in the fateful sixth round.

Crawford became the undisputed king of the super lightweight division in August 2017, when he chloroformed Namibian Julius Indongo in Lincoln, Nebraska. The African lost the WBA and IBF belts, while Crawford retained the WBC and WBO belts.

In June 2018, Crawford conquered the WBO welterweight belt after putting Australian Jeff Horn (20-3-1, 13 KOs) to sleep in the ninth round at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas.

Thanks to his blazing hand speed, ring savvy, counterpunching skills, as well as his ability to switch from right guard to left guard and back again, Crawford is considered a heavy favorite to take down Avanesyan.

*Note: As of December 2nd:  Crawford  -1600 / Avanesyan  +780

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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Juan Francisco Estrada Holds Off ‘Chocolatito’ Again

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Once again Juan Francisco Estrada jumped out in front early and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez needed time to crank up the engine, but fell too far behind as the Mexican fighter won the vacant WBC flyweight world title on Saturday.

Estrada wins the trilogy 10 years in the making.

Once again Estrada (44-3, 28 KOs) surged ahead early in the fight against Nicaragua’s Gonzalez (51-4, 41 KOs) and then navigated toward another win, this time at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on the Matchroom Boxing card.

“We had excellent preparation at high altitude and I think we left the fight clear on who won the fight this time,” said Estrada about the third encounter.

Ten years ago, the trilogy began in Los Angeles as “Chocolatito” confronted an unknown fighter at the time in Estrada. The two surprised the crowd who expected Gonzalez to destroy yet another Mexican fighter. But it did not happen that night though Chocolatito proved too experienced and battered his way to victory in a light flyweight world title clash.

Then, in March 2021, Estrada finally fought Gonzalez in a rematch and the two engaged in a closely-fought super flyweight world title match. This time Estrada proved slightly better according to the judges and won by split decision in Dallas, Texas.

Few knew what to expect in a third encounter.

At first the coronavirus stalled plans for the trifecta so Chocolatito fought a replacement and dominated. Meanwhile Estrada fought another Mexican and did not look good.

On Saturday, a decade after their first encounter, Estrada looked fluid and accurate in dominating the first six rounds of the fight. Though he did not hurt Gonzalez, he was repeatedly scoring at will.

Gonzalez woke up around the seventh round.

Suddenly the Nicaraguan who was once considered the best fighter Pound for Pound showed up and fired rapid combinations. The spring in his legs suddenly appeared and the energy level was cranked up high after nearly being on idle.

Estrada suddenly found himself against the ropes forced to slip and slide away from Gonzalez’s powerful combination punches. A real fight suddenly erupted during the final six rounds.

“All fights are different and all fights are difficult and this was the most difficult one,” said Gonzalez, a four-division world champion.

Though neither fighter was ever visibly hurt, Gonzalez’s pressure kept Estrada expending too much energy trying to evade the Nicaraguan’s traps during the final six rounds.

“He always goes 100 miles an hour,” said Estrada of his nemesis.

Estrada used uppercuts and slide steps to maneuver against Gonzalez’s hard charges. It seemed to work and allowed the Mexican fighter more room and time to apply counter-measures.

In the final round, those maneuvers allowed Estrada to connect with a hard punch to the body that forced Chocolatito to cover up. It also allowed Estrada to unravel a combination that gave him the last round if needed. After 12 rounds one judge scored it 114-114, while two others saw it 116-112, 115-113 for Estrada who becomes the new WBC super flyweight world titlist.

“We did an excellent fight and I got the victory,” said Estrada. “I’ve always said Chocolatito is a future Hall of Famer.”

Gonzalez was gracious in defeat.

“What is important is we gave that good fight to the fans and we came out in good health,” Gonzalez said.

There is even talk of a fourth fight.

“As long as they pay well, of course,” said Gonzalez.

Other Fights

Julio Cesar Martinez (19-2, 14 KOs) retained the WBC flyweight world title by majority decision over Spain’s Samuel Carmona (8-1) in a rather dull affair. Mexico’s Martinez chased Carmon all 12 rounds in a fight that saw Carmona slap and run, then hold.

No knockdowns were scored and Martinez won 114-114, 117-111, 116-112.

Diego Pacheco (17-0, 14 KOs) ran over Mexico’s Adrian Luna (24-9-2) with three knockdowns in winning by stoppage in the second round of the super middleweight fight. It was no surprise.

The 21-year-old from South Central L.A. once again showed that despite his youth his power seems to be continually increasing as evident in the knockout win.

Now training with Team David Benavidez, the young super middleweight looked sharp, especially with the lead overhand right that floored Luna in the second round. Luna was floored two more times and the fight was wisely stopped by his own corner.

“You put in the hard work then you come in here and shine,” said Pacheco. “I joined team Benavidez this year.”

Nicaragua’s former world titlist Cristofer Rosales (35-6, 21 KOs) won a dog fight over Mexico’s Joselito Velasquez (15-1-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a flyweight clash.

It was a back-and-forth struggle that saw the taller Rosales take over in the second half of the fight and win by simply out-punching Velasquez and handing the Mexican his first loss as a professional by scores 97-93 three times.

Photo credit: Milena Pizano

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Tyson Fury TKOs Derek Chisora in Round 10

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It was a chilly night in London but that didn’t deter a near-capacity crowd from turning out at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to witness the third rumble between Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora. The Gypsy King was heavily favored to retain his WBC and lineal heavyweight title and performed as expected. Indeed, this fight closely resembled their second encounter back in 2014.

In that bout, Chisora absorbed a terrific amount of punishment before his corner pulled him out at the conclusion of the 10th round. Tonight’s fight ended nine seconds earlier at the 2:51 mark of round 10 and it was the referee who terminated the match.

When is a heavyweight not a heavyweight? When the man in the opposite corner is substantially bigger. With an 8-inch height advantage and a 15-inch reach advantage, the six-foot-nine Fury was simply too big a mountain to climb for the brave Derek Chisora, a fighter who changed his nickname in mid-career, transitioning from “Dell Boy” to “War.”

Fury dominated round two, especially the last minute, a round in which he was credited with landing 18 power punches. The writing was on the wall for Chisora who ate a lot of thudding uppercuts in the ensuing rounds and ended the contest with a badly swollen right eye and a bloody mouth. With the victory, Fury improved his ledger to 32-0-1 with his 24th win inside the distance. The Zimbabwe-born Chisora falls to 33-13.

Oleksandr Usyk and Joe Joyce were in attendance and the Gypsy King addressed both before he left the ring. Calling Usyk “The Rabbit,” he indicated that he would fight Usyk next in a true unification fight, but said if there were a snag in negotiations he wouldn’t mind trading blows with the Juggernaut, Joe Joyce, who wore down and stopped former heavyweight title-holder Joseph Parker, a former Fury sparring partner, in his most recent engagement. However, Fury also revealed that he had an issue with his right elbow that may require surgery.

Co-Feature

In a heavyweight match that lasted only three rounds but was chock-full of action, Daniel Dubois overcame three knockdowns to retain his secondary WBA heavyweight title he won at the expense Trevor Bryan with a third-round stoppage of upset-minded Kevin Lerena.

In the opening stanza, Johannesburg’s Lerena, landed an overhand left on the top of Dubois’s head that put the Englishman on the canvas and left him all at sea. He went down twice more before the round was over, the first time of his own volition when he took a knee (reminiscent of his match with Joe Joyce) and the second from a glancing blow.

Dubois, whose legs are spindly for a man of his poundage, had trouble regaining his equilibrium in round two, but Lerena didn’t press his advantage. In the next frame, a short right from Dubois penetrated Lerena’s guard and down went the South African. Smelling blood, Dubois knocked him down again and was pummeling him against the ropes when the referee interceded just as it appeared that Lerena would be saved by the bell.

It was the fourth straight win for Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs) since his mishap versus Joyce. Lerena, who entered the bout on a 17-fight winning streak, lost for the second time in 30 fights.

Also

In a ho-hum affair, Denis Berinchyk, a 24-year-old Ukrainian, captured the European lightweight title and remained undefeated with a unanimous decision over French-Senagalese warhorse Ivan Mendy. Berinchyk (17-0, 9 KOs) was making his first appearance in London since winning a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics where he was a teammate of Oleksandr Usyk and Vasiliy Lomachenko.

The judges had it 117-112 and 116-112 twice for the Ukrainian. The 37-year-old Mendy, who has answered the bell for 380 rounds, falls to 47-6-1.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

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