Bradley’s Hunger or Pacquaio’s Experience?

Marvin Hagler’s 1985 showdown with Tommy “Hitman” Hearns was the defining moment for a fighter who up until that point had been criminally underrated. Hagler had been unbeaten in 9 years at that point, with an incredible number of those victories being the result of kayos. Too put it bluntly, Marvin didn’t fuck around. He was the spirit of a hard luck town like Brockton, Mass personified. The sort of cat who went about his fights as if it were any other job, head down and nose to the grindstone. No complaints and no recognition necessary. He was a hungry fighter hell bent on making a name for himself.

The Tommy Hearns he met in that fight was already a star. Superstardom and the endorsement deals which come hand in hand with it had made Tommy quite a bit of money. He was a big time star with one of the biggest entourages in the history of the fight game. Although both stars upbringings had their share of trials and tribulations, Tommy was far from that kid on the streets of Detroit. His piston like jab and fearsome power had made him one of the top names in the sport.

See where we’re going with this? The story is eerily similar to the backstory of Manny Pacquaio and Tim Bradley. Bradley’s been spoken about as a possible huge talent. He’s shown glimpses of it throughout his career. He’s going into his fight with Pacquaio as the underdog according to the bookies. Bradley wasn’t supposed to be here quite yet, a showdown with Amir Khan was supposed to happen before all this. But here Bradley stands on the precipice of a fight which could turn him into a worldwide star and put serious doubts on the future of, arguably, boxing’s biggest star.

It’s often said, whether you’re a musician or clothing designer, the hunger to succeed is what takes one to the top. You need to insatiable appetite to end up at the top of your chosen game to ever even have a glimpse at the top of that mountain. This is especially true in boxing. It’s also an especially poignant fact because in boxing, when that hunger dissipates, you can be hurt big time. Too many past fighters have become complacent and comfortable in their fame and fortune that they forget what that burning desire to be the best felt like. Getting there is an incredible high but it is far from an easy thing to maintain throughout the course of a career. That’s why the fighters who do are held in such high regard.

Manny Pacquaio is certainly one of those fighters. Depending on who you prefer he’s either the first or second pound for pound ranked fighter in the world (he’s For The Suits P4P king for what it’s worth). Pacquaio grew up in a poverty stricken ghetto within General Santos City, a place he still resides ‘til this day. He had to leave high school to provide for his family. Although he had success as an amateur boxer, he had resorted to pool hustling before deciding to give professional boxing a career. After a stop and go start, Manny started collected titles in every weight class he fought in. Then came his featherweight showdown with Marco Antonio Barrera. The rest, as they say, is history.

We now stand at a point where Pacquiao is the superstar, endorsement deals abound and maybe even boasting a bigger entourage than Hearns in his prime. He also happens to be a congressman in the Philippines. This takes his level of distraction to an entirely new level. He isn’t just in it for fun, Manny takes the job very seriously and as of late it seems to have been a distraction from boxing. He had a close call with long time adversary Juan Manuel Marquez in his previous fight. Many made a meal out of breadcrumbs though, as Marquez has always proven himself a tough opponent for the Pac-Man.

Nonetheless we are presented with a fight on Saturday evening that could be a pivotal moment for either man. It’s Tim Bradley’s chance to prove all his hard work wasn’t for nought and that he’s ready to be one of boxing’s superstars. It is Manny Pacquiao’s opportunity to prove himself once again as one of the best the Sweet Science has ever seen, and that it was overreaction on the parts of many sports media outlets to say his career was done. Either way, come Saturday, someone will have made a very big statement.

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