By Keith Idec
Timothy Bradley believes Manny Pacquiao still can compete with anyone in the stacked welterweight division.
The Filipino icon is 39 and hasn’t fought in more than a year. The retired Bradley, who fought Pacquiao three times, doesn’t think those factors will stop Pacquiao from at least being very competitive with Lucas Matthysse on Saturday night.
Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) and Argentina’s Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs, 1 NC) will fight for Matthysse’s WBA world welterweight title at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (ESPN+; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“I’ve always said that Manny Pacquiao’s B game is better than a lot of guys’ A game,” Bradley said during ESPN’s broadcast Saturday night from Fresno, California. “Still today, he still has that speed and he still has that punching power. I think he’s still available and ready to fight any of these guys in the division, and I don’t think anybody’s afraid of him right now.
“I think that, you know, he matches up well with anybody, still, today. He still matches up very well. He really hasn’t took any sort of punishment, I don’t think, even in that Horn fight. Some elbows, some head-butts, and things like that. But it wasn’t a performance where it was like, ‘You know what? I think the champ is done. I think Pacquiao is finished.’ ”
Australia’s Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) roughed up Pacquiao during their 12-round fight last July 2 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Horn’s hometown. Pacquiao suffered two cuts from accidental head clashes during that bout and his unanimous-decision defeat is commonly considered controversial.
Bradley called that fight from ringside for ESPN and thinks Pacquiao won. Until the former welterweight and junior welterweight champion sees something that proves otherwise, Bradley doesn’t see any reason why Pacquiao shouldn’t continue fighting.
“Well, the young ones will always let you know when it’s time to hang ‘em up,” Bradley said. “So until a young one reminds Manny Pacquiao that this is the boxing business and you better be on your A game, I think he should continue on doing whatever makes him happy.”
Bradley acknowledged his opinion could change if Pacquiao loses badly to the 35-year-old Matthysse.
“Let’s see how he does against Matthysse,” Bradley said. “And then we’ll be able to judge from there.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.