There’s pressure every time a fighter steps into the ring, but add the element of a rematch and you have the makings of a battle that promises to live up to its billing.
In one corner will be the avenger, seeking desperately to persuade the world that the first result was a fluke. In the other, a fighter who seeks to prove that the judges were right the first time around. That the scrutiny and derision in the aftermath was unfounded.
It’s a concept that adds plenty of needle in a sport where fuses are short and the opportunity to punch your opponent is never far away. That’s what boxing is all about.
As the sport gears up for this weekend’s showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley for the WBO welterweight world title, it’s a phenomenon that has helped the hordes of journalists covering the fight fill plenty of space in their publications.
Bradley was heavily criticised after winning a contentious split points decision when the two met a little under two years ago. The surprise on his face as the result was announced echoed the sentiments of the rest of the packed arena and indeed the world.
There will always be questions, in any sporting code, ahead of a showdown of this nature, but the reality that millions of people from across the globe will tune in to witness the renewal of a rivalry that has intrigued the sport, makes the spotlight that much brighter.
The sport’s history is littered with epic match-ups that captivated the world over a series of fights. Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, Arturo Gatti versus Micky Ward. And what of the rivalry between heavyweights Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier?
It also adds commercial interest for the promoters, which is essentially the bottom line. A colleague of mine recently reiterated the fact to me while discussing the current state of affairs of the sport in South Africa. “Boxing is a business, not a sport,” he said. He’s not wrong.
A rematch is sometimes the way forward for fighters as strange as it may sound. This one is set to be a defining one for both Bradley and Pacquiao.
The “Pacman” needs to be dominant if he is to reassure the boxing cognoscenti that he is still relevant in the sport. Bradley wants to prove his detractors wrong.
It’s what boxing thrives on. It adds excitement and a little extra allure. It’s worth the early alarm tomorrow morning that’s for sure.