I’m no pro boxer but on Christmas in 2007 I got my mom to put EA Sports’ Fight Night Round 3 under the tree. With the game on the easiest difficulty setting I created a character who was supposed to look like me but ended up looking like generic black bald headed boxer because fuck it, it’s Christmas day and I ain’t got time to be customizing my fighters all goddamn morning when I got three other new games to play and Christmas dinner coming up in a few hours that is going to temporarily rip the PS2 controller from my hands. (When you think about it all Christmas dinners and what not should be held no earlier than December 27. I need at least 48 hours with my new toys before I feel like talking to my family again.)
When I stepped into the virtual ring with my boxer who had my name but looked nothing like me I realized something pretty quickly: I could knock mothafuckas out pretty easily if I was patient and waited to land the big punch. This worked for a while. But something unexpected happened when I got deeper into the game and adjusted the difficulty settings. The mothafuckas I was fighting decided to start dodging my goddamn punches. This wasn’t how things worked before when I was hitting the heavy bag in my virtual gym.
Now my punches were being parried, I was getting counter punched, and the big punch that was ending fights wasn’t even landing anymore. After I lost my perfect record and I had checked on my controller to make sure I hadn’t broken in it when I threw across the room in a fit of rage, I knew that I had to actually box in a boxing games instead of throwing hay makers.
I was just a novice to the Fight Night franchise so I’ve forgiven myself for not knowing what the proper fundamentals of boxing were. What I don’t understand is why the fuck Tim “I didn’t have enough money to pay off the judges this time” Bradley stepped into the ring against Manny Pacquiao using the same dumb ass strategy I used on Christmas day 2007. With his unanimous decision loss on April 12th Bradley proved he may just be one of the most frustrating big name fighters out there. Bradley came in looking to land the big punch, and to his credit he hurt Pac Man a few times in the early rounds with some pretty strong hay makers. But then he got greedy. Bradley looked for a knockout when he has proven that he has no real knockout power. The man only has 12 KO’s in 33 fights. Prior to his TKO in 2011 his second most recent knockout came way back in 2007. Basically at this point in his career Bradley has election term punching power, since he’s only good for a knockout every four years.
So, Pacquiao takes the few hard shots Bradley can produce and loses some rounds. Then Pacquiao does what great fighters do and makes adjustments. He starts counter punching and backing away from that game ender punch Bradley was desperately trying to land. And then the favorite son of the Philippines starts throwing those combos. Not no weak ass two piece and a biscuit combos you see when someone gets dropped to the concrete in a Worldstar video exclusive. At one point Bradley got hit with that 10 piece combo.
Pacquiao can throw combos with the best of them but Jesus Christ how does another top tier fighter not block one of those? Pac Man combines solid orthodox style defense with counter punch skills. Money Mayweather has the slickest philly shell in the game. But Bradley’s defense is that he stands still, tries to trade punches, and says “I bet you can’t knock me out”. I will give Bradley this much credit, he can’t finish fights early but he’s not about get finished early either. Bradley weebles and wobbles but he won’t often fall down and even when he does he gets back up. (Shout out to Roy Jones Jr. for coming up with a wonderful piece of figurative language to highlight how tough Bradley is without sounding like a punch drunk cocaine abuser who has no business talking in front of any audience let alone a nationwide one on HBO)
But, Bradley is straight chillin despite getting his ass whooped. He’s shaking off punches to let Pacquiao know that he’s not hurt. He’s walking around the ring with the swagger of a man who wasn’t left so severely brain damaged by his last fight with a crazy Russian that he somehow thought his concussions would help. Hell, I’m surprised he didn’t try to hump Pacquiao’s leg to show his confidence.
Maybe if Bradley had spent less time hitting the taunt button on his controller and more time working off the jab like he’s done in the past, he could have won some more rounds and maybe convinced the judges he won the fight.
He’s either trying too hard to throw punches without defending himself (reckless button mashing), trying to land a knockout blow while getting countered (selectively pressing R2 and blaming the game for cheating when my strategy fails), or just looking to avoid getting sent to the canvas (slowly moving the joy stick away from opponent hoping I can get to a corner of the ring where I won’t get punched as hard). Next time I illegally stream a Bradley fight, I want to see a smarter fight. Bradley ain’t knocking out nobody until the 2016 presidential race so he can’t look to land just one punch. He’s gotta stop looking to trade with power punchers before he ends up sounding as incoherent as Jones Jr. when he retires. Basically, Bradley needs to stop playing games. Or he at least needs to stop playing games the way I did when I first put Fight Night Round 3 in my PS2. But I won’t blame him if he fights the next fight the same way. I’ve had that game for seven years now and I still button mash and throw the controller when I lose.