By Chris Robinson
While he wasn’t ringside for last weekend’s Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley duel, HBO color analyst Larry Merchant still had his share of opinions coming away from boxing’s latest pay-per-view showcase.
Inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bradley would come away with a controversial split-decision victory over Pacquiao that many felt he didn’t rightfully earn. The boxing world hasn’t stopped chiming in with their thoughts and Merchant was able to offer up some sound bites to me during a recent conversation.
“I thought it was a very good, interesting fight,” Merchant would state. “I thought Pacquiao clearly won the fight. Maybe 8-4, 9-3 I had it. I think Bradley got too much credit for a brave effort.”
While not pointing to a specific round, Merchant recalled seeing a change in Bradley’s fortitude halfway through the contest.
“My general impressions were Pacquiao landed virtually all of the meaningful punches and that Bradley, in the middle of the fight, started to back off and decided he better just be a little bit more resourceful and defensive. It turned out to be a winning strategy to most everyone’s surprise, I think including Bradley,” Merchant quipped.
According to Merchant, who is always unabashedly honest with his delivery, he simply feels that Bradley found himself in with a completely different kind of prizefighter on Saturday night.
“Whatever ideas Bradley had that he was going to engage Pacquiao in some fashion, he was persuaded by Pacquiao’s left hand, that he better go to plan B,” Merchant added. “I think he found out that once you’re in the ring with Pacquiao, it’s not like being in the ring with anyone else. Pacquiao’s sudden power, his quickness, made him change plans.”
Judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross both had 115-113 scorecards favoring Bradley and the two officials have been under fire since offering up their verdicts. Merchant can’t explain their reasoning behind their tallies yet discounts anything shady taking place behind the scenes.
“First of all, the notion that there was some kind of conspiracy is crazy,” said Merchant. “Because whether Manny would fight Bradley again or somebody else in the fall, he’s make similar money. It’s obviously up to Pacquiao and it’s obvious that he wants it. But there are other guys out there.
“Boxing invites that kind of conspiracy-mongering, always has,” Merchant added. “But I don’t get the point. Why would they? There was no gambling coup. Pacquiao is the guy who fills the arena and the town. Why would that be? I don’t see the point and I don’t know if anybody’s made the point.”
READER’s NOTE: For an inside look at Pacquiao-Bradley fight week in videos, including the post-fight press conference, grand arrivals, and exclusives with Bob Arum, Juan Manuel Marquez, Alex Ariza, Joel Diaz, Adrien Broner, Freddie Roach, Juan Manuel Lopez, Ana Julaton, Sampson Lewkowicz, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Miguel Diaz, and several other please visit Chris Robinson’s recently-launched Youtube page at CRHarmony YouTube Page