By Chris Robinson
On June 9th, 2012, trainer Emanuel Steward had a ringside view of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley duel. Moonlighting as a color commentator for HBO, Steward saw a fight that he felt was largely controlled by Pacquiao and he seemed taken aback when two of the three 115-113 scorecards were read in Bradley’s favor, granting him the upset victory and the WBO welterweight title in the process.
There was much uproar immediately following the decision, with cries of ‘robbery’ coming from various boxing insiders who couldn’t fathom how two of the officials sided with Bradley. A few weeks removed from the bout, Steward was able to watch the fight again on replay and admits he saw a slightly different bout.
“I still felt that, in my mind, that Pacquiao won the fight,” Steward told me as we spoke at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA over the weekend. “But I’ve seen worse decisions. I felt the first couple of rounds probably would have been to Bradley; the fact that Manny was much stronger, much more dominant looking, but he only fought for thirty seconds of the last rounds.”
Steward feels that while Pacquiao painted the picture of a fighter in complete control, that Bradley actually had his share of moments in the twelve-round affair.
“The last few rounds could have gone either way, even when Manny had his explosions, Bradley met him punch for punch,” said Steward. “And even when Bradley was spinning, and ducking, and moving around, and maybe not looking as physically as strong, I still thought that he was able to hold up enough. I still thought that Pacquiao won it, but looking back through it again, I could see where it was possibly a closer fight.”
Bradley suffered a fractured left foot as well as a twisted right ankle in the fight and Steward feels that we will be seeing a better version of the Palm Springs, California native the next time he sets foot into a prize ring.
“I think Timothy Bradley is definitely going to be a better fighter,” said Steward.” The fact that he’s been fighting so infrequent, that was, what I would say, was an introduction to the elite level to the fighter who was considered by many to be the best in the world. And to go twelve good, completive rounds with him, I think he’ll grow from that. And hopefully, as soon as he heals up he’ll get back in action soon as possible.”
And if there was anything that Steward might tweak on Bradley, it would be the lack of brute force that he has on his blows.
“I think he needs to improve on his punching power a little bit too,” Steward said of Bradley, who has 12 stoppages in 29 victories. “He needs to focus on this area; not changing but having a little more pop in his punch.”
When asked about the future of undefeated superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr., who is currently serving a 90-day jail sentence in relation to a September 2010 domestic violence case, Steward sees no reason that the 35-year old can’t get back to his dominant ways after his release.
“I don’t think being in jail is going to affect him,” Steward claimed. “For the most part, the last five fights, he hasn’t been that active. This would be his normal time when he isn't fighting anyway. But Floyd will come back and be fine. And right now he’s, in terms of credibility, maybe at his highest point right now.”
Mayweather is coming off of an entertaining scrap with Miguel Cotto on May 5th in a fight that saw him have to dig down and use every one of the tricks in his bag in fending off the spirited challenge of his brazen Puerto Rican foe. The pay-per-view extravaganza generated an estimated 1.5 million buys and for the most part it played out how Steward envisioned it.
“The fight with Miguel Cotto went pretty much how I expected,” said Steward, who trained Cotto for a two-fight stint. “Miguel is back to his old style, fighting with his head too low and not utilizing his boxing ability nor his height. He was fighting as though he was 5’7 and Floyd utilized his skills, defense, and actually, if Floyd would have stepped it up a bit he could have stopped him in the last round. Floyd came through, I was very impressed.”
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