By Luis Sandoval
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38KOs) had a lot to lose in his fight Saturday night but he set the record straight and redeemed himself by outpointing a game Timothy Bradley (31-1, 12KOs) with a wide unanimous decision victory with scores of 118-110 and 116-112 twice.
While their first right was marred in controversy with Bradley being awarded a split decision win, their second affair ended with a definitive victory for Pacquiao who avenged his loss from two years ago. Manny not only recovered his WBO Welterweight title with his win but also kept himself at the top of the division as he beat an undefeated champion in his prime.
Both men had vowed to be aggressive with Bradley going as far as saying the fight wouldn’t go the distance and early on, they both made good on their promise.
The first round started off slow with a jabbing contest and both men were throwing but nothing significant was landing. In the 2nd round however, another slow start quickly turned into a shootout as Pacquiao landed a straight left that appeared to momentarily hurt Bradley. Pacquiao immediately followed up with another left as a stunned Bradley immediately tried to fire back and landed right hands of his own. Both men traded violently as they provided plenty of action in comparison to this point in their first bout.
The action continued in the third as Manny darted out of his corner and landed two solid straight left hands on his opponent. Once again both men took turns landing flush shots which drew cheers from the robust crowd. Manny unleashed a barrage of punches as Bradley did his best Keanu Reeves Matrix impression as he leaned back and moved his waist to avoid them.
Bradley to his credit came forward and looked to make it a fight and had success in the 4th stanza as his right hand landed on various occasions. Manny got hit plenty as Bradley seemed to be in rhythm and was continuously finding a home for his big shots.
At the half way point of the bout is when things took a drastic change. The same counter looping right hands and hooks that Bradley was connecting with earlier were now missing as Pacquiao did a good job of getting out of harm’s way. The pace began to slow down and Tim’s back began to touch the ropes as Manny flurried and even though not everything landed, Bradley wasn’t firing back to score points.
The rope a dope tactic used by Bradley worked against him as it was Manny who was being more active. Even though Bradley invited Manny come inside and war, it was Pacquiao who was banking rounds with this activity and volume punching.
The fire fight from earlier still had shots being fired but a lot of thse shots did not land as often. Bradley looked spent going into the later rounds as a lot of energy was expended on loading up on missed punches as it appeared he was looking to land one big counter shot.
Pacquiao had promised to be aggressive and to his credit he continued to stalk Bradley throughout the rest of the fight and while it still wasn’t the all out whirlwind from years ago, it was enough to deter his opponent.
By the championship rounds Pacquiao was in full control and it appeared Bradley needed to make good on his promise to knockout Pacquiao out to be able to secure a victory. Both men traded in the final round much to the delight of the fans.
The outcome of their fight would once again be determined by three ringside judges but this time, their decision was met with cheers as even Bradley himself applauded the verdict when it was announced. Bradley was handed the first official loss of his career as he lost his title and his chance at redemption.
In his ring post fight interview Bradley mentioned injuring his calf which mirrored his injury claim in his first fight with Pacquiao. Bradley limped his way to the podium at the post fight press conference but refused to talk further about his injury.
“I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to take anything from Pacquiao tonight. He fought a successful fight and I don’t want to mention anything that happened to me” said Bradley.
Timothy was also gracious in defeat as he gave full credit to his opponent and swallowed his previous comments that Pacquiao had lost his fire.
“I have no excuses tonight. Pacquiao was the better man tonight. He showed what he’s made of and dude still has it. Reason why I love Pacquiao so much is he never ducks an opponent and he’s always willing to face the best and he faced one of the best tonight. He came out on top and Manny Pacquiao is the true champion”.
As for Manny Pacquiao, he showed up late to the press conference due to the cut suffered in the last seconds of the 12th round which required around 30 stitches.
Pacquiao was glad to get his victory over Bradley and felt he fought an improved fighter.
“With this fight I’m satisfied. The Bradley that I fought 2 years ago is different. He improved a lot. He showed his toughness. We saw that in his last 2 fight with Marquez and Ruslan [Provodnikov]. Many times I hit him hard but he was still there” said Pacquiao to the media.
With Pacquiao winning, he will now await the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez vs Mike Alvarado which takes place May 17th. A Floyd Mayweather fight is still a possibility according to Top Rank Founder and CEO if both sides can sit down and come to an agreement. Arum did use some of his podium time to once again criticize Mayweather’s upcoming May 3rd fight as it proves there is still no love lost between both sides.
Pacquiao will now take a much needed rest but he’s glad he was able to accomplish his ultimate goal tonight.
“I had a lot to prove [in this fight] and that my journey in boxing will continue”.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter & Instagram @Truewest007.