Manny Pacquiao claimed an emphatic unanimous decision victory over Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night to annex the WBO Welterweight title for the second time.
The first fight in 2012 was extremely close with most favouring a Pacquiao victory despite the judges going for Bradley. The second edition of this fight started as tightly as could be expected with a first round that was almost impossible to pick a winner from. However both fighters began opening up in the second. Pacquiao showed some good combinations in the middle of the round including a left hook that looked to have wobbled the American. Bradley failed to hold back as he retaliated. That said, it was again a round that was too close to call.
In the third the Filipino displayed some of the hand speed that has made him a legend however the American countered with good combinations of his own. Two hard right-hands by the champion midway through the fourth got the crowd on their feet. Bradley would have felt the fourth round was his in what was proving to be a very close fight.
The fifth round appeared extremely even with the American landing the biggest blow of the three minutes but there was no way of telling which way the judges; Craig Metcalfe, Glenn Trowbridge and Michael Pernick, would see it. An equally cagey sixth round may have been swayed in Pacquiao’s favour by a late flurry of combination punches to the body with Bradley on the ropes.
The Filipino repeated his efforts in round seven with big body combination shots to the American who again found himself on the ropes late in the round and by this stage Freddie Roach would have started to believe his fighter was on top. At the start of the fight the champion looked happy to go toe-to-toe with the Pacman but by the end of the eighth it was obvious this strategy had been abandoned. Pacquiao was cashing in as the sands of time were starting to run out for the man known as ‘Desert Storm’.
With just over a minute to go in the ninth the 35-year old had the 30-year old on the ropes again and threw those same body shot combinations that not only thrilled the crowd but would be the kind of showing good enough to win him another round. By the time the boxers came out for the tenth round it was apparent Bradley was going to need a knockout to avoid suffering his first defeat as a professional. Perhaps it was the orthodox-southpaw scenario, but the American did appear to struggle with his balance throughout the bout. In the tenth Pacquiao was looking like his old self, perhaps not vintage, but certainly the fighter that has written his name into the sport’s folklore.
In the eleventh Pacquiao had Bradley on the back foot, although the American probably did enough in the penultimate round to win it. Given what had happened in June 2012 neither fighter could take anything for granted. Both men came out all guns blazing as if they both needed a 12th round victory, or even KO, to make sure. The general feeling in 2012 was that Pacquiao won eight of the 12 rounds yet Bradley won the split decision. The bout ended with both men going for the jugular as a highly entertaining fight came to an end. This time around the Filipino might have felt he won nine rounds, but what would the judges say this time around?
Judges Metcalfe and Pernick scored the fight 116-112 while Trowbridge went with 118-110. All three judges scored the fight in favour of Manny Pacquiao, who reclaims the WBO Welterweight title as Timothy Bradley suffered his first professional loss. The next question will now inevitably be whether Floyd Mayweather remains interested in a Pacman fight that probably should have happened five years ago for the first time.