End of road for Manny?By Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
IT WAS a scene repeated many times over throughout the country: Dejected Filipinos walking out of cinemas and wherever else they watched the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight Sunday morning.
Their champion was defeated, losing via a split decision his WBO welterweight title. One more wound to bear throughout the week.
There was no sensational knockout salvo from the Fighting Congressman from Sarangani. Only the pain of his first loss in the United States since 2005.
Similarly, as the famous poem “Casey At Bat” by Ernest Sayer said, there was no joy in the Philippines that day. Just like Casey, Pacquiao had struck out.
It was a close fight. Not a brawl or a dogfight but a close one as seen in the split-decision outcome. It could have gone either way. As I fidgeted in my cinema seat at the Promenade in Greenhills, I was hoping for a close shave, in the same way Pacquiao escaped from Juan Manuel Marquez last November. I was hoping for something to perk up the Filipino weekend, anything except a loss by our champion.
But no. The proud Bradley bucked the odds and had an answer for everything that Pacquiao threw at him. He absorbed the punches Pacquiao unleashed and parried off so many others.
The first two rounds were his as he set the pace of the fight while Pacquiao seemed to be looking for his rhythm and ring bearings.
Bradley did everything a challenger should do: be aggressive, take the fight to the champion and look like a winner.
Pacquiao tried everything but it seemed like Bradley had an answer for his vaunted speed. There were big Pacquiao rounds like the fourth and the seventh, where the usual volume of punches were unrolled and put Bradley in trouble.
But then Bradley recovered in the last three rounds, responding to the desperate calls of his corner to control the fight. After the 10th, in fact, Freddie Roach told Pacquiao that they gave that round away and they needed to recover.
It never happened as Bradley thwarted every rally by Pacquiao.
So are we beginning to see the end of the road for Pacquiao after a scintillating run that included wins over larger opponents and some of the biggest names in the sport?
No. This is at best a bump on the road. No, Pacquiao and his camp did not underestimate Bradley. It was just one of those nights when a hungrier, younger tiger got to the prey first. I anticipate a rematch between the two, fulfilling Bradley’s bold prediction that there would be such a battle this November.
At the time of the card-flashing of the giant ticket for that rematch, everyone seemed to be laughing except Bradley.
Well, what about Floyd Mayweather Jr. now? That fight may have to wait. The warrior in Pacquiao may not want to end his career without exacting vengeance from a weather disturbance called Desert Storm. I foresee a rematch and Pacquiao will be so much better than he was this weekend.