Pacquiao wins unanimous decision vs Bradley to reclaim WBO title
LAS VEGAS/MANILA — Revenge was served, and it was cold.
Manny Pacquiao won a 12-round unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley on Saturday to avenge his controversial 2012 loss to the previously unbeaten American.
The Filipino ring icon improved to 56-5 with two drawn and 38 wins inside the distance as he regained the World Boxing Organization welterweight world title he lost to Bradley on June 9, 2012.
Although he couldn’t get his first knockout win since 2009, Pacquiao lived up to his pre-fight promise to come out with more aggression, denying Bradley’s avowed aim of sending him into retirement with another defeat.
“I think I can go another two years,” said Pacquiao, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions. “I’m so happy to be world champion again. Tim Bradley was not an easy fight.”
Bradley, who said he fought from the first round with a right calf injury, fell to 31-1, with 12 knockouts.
“Life goes on,” Bradley said of his first pro defeat. “It’s back to the gym. Not a big deal.”
“You won the fight, you deserved the win,” Bradley said. “I have no excuses.”
After a forgetful 2012, Pacquiao has now picked up two impressive wins in just five months following a dominant victory over Mexican-American Brandon Rios last November at the Venetian in Macau.
Judge Glen Trowbridge scored the bout 118-110 for Pacquiao, while both Michael Pernick and Canada’s Craig Metcalf saw it 116-112 for the ‘Pacman,’ whose every move was cheered by the star-studded crowd of 15,601 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“Bradley is better from the first fight,” Pacquiao said. “He hurt me on the chin. He made adjustments.
“I knew I had to do more this time than I did the last time,” he added.
Pacquiao landed 35 percent of his 563 punches, while Bradley connected with just 22 percent of his 627 blows. Pacquiao’s jab was much more effective, landing 23 percent to Bradley’s measly 11 percent, and the Pacman had a slight edge in landing 148 power punches to Bradley’s 109.
Round by round
Pacquiao’s performance righted one of the biggest perceived wrongs in recent boxing history. Pacquiao was an eight-division world champion on 15-fight winning streak when Bradley was awarded a split decision in their last bout.
Pacquiao was more aggressive and accurate from the opening minutes of the rematch, sticking to trainer Freddie Roach’s pleas to take the action to Bradley. They exchanged big shots in the opening rounds, but Pacquiao appeared to wear out Bradley with the heavy early pace — and the Pacman never slowed down.
Pacquiao landed a series of big left hands in the early rounds, knocking back Bradley with gusto.
Bradley responded impressively in the fourth round, wobbling Pacquiao twice with a right hand.
The pace slowed in the fifth, with Bradley showing off his defense and movement while Pacquiao attempted to trap him against the ropes.
Pacquiao appeared to wobble Bradley late in the seventh round with a vicious combination, but Bradley stood with his back against the ropes and defiantly encouraged it, blocking most of the shots. Bradley appeared to pretend to have wobbly legs at one point after a Pacquiao miss, but his open mouth betrayed his weariness while Pacquiao steadily racked up rounds midway through the fight.
Bradley came on strong in the 12th, and the fighters’ heads collided late in the round. Pacquiao avoided any trouble until the final bell, when he did a short dance step to his corner.
Pacquiao finished the fight with a cut over his left eye. Roach said Pacquiao needed stitches to close the jagged cut.
Old ‘killer instinct’
Saturday’s victory showcased more of the old “killer instinct,” with Bradley saying it was clear that Pacquiao was “going for it”.
But Roach said Bradley’s unexpected strategy of seeking a big knockout blow of his own caught him and Pacquiao by surprise.
“He was swinging for the fences all night,” Roach said of Bradley, who said he thought it was the only way he could win the fight.
But as the pace slowed in the later rounds, Pacquiao dominated, putting together multi-punch combinations that kept Bradley off balance.
“I tried, I really tried,” said Bradley. “I wanted that knockout. I kept trying to throw something over the top, that’s what the plan was.”
But Bradley trainer Joel Diaz said he knew the plan had gone out the window when Bradley came to the corner after the first round saying he thought he had torn his right calf muscle.
Diaz tried massaging it, but Bradley told him to stop because it hurt.
“From that point on, I knew I didn’t have much to work with, because our plan was to dominate Pacquiao and we couldn’t do it,” Diaz said.
The injury was later diagnosed as a strain, and Bradley said he had “no excuses”.
“Manny is a great fighter, one of the best in the world maybe the best ever,” he said.
Before the rematch
While Bradley remains publicly confident he beat Pacquiao in their first bout despite fighting on two injured feet, that much-derided decision sent both fighters’ careers on wild spirals.
The two judges who scored the bout 115-113 for Bradley are no longer in the boxing business, but their decision ended Pacquiao’s 15-fight win streak and forced Bradley to defend himself against widespread criticism of the result.
Bradley endured death threats and depression before returning to the ring in unusually reckless style. He brawled with Ruslan Provodnikov in March 2013 in a sensational unanimous-decision victory that silenced critics of his style and heart. Bradley then outpointed veteran Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez last fall, polishing his skills and making himself attractive to Pacquiao for a rematch.
Pacquiao was knocked unconscious by Marquez in the sixth round of their fourth fight in late 2012, and he took nearly a year off before returning for an unspectacular victory over Brandon Rios last fall. Pacquiao’s last two performances prompted Bradley to declare Pacquiao had lost his killer instinct, noting he was unable or unwilling to stop any of his opponents since late 2009.
Pacquiao’s next foe
Pacquiao’s next opponent could be the winner of the May 17 bout between Mike Alvarado and Marquez.
If Marquez wins, he could meet Pacquiao for the fifth time.
“I have no problem with fighting Marquez again, but that’s up to my promoter, Bob Arum,” Pacquiao said.
After the decision was announced, Dionisia Pacquiao, the fighting congressman’s mother, quickly approached the fallen American.
Mommy D, as she is fondly called, was probably the first to console Bradley from the Pacquiao camp, giving the American some motherly hug and a playful jab to the chin.
And Mommy D did not disappoint, claiming the 8th spot on the World’s trending topics on Twitter as of 1:30 p.m. (Manila time).
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