Pacquiao proves critics wrong
LAS VEGAS—Manny Pacquiao’s performance Saturday night (Sunday in Manila) righted one of the biggest perceived wrongs in recent boxing history.
Pacquiao was an eight-division world champion on a 15-fight winning streak when American Timothy Bradley was awarded a split decision in their first bout in 2012 and stole his WBO welterweight title.
This time the fighting Filipino congressman from Sarangani Province won a unanimous decision in his rematch with Bradley, avenging his loss and getting back the 147-pound belt.
Pacquiao (56-5-2) pursued and peppered the previously unbeaten Bradley around the MGM Grand Garden Arena with an aggressive performance recalling the Pacman in his prime. Bradley fought back with counterpunching and elusiveness, but Pacquiao kept up his attack while Bradley (31-1) struggled in the closing rounds.
Pacquiao left little doubt about the result of the rematch in the same arena where they met nearly two years ago. Bradley’s split-decision victory astonished most ringside observers, who felt Pacquiao had earned a clear decision.
The two judges who scored the bout 115-113 for Bradley are no longer in the boxing business, but their decision ended Pacquiao’s win streak and forced Bradley to defend himself against widespread criticism of the result.
“I knew I had to do more in this fight than I did in the last fight,” Pacquiao said.
The Filipino superstar then fought Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez in December of that year and was knocked unconscious in the sixth round of their fourth fight.
Dismissed as a fading champion by some quarters, including Bradley himself and the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao took nearly a year off before returning for an unspectacular victory over Brandon Rios in November last year in Macau.
Bradley declared that Pacquiao had lost his killer instinct, noting he was unable or unwilling to stop any of his opponents since late 2009.
On Saturday night, the Pacman turned the tables on the growing number of Pacquiao unbelievers.
Judges Craig Metcalfe and Michael Pernick scored the rematch 116-112 for Pacquiao, while Glenn Trowbridge favored the Filipino congressman 118-110. The Associated Press scored it 116-112 for Pacquiao.
After the fight, Bradley said he injured his right calf early on. But he also applauded the decision when it was announced, and he congratulated Pacquiao in the ring.
“Manny is a great fighter. I lost to one of the greatest fighters in boxing. I kept trying to throw something over the top. That’s what we worked on in camp. That was the plan, but Pacquiao has great footwork.” AP