Manny Pacquiao (right) weathered Tim Bradley's attack early and used an aggressive approach to win a unanimous decision for the WBO welterweight crown. (Jed Jacobsohn/SI)
LAS VEGAS -- Three thoughts on Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous decision win over Tim Bradley
Pacquiao’s revenge. While most observers believed Pacquiao won his first fight with Bradley, officially, it was a loss. Pacquiao avenged that defeat Saturday night, outpointing Bradley in an entertaining slugfest that shifted the WBO welterweight title back to Pacquiao. Bradley looked comfortable early, taking advantage of Pacquiao’s aggression with crisp counterpunches. When he moved forward, he landed flush shots. It was clear from the last fight that Bradley has no fear of Pacquiao’s power and he showed that same fearlessness in the early rounds. Pacquiao was able to connect with combinations, but Bradley’s head movement gave him problems.
The second half of the fight was a different story. Pacquiao’s aggression clearly took its toll on Bradley, who was consistently fighting on his heels. Pacquiao pressed the action, and though he wasn’t as active as his trainer, Freddie Roach, promised he would be, he was active enough to keep Bradley backpedaling and unable to mount a sustained attack. Per CompuBox, Pacquiao landed 198 of 563 punches (141 out of 627 for Bradley, including 148 power shots (109 for Bradley). It wasn’t vintage Pacquiao -- unfortunately, we may never see that relentless brawler again -- but it was enough to beat a very good fighter in Bradley.
“Bradley threw a lot of punches, I didn’t want to get careless,” Pacquiao said. “I made adjustments. Freddie asked me to shorten the distance. Bradley is better from the first fight. He hurt me on the chin. We made adjustments. Bradley was wild on the outside, so I made my attack on the inside. Tim Bradley was not an easy fight.”
Two judges scored the fight 116-112, another 118-110, all for Pacquiao. SI.com scored the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao.
Thus ends Pacquiao-Bradley. This was a good fight. It wasn’t a great fight, though, and it’s hard to see either side pushing for a rubber match. Pacquiao settled a score, picked up a big payday and now moves on to another potential lucrative showdown with an old rival (more on that below). Bradley cashed a big check and there are other options for him at 147 pounds. He could fight a rematch against Ruslan Provodnikov (who wouldn’t want to see that?) or look toward Brandon Rios. After a banner 2013, Bradley is a far more appealing fighter than he was after the first fight. HBO will happily put him on the network again. As far as Pacquiao goes, that chapter in Bradley’s career is likely finished.
Get ready for Pacquiao-Marquez V. Yup, it’s coming. If Marquez gets past Mike Alvarado next month, Top Rank is ready, willing and able to make a fifth fight between two of boxing’s biggest rivals. Now that Pacquiao has a belt, Marquez will be eager to get in the ring with him; he has made it a priority to become the first Mexican fighter to win titles in five different weight classes. And for those who think Pacquiao-Marquez V is overkill: Each of their first four fights were close, were entertaining and were huge hits at the box office, and in the case of the last three, on pay per view. It would be foolish for Top Rank not to pursue it.
And while many will clamor (again) for Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, forget it. It’s never going to happen, and at this point, it’s probably not a very competitive fight. Pacquiao is still a top-five pound-for-pound fighter, but the gap between Pacquiao and Mayweather has grown the last two years. Mayweather continues to be at the top of his game while Pacquiao has slowed considerably. The window for that fight was 2009 to ’12, and that window has closed.