There was no controversy this time.
Eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley to reclaim the WBO welterweight championship belt and answer so many lingering questions regarding his career. Judges' scores were unanimous after 12 intense rounds; 116-112 twice and 118-110. I scored the fight from ringside, eight rounds to four in favor of Pacquiao.
With the win, Pacquiao avenged his controversial split decision loss to Bradley a year and a half ago, and emphatically proved that he still has a lot left in the tank against arguably one of the top three boxers in the sport today.
Despite suffering the first loss of his career, Bradley also gained the respect of both fans and media for his gallant effort and surprised many with the way he went toe-to-toe with Pacquiao making for one of the best fights of the year thus far.
Bradley stood his ground and even dared Pacquiao to come at him for majority of the first seven rounds, going against conventional wisdom of "boxing" the Filipino slugger. Pacquiao wobbled Bradley several times in the fight, but Bradley landed a lot of big counters as well, but appeared to slow down toward the end. Bradley complained about a strained calf, but refused to speak on it at the post-fight press conference and insisted on giving full credit to Pacquiao for the victory.
Punch stats supported the fight's result with Pacquiao landing 198 total punches at a 35% connect rate to Bradley's 141 at 22%. Pacquiao also landed almost 50 power punches more than Bradley.
"I am satisfied with this fight, because the Bradley that I fought two years ago is different now. He has improved a lot," Pacquiao said after the bout. "He showed his toughness and we saw that in his last two fights against (Juan Manuel) Marquez and (Ruslan) Provodnikov. Many times, I hit him hard, but he's still there."
Indeed, Bradley stood at the eye of the awakened tiger that was Pacquiao, and more than held his own against one of the best to ever do it. And the result was a thrilling 12 rounds of non-stop action that will be remembered for years to come.