Manny Pacquiao landed three straight lefts in the final 20 seconds of the first round that established his ability to land his signature punch. He then cruised to what seemed to be an explosively impressive victory Saturday over longtime 140-pound king Timothy Bradley.
But the judges didn’t concur. All three scored the fight 115-113, and two of them had Bradley (29-0) winning. So Bradley is the new WBO welterweight champion, and Pacquiao has suffered a rare defeat.
It was a shocking conclusion to an unexpectedly brilliant performance by Pacquiao (54-4-2), who won a dubious decision himself over Juan Manuel Marquez last November. Pacquiao manhandled Bradley in the HBO pay-per-view bout in Las Vegas.
“He’s a strong puncher,” Bradley conceded. He rocked me a couple times in the fight. I withstood it.
“It was a good, competitive fight,” Bradley said on camera. “Every round was pretty close. Later rounds, I controlled the action with my jab.”
Although the SF Boxing Examiner scored the fight 118-110 for Pacquiao, and the decision does stink, it may not make your top 10 all time horrible decisions.
Bradley forced the action early but was discouraged when Pacquiao landed at least a half-dozen howitzers every round from the second until the 10th, the one round we all seem to agree Bradley won. As the fight wore on, the challenger pursued Pacquiao less and less. Overall Pacquiao, not Bradley, was the aggressor and was quite effective.
Pacquiao won the first four rounds impressively but settled into a pattern of merely neutralizing Bradley for two minutes and then overwhelming the underdog the final 60 seconds. It was a ploy that seemed to be working at the time but in retrospect must have backfired.
The 11th was seemingly a good round for Pacquiao, but Bradley won it on two scorecards and then won the 12th on all three.
It did seem Pacquiao was coasting a bit. But the PunchStats statistics to which HBO subscribes charted Pacquiao as throwing more punches, landing at a higher percentage and – clearly – landing the harder shots, which matters a lot in professional boxing.
Did Pacquiao think he won the fight? “Absolutely. Yes.” But he was graceful. “I respect the judges, the referee, the officials,” he said. “It’s part of the game.”
Bradley is so eager for a rematch that he was strongly suggesting a date – Nov. 10.
It feels great, but I’m not satisfied,” Bradley said. "You can hear the boos in the crowd. So let’s do it again.”