Though neither fighter delivered the knockout they both promised, their bad intentions were clear from the opening bell. Bradley came out aggressively and was intent on scoring the KO. He swung for the fences and in the early goings seemed to get the better of Pacquiao, who at times looked tentative.
But Pacquiao adjusted and his precision and power became big factors as the fight progressed. Though Bradley never went down, he was clearly hurt on a few occasions throughout. Pacquiao proved to be the more technically sound fighter and landed the crisper blows all night.
Though he threw far less punches than the version we saw back in 2009, his intensity never wavered. The mental pressure Pacquiao put on Bradley wore Bradley out almost as much as the punches Pacquiao clobbered him with.
Coming in to the fight, many questioned whether or not Pacquiao could still compete against a pound-for-pound fighter in his prime. At the end of the bout, Pacquiao answered with a deafening "yes." Below are some random thoughts I had during the fight.
Joel Diaz may be a great trainer, but he's a horrible cornerman. In between rounds he said some of the most discouraging things I've heard, even after some rounds that I felt Bradley won. At one point Diaz even asked Bradley if he wanted to go home.
Pacquiao's right hand was key to winning the second half of the fight. The HBO analysts didn't really mention it, but Pacquiao's southpaw jab and right hook stopped Bradley in his tracks several times. Pacquiao didn't necessarily hurt him but it really halted Bradley's momentum as Pacquiao repeatedly beat Bradley to the punch with his right hand.
Pacquiao is without a doubt, an elite fighter that only comes once every other generation. Tim Bradley is a very difficult opponent for anyone and is among the top 5 fighters on anyone's pound-for-pound list. He is quick, athletic, tough and crafty. At 35 years of age, Pacquiao was still quicker, more accurate and better focused than Bradley. Not only is Pacquiao a tremendous physical specimen, but his resolve could not be overstated. He took his savage KO loss to Marquez like a man. His passion and fighting spirit never left.
Now is the best time for Pacquiao to retire. The only meaningful fight left for him is Mayweather, but that is unlikely to happen until Mayweather is convinced beyond any doubt that Pacquiao is just a shell of himself. There's no need for Pacquiao to avenge his KO loss to Marquez. Even if Pacquiao stops Marquez, he won't get the credit he deserves due to Marquez's age. Pacquiao can take the high road and live with the defeat.
Bradley deserves all the credit in the world for his valiant effort. Bradley took breathers and BS'd at times, but he did not run. He took the fight to Pacquiao and threw with all his might. There were some fantastic exchanges that wouldn't have been possible if Bradley had not been such a willing dance partner.
Pacquiao's boxing skills are among the most underrated of all time. He's not a murderous puncher by any stretch of the imagination and he has definitely slowed down. His stamina is nowhere near it once was and he can no longer overwhelm foes with non-stop offense. Still, he controlled Bradley, outfought him and outboxed him. Let's not forget that most boxing experts thought that Bradley fought a brilliant technical fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley isn't some one-dimensional, over-hyped, weight-drained and redheaded slugger with a padded record. Bradley is the real deal. Pacquiao, despite some early troubles, made it look easy.