This time, there was no room for debate.
Manny Pacquiao reclaimed his WBO welterweight title with a unanimous-decision victory over Timothy Bradley on Saturday night in the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Bradley, who scored a controversial victory over Pacquiao in June 2012, lost for the first time and hurt his right calf in the opening round. “You deserved it,” Bradley said to Pacquiao. “You won the fight.”
Pacquiao, trainer Freddie Roach said, “was a little sloppy” against Bradley, who was game but outmatched. Bradley threw 627 punches, but managed to land only 22 percent of them. Pacquiao landed 35 percent of his 563 punches and 23 percent of his jabs. (Bradley connected only only 11 percent of his jabs.) Pacquiao landed 148 power punches, Bradley 109.
“He threw a lot of punches,” Pacquiao (56-5-2) said. “I didn’t want to get careless. I picked up more steam in the second half when I made adjustments that Freddie gave me in the corner. Bradley was much better than in the first fight we had. He hurt me on the chin.”
Judges Craig Metcalfe and Michael Pernick scored the rematch 116-112 for Pacquiao with Glenn Trowbridge scoring it 118-110.
It wouldn’t be boxing without a bit of the bizarre, though, and promoter Bob Arum supplied that, focusing more on Floyd Mayweather Jr. The dream fight, of course, would be between Pacquiao and Mayweather, but Mayweather will fight Marcos Maidana on May 3. Arum ranted about Mayweather and boxing writers who trade access to Mayweather for adoring stories. Yahoo’s Kevin Iole wrote that “[i]t was impossible for reporters at ringside to get Arum to speak about Pacquiao’s performance. He went on and on about the May 3 Mayweather fight with Marcos Maidana, insisting it is a bad fight, and he blasted Mayweather’s team for strong-arming the MGM.”
“Write all you want about 15-1 fights with no hopers and all this thuggery where, when I’m doing a promotion, they make the MGM put up signs for their stupid fight,” Arum said. “You guys continue to do that. We’ll give you quality fights. HBO will give you quality fights. But you want to close your eye to thuggery in this sport.”
With Jack Nicholson, Will Ferrell and 50 Cent in the crowd, Pacquiao was more aggressive than he had been of late, but, for the eighth straight time, he failed to win by knockout. With questions swirling about Pacquiao’s future, he said (via Forbes), ”I knew I had to do more in this fight than I did in the last fight.”
Pacquiao shot down the idea that his future includes politics in his native Philippines, where is a congressman, and not boxing.
“I think I can fight for two more years,” Pacquiao said.
His next opponent is likely to be the winner of the May 17 bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado — two fighters Arum also promotes.