After a brutal 12-round fight, it was Manny Pacquiao who defeated Timothy Bradley via unanimous decision on Saturday night in Las Vegas to win the WBO Welterweight Championship and avenge the previous loss in the first bout.
Both Pacquiao and Bradley made it clear from the opening bell that they were looking for the knockout, and the fans were treated to an instant classic.
While this fight went to the judges’ scorecards, it was clearly a win for Pac-Man.
The opening of the fight featured both men attacking with serious ferocity. The first three rounds proved that it was going to be a brutal night.
Round 1 featured a feeling-out process and conceivably could have been scored either way. While Bradley looked tough in the first round, it was Pacquiao who stole the second and third rounds with his elite speed and power.
After a fast-paced first three rounds, Bradley came out strong in the fourth and landed several shots that looked to stagger the challenger. The fifth was strong for both men, but a weak effort from Bradley in the waning moments of the round may have hurt the champion.
As Pac-Man told Dan Rafael of ESPN.com before the fight, “My motivation is the same now as it was when I started my boxing career. I love the competition, and I love to win. When that stops, so does my professional boxing career. But I don’t see that happening for a long time.”
The sixth round was another evenly matched battle, but it was in the seventh that Pac-Man proved he still has serious power in his hands. While he didn’t knock Bradley down, the challenger peppered the champion throughout the round.
Bradley dropped his hands more often in the eighth and taunted Pacquiao, and while Pac-Man wasn’t able to land any big shots, he did enough to earn the round. With two-thirds of the fight in the books, the challenger was in control.
For Bradley to win the fight, he needed to come out in the ninth strong, but Pacquiao simply didn’t let him. With a barrage of punches along the ropes, Pac-Man took control of the fight and took the definitive lead on the scorecards of many.
The 10th round was more of the same, as Pacquiao continued to control the pace and tempo of the bout. Bradley insisted on fighting a wild style instead of moving forward consistently, and it cost him dearly.
Pacquiao attacked with ferocity in the 11th round and was the clear winner. As great as the first 11 rounds were, both men came out swinging in the 12th and made it clear that they wanted to finish strong.
Now that Pac-Man has avenged the loss from June 2012, the focus will be on what’s next for the new champion. There are many fighters who would make for an interesting bout, but the best option for Pacquiao would be Floyd Mayweather.
There is no question the magnitude of a bout between Pac-Man and Mayweather will be less after he lost to Bradley initially and was knocked out by Marquez, but the victory over Brandon Rios and now on Saturday has added more fuel to the fire once again.
The problem now for Pacquiao is that he clearly isn’t the same fighter he was a few years ago. As much as a dream fight with Mayweather is something boxing fans will be looking forward to, the battle between Top Rank and Showtime Sports will also limit that possibility.
As much as fans want Pac-Man vs. Mayweather, a third chapter in the battle against Bradley is more likely.
*Stats via BoxRec.com.