Manny Pacquiao left it up to the judges again, but this time he largely made the decision himself in a 12-round unanimous decision victory over Timothy Bradley Saturday night in the WBO welterweight championship bout.
Pacquiao's career pretty much hung in the balance in the bout, and it was up in the air through six rounds. But a switch was flipped for both fighters after that point, and Pacquiao re-took control and dominated Bradley down the stretch of nearly every round.
So many questions were left after Bradley's controversial split-decision win over Pacquiao in 2012, and many of them were answered in convincing fashion on Saturday night.
Let's take a look at the biggest things to take away from Pacquiao-Bradley II.
Pac-Man Has Still Got It
He's 35 years old. He isn't the same fighter he was when he knocked out Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.
But Manny Pacquiao is still Manny Pacquiao. And even right now, that's good enough to beat many of the world's best fighters in their prime.
Just like the first time they took the ring together, Pacquiao simply looked like he was in control from the opening bell. He was constantly on top of Bradley, dictating the tempo and easily seeing off any and all of Bradley's errant, overly-aggressive blows.
Even when Bradley made his surge and Pac-Man was stumbling, he stuck to his script and waited until the seventh round, when he pounced on his foe and took control from there on out.
Pacquiao's first loss to Bradley was incredibly controversial, but it got validated when Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Pacquiao six months later. His dream bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. seemed—and maybe still seems, depending on who you are—impossible.
But against a world-class fighter who was giving his best shot and in a title fight, Pacquiao stood tall and comfortably won against a fighter he needed revenge against.
Pacquiao may or may not ever get his chance against Mayweather before his career is done, but with Saturday's win, he further added to his legacy. He proved that even if he's not on top of his game, he can be on top of everyone else.
Bradley Only Has Himself to Blame
This will be remembered as a fight that Pacquiao took control of and won in dominating fashion, and for the most part, that's accurate. But Bradley didn't do himself any favors.
The 30-year-old was in good position after five rounds. He was hanging on through Pacquiao's flurries and starting to hurt him, slowly swaying the energy in his favor like he had hoped.
But instead of playing it smart and continuing to nip at Pacquiao, Bradley instead pressed his foot firmly down on his own gas pedal and burned out his engine.
Desert Storm came out firing at the beginning of each round, swinging for the fences and making aggressive moves that left him tired in the middle of the rounds. Pacquiao was often able to take advantage and beat him up in the later parts of rounds.
Additionally, Bradley kept dropping his hands, opting to allow small victories to Pacquiao, which seemed to work into his big-picture plan to knock Pac-Man out. It's hard to deny that those moments added up and had an impact on the judges' scorecards.
They may have come somewhat close to coming to fruition at times, but Bradley's overly-aggressive tactics of going for the kill ended up chipping away at his chances to stay in the fight.
If Bradley would have hung in there and tried to win in the small areas like Pacquiao was, he would have been in a good position—just like the first time these two fought.
Instead, he fought with one goal in mind—knocking Pacquiao's head off. And he whiffed.
Prepare Yourself for the Floyd-Manny Talk, Again
Right when you thought it was gone for good, fuel has been doused on a now raging fire that is the potential fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Pac-Man's quest to fight Money May would have been squashed once and for all—along with much of Pacquiao's career, most likely—if Bradley had defended his belt on Saturday.
But instead, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum was celebrating a win and launching missiles in the direction of the Mayweather camp. Just read his post-fight encounter with the media, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix:
Much of Arum's anger has to do with this report from Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News of Golden Boy's promotion event for Mayweather's upcoming fight with Marcos Maidana just hours before Pacquiao's fight.
But it's obvious that Pacquiao's undying interest to face Mayweather is also coming to the surface here.
This Mayweather-Pacquiao dream fight has been discussed by both sides many times in the past, but hasn't been hinted at since Pacquiao started his losing streak to Bradley and Marquez. That tune may change now, though.
Mayweather's career is dwindling down, and he hasn't faced a real high-profile fighter in quite some time. He seems to be perfectly content scheduling whoever the public wants him to fight, so it will be interesting to see if that changes with Pacquiao emerging again as a candidate.
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