Manny Pacquiao's unanimous-decision win over Timothy Bradley on Saturday night signals a turnaround in the career of the new WBO welterweight champion.
SportsCenter confirmed the victory:
Champion again! Manny Pacquiao beats Timothy Bradley in unanimous decision, winning WBO Welterweight Title. pic.twitter.com/oZ67vyvaK3— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 13, 2014
"Pac-Man" was calculated and pragmatic over 12 rounds, soundly easing the title belt back into his grasp and avenging the loss he suffered back in June 2012.
As much as we look forward to what comes next, however, the time to reflect is now, and this latest bout between two of the sport's most respected active members gave us a number of talking points worthy of discussion.
Pac-Man Still Packing a Wallop
Having suffered a two-fight losing streak in 2012, Pacquiao ignited a sense of doubt among some members of the boxing community, and talk of potential retirement was rife should he have lost on Saturday night.
At 35 years of age, the Filipino veteran had a question mark above his head in terms of what may come after this bout, but Bradley's defeat served as a statement, and it read "I'm back."
There were points of the fight, especially in the earlier rounds, where Pacquiao looked uneasy, even slightly submissive, under Bradley's initial weight. However, he rode out whatever "Desert Storm" had to throw, confidently answering back with a number of succinct combinations himself.
Pacquiao hasn't always been known for possessing the most when it comes to knockout potential, but there were strings of punches coming from the eventual victor that showed shades of the younger, more virile Pac-Man.
With this win under his belt, Pacquiao has proved a lot of his critics wrong, showing that he can be tactically resolute while simultaneously possessing a power capable of shaking the division's best and brightest.
Bradley Saves Face Despite Defeat
Up against one of the finest in the business, Bradley had little cause to dispute the fact that he had been distinctively bested on Saturday, but there were positives to glean from the loss.
In patches, the 30-year-old looked like he could go toe-to-toe with his challenger, looking for quality over quantity in terms of the punches he landed.
It wasn't a strategy that came off in his favour, but Bradley nonetheless did well to survive the barrage of punches thrown in his direction, which ESPN's Skip Bayless put down to an "iron jaw" and a "big heart":
Tim Bradley is a tough young man w/ an iron jaw, a big heart. But I do not want to see him fight Pacq again. He's just not in Pacq's class.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 13, 2014
The Californian will bounce back from this defeat. He has time on his hands, and after going the distance with Pacquiao, he can hold his head high in the knowledge that other opportunities will come his way.
Questionable Tactics to Blame for Desert Storm
Delving deeper into that notion of quality over quantity, Bradley's fight began with extreme promise. He stored his energy, allowing Pacquiao to ghost around the fringes and picking his moments well with power spliced into just about every throw.
This came to perhaps its most promising head in the fourth round, where a firm right actually lifted his opponent off the floor.
Sky Sports' Ringside crew previewed the likely strategies of the two boxers in the buildup to this fixture and were right in stating that to beat Pacquiao, Bradley required more of the calm, slowed approach that he utilised against Juan Manuel Marquez and less of the gung-ho style that was seen in the win over Ruslan Provodnikov.
As the fight wore on, however, we began to see more of the latter and less of the former, with Bradley's wild, swinging attempts on Pacquiao's frame whistling through the air, failing to leave any mark.
What started out as a boxing match for Desert Storm eventually broke down into little more than a brawl, and by the time Pacquiao had built up a significant enough lead, it was too late for the result to be hounded down.