Fans finally got to witness one of the most anticipated rematches in recent boxing history, as Manny Pacquiao avenged his 2012 loss to Timothy Bradley on Saturday night, fighting his way to a convincing unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole had the final scorecard:
Judges: 116-112 twice and 118-110 for Pacquiao— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) April 13, 2014
Pacquiao came into this rematch as the slight favourite following the controversial decision that went in favour of Bradley, and the former top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter put together a complete performance to dispatch the previously undefeated "Desert Storm."
Bradley came out with a lot more aggression compared to the first fight, showcasing his quickness in the first round and doing some damage with a handful of big shots with his right hand. Indeed, the American seemed to have the upper hand in the opening round, as both fighters got ready for a slugfest.
ESPN's Brian Campbell noticed the same thing:
Wow. Bradley is going for it. Pacquiao firing back. GREAT fight so far.— Brian Campbell (@BCampbellESPN) April 13, 2014
But "Pac-Man" would answer in the second round, showing remarkable hand speed for a 35-year-old. With both fighters trading shots for much of the first six rounds, Pacquiao stuck to his game plan of moving around the ring and throwing plenty of combinations in support of his power shots.
The Filipino's experience in all-out brawls showed at that point, as Bradley's early flurry left the defending champion gasping for air for much of the remainder of the fight. His footwork deteriorated rapidly, giving Pac-Man even more of a target to work with.
Unsurprisingly, CompuBox showed a big discrepancy in the final punch stats:
Bradley started to struggle heavily toward the end of the fight, looking for the big shot with wild right hooks, a strategy that had worked for him during the first round. But Pacquiao remained patient, opting to keep his distance with the jab and continue working the body as opposed to looking for the knockout.
Pac-Man's movement around the ring was terrific, as the Filipino recovered from one or two early scares to find his feet when forced to move backward. He kept his hands up and seemed perfectly balanced compared to his opponent, who often flailed wildly from side to side.
Pacquiao displayed aggression as he took the fight to Bradley early, and fatigue played its part in the middle and latter rounds, which were dominated by the Filipino. But his patience played an even bigger part, as Pacquiao outboxed Bradley for much of the fight.
Real Boxing News' Isaac Estrada noticed Pacquiao seemed to emphasise timing and the instructions of his corner in his post-fight presser:
"Good fight. He gave me a good fight. I listen to my corner, hands up, timing." Pacquiao— Isaac Estrada (@RealBoxingNews) April 13, 2014
According to ESPN's Dan Rafael, even Bradley realised he'd just witnessed a boxing clinic:
Pacquiao didn't land too many devastating shots, and a knockout never seemed likely over the course of the 12 rounds. But the early pace that was set by the challenger and the patience as he worked toward the end of the fight against a swinging opponent made all the difference in Pacquiao's win.
He might be 35 years old, but he showed the world he still has enough gas to last 12 rounds against a quality opponent. With the pace that he set during this win over Bradley, you have to believe Pacquiao is starting to look more and more like the hurricane of destruction he was before his controversial loss to Bradley two years ago.
A fifth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez looks to be on the horizon, and with the way their last battle ended, fans will already be looking forward to another all-out war between those two titans.