Two years after one of boxing's most controversial fights in recent history, Manny Pacquiao got his revenge when he beat Timothy Bradley by unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Bradley came out firing in the early proceedings, as the title defender seemed intent on showing the world the judges got it right two years ago. "Pac-Man" answered, and the first five rounds were an evenly matched slugfest that thrilled fans all over the world.
But Pacquiao is a veteran of many all-out wars, and his experience showed as Bradley seemed to tire quickly in the sixth round, throwing wild right hooks as his footwork fell apart. No longer able to pressure the challenger, Bradley quickly fell behind on the scorecards.
Pacquiao displayed great patience, working the body of Bradley and sticking to jabs and combinations as opposed to looking for the big shot. The Filipino handled the latter rounds beautifully on his way to a convincing and deserving win by decision.
As Lennox Lewis put it, the outcome was a logical one:
The only difference in this fight was the judges got it right this time. Bradley is a warrior. Just not in Mannys league. #PacBradley— Lennox Lewis (@LennoxLewis) April 13, 2014
For Bradley, this bout represented his opportunity to demonstrate his previous win over Pacquiao was no fluke, and his questionable tactics will be a point of analysis for weeks to come.
"Desert Storm" seemed to tire within the space of two rounds, as his footwork became sloppy and he started relying on a combination of counterpunches and wild right hooks that never seemed to work beyond the first round.
If Bradley wants to maintain the momentum he had built over the last two years, he'll need to find an attractive opponent to fight as quickly as possible, preferably one he hasn't fought before. Wiping away the memory of his sloppy loss to Pacquiao is key here, as Bradley needs to give fans a show in his next bout.
Floyd Mayweather is a name that might be whispered here and there, but the smart money would be on Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
As reported by ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, the young Mexican surprised a lot of people with the revenue he generated in his bout with Alfredo Angulo:
Many wondered if Alvarez, carrying a pay-per-view by himself for the first time and coming off a resounding defeat, would still generate enough fan interest to warrant becoming a PPV regular as he envisions. After the returns came in for the fight with Angulo (22-4, 18 KOs) on Friday, the answer is a resounding yes.
Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions announced that the pay-per-view generated "well over 350,000 buys" for Alvarez's one-sided 10th-round knockout of his Mexican countryman. The pay-per-view grossed at least $20 million.
Such pay-per-view numbers suggest Alvarez is the type of fighter who will garner interest from boxing fans regardless of the opponent, and a bout with Bradley could be beneficial for both fighters—from a financial and a competitive point of view.
At 23 years of age, Alvarez would present Bradley with a challenge, as the Mexican has the athleticism to match Desert Storm and packs a serious punch. But Bradley's experience and defensive expertise should make the difference in this fight. A win would put the previously undefeated American back on the map and in prime position for another title fight.
To everyone shouting Pacquiao's dominant win over Bradley opens the door for a Mayweather superfight, let 5th Quarter Mag make it clear to you, once and for all:
Give it up. Pacquiao/Mayweather will not happen.— 5th Quarter Mag (@5thQuarterMag) April 13, 2014
Trust me, I'd love to see these two titans fight, as would every sane boxing fan in this world. But barring several miracles, it's not going to happen.
Pac-Man's most logical (and likely) next move will be a fifth bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, and while some fans might feel five times is starting to feel like overkill, the fact remains the previous four fights between these bitter rivals were all incredible battles.
ESPN's Brian Campbell doesn't understand why fans wouldn't want this to happen either:
I really don't see how people wouldn't want Pacquiao-Marquez V.— Brian Campbell (@BCampbellESPN) April 13, 2014
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix tells us the fight is already closer than you might think:
And get ready: If Juan Manuel Marquez beats Mike Alvarado next month, it's Pacquiao-Marquez 5 in the fall.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
Given the way their last fight ended and Marquez nearing retirement, another rematch between these two makes too much sense. Pacquiao wants revenge for his devastating knockout defeat, while the Pac-Man would make for the perfect final opponent of Marquez's illustrious career.
Both fighters have a reputation for preferring the direct approach, and their previous four meetings have all been highly entertaining and pay-per-view hits.
Unless Mayweather suddenly becomes an option, Marquez remains the safest bet to be Pacquiao's next opponent. And frankly, why would we want to have it any other way?