Manny Pacquiao looked to be in top form in his decisive title victory against Timothy Bradley on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. That may even be an understatement.
The aggressiveness of Pacquiao was clearly on display this time around—he reminded everyone why he is one of boxing's all-time greats and why we came to adore his style in the ring in the first place.
The unanimous decision in Pacquiao's favor came in the form of a 116-112 margin on two scorecards, with the third coming in at 118-110.
During the fight, Bradley decided to fight Pacquiao in close quarters and paid dearly for it. Showing his quickness and strength, Pacquiao continued to land clean blows throughout the bout, keeping Bradley off balance for a good portion of the duration.
The biggest takeaway from Pacquiao's performance was his aggressiveness throughout. He only seemed to get stronger as the bout went on, making decisive adjustments to everything Bradley threw in his direction.
Despite remaining aggressive, Pacquiao wasn't careless. He wasn't reckless. That's a winning formula, and he proved on Saturday night that he was well deserving of regaining his welterweight world title.
After the fight, Pacquiao spoke of his strategy during a press conference with Dan Rafael of ESPN.com:
"He gave me a good fight. He's not that easy. I listened to my corner about keeping my hands up and timing. He threw a lot of punches. He threw wide, wide, wide hooks. I got hit one time and said it's not good to be careless."
Yes, the days of Pacquiao racking up knockout after knockout seem to be over; however, he proved his ability to go toe-to-toe with boxers like Bradley who are still in their prime.
So, where does Pacquiao go from here? After all, according to his press conference, he's planning to continue fighting:
"I think I can fight for two more years. I am so happy to be a world champion again."
His next opponent, however, could be the dangerous Juan Manuel Marquez.
Marquez is slated to fight Mike Alvarado on May 17 in a title-elimination bout. The winner will emerge as Pacquiao's mandatory challenger for his title.
We all remember what happened the last time Pacquiao faced Marquez. It ended with Pacquiao face down after a brutal knockout.
If this is going to be Pacquiao's next fight, he must enter well prepared.
After all, despite his victory over Bradley on Saturday night, Pacquiao was a little sloppy at times. Bradley landed a huge shot on Pacquiao early in the fight; however, Pacquiao was able to recover.
If Marquez connects in that same manner, it will be a completely different story.
Marquez is a very powerful fighter and great counterpuncher. Pacquiao must enter with cautious aggression if his first title defense happens to be another rematch with the man to knocked him out last time around.
We'll see how it all plays out from here.
One thing is for certain: Despite being past his prime, Pacquiao showed once again why he will go down as one of boxing's legends.
After seeing his revamped nature in the ring on Saturday night, he'll have a chance to continue growing his legacy no matter whom he fights next.
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