Manny Pacquiao handily defeated Timothy Bradley on Saturday night, avenging a controversial 2012 loss in the process and putting his career squarely back on track.
Pac-Man (56-5, 38 KO) earned a unanimous victory from the judges, with scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 118-110 all in his favor. Desert Storm (31-1, 12 KO) suffered the first loss of his career in the process and was forced to return the WBO Welterweight Championship to the man he took it from nearly two years ago.
While Bradley was far from a pushover, he didn’t have the energy to go the distance against such a quick and skilled opponent. The 30-year-old came out looking to strike quickly but flamed out even faster. He spoke to Greg Beacham of The Associated Press about his failed attempt at a knockout:
I tried, I really tried. I wanted that knockout. Manny is a great fighter, one of the best in the world. I lost to one of the greatest fighters in boxing. I kept trying to throw something over the top. That's what we worked on in camp. That was the plan, but Pacquiao has great footwork.
Bradley’s fatigue opened a number of windows for Pacquiao to strike at, and the veteran fighter was able to capitalize on most of the opportunities.
While Desert Storm continued to swing for the fences, Pacquiao was content to work the body and take what was given to him when his opponent was too tired to keep his guard up.
It wasn’t as thrilling as a knockout, but it was the type of technical victory that should give Pac-Man’s supporters hope that their favorite boxer will be able to fight at a high level for a little bit longer.
There was some pre-fight buzz that Pacquiao would consider retiring if he were to lose to Bradley for a second time. It now appears that the 35-year-old Filipino will continue to box for at least a few more years.
Pacquiao promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum informed Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated that he was in the midst of hammering out a two-year extension with his client:
Bob Arum tells SI that he is close to finalizing a two-year contract extension with @MannyPacquiao that will run through 2016— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
This leaves the door open for a potential megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. at some point before both boxers hang up their gloves, although it is still a far-fetched idea and nothing more at this point.
If a matchup with Money cannot be organized, don’t be surprised if a fifth chapter in Pac-Man’s rivalry with Juan Manuel Marquez gets scheduled. Marquez earned his first victory in their last fight, scoring an iconic knockout over his bitter rival.
Expect Pacquiao to seek revenge and to have the final say in what will likely be remembered as the premier rivalry of the generation.
Will Bradley and Pacquiao have a third bout?
Bradley, on the other hand, would be best served taking up a rematch against Ruslan Provodnikov. The two had an epic battle back in 2013, with Provodnikov’s power almost prevailing, and fans would be in for a treat if they stepped back into the squared circle.
A rubber match between Pacquiao and Bradley isn't off the table, but Pac-Man will likely seek bigger challenges after being the consensus winner of the last two bouts against Desert Storm. Even though their record on paper is even, the Filipino is clearly the winner of this rivalry.