There wasn't any controversy this time around.
On Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao dominated Timothy Bradley, both showing that he has his swagger back and avenging a controversial loss to Bradley nearly two years ago. Pac-Man earned a unanimous victory, winning 116-112 on two scorecards and 118-110 on the other. It was the first defeat of Bradley's career.
While Bradley threw more punches than Pacquiao (627 to 563), it was Pac-Man who seemed in control from the get-go. Bradley realized he was going to need a knockout to win and began flailing a bit more wildly with his punches, trying to end the fight with one swing.
He defended his strategy after the fight, via Matt Christie of The Guardian:
I fought like that because it was the only way I was going to win the fight. I didn’t know if I could win close rounds by out-boxing him because he’s fast and experienced, so I was trying to knock him out. I wasn’t winded in the second half but I’m not going to make any excuses. I do not want to talk about my calf at all. Pacquiao deserved his victory.
It was a bold strategy, as Bradley has never been known for his power. But it looked as though Bradley might have Pac-Man in trouble in the fourth round, though Pacquiao quickly recovered. From there on out, it was Pac-Man's fight.
Pacquiao himself appeared to try to end the fight on one swing in the later rounds, but Bradley's jaw is made of stuff far sturdier than glass, and he withstood every Pacquiao assault.
You could make a very strong argument that Pacquiao won the first fight and was robbed by the judges, of course. But he was so much more convincing in the second fight that it served notice to his future opponents that he isn't done just yet.
Who will that future opponent be?
Pacquiao himself said after the fight (via Christie), "We are prepared to sit down at a table with Floyd [Mayweather]," but of course that that fight seems incredibly unlikely at this point. And a third fight between him and Bradley seems unnecessary, as Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated notes:
Rather, we'll probably see Pac-Man take on the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado.
After all, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum promotes all three of them. Follow the money, as the old saying goes.
But whomever Pacquiao fights, he has put the fight world on notice that he still has it, that he can still bring the pain, that he is not a man to be taken lightly. Pac-Man may not be the killer in the ring he once was, but the killer instinct is still there. A lesser boxer than Bradley would have hit the canvas on Saturday night.
His best days are obviously behind him, but Pacquiao can still pick apart an opponent with his quick hands, the odd angles he attacks from and his ability to think himself through a fight. If Pacquiao isn't the power fighter of his youth, he's certainly a cagier fighter now.
Beat you with the fists after he's beaten you with his mind. Perhaps that is the new Pacquiao. It certainly was effective on Saturday night, and the boxing world would be wise to respect this somewhat altered version of Pac-Man.
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