Manny Pacquiao’s unanimous-decision win over Timothy Bradley probably didn’t seem terribly eventful as it happened, but the victory sent ripples throughout the boxing world.
The win for Pacquiao helped redeem his loss to Bradley back in 2012 and helped show that the 35-year-old boxer still has plenty left in the tank.
For Bradley, the loss is hardly a crushing one.
Knocking out Pacquiao or even winning by decision would have helped him prove that the first result was no fluke and that the judges’ decision wasn’t nearly as controversial as everyone thought. Yet even though he came away with the loss, he put up a decent fight, and the bout’s national prominence certainly boosted his public profile.
Read on to find out what the fight meant for both these fighters and where they’ll go from here.
This win over Bradley must have been satisfying for Pacquiao.
He had beaten Brandon Rios in November since falling to Bradley in that controversial match, but Rios lacked the profile of Bradley and didn’t move the needle much among the general public.
But everyone knew Bradley as the man who took Pacquiao down the first time, and now Pac-Man has put that characterization to rest.
As with any big win for him, people have once again started to wonder if a match with Floyd Mayweather can finally happen.
Pacquiao (56-5-2) is penciled in to return to the ring sometime in the fall against longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez or Mike Alvarado, who fight May 17 at the Forum.
Yet, Mayweather (45-0) is a heavy 7-to-1 favorite to defeat Marcos Maidana on May 3 at MGM Grand, leaving at least a two-week window for the longtime combatants on both sides of Mayweather-Pacquiao to calm their feud and strike a deal long desired by sports fans.
Pacquiao’s camp has agreed to Mayweather’s formerly controversial stipulations, giving in on allowing stringent drug testing and making no demands for an even split of the purse.
All that’s left is for the two sides to come together and make it happen.
However, that might prove difficult, given the way promoter Bob Arum has been blasting Mayweather’s upcoming fight against heavy underdog Marcos Maidana on May 3.
"That's what the public should do. (If the media) want that fight, tell the public not to buy pay-per-view and not to buy tickets,” he told Yahoo Sports’ Martin Rogers. “There is no other (strategy). We are prepared tomorrow to sit down at a table with his people...to work out the conditions for the fight."
While it’s clear he’s trying to pressure Mayweather’s camp in the court of public opinion, the gambit could backfire.
Mayweather has just as many big egos on his side of things as Pacquiao does, and Arum could easily alienate them with this kind of taunting.
Should his strategy fail, that would mean Pac-Man will face the winner of Marquez vs. Alvarado. Considering that he’s faced Marquez four times already, with the most recent bout ending in a surprising knockout by the Mexican, another match could be quite desirable.
"I have no problem with fighting Marquez again,” Pacquiao told Sky Sports.
No matter whom he ends up fighting after this, he proved he’s still one of the premier fighters in the game and has earned the right to take on anyone he pleases going forward.
Bradley’s future is a little less certain.
Another win against Pacquiao would have given him a ton of options and lifted him into the upper echelon of the rankings, but he still remains a hot prospect.
He’s helped too by the revelation after the fight that he got hurt early on, which slowed his efforts against Pacquiao, per Authority Entertainment’s Andrea Calle:
Boxing: Timothy Bradley Suffered Calf Injury in 1st Rd of Last Night's Loss to Manny Pacquiao— Andrea Calle® (@ANDREACALLEcorp) April 13, 2014
So while the loss means Bradley likely won’t get another shot at Pacquiao, the fact that he put up a good fight while injured means he has some options.
Bradley cashed a big check and there are other options for him at 147 pounds. He could fight a rematch against Ruslan Provodnikov (who wouldn’t want to see that?) or look toward Brandon Rios. After a banner 2013, Bradley is a far more appealing fighter than he was after the first fight. HBO will happily put him on the network again. As far as Pacquiao goes, that chapter in Bradley’s career is likely finished.
However, Bradley has also indicated he’d like to see Mayweather as well.
While the public clamors over Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, Bradley might be a more realistic option for Floyd.
Not only is he younger and a rising star, but he has frequently pushed for the fight when speaking with the media.
"Mayweather is his own boss, and if he wants to see me, he can come see me," he said at a press conference before the fight, per ESPN.com.
Barring a monumental upset by Maidana, Mayweather could be looking for a worthy opponent to satisfy fans in place of Pacquiao.
Bradley’s good showing against Pac-Man could still give him the kind of reputation he’d need to be an exciting opponent for Mayweather.
So while fans may still yearn for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, they’ll likely have to settle for Pacquiao vs. Marquez V and Bradley vs. Provodnikov II.
Nothing is impossible, but it’s much easier to see Bradley getting a shot at Mayweather than Pac-Man.