Manny Pacquiao's second fight with Timothy Bradley went much like the first one, except for the final result. Pacquiao earned the unanimous decision many felt he deserved 23 months ago, and reclaimed the WBO welterweight title in the process.
Indeed, Bradley's swing-for-the-fences approach left him battered at the end of the fight, as Pacquiao avoided the type of devastating knockout blow that Juan Manuel Marquez inflicted on him in his last loss. After the fight, Bradley's trainer Joel Diaz had nothing but praise for the Filipino star:
Of course, both fighters are now in their 30s, and in Pacquiao's case, the end is imminent. Therefore, as much as fans will want to revel in his second consecutive win, it is also fair to wonder how many fights Pacquiao has left.
One thing is certain: It is unlikely that Saturday night's victory represented the final hurrah for Pacquiao. For much of the fight, Pac-Man looked like his old self, displaying exceptional speed and battering Bradley with a relentless offensive attack. Though Bradley's borderline reckless style helped, Pacquiao illustrated he remains one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world:
Indeed, Pacquiao was visibly relieved and thrilled after the victory, which has apparently rejuvenated a career that looked to be over after his devastating knockout against Marquez. ESPN.com's Dan Rafael suggested that Pacquiao could get a chance to avenge that debilitating loss:
Pacquiao's next fight could be against the winner of the May 17 title elimination bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado. The winner will be Pacquiao's mandatory challenger, but what makes it more likely is that Arum promotes all three of them.
If Marquez wins, it would mean a fifth showdown between the all-time greats, the most recent match between them ending with Pacquiao face down on a one-punch sixth-round knockout loss in December 2012.
"I have no problem with fighting Marquez again, but that's up to my promoter, Bob Arum," Pacquiao said.
Of course, while a fifth iteration of Pacquiao-Marquez fight would certainly entice boxing fans, Floyd Mayweather remains the challenger everyone wants to see:
The two fighters hold seemingly irreconcilable differences against each other at the moment, and any matchup before the end of their respective careers seems doubtful. It would be a shame if the long-awaited fight were not at least considered, however, given Pacquiao's impressive showings in his last two fights.
While Pacquiao's future is set, the picture is a little hazier for Bradley. The 30-year-old suffered a calf injury in the beginning of the fight, but per the USA Today's Bob Velin, did not use it as an excuse for the loss:
Bradley said he pulled a calf muscle in the first round and his trainer, Joel Diaz, said, "Once that happened, I knew there was really nothing to work with."
Bradley did not use it as an excuse and refused to talk about it in the post-fight press conference. "I have no excuses," said Bradley, who limped into the press conference. "Pacquiao was the better man. The reason I love Pacquiao is that he doesn't duck anyone."
While Bradley had nothing but respect for his opponent, his first priority is to ensure that his calf injury does not linger too long. Bleacher Report's Rob Goldberg speculated that Danny Garcia, Canelo Alvarez and Marquez could be among Bradley's next opponents.
Despite the loss, Bradley remains one of the world's best pound-for-pound fighters. He might not get a third shot at Pacquiao, given how one-sided the first two bouts were, but he should receive an opportunity to reclaim his welterweight title in due time.