Manny Pacquiao walloped Timothy Bradley for the second time in the rematch these two decorated fighters. After a botched affair by a third party the first time around, Pac-Man got his due revenge, and the ensuing result is serious lessons both men must take to heart as they move on from their feud.
To the naked eye, the result means a return to form for Pacquiao. But it was a strange fight to say the least, with both men seemingly even until Bradley went off the deep end. That's not meant to discredit Pacquiao, but change in his skill set was readily apparent.
There's no need for a rubber match between the two. As both men go their separate paths, there are important takeaways they must fully understand and apply moving forward to ensure future success.
Bradley: Gambles Don't Pay off Against Top-Tier Opposition
If Bradley is lucky, Saturday's loss will act as a serious wake-up call.
He isn't Muhammad Ali. Not Anderson Silva. Especially not Floyd Mayweather.
For four rounds Bradley stood tall, his aggressive approach at times staggering Pacquiao and raising eyebrows around the globe. Here was Bradley, finally ready to take the proverbial next step by downing a legend in convincing fashion. He could even set up an apologies booth after the fight for those who chastised the outcome of the first bout.
But then it happened. Bradley got cocky. Or something. Showtime's Al Bernstein nails it:
Taunts. Crowd posturing. Head shaking. Hands down.
Apparently Bradley is the only fighter full enough of himself to pull such maneuvers in the ring with Pacquiao. He elected to go for the knockout blow the rest of the way rather than sticking to what works. It cost him the most important fight of his life.
It's a lesson that has come all too late. Bradley will likely never make the same mistake, but he needed it before the rematch, not after.
Pacquiao: Time to Hit Career-Preservation Mode
It's that time.
Manny knows it. Trainer Freddie Roach knows it. So does the globe.
Pacquiao saved his career on Saturday night with help via silliness on Bradley's end, but it's time he pulls a Floyd Mayweather.
No, that doesn't mean a fight with Mayweather. That would get Pacquiao destroyed at this point in their careers. But Pacquiao has to understand that now is the time to do what Mayweather has done for years—pick up easy wins to pad the legacy on the way out.
Roach's comments about the fight are telling, per Greg Beacham of the Associated Press (via The Boston Globe):
I think he was doing his best to stop him. He was throwing combinations. I told him, ‘All you have to do is outbox this guy. You can outbox him in and out, all night long.’ I thought he had the killer instinct. It just didn’t seem like he had the power he usually has. It was a little bit slower than he seemed in the past.
So power and speed are on the decline. That's scary, even if Pacquiao's ring IQ will never fade. Bradley had him beat in a few rounds before the implosion, which is something other fighters will study closely.
It may be attractive—and certainly lucrative—to chase big fights, but Pacquiao is well out of his prime and can't afford to take major risks. The writing has been on the wall for years, but his camp can take solace in the fact the tough lesson at least didn't result in a loss against Bradley.