Manny Pacquiao came into Saturday night looking for redemption against Timothy Bradley, and he got it with a victory via unanimous decision.
When these two competed in 2012, it appeared as though Pacquiao was set to win easily before the judges announced Bradley as the winner by split decision. However, there was no questioning the scoring this time around:
BREAKING: Manny Pacquiao wins by unanimous decision 116-112, 116-112, and 118-110.— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) April 13, 2014
Even Bradley himself agreed in the result, via Dan Rafael of ESPN:
As Skip Bayless of ESPN noted, Desert Storm was aggressive early on before Pacquiao came back:
Pacquiao won this fight easily. Withstood early fury, put on offensive-defensive clinic.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 13, 2014
Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports discussed one of the more exciting exchanges that took place in the middle of the bout:
Flurry by Manny that gets the crowd crazy by alll were blocked— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) April 13, 2014
There was some great technical boxing throughout from both sides, but Pacquiao was clearly the more aggressive fighter and landed more punches overall. This is what impressed the judges and helped him win by decision.
Additionally, the Filipino star did a better job of landing his power punches than his opponent, according to CompuBox:
This caused more damage and eventually led to a victory. Yahoo! Sports provides a look at some highlights from the match. Bleacher Report's Lyle Fitzsimmons breaks down the fight as well with some highlights of the action:
Unsurprisingly, the bout will cause a dramatic separation between the futures of each fighter. Both competitors have a lot of boxing left in their careers, but the types of matches remaining will be very different.
Here is a look at what to expect going forward for each fighter.
This match could end up being much more damaging to Bradley than it was good for Pacquiao.
Coming into the match, the 30-year-old fighter had built up an undefeated 30-0 record while taking down some impressive names along the way. He defeated both Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez as well as Ruslan Provodnikov in one of the better bouts in a long time.
While there were still some people skeptical of his ability, it was impossible to doubt the resume of one of the better pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
However, this loss changes the perception immediately. Bradley is now exactly what most people thought he was: a good-but-not-great fighter who should not have beaten Pacquiao the first time.
To make matters worse, it does not appear like a third fight of this rivalry is in the works, something that is not needed, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
No need for a rubber match with Bradley, either. This fight wasn't bad but most think Pacquiao won both comfortably. This rivalry is done.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
This would give Bradley a chance of redemption, but the more likely scenario is that he just gets beaten again.
Instead, the experienced boxer needs to go in another direction for his next bout. He needs someone who has a big enough name to get people interested but could be defeated. Unfortunately, it does not seem like Top Rank has anyone like that in their arsenal.
On the other hand, ESPN's Dan Rafael explained that Bradley could carry an event by himself, via Leighton Ginn of USA Today:
There's nothing bad to say about Timothy Bradley. He's a top-notch fighter. There's no doubt in my mind his next fight will be another good fight. HBO wants him back, I'm sure the fans will want to tune in to watch him. He's a hell of a fighter and he's a classy guy. He's very likeable and he's now at that level where he can take a loss and he can come back and have a good fight.
It remains to be seen if this can happen, but the pressure is on Bradley to have a much better showing next time out.
Like has been the case for years, all anyone wants to know is when Pacquiao will compete against Floyd Mayweather. This is even stronger now after the Pac-Man redeemed himself with two wins in a row after two losses.
Promoter Bob Arum explained his theory on how this fight could happen, via Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports:
The only people that can make Floyd Mayweather fight Manny is the public, if they boycott the nonsense 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. 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.
Since this strategy seems unlikely to come through, Pacquiao is instead likely to continue with his regularly scheduled programming. Mannix explains what will come next:
And get ready: If Juan Manuel Marquez beats Mike Alvarado next month, it's Pacquiao-Marquez 5 in the fall.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
If Mike Alvarado defeats Marquez, it will likely be him that earns the fight. Either way, this will be a quality bout that will please many fans, but it will still not generate that much excitement.
The bigger problem is that Pacquiao has clearly declined with his age. While he won the most recent fight handily, it was still not a dominant performance.
Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated provides a look at the 35-year-old boxer:
This is where Pacquiao is at now: not at the end of his career, but near it. He is still an elite boxer, one of the two best of his generation, still very, very good. But the old Pacquiao, the guy whose left hand dizzied and dismantled foes, the guy who knocked out Ricky Hatton and stopped Miguel Cotto? He's gone. Has been for a while now.
The old Pacquiao has been replaced by an older one.
While many would debate this, it does not seem like the current version of Pacquiao would be able to match up well with Mayweather. He simply does not have enough power to cause damage against an excellent defensive fighter.
Pacquiao will have a few more matches before he retires, but few of them will be noteworthy and none of them will likely affect his legacy much.
The win over Bradley was extremely important to get his reputation back as a current great. Unfortunately, it might end up being that last great performance of his career.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.