Boxing fans everywhere are still trying to wrap their heads around the controversial split decision on Saturday that gave Timothy Bradley an upset victory over Manny Pacquiao.
Nearly everyone watching the fight, both live and on pay-per-view thought Pacquiao easily had done enough to put away Bradley and maintain his seven-year unbeaten streak. However, two judges, CJ Ross and Duane Ford, disagreed and gave the win to Bradley and in turn with it the WBO Welterweight Championship.
Most experts had Pacquiao winning anywhere between nine to 11 of the rounds, and the Associated Press scored the fight 117-111 for Pacquiao. Nevertheless, the only opinions that mattered were the ones of the three judges and it is an official victory for "Desert Storm" Timothy Bradley, keeping his record spotless in professional boxing.
So the question now is, what is next for Pacquiao? The loss assuredly sets up a rematch between the two men on November 10th, but if Pac-Man had won the decision, Bradley would have been out of the way and there would be no one standing in between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, the fight every boxing fan really wants to see.
There is no guarantee that fight would have happened even if Pacquiao won on Saturday, but Bradley winning throws a tremendous roadblock in that fight ever getting off the ground. Not only will Pacquiao get a rematch, but it is entirely possible Bradley will fight Mayweather in the near future as well.
Many are speculating that Manny Pacquiao could even retire after the loss to Bradley. After all, it is clear that Pacquiao has turned over a new leaf in his life, now becoming a much more spiritual person. He also has plenty of other interests to divulge in, including his political career (Pacquiao currently serves as a Filipino congressman).
Pacquiao doesn't really have anything left to prove in his career other than beating Mayweather. It was clear to almost everyone that he was the better fighter on Saturday, but perhaps getting out of the corrupt sport of boxing would be the right move for the 33-year-old.
If he does decide to continue on in his career, you have to wonder how this loss will affect Pacquiao moving forward, specifically mentally. Controversial decisions are nothing new to boxers, but when you train that hard for a main event fight, go out their and dominate and still lose it has to take its toll on you.
In the rematch or whatever his next fight may be, Pacquiao has to have it in the back of his mind that no matter how much he believes he is winning the fight, there is always a chance the judges can screw him out of a victory once again. Perhaps he will go for the TKO more instead of keeping his usual strategy and wearing down his opponent.
No matter how much Pacquiao claims that the loss doesn't bother him, (he was very gracious, despite his obvious bewilderment in the post-match interview), it is only natural for any competitor to be upset when something like this occurs. Pacquiao was the better man on Saturday, there are few people doubting that. Yet, he still comes away with a loss on his record, loses his championship and the big payday that would have come with a victory.
Pacquiao doesn't seem like the kind of man who would hold a grudge against anyone about the fight (including Bradley), and he has been around long enough to not feel the need to prove anything else to anyone. If he fights Bradley again and wins, sure it's a nice moment in his career but it still doesn't right the wrong of this decision.
Maybe Pac-Man will let this one slide and move on with his career and fight a totally different new opponent (not named Mayweather). The rematch with Bradley seems like a sure thing, but if I were him I would not agree to it. Pacquaio already beat Bradley, and there is no reason for him to have to do it again. After all, how does he know that the same sort of decision won’t happen again?
For Manny Pacquiao whatever his next decision is will be a defining one in his career. If he decides to hang it up, he will go down as one of the greatest fighters of the last 50 years. If he decides to continue on with his career, he can only continue to do what he does best and hope that the judging system in boxing changes for the better.
While he can hardly blame his loss to Timothy Bradley on himself, it is a loss nevertheless, and Pacquiao will need to be mentally and physically stronger than he has ever been if he wants to continue to be on top of the boxing world.