Manny Pacquiao may say that his boxing career is over, but it certainly has nothing to do with his abilities in the ring.
Pacquiao handily defeated Timothy Bradley on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. All three judges scored it 116-110 in favor of Pacquiao, per HBO Boxing. It was Pacquiao's second win in three fights against Bradley, although the latter's split-decision win in 2012 was scorecard robbery.
The Vertical's Chris Mannix felt the fight played out as expected, despite it technically being a rubber match:
The 37-year-old Filipino legend announced he was retiring from boxing after the bout.
"As of now, I am retired," Pacquiao said, per Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole. "I'm going to go home and think about it. I want to be with my family. I want to serve the people."
Even though this confirmed what Pacquiao had been saying for months, few would be surprised if he decided to get back into the ring a few more times.
Save for a few exchanges here and there and an excellent flurry from Bradley in the eighth round, Pacquiao outboxed his opponent at every turn. Not by a whole lot, but certainly enough to win in convincing fashion. He threw rapid-fire combinations, scored two knockdowns—the first from to a slip, the second from a punch—and avoided Bradley's best shots.
CompuBox's final punch stats tell the story:
In hindsight, this isn't all that surprising, but one could be forgiven for wondering if the 11-month gap between bouts following his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the right shoulder surgery might have rendered Pacquiao a bit slower and one-handed. Those musings turned out to be wrong.
The first three rounds were cagey, with both fighters hanging out on the edge of each other's range and not looking to dart inside too much. The fourth saw Pacquiao open up a bit more to draw Bradley in, and it paid off in the fifth. Boxing scribe Andreas Hale documented the best punches:
With Pacquiao's power firmly established, Bradley's decision to pick his spots rather than apply the pressure that has made him a successful boxer looked less and less like a path to victory. HBO Boxing passed along CompuBox numbers that said Pacquiao was letting his hands go much more:
With Bradley unable to make inroads with a more calculating style, Laceup Boxing noted he reverted to bad habits:
This caught the ire of trainer Teddy Atlas in his second fight with Bradley. The esteemed trainer had helped Bradley put on perhaps the best boxing display of his career in a ninth-round TKO win over Brandon Rios in November, lending credence to the idea that he could pull off the upset over Pacquiao.
However, waiting for the counterpunch didn't work out against Pacquiao. Bradley does not possess great power, and NYFights.com's Michael Woods summed up why less volume didn't work for the 32-year-old in this fight:
Bradley backers thought new trainer Teddy Atlas could be the tipping point but this one re-proved what we know—trainers can’t fight for the fighter. Bradley was smart and cautious, often, not leaving himself open to a big bomb. But that zapped the path for him to win rounds…So maybe moving forward those two find a balance of strategy. He threw 839 in their first faceoff, 609 in the second and a paltry 302 tonight. Hard to win fights as a power deficient fighter if you’re also conceding the volume column…
Bradley looked more and more frustrated as the fight dragged on, unable to best Pacquiao's speed or power. He did manage to hurt Pacquiao late in the eighth and get him on the ropes, but he couldn't capitalize before the bell sounded.
Pacquiao would bounce back to notch a knockdown in the ninth, per Bad Left Hook:
Without knockout power and with a careful strategy that had proved wildly ineffective, Bradley wasn't able to conjure up any late magic against Pacquiao. He conceded after the fight that Pacquiao's boxing intelligence got the better of him.
"He would attack me in spots. But he was waiting on me. He was being the ocean tonight," Bradley said, per Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden. "I did everything I could to get him to come to me. But he was just super smart tonight. ... He's the best fighter I've ever faced in the ring."
Pac-Man's right hand wasn't the strongest it's ever been, but it was popping well enough to give Bradley pause before going forward. The Filipino was smart enough not to take Bradley's bait and was the better fighter on the front foot.
Bradley is a very good fighter, one of the best in the welterweight ranks, but he couldn't match Pacquiao's level in any of the three fights. He didn't do much to test his opponent's stamina, although if he had been more aggressive, Pacquiao might have finished him off early.
If Pacquiao does come back, a fight against Canelo Alvarez would be huge business, while a bout with Terence "Bud" Crawford would be an exciting test for the 28-year-old. But if Pacquiao really is committed to hanging it up, then he did a fine job of letting fight fans know exactly what they'll be missing.