The boxing world was turned upside down Saturday night in Las Vegas when Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12KOs) took on the man recognized as the pound-for-pound best in the world, Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38KOs).
Pacquiao's WBO Welterweight championship was up for grabs but many ringside enthusiast felt there was much more on the line for Pacquiao - his stake as the world's best. Although he had his moments against his three time foe Juan Manuel Marquez in his last bout, many felt that Pacquiao didn't deserve the decision he was awarded at the end of the night. How ironic.
Bradley began the fight looking as confident as he promised on the lead up to the bout, as he controlled most of the first round with a sharp jab followed by hooking body shots. Pacquiao didn't look as muscular as we are accustomed to and it seemed a bit concerning at first. That's until Pacquiao unleashed a fury of three punches that surprised the hungry contender Bradley.
Pacquiao was more active in round two as he fired off some heavy shots that forced Bradley to take a step back. Bradley was looking to make this an ugly inside fight, but for the time being Pacquiao didn't let that happen.
In the third round Bradley continued to move forward by using his jab, but Pacquiao started to show little to no respect for his adversary's power as he lounged in behind hard straight lefts. The fight was shaping up into a war briefly during the fourth as Pacquiao began to outwork his younger opponent with sneaky hooks and straights that ended up hurting Bradley in the final seconds of the round. The fifth round proved to be the final round of this fast paced action as both men had huge moments that lead to them trading until the final bell of the round.
Pacquiao controlled most of the fight from round six through nine. He landed more shots. He landed CLEANER shots. Bradley stood in front of Pacquiao much to his credit but was clearly being picked apart by the WBO champ.
Bradley slowed down considerably until the last two rounds as he continued to stand his ground and fire straight punches that clearly had no effect on Pacquiao. Bradley was out-landed by ninety four total punches.
As the fight concluded, Manny Pacquiao was on his way to his sixteenth consecutive win - until the most bizarre scorecard in recent memory was read to the world. Two judges had it 115-113 for Bradley and one had it 115-113 for Pacquiao. A spilt-decision win was awarded (or gift wrapped) to Tim Bradley.
"My corner told me that if I won the last round, I would win the fight." said Bradley. Seemingly somewhat unconvinced himself at the victory he then added " I've got to give Manny a rematch. I've got to give him a chance to win his title back."
"Most of his punches hit my arms" said Pacquiao. " I don't know what happened. There was no problems physically with my calves or anything. I think I won the fight." He then stated with a grin on his face "I would like the rematch." I think we all would Manny. That was a complete disgrace in judging.
Photo Credit: AP