By James Stillerman – Many boxing fans were calling for Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao to retire since he was 35 years old and coming off two losses in his last three bouts, yet he proved a great deal of them wrong as he demonstrated that he`s still one of the best fighters in the world in defeating, top ten pound for pound boxer, Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley, en route to a twelve round unanimous decision. His speed, power and aggressiveness was too much for Bradley, especially in the last six rounds of this matchup.
Thankfully, this time the judges correctly score the bout for Pacquiao, giving him two scorecards of 116-112 and one scorecard 118-110, as opposed to their first encounter, where the Pac Man destroyed Bradley, yet ended up on the wrong end of the one of the worst decisions boxing has seen in a long time. Pacquiao improved to 56-5-2, 38KOs and won for the second consecutive time. He also regained the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Welterweight Belt that he lost to Bradley in June 2012, in their first bout. Bradley fell to 31-1, 12KOs, as he suffered his first professional loss and ended his two fight reign as the WBO Title Holder.
This bout was much closer than their first encounter as both boxers promised that they would be more aggressive and press for a knockout in this fight and although the knockout didn`t happen for either boxer, they did as they said they would. Pacquiao and Bradley both fought extremely hard and loaded up on their punches throughout their matchup. They both went after each other as soon as the bout started, didn`t let up until the end and were involved in several action – packed, back and forth exchanges, especially in the first five rounds.
Pacquiao staggered Bradley a couple of times in the second and third round before Bradley came back in the fourth and landed his best punch of the night, a straight right jab that lifted the Pac Man off his feet. Bradley continued to get better of the exchanges in the fifth round, before Pacquiao turned the bout around in the sixth.
The Pac Man was the better fighter in the second half of the bout as he continued to press the action, fought much more aggressively than Bradley and got him on the ropes on several occasions where he landed many effective combinations, as Bradley egged him to continue to hit him. The Desert Storm, nevertheless, displayed a great chin as he didn`t go down from any of Pacquiao`s powerful punches.
The southpaw from the Philippines out landed Bradley. He connected on 198 out of 563 punches he threw, for 35 percentage while Bradley landed just 141 out of 627 shots he threw, for 22 percentage. The Pac Man landed the majority of the power punches and got the better of the exchanges in the last six rounds.
The Desert Storm stated after the fight that the reason he wasn`t as effective down the stretch of the bout was because he pulled a calf muscle after the fifth round, which if true, might give credence to his uneven performance. He said, however, that he didn`t wear socks in the first fight which is why he didn`t fight well, so it’s difficult to tell whether this is a valid claim or not. The more significant issue for Bradley is that he loaded up too much on his punches, as he was looking for the knockout victory over Pacquiao, to silence his critics. He should`ve ignored his critics and done what he was effective doing early on in the fight and that was countering and actively throwing combinations, especially since he`s not a knockout fighter. Bradley, in addition, only fought in spurs and took potions of rounds off which allowed Pacquiao to take control of the bout.
While Pacquiao mightn`t be the same boxer that he was after he destroyed Miguel Cotto in 2009 and his power and speed have dropped a bit, nevertheless, he`s still looked extremely good against Bradley, a fighter who`s difficult to look good against. The Pac Man is still one of the best pugilists in the sport and his reign as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world appears far from over.
Pacquiao, with the victory, has a number of significant options for his next bout including one that the whole boxing world wants which is a fight with undefeated and consensus pound for pound best boxer in the world, Floyd Mayweather, assuming he beats Marcos Maidana in his next fight which should happen. This bout, unfortunately, will most likely never happen. He could fight a third bout with Bradley, although there mightn`t be enough public interest for that considering that he dominated both bouts and should`ve gotten the victory in the first one. Finally, he could box the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez v. Mike Alvarado fight or Ruslan Provodnikov, who fought Bradley in absolute war last year, which Bradley narrowly won.
Bradley, the 30 year old orthodox boxer from Palm Springs, California, stated after the fight that he had no shame in losing to one of the best fighters in the world, which is a true assessment. He fought well enough to beat most boxers in the world; however, he got beat by the better man in the ring. He`ll certainly be back and is good enough to beat anyone in the welterweight division, especially if he sticks with his strength of counter punching and actively throwing punches as oppose to trying to knockout opponents as he did in this bout and where it almost cost him against Provodnikov.