By Marc Livitz: This was no case of round twenty five, at least not in the sense of how many expected matters to play out this evening at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Manny Pacquiao made his third fight with Timothy Bradley appear somewhere between a masterclass and a bonafide boxing clinic. Throughout the majority of twelve rounds fought for the WBO International welterweight title, Pacquiao made his last two bouts with Bradley look like nights to forget. Manny was brilliant tonight in what may have been the last time fight fans would see him step into the ring.
Nerves were scantly present in the opening minutes. The two men had already taken time to become acquainted with other over the last four years, however nothing of note occurred in round one. Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KO’s) began to look for a spot to land is lightning quick left hand in the second, yet Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KO’s) appeared keen to the strategy. Tim threw his left jab and extended his glove in an almost pawing fashion and Manny countered with a left of his own to close the period. Manny appeared to be slightly ahead simply due to a punch or more landed to his credit.
Pacquiao scored with a right early on in the third and Bradley returned fire and got
the same result. Nine minutes were now wrapped up and still, they tried at times to measure up the other in between glimpses of single shots traded. On occasion,
Manny appeared to wiggle his surgically repaired right arm (shoulder) - the same
one which troubled him during his high profile loss to Floyd Mayweather last May.
His left was finding a home in the latter half of the fourth and he caught Bradley
with an overhand, close in right.
Bradley increased his efforts early in the fifth by way of a few head shots complimented by great overall movement, yet once again, Manny’s left popped him a few times. Tim was trying to outmuscle the Filipino politician. He exchanged
quick lefts with Manny as before. Pacquiao looked as if he was settling in and appeared to have done enough who win the round based solely on the final minute alone. He briefly staggered Bradley with a short left to the face.
The bout was evolving into what many had expected. Although some questioned
the legitimacy of a third bout between the two, especially given the nature of
Bradley’s inexplicable win over Pacquiao in June 2012, a good fight was beginning to blossom. Manny was landing his shots with greater accuracy and keeping his
guard high in defense.
The final twenty seconds of the seventh brought the first knockdown in thirty full rounds fought between the two men. A quick fire one-two from Pacquiao coupled
with an off balance Bradley resulted in his gloves touching the canvas. In the same fashion, Tim went on the offensive at the end of the next period. He visibly stunned the former pound for pound king with a left hook to the temple followed by more
hooks from both sides. Manny tried to answer to end the stanza.
They traded hard rights and lefts in round nine. Just when Bradley seemed to be
on the verge of pushing Pacquiao into the ropes thanks to a left/right combination up high, Manny answered. He answered big as a hard left hook to the face left Tim
looking puzzled. Another left followed, which resulted in the second knockdown of the contest as well as the trilogy. Bradley was sent seat first to the canvas and rolled
over backward before rising to his feet. Without a doubt and regardless of how it
would transpire in the final nine minutes, fight three completely erased the
memory of the first two.
Throughout the tenth, Tim did his absolute best but it wasn’t gaining enough
ground. Manny threw his left at will. This didn’t appear to be a Pacquiao heading
to the gates of boxing retirement. Still, two rounds remained in the theatre of the unexpected. While not exactly subdued, Manny wasn’t taking the same chances
as we’d previously witnessed. Bradley fought a good round, perhaps in an effort
to sway the favor of the judges with a momentum shift. Not likely, though.
The two combatants shared a cordial and respectful hug to commence the twelfth. Tim connected with a good right in the opening minute. He was, of course looking for the fences and a shocking knockout win. Manny moved around the ring and ducked
a few shots to close the night. There’d be no knockout tonight for either elite level fighter, yet the fans in attendance at the MGM were delivered a real treat.
The decision, seemingly an easy one was in the hands of the judges, much it was
in June 2012. There’d be no repeat upset. Dave Moretti, Burt Clements and Steve Weisfeld all scored it 116-110 to the winner, Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao.
Afterwards, Manny admitted that his strategy Saturday night was his best to date. "This fight was different" he said. "I was aggressive and careful at the same time. I wasn’t careless."
In regard to the two knockdowns he scored, he commented, "I was looking for a knockout in every round, but Bradley is a good fighter."
The mood shifted to his possible retirement from the sport, to which he added, "I
have a commitment to my family. I’m going to retire now. I may enjoy being retired and serving the people in my country. Thank you to all the fans of boxing, especially to the Filipino people. I appreciate your support. To all the fighters and the fans,
Tim Bradley was all smiles and knew he was beaten by a superior fighter. He didn’t seem to recall the nature of the knockdowns he suffered. "I don’t remember, man",
he said. The first knockdown was a pull down by him, but the second one was when he caught me good."
He gracefully acknowledged his opponent as well. Said Tim, "He’s very quick and explosive. It’s hard to judge him. Congratulations to Manny Pacquiao. He did a great job."
Was this Bradley’s final fight as well? He seemed to leave the door open. "I’m going to take a little break", he said. "I can still fight, but tonight I was in there with a