Controversial split decision victory soils otherwise solid night of fights
By: Mike Sloan ringside in Las Vegas: Timothy Bradley was a huge underdog entering his bout against Manny Pacquiao and after their allotted 12 rounds were complete, it appeared as though those initial betting odds were accurate. The vast majority of the sold out crowd inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena were already making their exodus back into the casino when Michael Buffer announced the three ringside judges’ scores. It all seemed academic or even semantic, but it needed to be done; the world needed to know exactly by how large a margin Pacquiao had beaten Bradley.
But this is professional boxing and this, sadly, is the current state of the Nevada Athletic Commission. As it turned out, two of the judges thought Bradley had done enough to earn the victory over Pacquiao.
By all accounts, Bradley was way behind on points in the fight entering the championship rounds and it appeared as though thePalm Springs,Californiaresident needed some sort of miraculous knockout to score the win. After all, the amount of clean, hard punches he absorbed from the busier Pacquiao for ten-plus rounds seemed to have “Desert Storm” buried up to his neck in the sand. As it stood, Bradley needed no last-minute heroics because he was on his way toward walking out of the arena with his unbeaten professional record in tact.
There were many control shifts during the twelve rounds of scattered action, but most of it was controlled by Pacquiao. Bradley began the fight on the right foot as he circled away from the Filipino’s power and jabbed effectively. Though Bradley wasn’t doing any damage, his punches were cleaner and there were more. It could have been because Pacquiao took forever to get ready and he came down to the ring very late and not fully warmed up. Either way, Bradley was more efficient early on and his gameplan was working.
In the second round, though, Bradley stumbled during an exchange and injured his left foot. This created a dilemma because he wasn’t able to fully plant his feet to punch and when he stood still, especially during exchanges, Pacquiao began to land that left hand of his, changing the tide. Pacquiao appeared to have figured out his opponent’s patterns by then and his left hand began finding its target repeatedly.
Bradley, sensing the control slipping away and eating too many clean shots, changed his style and forced Pacquiao into a dirty, mauling clinch fest and it worked beautifully. However, when Bradley stumbled back when the clinch was broken, Pacquiao hit him with a right/left behind the ear. The punches rocked Bradley and he was forced to tie up and desperately avoid punches until the bell saved him.
By the time the fifth and sixth rounds concluded, “Pac Man” was in total control. He was hurting Bradley whenever a clean left landed and though Bradley was able to crack many of his punches home to the head and body, they had little to no effect on Pacquiao. The trend that began around the fifth and continued for several rounds was that Bradley would box well early and pepper Pacquiao while moving back, but then the Filipino would open his attacks and become very aggressive during the final minute of the rounds. Bradley had trouble figuring this out and had difficulty in keeping Pacquiao away; it was during these times when Bradley ate a couple of hard shots, allowing Pacquiao to steal the rounds (or so it seemed).
Bradley did come on strong late in the fight, however, and he boxed beautifully. He was avoiding most of Pacquiao’s sporadic outbursts and he countered nicely. Still, his punches had little impact on Pacquiao and he wasn’t overly assertive in the championship rounds in an attempt to pull off the unthinkable. To his detriment, Pacquiao looked like he coasted during the last few rounds and similar to what Oscar de la Hoya did against Felix Trinidad, it cost him dearly.
Still, even after Pacquiao gave the final few frames of the fight to Bradley in a neatly wrapped gift box, it was the general consensus in the MGM that he did more than enough to easily win the unanimous decision. One official judge, Jerry Roth, thought Manny had won and gave him the fight with a score of 115-113. However, his score was offset by those of both Duane Ford and CJ Ross, who saw it for Bradley 115-113. SecondsOut.com had it for Pacquiao as well, but by the larger margin of 117-111.
The raucous crowd inside the Grand Garden Arena lustily booed the verdict and Team Pacquiao was beyond flabbergasted by the outcome. Bradley and his camp naturally celebrated the result, though their body language before Buffer read the scores told otherwise. Bradley, who improved to 29-0 with 12KOs, admitted that he must watch the fight on tape in order to gauge if he really won or not but declared that he will grant Pacquiao a rematch in November.
Pacquiao, now 54-4-2 with 38KOs, was dumb-founded by the result; he couldn’t believe that the judges scored in favor of Bradley. Both immediately following the bout and during the post-press conference, the mystified superstar stated that he wants to have the rematch.
Much, much more on Bradley’s win over Pacquiao still to come…
You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19 or follow him on Twitter @mikesloan19
WBO welterweight title Tim Bradley w pts 12 Manny Pacquiao
vacant IBF welterweight title Randall Bailey w ko 11 Mike Jones
WBA super bantamweight title Guillermo Rigondeaux w tko 5 Teon Kennedy
super bantamweight Jorge Arce nc 2 Jesus M Rojas
super featherweight Ernie Sanchez w pts 8 Wilton Hilario
welterweight Mikael Zewski w ko 3 John Ryan Grimaldo
welterweight Andy Ruiz w pts 4 Tyler Lawson
super middleweight Jesse Hart w tko 1 Manuel Eastman
Full report to follow
June 9, 2012