Las Vegas, NV – Chants of “MANNY! MANNY! MANNY!” rang out from the near-capacity crowd at MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night.
Or was that “BRADLEY! BRADLEY! BRADLEY!”?
For the first half of the welterweight bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr, it was difficult to tell. In fact, two of the three judges agreed the fighters split the first six rounds while the third had Pacquiao ahead 4-2.
The frenetic pace throughout seemed unsustainable as each fighter came out with the same vicious nature usually reserved for the final 10 seconds of a bout. Pacquiao connected on 198 of 563 punches while Bradley’s barrage of 627 punches found their mark just 141 times.
The 4th round was Bradley’s best, winning it on all three scorecards. A solid power punch to the left side of Pacquiao’s face sent the eight division world champion staggering back several steps. “He did (hurt me)” said Pacquiao. Hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach agreed, “Bradley tried to knock Manny out with one punch all night.”
And then it began to tilt further away from Bradley’s blue corner.
In the sixth round, with the fight virtually tied, Bradley inexplicably lowered his gloves to waist level several times, daring his opponent to come get him. Pacquiao obliged. With that strategy failing and the One Big Punch To End It All that never came, hopes of Bradley retaining his WBO welterweight title slowly faded.
Judge Glenn Towbridge, who slightly favored Pacquiao in the first six, awarded him the final six rounds while judges Michael Pernick and Craig Metcalfe were in agreement that Bradley was only able to manage one winning round the rest of the way. 118-110, 116-112, 116-112; Pacquiao by unanimous decision.
The 15,601 in attendance yielded a gate somewhere around $8 million. Pay Per View purchases were expected to increase the take seven or eight-fold.
Saturday night’s bout was a highly anticipated rematch of a shocking split decision that went Bradley’s way when the two met in June of 2012 in the same venue. There would be no knockout, knockdown, controversy or even a split decision this time.
Timothy Bradley Jr. was a gracious loser, praising Pacquiao several times during the post-fight press conference. “I accept defeat like a man. I lost tonight. I will be champion again. I promise you that.”