American Timothy Bradley did not shock the world. The verdict giving him a split-decision victory over Filipino Manny Pacquiao did so.
In the eyes of Las Vegas judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross, Bradley won by scores of 115-113. Only Judge Jerry Roth scored the fight for Pacquiao at 115-113. Roth’s scorecard, however, was the one that earned massive support from the casual and hardcore followers of the fight game. Except for Ford and Ross, just about everybody saw Pacquiao the clear winner of the fight.
How Ford and Ross came up with winning scores for Bradley is a mystery even Sherlock Holmes cannot possibly solve. Covering the fight for ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel, this deadline-beater scored nine rounds for Pacquiao and only three for Bradley.
Utilizing a counterpuncher’s approach and feinting well, Pacquiao repeatedly rocked Bradley with sizzling counter left straights. Bradley was hesitant to throw his patented overhand right and seemed content early on to keep Pacquiao at bay with his left jab. The few combinations Bradley threw were picked up by Pacquiao’s gloves.
Pacquiao was in full control early on, wobbling Bradley in rounds 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9. In the 10th round, Bradley changed his style and started moving in a clockwise direction to avoid Pacquiao’s killer left. Pacquiao tried pursuing Bradley, but the latter’s slick movement made it difficult for the Filipino to find his range. Still, even if Bradley swept the last three rounds, it was not sufficient to overhaul the huge lead Pacquiao had piled up.
The crowd’s reaction said it all. Bradley was showered with catcalls during the post-fight interview. In stark contrast, Pacquiao received a warm applause. To his credit, Pacquiao was gracious in accepting “defeat.” Netizens, however, condemned the verdict. Former world champion Oscar De La Hoya, who was mauled by Pacquiao in December 2008, tweeted that Bradley should return the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt to Pacquiao. ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael called the decision a "clear robbery."
Boxing has long been known as the red-light district of sports and the result of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight only buttressed this belief.
Owing to a rematch clause in the contract, Bradley and Pacquiao will square off again on November 10. The fight date was reportedly reserved for a fourth duel between Pacquiao and Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, but you can say that this fight has been placed in the backburner.
Pacquiao 54-4, 38 knockouts, will still be the favorite when he meets Bradley again. The Filipino, however, will have his work cut out. If the pound-for-pound king of the sport can be screwed, then nobody in boxing is immune from a bum decision. Pacquiao will have to emphatically knockout Bradley and prevent the fight from being decided by the judges.
As things stand, unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jr. is expected to formally claim the top spot in the pound-for-pound rankings. Pacquiao will also have to take a paycut in the rematch with Bradley, but on a positive note the controversial decision may just serve as a wake-up call for the Filipino ring icon who has arguably become complacent in his recent fights.
Pacquiao’s search for an eye-popping knockout victory continues. He has not scored a scintillating victory since 2009, when he stopped Miguel Cotto in 12 rounds for the WBO welterweight crown. Pacquiao came close to stopping Bradley, but he just could not put his punches together the way he used to.
We may have seen the best of Pacquiao, but this writer believes that what’s left in Manny’s tank is still good enough for him to make one more push for a glorious ending to his career.
Bradley better be prepared in the rematch. Pacquiao figures to let the dogs out when they meet again.