LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao was in control of his 12-round fight against Tim Bradley until the seventh round, when the tide began to turn in favor of the American challenger.
According to the official scores provided by the Nevada Athletic State Commission, Pacquiao only won two rounds and at least one each in the score sheets of the three judges in the last five rounds of the match at the MGM Grand.
The 33-year-old boxing billionaire was still ahead 68-65, 67-66, and 67-66, entering the eighth round before Bradley caught his second wind and became a lot more aggressive.
The unbeaten 28-year-old American pulled off the upset by winning the last three rounds in two of the judges’ score sheets (Jerry Roth and CJ Ross), and three of the last four in the other (Duane Ford).
Bradley was already ahead in the scores of both Ross and Ford (104-105), but trailed by three rounds, 106-103, in Roth’s card going into the 12th and final round.
“I persevered and went to the bank and used my boxing abilities in the last five rounds,” said the 28-year-old Bradley. “I caught my second wind in the sixth round. I felt a little tired, fatigued. But then I settled down and started to force Pacquiao to miss some shots.”
Pacquiao caught Bradley with several stunning lefts early on, including one in the fourth round that left the Palm Springs, California native staggering in the middle of the ring. The Filipino was ahead in all three judges’ cards by the end of the round on similar scores of 39-37.
Bradley blamed the slow start on his broken ankles, which he suffered after accidentally stepping on the foot of referee Robert Byrd in the second round.
But both Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach were convinced that Bradley won no more than four rounds.
“I give three rounds to him,” said Pacquiao while admitting that there were a few rounds where he relaxed. “But aside from three rounds, every round I hurt him. I know he felt that.”
Roach scored it 10-2 in their favor and said, “I didn’t see that many close rounds.”
He did admit, though, that Pacquiao gave away the 11th round to Bradley, prompting him to urge the Filipino southpaw to go for the kill in the last round.
“I told him to go out there and finish him off, all because for the reason that I like knockouts,” said Roach.
A knockout, indeed, could have saved the day for the ‘Pacman.’