LAS VEGAS – The giant mock ticket supposedly for a November 10 rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley, laughed off by everyone but the cocky American’s camp as a cheap stunt, will not be going to waste after all.
True to his word, Bradley waged war and stunned the world on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time) by scoring a controversial split decision over heavy favorite Pacquiao in what could go down as one of the greatest upsets in boxing history.
The Filipino superstar appeared the dominant fighter throughout the highly entertaining 12-round bout, but not in the eyes of two of the three judges who awarded Bradley a split decision win and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight belt.
Duane Ford and CJ Ross both scored it 115-113 for Bradley while Jerry Roth had Pacquiao winning by the same score – a decision greeted by boos inside the MGM Grand when it was proclaimed by ring announcer Michael Buffer.
“He never hurt me. I don’t know what happened,” said an incredulous Pacquiao just before he left the ring, the smile on his face unable to hide his disappointment over the first loss in his last 16 fights – and just the fourth of his career.
Bradley himself looked stunned when the enormity of what he had just achieved finally sunk in.
“I’m still shocked. I still don’t know what to say. But I’m happy I’m the new welterweight champion,” said the American, who has earned the moniker “Desert Storm” for an unblemished record he has now stretched to 29 fights.
The 4-1 underdog attended the post-fight press conference in a wheelchair. Bradley said he hurt both his ankles early in the second round.
The new champion once again brought out the giant mock ticket when it was his turn to speak before the media at Studio A of the MGM Grand, pointing to the date.
“The date is there (Nov. 10) and definitely, it’s going to be a different fight,” he said.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum disclosed there is a rematch clause in the fight contract but stressed he would leave it up to Pacquiao to decide on whether to invoke it.
If a second Pacquiao-Bradley fight does push through, Arum said he is hoping a decision he decried as ‘unfathomable’ would never happen again.
“I have never been ashamed of being associated with the sport of boxing as much as tonight,” said the veteran promoter, adding he gave 10 rounds to Pacquiao and two to Bradley in his own scoring.
“There’s no way I can explain it. I don’t think anything is happening here except that these people don’t know how to score,” he added.
Outspoken Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach was just as upset.
“I think they (judges) have their eyes closed. Something wasn’t right, whatever else happened and what they saw were two different things,” said the five-time Trainer of the Year.
Roach described the bout as the best Pacquiao had fought since the Miguel Cotto fight in 2009. He added that he honestly thought his ward had won – a claim backed up by the fight statistics.
Final punch stats provided by Compubox had Pacquiao winning every category, from power punches connected (190-108) to jabs (63-51), and total punches that found their mark (253-159).
Pacquiao was certain that he won, but he urged enraged fans to accept the verdict gracefully, just as he had.
“Ganyan talaga ang boksing, charge na lang natin sa experience,” he said. “Ipakita natin na professional tayong tumanggap ng pagkatalo.”
Bradley insisted he did everything to win the match, despite being almost on the verge of going down in round four when Pacquiao caught him with a solid left.
“My corner told me if I am to win a couple of rounds I can win the fight. And I used my boxing abilities to clear some rounds,” said Bradley, who received his biggest paycheck ever of US$5 million and stands to earn much more in a rematch.
Just the same, the cloud of doubt left by the fight’s outcome convinced Bradley to do it again with Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) on November 10.
“I heard the boos at the end of the night, which is okay. But we need to definitely do this again in November and make it more decisive,” he said.