Top Rank promoter Bob Arum put it in the simplest but most eloquent terms after “Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao, the fighting pride of the Philippines avenged his loss to previously undefeated Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley with a convincing unanimous twelve round decision in their eagerly awaited rematch at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Arum leaned over the ropes and told his prized possession, “that was brilliant” and indeed it was as Pacquiao reprised his scintillating victory over Oscar De La Hoya when he pulverized “The Golden Boy” and forced him to quit on his stool before the start of the eighth round and gave upstart and former world lightweight champion Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios a boxing clinic in Macau last November 24.
Except for the 4th round when Bradley nailed him with a cracking right flush on the face and jolted Pacquiao’s head back, it was mostly Pacquiao who dictated the tempo of the fight and caught Bradley time and again with flurries as the WBO welterweight champion tried to bob and weave and stay away from the power-punching Pacquiao.
All three judges had Pacquiao a comfortable winner. Glenn Trowbridge scored it 118-110 for Pacquiao (10 rounds to 2) while Michael Pernick and Craig Metcalfe turned in identical 116-112 scorecards (8 rounds to 4) in favor of Pacquiao.
After a close opening round in which Pacquiao was feeling out Bradley, the congressman from Sarangani province caught Bradley with several telling punches in round two and a big left wobbled the American. He continued his domination in an exciting third round with a three-punch combination before Bradley got back with a vicious right straight to jolt Pacquiao in round four causing some concern even to Atty. Ed Tolentino and this commentator who covered the fight for The Filipino Channel of the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN.
Referee Kenny Bayless cautioned both fighters at the end of round three to “watch your heads” with Bradley showing a tendency to duck very low and to move forward with his head.
At the end of the 5th round Bradley’s trainer Joel Diaz laced some expletives with the observation that Manny “is already frustrated” but Pacquiao countered that claim with a flurry of punches as he trapped Bradley against the ropes.
The Filipino southpaw hurt Bradley again in round seven and cracked him with another big shot towards the end of the round.
The eight division world champion became a little more cautious in the next two rounds before he connected with another big punch in the 9th round prompting Diaz to tell Bradley at the end of the round “if we go down, we go down swinging.”
Another stinging right by Pacquiao in round ten hurt Bradley but his terrific conditioning helped the finely chiseled body to take Manny’s best shots and not go down.
A huge left flush on Bradley’s face in the 11th round all but settled the score as Bradley’s trainer exhorted his fighter “we got to risk it baby” before the start of the twelfth and final round.
A big left by Pacquuiao was followed by a clash of heads which Bayless ruled as an accidental head-butt which opened up a nasty gash below Pacquiao’s left eyebrow promting the ringside physician to take a look before okaying the fight to continue.
The predominantly pro-Pacquiao crowd knew the “Pacman” had regained the title he had lost in a universally condemned decision in June 2012 and cheered in celebration as Michael Buffer announced the obvious – that Manny Pacquiao was the new WBO welterweight champion of the world.
Despite the insults leading up to the fight by Bradley and his trainer who said Manny had lost his killer instinct and the fight was to be the beginning of the end of his storied career, Pacquiao lived up to his promise to us during training camp when said “I am not done yet.”
Indeed it seems that even at 35 years if age, Pacquiao’s momentous journey continues as he hardly missed a beat with his timing, demonstrated his remarkable hand-speed that as well as his power along with excellent movement to get out of a semblance of trouble and to whirl Bradley around in a dizzying spell.
In a post fight interview Bradley conceded that Pacquiao was “the better fight tonight” and added “you can’t say nothing against Manny. I lost to one of the best fighters in the world.” Manny fought his heart out.”
Bradley said Pacquiao has “impeccable timing, great footwork. He’s very coordinated and has tremendous punching power. He stunned me a couple of times but I held on.”
Pacquiao himself admitted that the rematch was “very different from the first fight and I had to do more. He (Bradley) improved a lot. He showed his toughness. I hit him with solid punches but he was still standing.”