LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Manny Pacquiao's journey continues.
Branded as now over the hill and ready to be picked apart by title defending champion Timothy Bradley, the 35-year-old Filipino boxing hero proved the now deposed belt-owner wrong, teaching him a neat boxing lesson in a unanimous decision victory, in re-claiming the World Boxing Organization welterweight crown.
Besides bringing back the plum to the country as promised, the fighting Congressman of Sarangani Province dealt the erstwhile unbeaten and boastful American his first defeat in 32 times up as he, once more, appeared ready to conquer new heights in the sport that brought him and his country immeasurable honor, fame and riches.
The win, likewise, came as a vindication that the highly questionable split decision triumph inflicted to him by Bradley on June 9, 2012, a mistake.
It was a showdown between two fighters who seemed would not emerge from the ring as whole as when they answered the first bell.
Both fighters tried to finish each other throwing haymakers with Pacquiao connecting more solidly that may be called incomparable.
"Manny fought well, scoring with better shots," chief trainer Freddie Roach said. "He appeared hurt though in the fourth, but recovered as fast to control the fight from here. After six rounds, Bradley was no longer dangerous."
There was no knockdown the whole of the 12-round classic, but the obviously more talented eight-division champion, showed he, definitely, was the better fighter winning 10 rounds in judge Glenn Trowbridge and eight each in counterparts Michael Pernick and Craig Metcaff.
Photos by Wendell Rupert Alinea.
Trowbridge gave the Filipino winner of four lineal championships the first three rounds, and the last seven in a lopsided 118-110 verdict. Pernick and Metcaff saw Pacquiao the victor via identical 116-112 scorecards. Trowbridge saw Bradley in only two rounds -- the fourth and the fifth where he held back Pacquiao's attacks with big right crosses.
After the usual feeling his way in the opening canto, Pacquiao started the ball rolling in the next session scoring with left and right combinations as Bradley looked confused.
The father of four with Sarangani Vice Gov. Jinkee, who is expecting their fifth late this month, fought his best rounds in the 24 rounds he faced Pacquiao in 22 months in the seventh round where he fired consecutive shots at one point with Bradley cornered in the rope, bringing the crowd of 15,601 to its feet roaring.
Bradley started backtracking in the next round after reeling from the big shots, Pacquiao threw at him.
Apparently frustrated for failing to hold his own against the new champ's rushing, Bradley turned to theatrics, sometimes lowering his two hands and signaling Pacquiao to come and fight. Pacquiao ignored him though and instead continued having his way.
By round's end, Bradley's cheeks looked puffy.
The ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th round was all Pacquiao show, deciding the outcome running away. Pacquiao caught the running Badley unbalanced twice in the ninth.
Bradley threw more punches with 627 as against 563 by Pacquiao, but the Filipino landed more 198-141. Pacquiao threw 344 power punches though to Bradley's 340 connecting 39 more.
"No excuses," Bradley, who appeared in the delayed post-fight press conference wearing dark shades, told members of media. Manny's the better fighter tonight. He's a true champion."
"I lost tonight, but I will be back to the gym soon and be champion again," he declared amidst cheers from mediamen. "I respect him and his team, they did a good job in training."
Paquiao came to the presscon two hours late as he was to be stitched on his eyebrow which was cut due to an accidental head butt in the final round that needed 32 stitches.
Former Pacquiao sparring partner Ray Beltran ended up in the winning end of wild and woolly power exchanges with Arash Usmanee in scoring a unanimous decision triumph and went home with the vacant NABO lighweight title.
Throwing 464 power punches and landing 210 of them Beltran earned the nod of judges Glenn Feldman, 118-110, Burt Clemens, 117-11 and Dave Moretti, 117-111.
Local boy Jessie Vargas boxed his way to the World Boxing Association interim super-lightweight championship with a 12-round decision of Russian Khabib Allakhverdiev.
Abbreviated results marked three of the four opening bouts with Ukrainian light-heavyweight Oleksandr Gvozdyk opening his pro career with a bang, needing only 2 minutes and 55 seconds in disposing off Mike Montoya of Colorado Springs right in the first round.
Oscar Valdez of Mexico had Adrian Perez at the palm of his hands before knocking him out in 1:23 of the fourth to crown himself to win the NABF super-featherweight crown with Sean Monaghan doing the same o Joe McGreedy in 2:25 of the fifth in the 10-round curtain raiser. Esquiva Falcao of Viloria in Brazil cruised to his second victory as a pro by outpointing Pubilo Pena of Providence Island in a six-round middleweight bout. Bryan Vasquez outboxed Jose Felix in 12 rounds for the World Boxing Association super-featherweight scrap.