Manny Pacquiao lifted the hearts of Filipinos who feared that he would lose for the third time in four fights by outpointing WBO welterweight champion Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley and gaining satisfaction after the debacle of their first meeting two years ago.
Sports bars in Cayman were backed with Pacquiao’s compatriots as he finally exacted revenge over the American who inexplicably got the nod from negligent judges when they fought at the same venue, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
This time the judges were spot on, with two scoring 116-112 for Pacman and another 118-110, taking his record to 56 wins in 63 bouts.
Bradley was gracious in defeat but initially claimed a leg injury seriously hampered him. After a wave of condemnation, the 30-year-old Californian refused to use the injury as an excuse.
At Chelsea’s Bar in Westshore Plaza, Pacquiao’s fans were audible throughout as he maneuvered through some difficult early rounds, particularly the fourth when he was visibly stunned by a big Bradley right hand, to finish strongly and upset the champ’s 31 bout unbeaten streak.
Pacquiao has won world titles in eight weight divisions in an illustrious 19-year career, but Bradley questioned his hunger in the buildup to their rematch.
That alone motivated Pacquiao above everything else. A congressman in his homeland, Pacquiao also desperately needs to earn big bucks because he has recently been hit with income tax demands in the Philippines and the U.S.
He claims the tax bills are politically motivated by his enemies, but boxing is littered with former fighters who failed to pay adequate income tax and lost fortunes after honoring debts.
The pressure was definitely on. Pacquiao’s form in recent fights suggested he was way past his best and if he lost this one, at 35 his best option was retirement. But the hard-hitting southpaw gave a vintage performance and the notion of meeting Floyd “Money” Mayweather was raised again.
As Mayweather adamantly refuses to deal with Pacquiao if his promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum, is involved, the likelihood is that Pacquiao will meet the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado May 17 fight at the LA Forum.
A fifth bout with Marquez, who sensationally knocked Pacquiao out in December 2012, is still marketable even though purists would prefer a different opponent.
Whoever he fights next, Pacquiao will certainly enjoy another bumper payday. He earned $20 million against Bradley, who banked $6m, but the elusive match with Mayweather is still the fight the public really wants to happen.
That would generate over $200m in pay-per-view revenue alone, smashing all records and earning each the biggest purse of their careers and surpassing any amount by a boxer ever.