LAS VEGAS – In the eyes of the three judges that scored the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley rematch, everything was too close to call in the first six rounds until the Filipino started dominating the latter part of the welterweight title fight.
Based on the official score card provided by the Nevada Athletic Commission, at least two of the judges had it even (57-57) midway through the 12-round match, while the other saw Pacquiao ahead by two (58-56).
Bradley was actually even leading on the scorecards of Craig Metcalf and Michael Pernick at the end of the fifth round (48-47), while Glenn Trowbridge had Pacquiao leading by the same score.
Trainer Freddie Roach was aware the 30-year-old Bradley, who eked out a split decision over Pacquiao in their first meeting two years, was obviously in control as his celebrated ward was having a hard time landing big shots against the champion.
“For the first six rounds he was pretty dangerous,” admitted Roach as he looked back during that tense moment in the corner of Pacquiao.
The Hall of Fame trainer said the team of the boxing great from General Santos City appeared to have underestimated Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs), who he said they thought won’t engage Pacquiao in a toe-to-toe exchange.
“We thought Bradley was the type of fighter who wouldn’t fight,” Roach said. “We didn’t think he was going to be that aggressive, we didn’t think he was gonna try to knock Manny out with a single punch.”
As if on cue, the 35-year-old challenger began to assert himself beginning the seventh round, nailing the champion with several left hands and a series of combinations.
In the 10th round, three solid left blows by the Pacman and a mean right uppercut shook Bradley that by the time Pacquiao landed another combination in the 11th, the American began to clinch and run as he tried to survive the onslaught.
By the start of the final round, Bradley’s chance of retaining his title was to win it by knockout as all judges had Pacquiao (56-5, 38 KOs) leading by three points or more.
“After six (rounds), Manny dominated the fight I felt,” said Roach. “I think Bradley worn himself out a little bit and got a little tired."
The American, who complained about injuring his left calf during the course of the fight, denied he got tired in the second half of title bout.
“I wasn’t winded at all. I don’t want to make any excuses and take away anything from Pacquaio. I don’t want to mention anything that happened to me. I have to accept defeat like a man,” he said.
Still, Roach remained adamant.
“He (Bradley) did pretty tire quickly, I thought, and that’s when Manny started dominating the fight.”