In the early hours of this morning, one of the most hotly anticipated rematches was fought out over 12 rounds of some of the best displays of boxing we have seen from Manny Pacquiao in quite a while. After the first fight in 2012 which had Bradley winning a very dubious Vegas decision that had Bradley winning on 2 judges scorecards, leaving Pacquiao loosing his WBO title in a shock defeat which no one could really understand. A rematch was inevitable as everyone was screaming for Manny to be given the opportunity to win his title back, and on Sunday morning UK time, he did just that.
The MGM Grand was the venue for the rematch in front of a sell out crowd of fans who’s clear favourite was the man from the Philippines as the ring walks were completed, with the crowd booing Tim Bradley as he stepped across the apron as the WBO Champion. The fight started at a tremendous pace with both men creating opportunities to land big shots and to be countered. Bradley was initially the instigator of offence in the first round, as he won this in a closely fought round. Manny then came out from round 3 onwards to be pushed back by the referee Kenny Bayless as he wanted to get to Bradley at the first chance he could. From this stage on Pacquiao was the aggressor and was fighting a near perfect plan as he moved around the ring and showed his ring generalship, and we were having glimpses of the old Pacman who exuded confidence in his work and punch stats, whilst being cautious not to be connected with a Bradley knock out punch, which was always a threat to the challenger, as Bradley showed in round 4 when he connected with a vicious right hook which rocked Manny as he was swayed for a short time, but re grouped with his footwork and stayed away for the remainder of the round. As the fight developed into the mid rounds, the pace was at times still fast and furious with both men connecting big shots to the head and body. Bradley was loosing the fight from the mid rounds, as Pacquiao pulled away with keeping to the centre of the ring and hunting Bradley down against the ropes and throwing flurries of fast paced combinations which had at times Bradley defended by leaning outside of the ropes in the corner of the ring. Bradley began to be just looking for the knock out punch and his boxing skills were being disrupted by his frustration at what he was faced with, as Pacquiao just danced around his opponent and throwing at will. Bradley called in Pacquiao as he remained in his own corner, which did him no favours as Pacquiao took his time, and then unleashed a combination against the ropes, which left Bradley to stager out of his own corner with his mouth wide open inviting Manny in, which he accepted the invitation with some devastating punches which gave Manny the round in convincing style. For the next 3 rounds Pacquiao was stalking his opponent with his right hand ready to explode at will as Bradley was constantly circling backwards to his left and throwing jabs and missing his over arm shots which Manny saw coming at every opportunity . Whenever Pacquiao landed any shots the crowd in Vegas responded with roars of appreciation as their man was showing that he was the boss in there, as round 8,9, 10,and 12 he won everything by being just that. Bradley showed his frustration as his legs were giving way, as he was backing off and only landing sporadic shots with no affect at all and appeared weary and confused as he had no plan b with what he was facing. As the final bell for round 12 sounded, it was obvious that Bradley not only needed a knock down, but a knock out to win as the scorecards on this being anything but a Pacquiao win would be a robbery, but being in Vegas, who knows what might happen? Pacquiao kept his distance for the final 3 minutes and only went on the offence when he was sure he would land getting his man against the ropes, as Bradley was always a threat with his counter hooks which were thrown with intent, but with no precision r accuracy. In the last 30 seconds the men clashed heads which unfortunately stopped the action for a few seconds as the doctor checked out a cut over Pacquiao’s eye, but it was waved straight back in to continue for the last few seconds as the 2 men went at it again for the last few seconds.
There could only be one winner, as Pacquiao showed his absolute ring generalship, offence and defence with his blistering speed in his punches and footwork which won him the fight in a convincing fashion, and winning back the WBO Title that he lost on that fateful day in 2012. Bradley’s performance was not to be sniffed at as he was beaten by one of the best fighters of these times, and I thought some of the comments by some of the pundits in the USA a bit off, as they made out that Bradley was somewhat amateurish. He was un doubtfully beaten by the better man on the night, maybe not the Manny Pacquiao of 4 years ago, but still a devastating fighter who at 35 has proved he still has some big fights left in him.
Might we have a another possible for a trilogy match up by Mr Arum? There might just be a chance for one more big pay day for both men to meet in the ring, and if there is, I personally cannot wait.