Ah, sweet revenge.
Manny Pacquiao was seeking justice Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden after getting the short end of some questionable judging two years ago when he fought Timothy Bradley.
He got it by outboxing Bradley and winning a 12-round unanimous decision in the same ring he lost to Bradley in 2012 and regaining his World Boxing Organization welterweight title.
Glenn Trowbridge had Pacquiao ahead 118-110 while Michael Pernick and Craig Metcalfe scored it the same, 116-112. For Bradley, it was the first loss of his career as he dropped to 31-1.
“Bradley was a lot better fighter this time,” said Pacquiao, who improved to 56-5-2. “But I knew I had to do more this time than the last fight. I threw a lot more punches.
“But I didn’t want to get careless. I knew it was important not to make a mistake in this fight, so i was cautious.”
Bradley told Pacquiao after the scores were announced: “You deserved to win. You fought the better fight. I have no excuses.”
Pacquiao started fast and took the fight to Bradley. He was constantly landing with the left hand as Bradley was unable to keep a proper distance away. Bradley claimed he injured his right calf in the first round and wasn’t able to keep his balance the remainder of the fight.
But toward the middle of the fight, it was Pacquiao who was fighting while moving backward as Bradley started to exert more pressure by going to the body. In the sixth and seventh rounds, Bradley was content to lay on the ropes or in the corner and let Pacquiao punch himself out. As the bell would sound, he would shake his head at Pacquiao saying, “Uh-uh.”
But with Bradley’s mobility compromised by the calf injury, he may have thought this was the best way to proceed. He never really hurt Pacquiao and giving rounds away wasn’t going to help Bradley with the judges.
Pacquiao still had something left. He and Bradley engaged in a wicked exchange in the ninth round that brought the crowd of 15,601 to its feet. And while Pacquiao won the flurry, he wasn’t able to truly hurt Bradley, which may have Pacquiao’s critics confirming their thinking that he no longer has the ability to knock his opponents out.
But Pacquiao kept throwing, right up to the end, trying to flatten Bradley. Pacquiao seemed to have more energy late in he fight and even an accidental head butt with 16 seconds remaining in the fight that opened a cut over Pacquiao’s left eye wasn’t about to deter him.
And though Bradley stayed on his feet, he clearly was beaten. This time, the judges didn’t bail him out with a split decision as in 2012.
“We made adjustments, and I wanted to shorten the distance of the fight,” Pacquiao said. “Bradley was wild on the outside, and I went in on the inside.”
Pacquiao landed the higher percentage of punches, 35 percent to 22 percent, and had the edge in jabs connected (50-32) and power punches connected (148-109).
“I tried, I really tried,” Bradley said. “Manny is a great fighter. But I lost to one of the best. But life goes on. I’ll just go back to the gym. Not a big deal.”
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s longtime trainer, said he was pleased with the fighter’s performance.
“I’m pleased but he was a little sloppy tonight,” Roach said. “It seemed like Bradley was going for a one-punch knockout. He was swinging for the fences.”
Bob Arum, the chairman of Top Rank and Pacquiao’s promoter, said there’s a good chance Pacquiao’s next fight will be in Macau, where he beat Brandon Rios last Nov. 24. Pacquiao said he has no problem facing Juan Manuel Marquez a fifth time later this year, but he’ll leave that up to Arum.
“They want to bring Manny back,” Arum said. “But we’ll sit down and talk to Manny and see what he wants to do. I thought he looked sensational, and I thought he and Tim gave the fans a hell of a show.”
Pacquiao said: “I can fight two more years. I’m so happy to be a world champion again. if they want to make a fight with Marquez, that’s fine.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.