This time around Manny Pacquiao removed any doubt about who the winner was when he faced Timothy Bradley Jr. recently as he earned a unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The first time these two met in June 2012, two of the three judges awarded the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt to Bradley.
But most ringside observers felt the Filipino superstar should have been given the nod after dominating the action.
In their renewal with the same belt on the line before 15,601 fans, Pacquiao came out with purpose, but didn’t take chances like he did when he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round in December 2012.
“I didn’t want to get careless,’’ said Pacquiao, who had a 15-fight winning streak snapped by Bradley. “I picked up more steam in the second half. I made the adjustments [trainer] Freddie [Roach] gave me in the corner.”
While the Pac-Man has lost some of his knockout power because he’s 35 years old, and has been a professional boxer since 1995, he was still in charge as he claimed the final seven rounds on Judge Glenn Trowbridge’s scorecard (118-110), and garnered six of the final seven rounds on the cards of Michael Pernick (116-112) and Craig Metcalfe (116-112).
The last time Pacquiao delivered a knockout was May 2009 when he dropped the Englishman Ricky Hatton in the second round.
The first round was close, but went to Pacquiao, and while the Pac-Man was strong in the first half of the second round, Bradley came on late.
Pacquiao took over the third round by landing two lefts and a combination. Bradley answered with a right, Pacquiao then scored, Bradley unloaded a left upper cut, but the Pac-Man followed with a combo.
The fourth round went to Bradley, who found the target with three rights and added two more right hands. The fifth round was tight with the edge going to Pacquiao, while the next round also went to Pacquiao.
The tenor of the fight changed in the seventh round as Pacquiao (56-5-2 with 38 knockouts) went on the offensive by landing several lefts which flustered Bradley, who hails from Palm Springs.
“Pacquiao was the better man tonight, and he showed what he’s made of,’’ said the 30-year-old Bradley, who is 31-1-0 with 12 knockouts. “The dude still has it. One of the reasons why I love Pacquiao so much is he never ducks an opponent.”
Bradley seemed to run out of gas over the final six rounds and was tagged often. Perhaps desperate, Bradley, a two-division world champion, sensed he was trailing and that his best option was to go for the knockout.
Pacquiao, an eight-division champ, took the eighth round and was effective in the ninth. “He’s always willing to face the best and he faced one of the best tonight,’’ said Bradley, who also indicated he injured his right calf in the first round. “He came out on top and that’s why he’s so good.”
Pacquiao claimed the 10th round as he landed a jab, two lefts, a combo, a right upper cut and a left, along with two rights just before the bell.
The 11th round was mostly Pacquiao, while Bradley had a few moments. The Pac-Man regained his form in the 12th as he found the target with a left. Bradley answered with a right-left, but Pacquiao responded with two lefts that backed Bradley against the ropes and scored with several blows.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.