By Mark Felicetti
The Welterweight title fight between reigning and defending champ Timothy Bradley and challenger Manny Pacquiao went just as it was supposed to. Pacquiao took this kid to the cleaners, had him scrubbed, pressed, and hung on a wire hanger. Manny took back the belt of which he had been robbed two years ago.
I have no knock on Timothy Bradley. He is a talented boxer that works hard, trains hard, and fights hard. His bouts are of the highest quality and his sportsmanship is beyond reproach. But the title had been handed to him in one of the worst decisions in recent history.
In June of 2012 Manny put his WBO Welterweight title on the line against Bradley.
It was a shutout. Pacquiao dictated the pace, continually moved forward, and landed the harder punches at a higher rate. Manny’s power punch output was 253 to Bradley’s 159. Pacquiao was pounding Bradley so badly he backed off and coasted toward the end.
Most of the network neckties, and commentators from around the world, had Manny winning at least ten of the twelve rounds. But when they went to the scorecards two of the judges scored it 115-113 in favor of Bradley.
Judge CJ Ross went on to ruin several other fights before she “voluntarily decided to retire”. The other offender, pompous and petrified fossil Duane Ford (75-year old) had the nerve to defend his scorecard by saying, “…Bradley gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson… this isn’t American Idol, if I judge for the people, I shouldn’t be a judge”. Ford’s last five words were the only accurate ones.
Two weeks after the fight, a review panel made up of five internationally recognized judges viewed all the videotapes and reappraised the fight.
They unanimously scored the bout in favor of Pacquiao.
That controversy hung on Bradley like a millstone. His next fight was meant to build his confidence and self-assurance. So he took on an “easy win” opponent…Ruslan Provodnikov. In a bout that would be named “Ring Magazine’s 2013 Fight of the Year”, Ruslan gave Bradley a savage beating.
If scored properly, Ruslan should have won the fight. He had Bradley out on his feet, sitting on the ropes, and hanging on for his life. Bradley wore out the heels of his shoes from backing away for twelve rounds. Provodnikov got scuffed up pretty good…but Bradley had to spend several days in the hospital due to a severe concussion, and he admits his speech was slurred for a month.
Yet he retained the title (stolen merchandise) and went on to fight Juan Marquez. Bradley pulled out a split decision win in that bout.
Going into the rematch with Manny, Bradley said he had reviewed the videos of their first fight…and stated he had beaten Manny eight rounds to four. That concussion may have caused more damage than suspected. He also claimed Manny had lost the killer instinct, and that he (Bradley) was going to knock him out. Another MRI and brain scan may have been in order.
The truth is; Bradley did everything he could, with everything he had, to try to win this fight and put to rest the controversy from their first match. He fought a good fight…it just wasn’t enough.
The leather flew non-stop in this rematch. There was more action and swinging than in a Shyla Stylez DVD. Manny started out a bit sloppy but he quickly settled in and dominated. He repeatedly rocked Bradley, pressed him to the ropes, and used his wicked left to control the fight. Bradley was reduced to throwing wide, looping punches in the hopes he might get lucky and connect. He didn’t.
After twelve rounds they went to the scorecards and Pacquiao was awarded a resounding, unanimous decision victory. Bradley, true to form, was a class act in the post-fight interview. He stated, “You can’t say nothing against Manny. I lost to one of the best fighters in the world…I tip my hat to his whole corner, Freddie Roach and his whole team.”
With this solid win Pacquiao puts himself back into contention for a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Don’t hold your breath.