It wasn’t a tough assignment. It wasn’t (if you ask everyone but two of the three judges of their first fight) something that Manny hadn’t done before. All it took was a few flashes of a vintage, one-two-sidestep, eight-punch-combo, surgically-accurate Manny Pacquiao to earn his first official win against Timothy Bradley, a unanimous decision, last night at the usually packed MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Those of us who expected a dramatic performance from Pacquiao ended up basically seeing Manny being the Manny of old, scoring from every angle imaginable, stepping out of danger after throwing a few bombs to assess the damage only to come back with the follow-up strike for effect, and score a dominant win that puts him back in the 147 lb picture, even after that devastating loss to Juan Manuel Marquez that sent his stock plummeting one year ago.
The downside, as always, is that his usual porous defense was there in full display as well. During some passages, it was clear that if it had been Mayweather on the other side, Pacquiao would have been in serious trouble. Bradley didn’t land too many damaging punches, but they all entered Pacquiao’s air space with frightening ease.
But in any case, it is clear that the most vicious attack of the night came from Pacquiao. Bradley, nicknamed “Desert Storm”, wore camouflaged trunks, but it was the Filipino congressman across the ring the one who put on a war.
Sure, Bradley had his passages. He got off to a good start by taking a mildly spirited first round, and later he got his bobbing and weaving together in the 5th to flaunt his great athleticism. But if I check my own scorecard, I see very little else worth mentioning. Without exactly cruising comfortably or anything of the sort, Pacquiao carried the rest of the fight with an iron hand, rocking Bradley on a few occasions and clearly outscoring him to win by definitive scores of 116-112 (twice) and 118-110.
Certainly, Bradley could have done much better without the excessive showboating that cost him a few moments in key rounds. And instead of correcting that course to focus on his dwindling offensive output, he continued Apollo Creed-ing his way out of the fight and getting a beating in the process, until he found himself officially in holding-on-for-dear-life territory with three minutes to go in the fight.
The miracle didn’t materialize, and Pacquiao ended up earning a deserved victory that put him, once again, on a collision course with the greatest fighter of our era in Floyd Mayweather.
The roadblocks to that mega-fight remain in place, but so are our hopes to ever seeing it come to fruition.