After a year and a half away from the top, Manny Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) has now cemented his rebirth as one of the best fighters on the planet. Finally, the bad taste of the knockout loss to Marquez has been vanquished, and is now replaced with a sweet victory over another one of the world’s finest fighters, Timothy Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs). In revenge fashion none the less. The talk of Pacquiao’s ring efforts can shift from the lowest point he had in over a decade, to dialogue about the best performance the 35-year-old legend has had in years.
Concern as to whether or not Pacquiao could still perform similar to his peak years was quickly forgotten. After a typical feeling out round in the first, Pacquiao launched his attack first at Bradley. Pacquiao fired at Bradley in combinations with blazing speed. Taking rounds two and three to take an early lead on the score cards. It looked as if Pacquiao may have been on his way to dominate Bradley, but the now former champion would not go away so easily.
Bradley would do what he always does very well, make some adjustments. After staying on the outside with Pacquiao through much of the first three rounds, Bradley began to mix up his attack. Being the physically stronger man, Bradley found some success getting physical with Pacquiao. Incorporating some rough house tactics, leaving Pacquiao in awkward angles to be hit with a few right hands. It was not as pretty to watch as the eye-catching combination punches of Pacquiao, but it worked Bradley into the fight and scorecards. At the midway point, Bradley had just about evened up the fight.
Pacquiao would have to finish the second half of the bout strong, something he uncharacteristically failed to do in his first face off with Bradley. After turning the momentum back on his side in the 7th, Pacquiao would have big 8th and 9th rounds. Hurting Bradley along the ropes and pounding him in combination. As always Pacquiao’s Sunday punch, the left hand down the middle, started the barrage. Pacquiao missed on many of his punches all night, but was able to get in enough stiff left hands to take control of the fight and make Bradley feel his power all night long.
Bradley would battle back every time Pacquiao got the crowd out of their seats in anticipation of a Pacquiao stoppage. Even waving Pacquiao to “come on” after weathering some of the Filipino star’s biggest shots. Showcasing one of the sport’s biggest hearts. Ultimately however, Bradley just did not have the fire power he needed to truly respond to Pacquiao’s assaults. Despite being outgunned, Bradley continued to fight as hard and as well as he possibly could.
Pacquiao finished the championships rounds strongly to avoid giving Bradley any unnecessary late rounds on the score cards. Bradley’s under appreciated defense continued to cause Pacquiao to hit wind on several of his punches, but Pacquiao would not take no for an answer for a second time. Pacquiao closed the show unloading combination after combination, a signature of Pacquiao when he was at his dominant peak. Pacquiao could never get Bradley out of there, or even off of his feet, but after twelve hard-fought rounds it was apparent Manny Pacquiao had gained his redemption.
Timothy Bradley fought like a champion, and still walked away without the title while only suffering the first defeat of his career. For Bradley to come up well short of beating Pacquiao is a testament to how great of a fighter he still is. Few fighters have ever returned from such a brutal loss this well, and only the great ones were able to do it. Make no mistake about it Manny is a great one. The Filipino sensation has been restored to his peak. Manny Pacquiao has returned.