If there was one thing boxing fans hungered prior to Pacquiao vs Bradley II, it was some long overdue closure, a definitive ending. And it was certainly delivered on April 12th, 2014.
Both fighters fought tenaciously, leaving everything in the ring. And when Manny Pacquiao’s arm was raised after the final bell, there were no complaints from the Vegas crowd. This time the outcome could not be disputed, as quite simply, the right man won. The decision was unanimous, soundly reached from scores of 118-110, 116-112, 116-112. Similarly, BoxingBase.com had the bout at 117-111.
Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KO) banked the majority of rounds due to his higher work rate, but Bradley’s perfectly timed counter-punching and remarkable defense made for a competitive bout. Though the Unanimous Decision is being warmly received, it was the fighters’ performances which are likely to now be examined by the boxing community.
First off, Manny Pacquiao deserves tremendous applause for a hard-fought, well-deserved victory. At 35, he’s not only bounced back from a career-derailing defeat – courtesy of Juan Manuel Marquez – but has also beaten a hell of a fighter in young warrior, Timothy Bradley (31-1, 12 KO).
But despite this achievement, it’s hard to deny that Pacquiao – a former Welterweight wrecking machine – is showing signs of decline. Is he a shot fighter? Absolutely not. Does he find it harder to pull the trigger nowadays? Yes – it would seem so, and many analysts would agree.
Pacquiao vs Bradley II: The Fighters’ Performances
Pacquiao was once known for his explosive speed, power, awkward angles and phenomenal footwork. Being a whirlwind of pain, in other words. And he did display these attributes in his rematch with Bradley – just in short-lived, noticeably less frequent bursts.
Pacquiao was more tentative and cautious; not necessarily a bad thing, given Bradley’s game plan to set traps and counter. The problem was that Pacquiao’s hesitation seemed to stem not from fear of eating a punch en route to firing a shot of his own, but from fear of getting seriously hurt. And at points he did – one time being staggered by Bradley, a fighter not renowned for his power.
Which leads to Pacquiao’s punch resistance. Following the horrific Marquez knockout, have Pacquiao’s whiskers begun to betray him? When tagged by Brandon Rios, Pacquiao knew about it – and so did the crowd. Pacquiao was never ‘invincible’, granted – but he’s never looked as uncomfortable and susceptible to damage as he does now. And, as talented as he still is, has never looked so beatable.
When looking at Bradley’s performance, it’s hard to criticize. Yes, he lost the fight – and not many would argue it should’ve been a draw, let alone a win for the Californian. But the man was still mightily impressive in a number of areas.
What made Bradley fascinating was his unpredictability, given his preference to switch between toe-to-toe slugger and boxer. His slippery defense – especially on the ropes – saved him many a time from Pacquiao’s combinations, and his counter shots couldn’t have been timed better. Here we have an all-round, now more refined fighter who – if a little busier – may have edged closer to an upset.
And what about the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes? Whether you’re sick of the topic or not, Pacquiao and Bradley are both gunning for a chance to dethrone boxing’s brashest star. So who would stand the greatest chance of handing boxing’s number one his first loss? (Pacquiao vs Bradley II Boxing Highlights)
Pacquiao vs Bradley II: Chances Against Mayweather
Given Pacquiao’s signs of attrition, it would seem his chances of winning wouldn’t be too high. Marquez, and now Bradley, have shown just how easy he is to counter when rushing in; a technician like Mayweather would likely exploit this flaw tenfold. It was once thought that Pacquiao could outpoint Mayweather due to his high work rate, but now that his punch output has dropped, it’s unlikely this strategy could work.
It would seem Bradley stands the greater chance. In his prime, and hard to nail flush, his style could possibly cause the pound for pound king a few problems; not enough to win the fight against a master boxer perhaps, but enough to get Mayweather thinking for a while.
The evening’s action also saw Jessie Vargas Unanimously Decision Khabib Allakhverdiev to become the new IBF, WBA Junior Welterweight Champion. Judges ringside scored the contest 115-113, 117-111, 115-113.
What’s your take on the night’s main event? Did Pacquaio vs Bradley II end conclusively enough? Did it raise burning questions about Pacquiao’s time at the top? And what about Bradley? – how much of an impact will this first loss have on his elite status and future career?
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