“It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” Winston Churchill
By Alex P. Vidal
Manny Pacquiao’s fiery eleventh hour assault against Timothy “The Desert Storm” Bradley in their first meeting on June 9, 2012 failed to convince judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross, who scandalously awarded the WBO 147-lb title to the unbeaten black fighter from Palm Springs, California via 12-round split decision.
Both judges scored an identical 115-113 for Bradley to obscure Jerry Roth’s 115-113 in favor of the eight-time world champion, who plans to run for senator in the Philippines in 2016. In the eyes of both the experts and fans, Pacquiao was the clear winner.
Pacquiao (55-5, 38 KOs) got tired of chasing the elusive Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) and “lost” in the last three rounds. Both ended the 12th and final round throwing wild punches.
I was at ringside at the MGM Grand from start until the 10th round. I hurriedly left my assigned seat (Floor “G” Row “F” #18) before the 11th round. By 11th and 12th stanzas, I was watching the fight inside the media center and saw a lopsided duel with Pacquiao landing most of the haymakers. I wanted to be the first get the official scorecards transmitted immediately to the media center.
To my horror, Bradley, 30, was declared the winner by split decision. I pulled the first piece of paper that came out from the copier machine and downloaded it on my Facebook account. Thousands of “friends” shared it as the world exploded in outrage over the “highway robbery.”
Fans had expected a come-from-behind KO win for Pacquiao in the first Bradley duel but were ready to accept a decision when Pacquiao could not nail the lucky punch. But not a bum decision. They crucified the two judges, not Bradley.
Although Pacquiao, 35, has not scored a stoppage win since Nov. 14, 2009 when he snatched Miguel Angel Cotto’s WBO welterweight belt via 12th round TKO, he is no stranger to late round knockout victories. Pacquiao retired Oscar De La Hoya in 8th; halted David Diaz in 9th; demolished Jorge Solis in 8th; TKO’d Erik Morales in 10th in their rematch; stopped Marco Antonio Barrera in 11th; put away Nedal Hussein in 10th. They were some of his fiercest battles en route to become a ring legend.
In their rematch on April 12, Bradley seeks to become the first fighter to score a back-to-back victory over the famed Pacquiao. His confidence boosted after rolling past Ruslan Provonikov (23-2, 16 KOs) and Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7, 40 KOs), Bradley increased muscles and posed for photographers in apparent copycat of Marquez, who did the same trick prior to knocking out Pacquiao in 6th last December 8, 2012.
The message Team Bradley wanted to impart was: “I’m willing to engage Pacquiao in a brawl and I won’t run away.” This could be meant to confuse Team Pacquiao which expects Bradley to again dance and avoid a head-on collision.
Nobody survived with Pacquiao in a phone-booth brawl except Marquez, whose one-punch demolition of Pacquiao was considered as a “lucky punch”. In order to beat Pacquiao, Morales, in their first meeting on March 19, 2005 also in MGM Grand, sprayed the Filipino superstar with blinding and dizzying jabs and confused him with consistent lateral movements from start to finish.
No boxer has been very much exposed in Las Vegas than Pacquiao in as far as styles and weaknesses are concerned. Even those who have been vanquished have studied Pacquiao, but only a few of them have been given the privilege to face him again in a rematch and a trilogy.
Like in his previous bouts, Pacquiao is again under pressure to satisfy bloodthirsty fans with a knockout win. But given Bradley’s mental and physical preparations, it looks like the Filipino congressman will need to bring a samurai or revolver to fulfill this difficult mission assigned to him by fans baying for Bradley’s flesh and blood.
Bradley’s camp is aware of the danger their ward faces once the reigning WBO welterweight champion makes a mistake of forcing a KO win against the durable Pacquiao only because Bradley now looks like Incredible Hulk. Team Bradley is also aware that finishing the full route against Pacquiao is already half winning the bout — with or without “cooperation” of the judges.