By Alex P. Vidal
Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs) had the WBO welterweight title in the bag as early as 7th round when Bradley (31-1, 12 KOs) started to miss and absorbed Pacquiao’s combos each time the defending champion from Palms Springs, California was pinned on the ropes.
If it was a battle for the gold medal in the Olympics, Pacquiao was a run-away winner. The judges confirmed this with scores of 116-112, 116-112, 118-110. Pacquiao, 35, more determined than the first duel with the unbeaten Bradley, took advantage of Bradley’s change of style midway in the fight by unleashing powder puff but punches that came in volumes.
Bradley tagged Pacquiao with crisp jabs and hooks early in the fight but these were not enough to overrun the Filipino challenger’s lead that hiked in the 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th. Bradley secured round 11 with a hit and run tactic but his fate was sealed.
Bradley was destructive when he tackled Pacquiao from a distance where he used left jabs effectively to put the American ring enemy at bay. Bradley elected to brawl with the hard-hitting Filipino congressman in the third stanza and wanted to end the event with a single blow.
He started to miss wild punches when Pacquiao cut the ring and refused to give space for his showboat display actually meant to avoid Pacquiao’s solid left. Bradley spent the rest of the rounds backpedaling after 7th and slowed down the rest of the fight. Bradley got tired and his work rate declined entering the second half of the 12-round rumble.
Team Bradley sensed they were trailing on points entering the 9th round. A knockout was all they needed to upset Pacquiao for the second time. By the 10th, Pacquiao’s lead was insurmountable and even if he did not throw a punch and use only his lateral movements, he was already a sure winner.
It was Bradley’s third defense of the WBO 147-lb crown he wrested from Pacquiao on a controversial 12-round split decision on June 9, 2012 also at the MGM Grand.
No one has beaten Pacquiao convincingly on points except Erik Morales. In a rare display of unanimous agreement, three judges submitted similar scores when they awarded two vacant boxing titles to Morales, the first and only man in history to ever beat Manny Pacquiao convincingly by unanimous decision.
There was no uproar or storm of protest when Morales, nicknamed “El Terible”, subdued Pacquiao for vacant WBC international super featherweight and IBA super featherweight titles at the MGM Grand on March 19, 2005.
Judges Paul Smith, Dave Moretti, and Chuck Giampa all scored an identical 115-113. Referee Joe Cortez had no problem controlling the action as both Morales and Pacquiao played professionally and did not employ dirty tactics.
“I erred when I allowed him to dance and avoid my heavy blows,” Pacquiao said in Tagalog when pressed to recall the first of his three encounters with the Mexican heartthrob.
Pacquiao destroyed Morales in their next two meetings, the only trilogy in the Filipino’s career, winning by TKO in 10th on January 21, 2006 and KO in 3rd on November 18, 2006. Both massacres occured at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Prior to losing a unanimous verdict to Morales, Pacquiao’s two other previous defeats were clean knockouts inflicted by unheralded fellow Filipino Rustico Torrecampo and Medgoen Singsurat of Thailand.
Pacquiao, then a skinny flyweight prospect, fell flat like a sack of potatoes in 3rd after being hit in the chin by Torrecampo’s powerful wallop in a 10-round non-title header in Mandaluyong City on Feb. 9, 1996.
After chalking up 13 straight victories, Pacquiao again wiped the canvas with his face after being blasted by Singsurat, then nicknamed “3-K Battery”, in a gallant and failed bid to retain his WBC flyweight crown in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand on September 9, 1999.
He had to leave the flyweight division and move up after the Singsurat debacle where he racked up 11 straight wins as a super bantamweight terror that included a spectacular KO win over the late Lehlo Ledwaba to claim the IBF super bantamweight diadem at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 23, 2001.
The controversial split decision loss to Bradley came 14 fights after his loss to Morales, winning 13 and drawing one against Juan Manuel Marquez on Nov. 12, 2011.
Aside from Morales, no boxer has beaten Pacquiao on points convincingly. Because of the gravity of pressure and force Pacquiao applies in all his fights, either his opponents end up snoring in the canvas or he is the one counting the stars after falling head first like in his December 8, 2012 duel against Marquez.