Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Manny Pacquiao returned once again to the ring to have the rubber match with former 2 division world champion Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao was coming off a competitive decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and also a nearly one year lay off after shoulder surgery. Bradley came into the fight on a win streak and a lot of buzz surrounding his decision to enlist Teddy Atlas as his new trainer. The relationship with Atlas was a hot topic coming into the fight as in their first fight together, Bradley scored an impressive victory over Brandon Rios.
Going into the fight the odds makers had Pacquiao as a slight favorite, but the odds had narrowed in recent weeks with more and more people buying into the trainer-fighter combination of Bradley and Atlas being the difference in the third bout. At 37 years of age, Manny Pacquiao was possibly entering the ring for the final time and was hoping to add one final signature win to his legendary boxing career.
The fight started slow, as for the first three rounds, neither boxer really took command of the fight and not many shots were landed. Bradley was trying to counter of Pacquiao’s attacks, but was not throwing enough to throw him off of his game plan. Bradley was having a good round five and was starting to have more success but then lost focus in the final minute, allowing ‘Pac Man’ to steal the round.
While Pacquiao started this fight slower than the previous two, he picked up his work rate in the middle rounds and started to take control of the fight and a lead on the score cards. The seventh round had one of the biggest moments of the fight, as in a close round, Pacquiao gave himself separation as he scored an off balance knockdown. Bradley was not hurt by the shot and quickly got to his feet and finished the round.
The eighth round saw Bradley rebound in the fight and briefly hurt Pacquiao with a flurry of shots that had Manny up against the ropes. The round reinvigorated ‘Desert Storm’ who was falling quickly on the score cards. The ninth round brought about the biggest moment in the fight, as Bradley who was attacking aggressively found himself on the receiving end of a huge counter left hand shot by Pacquiao that stunned him and saw him hit with a follow up punch that put him down and had him rolling over backwards to get up. Bradley got up and recovered to finish out the round.
After the tenth round, Teddy Atlas did his best to motivate Bradley, saying he just wanted to see the best Bradley had left for the final six minutes, to which Bradley responded, as he took the eleventh round and made for a competitive final round. After the final bell sounded and the scorecards were read, all three judges were in agreement and scored the bout 116-112 for Manny Pacquiao.
With the win, Manny Pacquiao had once again successfully returned to the boxing ring and showed even though he is 37 years old, he is still on top of his game. In a talent filled division with a lot of fighters holding title belts, Pacquiao set himself apart from the rest and established himself as the best in weight class. In light of Floyd Mayweather’s retirement from boxing, if Pacquiao chooses to hold off on retiring, he has a lot of interesting possible fights going forward.
The fight being talked about most now, is a potential fight with Mexican boxing star Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez faces Amir Khan on May 7th, but if he is able to come through with a win there and turns down a Gennady Golovkin fight, then a fight with Pacquiao will make financial sense. But with Canelo being a much bigger fighter physically, some would see that fight as a miss match, even if it is fought at a catch weight.
The next fight if any for Pacquiao is a question that might get answered if the retired Floyd Mayweather shows interest in a comeback. While Mayweather did retire in September after a victory over Andre Berto, a rematch with Pacquiao is still a marketable fight. If Floyd is willing to have a second fight with Pacquiao, then “Pac Man” would most certainly put off retirement for another huge payday.
With Manny Pacquiao looking good in his return, and his repaired shoulder holding up in the fight, a rematch with Mayweather would still be a box office hit, one many fans would hope could out do the first and produce more action. On the other side of things, Timothy Bradley came up short once again with Manny Pacquiao and took some big shots.
The training relationship with him and Atlas did not produce the results either were looking for, but still, Bradley lost to one of the best fighters of this generation and it just seems that Pacquiao has his number. Bradley will likely look to return to the ring again and at only 32 years old, he still is one of the best welterweights in the world, one that is capable of beating any of the other champions in the weight class.
The future of both fighters is not clear, but being that these two fighters have been involved in fights together for almost four years, it is good to see the trilogy end with a clear winner and no controversy. This fight series will not be remembered for the action in any of the fights and will not be thought of as a great trilogy, but it was still a pairing of two of the best at the weight and Manny Pacquiao undoubtedly proved to be the better fighter. If this was Pacquiao’s last fight, he went out like the true champion his is and the all-time great fighter he has been.