By Tom Donelson / Member Boxing Writers Association
In their last bout, Pacquiao landed more punches including power punches and was the more active but it didn’t matter for the judges’ view this as a Bradley’s victory. Coming in the bout, both men weighed the same, were the same height and thus neither fighter had a physical advantage.
Both fighters kept safe distance and neither fighter landed any big punches except for two right hands by Bradley. Bradley was fighting a fight similar to what he did with Marquez, allowing Pacquiao to be the aggressor and counter. In the middle of the second round, Pacquiao landed three left hands forcing Bradley to retreat but Bradley countered with two solid rights to stop Pacquiao rally in a round showing Bradley’s maturity. During the third round, Pacquiao landed two solid combinations but halfway through the round, Bradley landed three body shots that forced Pacquiao to cover up. Over the final minute, Pacquiao landed the solid shots to the head, but Bradley landed solid body shots in an attempt to turn the fight into a brawl.
In the fourth round, Pacquiao landed quick combinations but with a minute left, Bradley shook Pacquiao with a right hand that changed the complexion of the round. Tim Bradley threw every punch with bad intention, in particular his body shots. As the fifth round progressed, Bradley adopted a strategy of forcing Pacquiao to fight every minute of the fight. In their first fight, Pacquiao could occasionally coast but in this fight, Bradley pushed the action.
In the sixth round, Bradley boxed and tried to maneuver Pacquiao into his right hand. The round saw very little except for a Pacquiao rally at the end of the round but very few punches landed. HBO Lederman had the fight even and so did I at the halfway point of the fight.
The seventh round saw Pacquiao score some big shots starting with a left at the beginning of the round and near the end of the round, Bradley played rope-a – dope but got nailed with ten punches in combinations. This continued into the eighth round as Bradley played defense which allowed Pacquiao to score the meaningful punches.
At the minute of the ninth round, a Pacquiao left staggered Bradley, who was off balanced and thirty seconds, another Pacquiao left scored but Bradley did land two right hands. This continued into the tenth round as Pacquiao landed more combinations and Bradley looked to land home runs. In the opening rounds, Bradley strategy of alternating moving forward with body shots and occasional boxing using jabs. In round six through ten, Pacquiao used his speed and punching powers forcing Bradley to retreat.
In the eleventh round, Bradley landed a solid right over a lazy Pacquiao jab for his best punch of the round with a minute left. Pacquiao played offense throughout the round and while he didn’t dominated as the previous four rounds, it was still his round.
On HBO Harold Lederman card, it was Pacquiao fight to lose going into the last round. Pacquiao moved in and out as he landed effective combinations; even hurting Bradley with one. With twelve second left, an accidental head butt opened a cut on Pacquiao. I had the fight 117-111 for Pacquiao and Harold Lederman had it 116-112. (I gave eleventh round to Pacquiao and Harold Lederman to Bradley.) Pacquiao won the decision this time as the judges got it right.
This was a great bout and Tim Bradley fought a better fight than the last fight and hurt Pacquiao in the early rounds but the difference was Pacquiao fought like the elite fighter he was. The Rios fight was not the illusion I viewed it but a precursor to a revival of Pacquiao.
Bradley was the younger fighter in his peak but for one night, Pacquiao fought like he was five years younger. I was wrong in thinking Pacquiao had fallen enough for Bradley to beat him. He didn’t and he won the bout in the ring and on the scorecard.