If the “last fight” promise holds true, Manny Pacquiao can count himself as one of the few great fighters to retire on top after winning a decisive rubbermatch victory (116-110 UD on all scorecards) over Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand Saturday night.
This was supposed to be the fight where Bradley finally got an “official” win over the Pacman. Bradley had decimated Brandon Rios and looked reinvigorated under new trainer Teddy Atlas. Pacquiao was coming off shoulder surgery and a one year layoff. Instead, Pacquiao showed despite over 60 fights, 8 weight classes and over 20 years into his career, he’s still a level above everyone in the welterweight division.
A GAME OF PATIENCE: Through the first five rounds, both fighters were highly respectful is each other’s countering abilities. I gave Manny rounds 2, 4 and 5, preferring his harder shots, while Bradley took rounds 1 and 3, mainly on ring generalship, activity, and neutralizing Pacman’s left hand.
The middle rounds is where Pacquiao began to put some distance on the scorecards. A leaping right hand caught Bradley off-balance for a flash knockdown in the 7th. This woke Bradley up and he briefly wobbled Pacquiao with a left hook behind the ear in the eighth. Manny seemed to relish Tim’s fire, smiling at his rival and whispering “great” in his ear as they tangled along the ropes.
TURNING POINT: Bradley’s newfound aggression finally gave Pacquiao the moment he was looking for in the ninth. He hurt and dropped Bradley with two short left hooks,, effectively taking control of the contest on the scorecards.
— ZombieProphet (@ZProphet_MMA) April 10, 2016
Pacquiao effectively coasted in the remaining rounds and still managed to hurt Bradley in the fight’s final 30 seconds. Bradley, while still working hard, appeared resigned to his fate after the second knockdown. He knew his timing wasn’t there to outbox Pacquiao, nor his power big enough to get him a knockout.
BRADLEY’S OPTIONS: As a Top Rank fighter, Tim’s options are limited. In the post-fight interview, he and trainer Teddy Atlas were both non-committal about continuing their partnership. The PBC fighters are not options, leaving Bradley with a Jessie Vargas rematch and not much else in the TR stable. A Provodnikov rematch would create some buzz, but I have doubts that Tim wants to revisit that type of warfare.
SIMPLY ONE OF THE BEST: I’m confident in saying we’ll never see a fighter quite like Manny Pacquiao ever again. After a few rounds of timing rust, he easily dominated one of the top welters in the division.
And yet, most of writers and fans last night were asking Pacquiao to tempt fate in keep going after 20 plus years in the ring. Canelo’s name was most prominently thrown around. Terence Crawford and even a fifth fight with Marquez was mentioned to me on Twitter. As much as I’ve enjoyed seeing Pacquiao, I rather see a fighter get out with a few good fights left in him rather than suffer unnecessary beatings.
According to Manny, he’s sticking with the promise he made to his family, but did not rule out a comeback after enjoying some time in retirement. If this is the last we’ve seen of Pacquiao, he delivered a fitting swan song.