Manny proves he still has punch despite shock defeat
Dubai: In 12 rounds of exciting boxing, Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao proved he’s not washed up, despite a controversial split decision loss to unbeaten American challenger Timothy Bradley on Saturday (Sunday in the UAE).
The match was closely followed by hundreds of fans on big screens across Filipino restaurants in the UAE, by a crowd of at least 16,000 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and by thousands more who watched it on pay-per-view TV.
Fans have been sceptical whether the Filipino still had the heart of a boxer following his widely reported religious conversion, holding Bible studies after his training sessions. He gave fans and sceptics his answer in scorching, relentless blows on Sunday.
Pacquiao had appeared to dominate the rounds, but two judges scored it 115-113 for Bradley, while one judge scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao. The decision was meet by boos from the crowds in Las Vegas and in the UAE.
“It was very obvious that Pacquiao dominated the fight, especially the first seven rounds. Bradley took the last three rounds, but it was Pacquiao who won the most rounds so he should have been the winner. I scored it 115-113 in favour of Pacquiao,” boxing enthusiast Jun Anchita told Gulf News.
The decision was also met by criticism in the boxing world, with British boxer Amir Khan tweeting that the result was “robbery” and former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis calling it “disgraceful.” Promoter Bob Arum called the decision “unfathomable” and “incomprehensible”.
Ringside statistics showed Pacquiao landing 253 punches, while Bradley landed 159.
Bradley took the WBO Welterweight title from Pacquiao and improved his record to 29-0 with 12 knockouts, while Pacquiao slipped to 54-4-2 with 38 knockouts. A November rematch is on the cards.
In the opening round, Bradley landed body jabs before Pacquiao could answer with three solid left punches to end the round. Pacquiao continued to dominate the fight, landing combination punches that appeared to have overpowered Bradley in the third and fourth rounds. He eventually pinned Bradley to the ropes with a flurry of punches in the sixth round. Bradley managed to connect some strong punches in the 10th round, but Pacquiao bounced back in the 11th round.
“Pacquiao almost made Bradley drop to the floor, but then again it is business. I look forward to a re-match in November,” said Jon Arcedera in Dubai.
Bradley appeared hurt in the fourth and fifth rounds, although Pacquiao had trouble landing big punches that could have given him the knockout.
On ringside, Pacquiao said he accepts the result. “I respect the decision, but 100 per cent I believe I won the fight,” he said to a cheering crowd.
For his part, Bradley called it a “good, competitive fight” and described Pacquiao as a “strong puncher”. “He rocked me a couple of times in the fight but I held my ground and fought to the end. This is boxing,” he said.
“Every round was pretty close. Pacquiao won some of the early rounds. I controlled the later rounds with my jab. I need to go home and review the tape,” he said.