LAS VEGAS, NV: Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines looks on during the post-fight news conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Like many, I took in the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley fight that took place last night (Sat., June 9, 2012) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being a die-hard mixed martial arts (MMA) fan, boxing normally only holds a passing interest to me. That is, unless one man is fighting:
The Filipino phenom fights with a certain tenacity, one which I can truly appreciate. He is the only boxer today that really moves the needle for me.
So for one night, I sat down with friends and allowed myself to enjoy another combat art. I'd heard great things about Pacquiao's opponent, the undefeated Timothy Bradley. I'd heard that the aging Pacquiao would have difficulties dealing with his youthful exuberance, but that wasn't the case.
Like everyone in the arena (except two of the judges), I'd never been more disappointed by a fight result.
Now all the finer intricacies of boxing don't speak to me like they would to the hardcore fans of pugilism. I'm not privy to the shoulder roll and I only have a basic understanding of the bob and weave, but Manny Pacquiao dominated the first three quarters of that fight.
I actually gave Bradley the first round. He set a nice pace, was active with his strikes and actually had Pacquiao reacting to him for the majority of the frame, the final few flurries of the round notwithstanding.
For the next eights rounds, it was all Pac-Man.
Time and time again, Pacquiao found a home for his left hand. It was killing Bradley all night, visibly hurting him on multiple occasions, although never knocking him down or seriously wobbling him. Bradley seemed to have no answer for the left hand, whether it was thrown as a straight punch or a looping hook, it repeatedly found its mark.
The only significant offense I was able to glean from Bradley during rounds two through eight were a few illegal headbutts while entering the clinch, something he was warned about by the referee.
Maybe feeling he had the fight won, or perhaps getting tired, Pacquiao slowed down in rounds 10-12. His output was lower, his hands dropped a bit and he wasn't nearly as composed with his shots. Bradley seized upon the opportunity and turned up his aggression, finishing the fight strong and repeatedly connecting with his jabs, actually forcing Pacquiao to back up for the first time in over 20 minutes.
Regardless, I had given Pacquiao eight of the 12 rounds when it was all said and done. Upon hearing the first score of 115-113 for "PacMan," I was a bit surprised. The second, a 113-115 score for Bradley turned in by judge C.J. Ross, was absolutely inexcusable. The third, another 113-115 scorecard for Bradley by judge Duane Ford, had my jaw on the floor.
Were they watching the same fight I was watching?
Even in controversial decisions like Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz earlier this year, both sides had points to be made for their fighters. Diaz had moved forward and thrown aggressively at the head while Condit outmaneuvered him and landed more overall strikes.
For Pacquiao vs. Bradley, I have yet to find someone who scored it for Bradley, and the statistics are heavily in Pacquiao's favor. He landed more strikes (253 punches to 159 for Bradley), he connected at a higher percentage (33.7 percent to 18.9 percent for Bradley) and on top of that, he was the general of the ring, consistently forcing Bradley to back up during rounds two through nine especially.
Has Pacquiao dominated every fight as of late? No. He squeaked one out against Juan Manuel Marquez recently, a fighter with a style that is difficult for him to deal with, but that wasn't the case last night.
Manny Pacquiao looked motivated, he looked dominant, and he looked like the fighter who should have won the bout.
It's a shame the judges denied him that victory. And it's a shame this MMA fan continues getting disappointed when he saunters over to watch boxing.