LAS VEGAS – If this was indeed the final fight of Manny Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame career, he will go out knowing one thing for sure: He has Timothy Bradley’s number.
With the crowd of 14,665 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena roaring with every Pacquiao punch connected — and there were much fewer than in their first two fights — the Filipino warrior and congressman knocked Bradley down twice en route to a unanimous decision victory Saturday night.
The question on the minds of every soul in that arena when it ended: Will Pacquiao, one of the most exciting fighters the sport has ever known, truly retire. He answered it this way:
“I have a commitment to my family that I am going to retire after this but I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe I will enjoy being a retired man and helping the people.”
All three judges scored it the same: 116-110 for Pacquiao, as Bradley gave a strong effort, but as in the first two fights, he couldn’t find the key to getting to Pacquiao enough to hurt him.
Pacquiao dropped Bradley in the seventh, though it looked to be more of a push-down than a knockdown. But referee Tony Weeks called it a knockdown. He also connected with another big left hand two rounds later that dropped Bradley, who somersaulted and got to his feet.
“I was looking for a knockout in every round,” Pacquiao said. “He’s a very tough fighter and a very good counterpuncher.
“Teddy (Atlas) obviously made a difference because this is the best Tim Bradley I’ve faced.”
Pacquiao’s longtime trainer, Freddie Roach, was impressed by his 37-year-old fighter.
“I love the way Manny threw his combos,” Roach said. “He’s a little rusty, but if he wants to continue fighting I think he can still go. Manny’s left (hand) trumps all.”
Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs), who had not fought since his loss to Floyd Mayweather last May, said his surgically repaired right shoulder gave him no problems.
Early on, both fighters were tentative, feinting and moving but not throwing punches. Pacquiao picked it up in the fourth round, going from a full-on boxing to more of a punching match.
He came on strong in the fifth as well, staggering Bradley with his left near the end of the round as the pro-Pacquiao crowd roared its approval.
Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs) was fighting under trainer Atlas for the second time. He came in off an impressive stoppage of Brandon Rios in November. But Atlas couldn’t help him enough on this night.
“I don’t believe the first knockdown was a knockdown,” Atlas said. “Give Pacquiao credit. I didn’t do a good enough job for Bradley.”
Bradley said he’s not sure what’s next, but he insisted during the post-fight news conference that he got more fights in him and is not considering retirement.
“I’m going to take a little break, go to my beach house in San Diego for awhile and talk to my family,” he said. “I know that I can still fight.”
Bradley’s biggest moment came in the eighth round when he caught Pacquiao with a right, then proceeded to unload a flurry on his opponent, knocking him into the ropes twice.
“Manny was very strong and very patient,” Bradley said. “I wasn’t professional enough to be patient myself, and I walked into some shots.”
Pacquiao invited Bradley to a prayer meeting on Sunday, and Bradley asked to exchange room numbers. And during the press conference Wednesday, Bradley stumped for Pacquiao’s run for the senate in the Philippines. So the result of this trilogy, which began with one of the worst decisions in boxing history, is that the two men ended their run on friendly terms.
This was the third fight between the men. Bradley won the first meeting in June 2012 in one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history. Pacquiao won the second fight in 2014 by a comfortable margin, when Bradley was unable to deal with Pacquiao’s movement throughout the fight.
Pacquiao came into the fight insisting it would be the 66th and final one of his brilliant Hall of Fame career. He is running for a Senate seat in the Philippines later this year and has said he wants to concentrate on serving his constituents.
However, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum insisted that he was not promoting this as Pacquiao’s last fight, that he felt there was a good chance Pacquiao could come back, depending on what happens in the Philippines.
Manny Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley in the rubber match by the same score on all three cards: 116-110. USA TODAY Sports scored it 117-109. Pacquiao scored two knockdowns and was very impressive.
Here’s how the fight unfolded:
The winner of American Idol’s 15th season — Trent Harmon — sang the American national anthem. Bradley, wearing purple and white, is making his way to the ring. Bradley’s lone defeat came to Pacquiao in 2014.
Pacman making his way to the ring to Katy Perry’s “Roar.” He’s wearing the colors of the Philippines: blue, white and red. Fighters are in the ring for introductions. But there will be no “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” tonight. Ring announcer Michael Buffer did the honors earlier for Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title victory over Charles Martin.
Lupe Contreras is the ring announced for #PacBradley. Tony Weeks, one of the best in the business, is the ref.
And we’re underway!
Tentative opening frame and Pacquiao was the aggressor. He circled and pawed, but no big shots were landed. Bradley attempted to circle to Manny’s right. 10-9, Pacquiao.
Bradley boxed beautifully in Round 2. He controlled the center of the ring, jabbed well and made Pacquiao pay with a few counters. His body work was effective and he appears to be settling into a groove. 20-20.
It was a nip-and-tuck round, with both men countering but also letting their hands go for some big attempts. Nothing meaningful connected, though. Pacquiao shook his surgically repaired right shoulder as if to favor it. 29-28, Pacquiao.
Pacquiao zeroed in with some of his patented left hands and did his best work of the fight. He connected with a chopping right hand toward the end of the round, but Bradley also landed a good punch. Most clear round of the fight. 39-37, Pacquiao.
By far the best action of the bout. Bradley controlled the first two minutes, but Pacquiao rallied and connected with some stinging power shots in a wild exchange. Teddy Atlas wasn’t pleased. 49-46, Pacquiao.
Bradley being too patient. Pacquiao able to get off with his punches and Bradley will engage, but isn’t doing any damage. Pacquiao racking up rounds now on my card. 59-55, Pacquiao.
Down goes Bradley late in the round. He did nothing all round as the Filipino followed him around the ring. The knockdown was the result of a leaping straight right on the chin. Bradley didn’t appear to be hurt. 69-63, Pacquiao.
Bradley with his best round of the fight, and he needed it. He hurt Pacquiao with a combination and pushed him to the ropes, forcing the former eight-division world champion to cover up. He recovered quickly, though, and never was in danger of going down. 78-73, Pacquiao.
Pacquiao hurt Bradley with a massive counter left hook and then knocked him down with the follow-up attack. Bradley went down so hard he flipped over backward on his head. He beat the count on wobbly legs but Manny let him off the hook. 88-81, Pacquiao.
Bradley is a spent bullet. He looks like he’s finished now and isn’t able to get any work done. Pacquiao is cruising toward another victory and it’s hard to imagine this being his last fight. 98-90, Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is up 108-99 on my card as we head into the final round. It’s hard to imagine Bradley landing anything that can change matters — he’s not a big puncher.
Bradley was far more aggressive in the final round, but it was too little, too late. Pacquiao finished the round with a wild exchange in the corner. 117-109, Pacquiao.
All three judges score it the same: 116-110 for Pacquiao, who put on a very impressive performance.
Pacquiao wouldn’t commit to retiring or fighting again during the post-fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman. Pacquiao said he’s happy he was more aggressive.
Bradley was a good sport and admitted that Pacquiao is just a special fighter. It’s hard to deny it. Bradley and Manny embraced and appeared to be making plans to meet Sunday morning.
If Pacquiao fights on, a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes all the sense in the world. Floyd going for No. 50; Manny going for