By Rod Mijares
Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao reclaimed the WBO Welterweight championship belt from American Timothy Bradley in a rematch Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada via a unanimous decision.
It was a vindication on Pacquiao as he was able to redeem himself in front of a pro-Pacquiao sold-out crowd at the Garden, 97% of whom voted that he is going to win the fight. Unlike his first fight when Bradley won via a controversial split decision, the Filipino won in a very convincing fashion vintage Pacquiao to the cheers of fans in attendance throwing punches in salvo from the start to finish controlling majority of the 12-round bout.
Judges Michael Pernick of Florida and Craig Metcalfe of Alberta, Canada both scored 116-112. Judge Glenn Trowbridge from Nevada scored it 118-110 giving only round 4 and 5 to Bradley.
Pacquiao connected 50 out of 219 jabs thrown while Bradley thrown more jabs at 287 but only connected 32 . The challenger connected 148 out of 344 power punches thrown while the defending champion only connected 109 out of 340 power punches thrown.
Both Pacquiao’s feet lifted in the air in round 4 when Bradley hit him with a right. Fortunately, he landed in both feet and able to regain his balance and fought back. “I tried to knock him out,” Bradley said after the fight.
At the break after the 6th round, Joel Diaz, Bradley’s corner, exasperated and disappointed challenged Bradley, “You want to go home. Go home right now” while Buboy Fernandez, Pacquiao’s Filipino trainer, was telling his ward in Filipino language “huwag kang pumasok sa loob,” “don’t go inside” thinking of a counter-punch that Bradley might inflict on Pacquiao if he is not careful akin to that devastating punch that Marquez wreaked on Pacquiao.
In the 7th round, Pacquiao unleashed a 10-combo punches while Bradley was in the corner. Bradley who was taunting Pacquiao to punch more while on the ropes had enough and went to the center of the ring to escape the onslaught. “I tried to finish him a couple of times, throwing solid punches and strong punches but he manage it. We could not under estimate Bradley because he is very tough,” Pacquaio said.
In the 8th round, Bradley changed his tactics, dropped his hands and waited for Pacquiao to move in for his counter-punches and wobbly walking pretending to be hurt. “No excuses whatsoever, guys. I suffered with my right foot,” Bradley said later on.
The remaining rounds saw Pacquiao as being more aggressive controlling the tempo of the fight while Bradley kept on stepping back and not even punching in the last seconds of the later rounds letting the time run out as his head went side-to-side eluding Pacquiao’s punches.
Manny suffered an accidental head butt on his left eyebrow twelve seconds to go to end the 12th and final round of the championship bout. The head-butt caused an incision wound measuring 2.5 cm by 1.0 cm. It was not clean but more of a star-shape to it that needed 32 stitches to close in multiple layers; 15 dissolvable sutures inside the wound and 17 stitches outside it that will take a week to heal according to the Las Vegas ring doctor who attended to him, “Pacquiao has to progress into aerobic exercise in a few weeks.”
The defending champion was gracious and a true-gentleman in defeat. After a hug by Pacquaio’s mother, Dionisia who gave him a thumbs-up, Bradley said “I Iost to one of the best fighters in the world.”
“No excuses tonight. Pacquiao was a better man tonight. He showed what he is made of. Dude still had it. The reason why I love Pacquiao so much is that he never dodge an opponent,” Bradley said. “He fought the best and he brings out the best on me. He came out on top. Manny Pacquiao is a true champion.”
The media gave Bradley a round of applause when he said, “I have a lot of respect for him. “I will go back to the gym, will work and I will be a champion again. I promised I will be a champion again.”
“The only way to make Mayweather fight Pacquiao is for the public to boycott Mayweather’s fight with Maidana. Do not buy tickets, do not buy pay-per-view,” Bob Arum said. “There is no other alternative.”
Pacquiao who was a true warrior and all business with no compassion during the fight as he stated before was a propagator of God’s word after clinching back the championship belt, “I am so happy today because tonight the victory is ours. The victory tonight is not my own by n the name of Jesus ,” Pacquiao said.