Tim Bradley won the first one, on paper anyway, and Manny Pacquiao won the second scrap with his marvelous package of volume and pressure, so they set up another one, to break the tie.
On this night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and on HBO PPV, Pacman won again, clearly in my book, scoring two knockdowns and looking energized and acting the superior ring general. The judges saw it 116-110 times three.
Bradley backers thought new trainer Teddy Atlas could be the tipping point but this one re-proved what we know—trainers can't fight for the fighter. Bradley was smart and cautious, often, not leaving himself open to a big bomb. But that zapped the path for him to win rounds…So maybe moving forward those two find a balance of strategy. He threw 839 in their first faceoff, 609 in the second and a paltry 302 tonight. Hard to win fights as a power deficient fighter if you're also conceding the volume column…
Pacman (57-6-2 with 38 KOs) came in with a busted public persona, after inserting both his Nikes in his mouth by smearing gays, and with fans wondering if he'd left the best version of himself back in 2009, because he hadn't been the whirling dervish of destruction in eons. He'd underperformed against Floyd Mayweather and drew scorn by blaming an injured right shoulder. This one could be the career finale for the 37 year old, he said, because winning a Senate seat would make him unable to multi task and juggle a boxing career.
Bradley (33-1-1-1, 13 KOs), age 32, came in on a high, elevated by his allegiance with master motivator Teddy Atlas, and folks thought this night could be a perfect storm of pugilism for the fighter, with him peaking with Staten Island Teddy and Manny older and distracted with his Senate run. He won fans for his candid admission pre fight, that he'd been leveled by the blowback to his win over Manny in 2012, to the point he'd contemplated suicide.
In the first, TB, 156 1/2 on fight night, Manny landed a couple more cleaner and harder shots.
In the second, Manny, 150 on fight night, was more offensive than Bradley. Was he too defense oriented?
In the third, Bradley was mostly defensive but landed a clean right. Manny was the better ring general though. I had it 2-0-1 for MP.
In the fourth, Manny impressed with aggression. His volume won the round and we saw more reading. Atlas asked Bradley to get off shots from outside.
In the fifth, we saw a fun round. Both landed several hard shots. Atlas loved the first two minutes then he let MP get too close he said. Tight round.
In the sixth, Pac was on message with his movement.
In the seventh, MP scored a knockdown, on a balance shot. A right hook did it.
In the eighth, TB ramped it up and took the round. He took smart risks and edged the Filipino.
In the ninth, down went Bradley again. A left did it, and a right and left sent him to the mat. Atlas told Tim he was getting lazy.
In the tenth, Manny was in control. He was the general in the ring. “Give me six minutes of your best boxing,” said Atlas.
In round 11, Pac was boss of the real estate. Tim backed up, Manny aggressed.
In the final round, Manny backed Tim up. Bradley knew he needed a KO but he held on to a defender mindset. Pac walloped him at the end. To the cards…
MY TAKE: I asked on Twitter before the fight, would we be talking about Manny's ring rust or how damn good Floyd is? Floyd won…But really, Manny did. His athleticism is something else. The blend of the feet and the fists is top tier, still. Twitter agreed…