On Saturday night in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, Manny Pacquiao got a little redemption. While a heavy majority of the boxing united will tell you what they saw wasn’t surprising, vindication came in the form of a majority decision for the W.B.O. champ. Pacquiao didn’t destroy Timothy Bradley in their rematch, but he did more than enough to convince three judges this time that there was a clear victor inside the ring.
So many people get down on Pacquiao because of the past three years and the events that took place. After looking unbeatable for six years, he has run into a bit of turbulence. First, he won a messy undeserved third bout against Juan Manuel Marquez. He then took on Bradley and lost a controversial decision. A fourth fight with Marquez brought one of the most brutal six round fights that ended with the right counter hook heard around the world as Pacquiao’s career and consciousness temporarily left his side. An easy win over Brandon Rios in November set up the Bradley rematch.
For the first six rounds, a different Pacquiao was in the ring. A fighter who was taking his time and not chasing his opponent around the ring, Manny was biding his time. Bradley landed the cleaner shots and seemed to be riding to a decision win before Pacquiao ended the sixth round with a flurry of punches. In the seventh round, Pac Man took over. He hit Bradley with a flurry of punches in the middle of the round that left Bradley dazed and confused. After surviving the round, Desert Storm Bradley came out and ate more wicked combinations. Vintage Pacquiao was settling into the fight as the tenth round came into play. Any time Bradley cared to stick his head into the cookie jar, Pacquiao snapped his head back.
While he has lost power over the past couple of years(the reasons can be divided up between PEDs usage or plain old 36 years of boxing), Pacquiao can still box, use his hand speed and take a punch. He has an underrated chin and is relentless in a boxing ring. He is going down swinging if all else fails. Bradley simply couldn’t match that. A very good boxer in his own right, Bradley couldn’t figure out a good strategy against a guy who could punch, take a shot and move around and be crafty enough late in the fight. The fight wasn’t as easy to call as the first go around, but I easily scored the fight 7-5 for PAC and could see a 8-4 score as well due to a few toss up rounds.
The career of Pacquiao will continue as he awaits the winner of a May 17th match between Marquez and Mike Alvarado. He can also consider a fight with fellow sparring partner Ruslan Provodnikov. The one thing that won’t happen is a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and for some fight fans that is hard to swallow. 4 years after the idea seemed golden, these two men aren’t going to step into a ring. Floyd can talk all he wants and Manny can say his phone line is open, but the circumstances force these two worldwide personalities apart. Floyd and Golden Boy hate dealing with Bob Arum and Top Rank, and since Floyd left HBO for Showtime, the chances for a fight climbed into the ground six feet deep.
The most important thing is a fighter found redemption inside the ring. Pacquiao got tuned up for the bout with Rios and that long journey culminated in a decisive victory Saturday night. His future is rumored to include 2 more years of boxing with an eye on the Senate seat in the Philippines. Pac will rest up, welcome his fifth child into the world this summer and consider his options. The one thing he proved this past weekend is that not only does he still have the skills to compete with the elite in boxing but he has the hunger to keep fighting. Pacquiao is far from done in the world of boxing. Saturday night, he proved he’s still got “it”.