by Chris Farina-Top Rank
Timothy Bradley did his best work in the leadup to the main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night. In the ring, against Manny Pacquiao, Bradley wasn't so successful. He ate straight left hands, and his lack of hand speed and power was glaringly apparent from the start. Pacman looked in fine form, and Bradley, who complained after of a hurting right foot, never buzzed the Congressman. After 12 rounds, the vast majority of each which belonged to Pacman, the judges, though, threw a curveball. It was a brushback variety we have come to expect...They deemed Bradley the victor; Jerry Roth had it 115-113 for Pacman, but CJ Roth and Duane Ford both scored for Bradley, 115-113.
Anyone worried that Pacman's religious conversion would take away from his edge were mistaken. He hunted Bradley throughout, and though he never put him down, definitely sent the message that his offense was of a superior grade. The judges said otherwise.
I had it as did Harold Lederman 119-109, for Manny. The judges said different, in the most surprising megamatch decision I have ever seen. "I don't think we're blind, I think that is a terrible, bogus decision," Jim Lampley said. "I'm dumbfounded," Manny Steward said.
Pacquiao (age 33; 54-3-2 entering; from the Philippines) was 147 pounds--his highest ever--on Friday, while Bradley (age 28; 28-0 entering; from the bad part of Palm Springs, California) was 146 on Friday. Pacman was 150 on fightnight, while Bradley was 147. There was some drama before the first bell, when Jim Lampley told viewers that Pacquiao was MIA for a few minutes from his dressing room, and wasn't gloved up, while Bradley was. Roach explained that he was stretching on the treadmill, and that it was planned, to Max Kellerman. Kellerman talked to Bradley about it and he said it didn't bother him. Kellerman explained that basically, Pacman is in charge, and if he wanted to watch the whole Boston-Miami game seven, and then warm up his calves, then he'd be afforded that opportunity. Bradley trainer Joel Diaz said his team wasn't bothered by the wait. "A little more waiting doesn't hurt us," he said. Max noted that Bradley was pacing like a caged tiger. Manny did get some pad work in after he reappeared, and then came to the ring, after Bradley, to the strains of "Eye of the Tiger." Jimi Jamison allegedly fell asleep and missed his cue to accompany Manny to the ring.They finally heard the first bell at 12:09 AM on Sunday night, East Coast Time.
The WBO welterweight crown was up for grabs. Robert Byrd was the ref, while Duane Ford, CJ Ross and Jerry Roth were the judges.
In the first, Manny won the round with three late straight lefts. Manny landed 11 to Tim's 10.
In the second, Manny moved well to avoid Tim's aggression. His foot movement was better than the Cali fighters. His left hand was the signature punch of the fight after two. Manny was confident, didn't break into Bible verse, and was 18-15 ahead in punches landed.
In the third, Bradley's weak jab was not a factor. He ate lefts, again, and the crowd loved it. Diaz said that his guy was dominating, but he wanted more work overall, and body work.
In the fourth, we saw a few clinches. Bradley didn't have enough power, Manny Steward noted here. Manny smiled a few times in this round. Bradley was wobbled at the 40 second mark. Did he turn his ankle? It looked on replay that he did.
In the fifth, Bradley looked unsure of himself. They traded late in the round and Manny got the better of it.
In the sixth, Manny got his guard up when he saw Bradley getting ready to throw. He backed Bradley up, time and again, and got to work in the last minute of the round, once again. A right hook to the body looked to be a killer.
In the seventh, Bradley did score during a trade; but his power wasn't enough to buzz Manny. Diaz mentioned that his foot was hurt in the second and asked if he could go the distance.
In the eighth, there was a butt, but no cuts from it. Manny grinned after Bradley through a weak combo. Manny Jr and Michael, his older sons, liked dad Manny's work.
In the ninth, Bradley lost his balance at 2:10. He had no answer for Manny's hand speed and footwork.
In the 10th, we heard Harold Lederman had it 9-0. Lampley said the right foot was hurt, according to Diaz. It was a tight round, and maybe went Bradley's way.
In the 11th, Manny looked to bomb with the left. In the 12th, Bradley tried to land a bomb, but as we've said in the leadup, he showed in his other fight at 147 that his power is so-so. We went to the cards in a reasonably entertaining but pretty one sided bout. Team Bradley picked up their man and held him aloft, for the record.
Check back for David Avila's ringside report, and a follow from Ron Borges.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV