by Chris Farina-Top Rank
LAS VEGAS-After winning some controversial decisions Manny Pacquiao finally lost a close fight as Timothy Desert Storm” Bradley out-worked the Filipino superstar and won the WBO welterweight world title before a stunned crowd on Saturday.
A crowd of more than 16,000 saw what Juan Manuel Marquez suffered against Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs), who lost for the first time in seven years, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) remain undefeated and emerges as the new champion.
Bradley started with some quick jabs to measure the distance. Pacquiao landed a stiff left hand that connected through Bradley's guard to perhaps win the first round.
After a somewhat cautious first round, Bradley opened up with some combos including an 11-punch barrage when both were tangled inside in round two. Pacquiao landed some left counters and Bradley a right counter. It was clear that Pacquiao's vaunted power was not hurting Bradley.
Pacquiao opened up with the big guns in round three though few landed. Bradley was able to slip most and counter with some smaller blows but it looked like Pacquiao was going for the knockout that never came.
Pacquiao fired two dozen punches with few landing but was in full attack mode in round four. Bradley caught Pacquiao at the end of the round with a big right hand. It was his best punch so far.
The fifth round turned into a brawl with Pacquiao initiating the inside fight and Bradley responding. A big counter left by Pacquiao connected for the best punch of the round.
It's apparent now that Pacquiao was not throwing many blows in the first minute of each round. Bradley took the initiative with jabs and counters. Pacquiao landed a good left uppercut but was hit with an overhand Bradley right hand flush in round six.
Both fighters seemed tired in round seven as the brawling continued inside. Bradley connected with rights to the body and a left hook while Pacquiao connected with a counter left.
“I got my second wind in the sixth round,” said Bradley. “I worked on angles and movement and scoring with counters.”
The fight went toe to toe with Bradley having his best action against Pacquiao. Some right hands connected with Pacquiao still looking for the big bomb.
In round 10 Bradley landed and threw more than Pacquiao who was still looking for the big blow. It didn't come and meanwhile Bradley was scoring points to the body and head. A big right hand scored for Bradley. Round 11 saw Bradley score with some sneak right hands as Pacquiao mounted some flurries but few punches were connecting. So far neither seemed hurt during the fight.
“Tonight he never hurt me. He was hitting me on my arms,” said Pacquiao, who felt he won the fight.
Bradley praised Pacquiao's power.
“He hurt me a couple of times with the left hand,” Bradley admitted. "My corner told me if I won the last round I would win the fight.”
The final round saw both fighters unreluctant to make a mistake. Some clean right hands from the fresher legs of Bradley seemed to be the difference in the fight. Pacquiao never could score the knockout and paid for it as two of three judges scored it for Bradley.
Judges CJ Ross and Duane Ford had it 115-113 and Jerry Roth favored Pacquiao 115-113. There were no knockdowns.
“I want the rematch,” said Pacquiao.
WBA junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 KOs) blasted out Philadelphia's Teon Kennedy with a left cross at 1:11 of round five to retain WBA title. It was his first world title defense.
The former Cuban Olympian floored Kennedy five times and made the fight look easy as he riddled the Philly fighter with counter lefts whenever he pleased. Kennedy tried to make a fight but was unable to solve Rigondeaux's southpaw speed and power. Referee Russell Mora saw enough and ended the fight.
“He has the kind of punches you can't see,” said Kennedy, who though knocked down numerous times got up to fight.
Rigondeaux was never in trouble and looked relaxed at all times.
“All my punches are great, I don't have any bad ones,” said Rigondeaux explaining the knockdowns. “That was one of my best performances.”
It truly was eye-opening.
In an ultra slow fight for the vacant IBF welterweight world title Philadelphia's Mike Jones and former junior welterweight champion Randall Bailey matched feints and both refused to lead an assault through eight rounds. Then Bailey lowered the boom in round 10 and said good night to Jones in round 11 with a perfect right uppercut to the chin to win the world title at 2:52 of round 11. Referee Tony Weeks ended the fight.
“Nobody knows what I had to go through,” said Bailey (43-7, 37 KOs) teary eyed. “I just did it.”
It had been more than a decade since Bailey held a world title and had been striving since 2002 to regain a world championship.
“He hit me with a clean shot,” explained Jones (26-1, 19 KOs).
It wasn't until the ninth that Bailey took the initiative and began to mount an attack. A right hand counter seemed to hurt Bailey and that ended that attempt to engage.
Bailey scored big in round 10 with a one-two combination to Jones' chin and down he went. He beat the count and the round ended. Then came round 11 and Bailey waited for the moment and delivered.
Mexico's Jorge “Travieso” Arce (60-6-2, 46 KOs) was fouled by a head butt, a low blow and a blow behind the head all within seconds by Puerto Rico's Jesus Rojas (18-1-1, 13 KOs) and was unable to recuperate to resume the fight in the second round. The match was stopped at nine seconds of round two and ruled a no decision.
“This isn't ending well have a rematch. We have to do this again,” said Arce.
Philippine fighter Ernie Sanchez (13-3, 5 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Minnesota's Wilton Hilario (12-3-1, 9 KOs) on a weirdly scored fight. Judge Robert Hoyle gave Hilario only one round. It was a much closer fight with Sanchez having a difficult time landing a blow but he was aggressive. Hilario landed the cleaner blows but was not given credit.
Canada's Mikael Zewski (15-0, 11 KOs) knocked out Colorado's Ryan Grimaldo (8-2, 5 KOs) 59 seconds into round three of a welterweight match. Zewski landed a right to floor Grimaldo. He got up but couldn't recover and seemingly went down without another serious blow landing. Referee Cortez ended the fight.
Philadelphia's Jesse Hart (1-0) took advantage of referee Joe Cortez's warning for an infraction and while New Mexico's Manuel Eastman (0-2) attempted to touch gloves he was met with a right hand and a flurry of bombs. Is it coincidence that Cortez was involved again? Eastman should have realized it was not a sparring match and been prepared to fight, not shake hands. Shades of Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz. The fight ended in a mere 33 seconds.
Oxnard's Andy Ruiz (2-0) floored Taylor Lawson (0-3-1) of Las Vegas with a counter right hand in round one but couldn't finish the job. Lawson is trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. and has skills and a big heart. He managed to get in his licks but is a little too short for the welterweight division. Ruiz won by unanimous decision.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV