LAS VEGAS----Manny Pacman Pacquiao avenged his loss to Palm Spring’s Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley. It wasn’t a knockout, but a unanimous decision was good enough to regain the WBO welterweight title before a large screaming crowd on Saturday.
Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 Kos) encountered a much more aggressive Bradley (31-1, 12 Kos) and had some problems early on. After some adjustment he was able to use Bradley’s aggression to out-point the wild swinging Southern California fighter in the second half of the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Speed and more speed was on display from the first round on as the two miniature welterweights blazed away with feints, jabs, short combos and side steps. It was not until round three that both open up with the big dangerous blows.
That proved beneficial for Bradley, who snapped the head back of Pacquiao and sent him reeling backward. It was clear that Pacquiao was losing steam in the fourth round while the champion was fresher. The fourth round was Bradley’s best and he seemed ready to take over the fight.
“He hurt me on the chin,” said Pacquiao.
Bradley opened up the fifth round with some overhand rights that seemed to be on target every time. Pacquiao seemed lost and confused by what to do to counter the rights. Bradley played around with his hands down. From that point on Pacquiao regained command.
Pacquiao had his best round in a while in the seventh as Bradley resorted to goading the southpaw instead of fighting. After the round ended, trainer Joel Diaz yelled at Bradley to stick to the plan. It allowed Pacquiao to regain his footing and rhythm in the fight after Bradley had seemingly opened up a lead.
“I wanted to be careful,” Pacquiao said. “Bradley was throwing a lot of punches.”
The spring in Bradley’s legs seemed gone by the 10th round as Pacquiao seemed able to land the shorter quicker punches. Bradley seemed unable to move on his legs and resorted to loading up on his punches looking for a possible knockout. It never came.
“I hurt my leg and couldn’t move,” Bradley said. “I wanted that knockout. I kept trying to throw something over the top.”
Pacquiao used his speed and short precise punches to outscore Bradley over the remaining rounds. After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Pacquiao 116-112 twice and 118-110.
There were no knockdowns and no goading from Pacquiao.
“I just came to win the fight,” Pacquiao said.
It was Bradley’s first loss as a professional.
“I lost to one of the best fighters in the world,” Bradley said.
Costa Rica’s Next Champ?
Costa Rica’s Bryan Vasquez withstood a heavy barrage of low blows and out-boxed and out-slugged Mexico’s Jose Felix Jr. in a fight filled with exchanges to win by unanimous decision and win the WBA interim junior lightweight title on Saturday.
Fierce exchanges erupted early on between Felix and Vasquez. The Mexican fighter landed a few more but both were tagged and weathered the early tempest.
Blows were echoing in the arena as both fighters were landing cleanly and unafraid to unload. Vasquez was able to change Felix’s plans and forced him to change tactics in round two.
The battle slowed down in the third as Felix was hesitant about attacking. Vasquez tried to goad him in and fired two five-punch combinations. Felix landed a hard counter left hook but seemed surprised that Vasquez was able to take his blows.
Both fighters slowed down even more in the fourth round with Felix fighting more in a counter-punching mode. Vasquez was working the body but neither fighter made a big impact.
Vasquez enjoyed his most clear cut round in the fifth as Felix resorted to single punch counters. Several six and eight punch combinations by Vasquez had the Mexican fighter in retreat.
A clash of heads in the seventh round saw both fighters shake hands, but Vasquez came out of the respite with more energy and immediately landed a five punch body and head combination.
Low blows from Felix continued as the referee seemed to be unable to see them. Vasquez continued to ignore them and chased the Mexican fighter around the ring in round eight.
Referee Robert Byrd finally took a point from Felix for a low blow in the ninth round. The Mexican tried to get it back but was slammed with a six punch combination resulting in a closed eye. It was a Vasquez round.
Once more low blows seemed to be the choice of punches from Mexico’s Felix. Again the referee seemed to ignore the fact that low blows were the only kind of body work that Felix was capable of firing. From rounds 10 through 12 Vasquez seemed the fresher fighter and looked the part as Felix continued to move quickly out of punching range unless cornered. Each time he was cornered, Vasquez would unleash a five-punch combination.
Vasquez won by unanimous decision 114-113 twice and 117-110. He could be Costa Rica’s first male world champion, and soon.
Local fighter Jessie Vargas (24-0, 9 Kos) jabbed his way to the WBA junior welterweight title by unanimous decision victory over titleholder Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-1, 9 Kos) of Russia. It was a back and forth struggle that saw Allakhverdiev suffer cuts on both eyes and visits from the ringside physician. There were no knockdowns in the fight but though the Russian fighter looked like the loser facially, it was a close fight as two score cards indicated 114-113 twice and 117-111 for Vargas.
“I’m a world champion,” said Vargas, who is trained by Ismael Salas. “I thought he was busier earlier but I got control of the fight with the left hand.”
Mexico’s Oscar Valdez (10-0, 9 Kos) stepped into another category in facing Florida’s Adrian Perez (10-5-1) in a junior lightweight clash. After some good exchanges, Valdez began focusing on the body and saw great results. A left hook to the liver at 1:23 of round four ended the night for Perez.
Ukraines Oleksandr Gvozdyk (1-0) made an impact in his pro debut with a knockout win of Colorado’s Mike Montoya (4-3-1).
Brazil’s Esquiva Falcao (2-0) had too much speed for Publio Pena (2-2) of Providence. After six rounds Falcao dominated the fight to win by unanimous decision 60-54 twice and 60-53.
New York’s Sean Monaghan (21-0, 14 Kos) defeated Massachusetts Joe McCreedy (15-7-2, 6 Kos) in the battle of Irish light heavyweights. Monaghan put McCreedy down three times with body shots to win by knockout at 2:25 of round five.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV