Manny Pacquiao’s hopes of entering into a $100 million superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr took a potentially fatal blow last night as the Filipino superstar was upset by undefeated Timothy Bradley.
The American (29-0) prevailed via a controversial split decision after a fight which had appeared to be Pacquiao’s for the taking, slipped from the Filipino’s grasp in the closing rounds.
Two scores of 115-113 in favour of Bradley overruled an identical score in favour of Pacquiao.
There were catcalls and boos ringside at the MGM Grand after the ringside verdicts were announced and the oddness of the conclusion was in keeping with a bizarre night of action that was initially delayed by Pacquiao’s decision to watch the concluding moments of game seven of the NBA Eastern Conference play-off between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
After seemingly hurrying to squeeze his gloves on and entering into a public rules discussion with referee Robert Byrd, Pacquiao was quickly ready to face up to the supremely confident Bradley.
Yet, despite the haphazard nature of his preparation, Pacquaio was quickly into his stride. Bradley, as was often the case through the early part of the fight, shaded the opening two minutes before being visually troubled by Pacquaio’s speed and power to concede supremacy in the opening session.
From there, it appeared to only get worse for Bradley. Increasingly tentative forays forward were punished by lightning fast combinations, however, Pacquiao often refused his corner’s pleas to fight all three minutes in rounds he appeared to be winning and would ultimately pay the price for his slackness.
The eight-weight world champion looked set to secure an early stoppage before the halfway point of the fight with Bradley being forced to swing wildly as each hurtful shot shook the visibly weaker American to his boots.
For the scorecard dominance, however, the second half of the fight quickly became Timothy Bradley’s domain as Pacquiao appeared content to cruise towards the finishing post with increasingly rare periods of dominance from the Filipino.
Bradley, to his credit, was able to use his footwork force Pacquiao into a more circumspect approach in the closing rounds, however it seemed that all at ringside and beyond had the champion a clear winner despite Bradley’s admirable revival.
Elsewhere on the card, Randall Bailey secured a first world title in 12 years with a stunning 11th round knockout of the previously undefeated Mike Jones.
Bailey appeared content to see out the twelve rounds and was largely inactive before his stunning coup de grace. The 37-year-old capturing the IBF welterweight title and a first taste of world glory since 2000 with an explosive uppercut to write the previous ten rounds of Jones dominance irrelevant.