Analysis: Fight far too close for comfort

Carlos Cinco
Bradley’s attack was consistent, yet most punches were either blocked or did not land cleanly

SINGAPORE – By now, everyone around the world must be pretty shocked about the split decision that did not favor Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao at the welterweight megaclash with 8-division world titlist  and Jr. Welterweight champion Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley.

Scores at the June 9 bout were 115-113 twice for the American and 115-113 for Pacquiao on the other card.

All the signs of an upset were there.Tim Bradley certainly had the tools to make a compelling case for himself as the victor, tools which he used in a carefully devised gameplan executed tirelessly over 12 hard fought rounds.

Bradley’s approach was very simple. He was to find a way inside via double-jab in an attempt to bang and rough up Pacquiao with combinations. In the early rounds it seemed he had achieved varied success.

But by the middle rounds, Pacquiao was beginning to solve the puzzle as the Filipino repeatedly tagged Bradley with hard shots that visibly staggered the challenger. Pacquiao, then on cruise-control, continued to dominate into the championship rounds as Bradley looked dazed and completely out of the fight – but the challenger never abandoned the gameplan and just kept at it.

A lot of the rounds were close, no doubt, but in my mind and in the mind of many others, Pacquiao was the clear winner. Cries of robbery and outrage dominated social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The fans were obviously not happy with the decision, and they made their sentiments known by raining down “boos” as Bradley took the stage in his post-fight interviews.

To Bradley’s credit, he was the aggressor throughout most of the fight, but it was hardly effective. Unfortunately, the judges gave him the nod and most likely felt that Pacquiao did not do enough to create a separation between himself and his opponent.

Bradley’s attack was consistent and composed, yet most of his punches were either blocked or did not land cleanly. In fact, it was Pacquiao who landed the higher percentage of blows according to Compubox, and there’s no question he landed the harder, more damaging shots.

I can’t imagine Tim Bradley would also be happy about this decision, he would have preferred to have won clearly and without a shadow of doubt. But alas, Bradley is the new WBO Welterweight Champion of the world following his 12-round Split Decision win over the Filipino Phenom.

In all honesty, however, Pacquiao didn’t take it to Bradley in the final three rounds like he should have. He was a bit slower and a bit less busy than he normally is, possibly tell-tale signs of aging and decline – and it’s not surprising given that he’s in his mid-thirties and has been involved in numerous wars over the course of his career.

That visible decline was all Bradley needed to score the upset. Members of the media called it right, Bradley did indeed have a chance to score the upset by outworking the Pacman, and that’s what he did for the most part.

Pacquiao buckled Bradley with beautiful uppercuts over the course of the fight. His left hand was still quick and unrelenting but it wasn’t enough. His bludgeoning attack featured fewer high-octane moments than in bouts past, instead opting to fight in spurts which were few and far between.

My scorecard read 116-112 in favor of Pacquiao winning eight rounds to four, giving Bradley just rounds 1, 2, 10 and 12. Still, the fight was far too close for comfort. I felt Manny Pacquiao fought at a controlled, albeit slower pace, but landed the stronger more effective blows.

Needless to say, a rematch is definitely in order. This loss could be better for Pacquiao than a win. It will give him a chance to come back to the sport with more determination. Pacquiao will return to the Philippines and reasses himself and where he’s at in his career. Some serious soul-searching is about to take place, and rightly so.

Is he still hungry? Does he still have passion for the sport?

These are all questions Pacquiao can only answer for himself.

Whatever he decideds, whether he chooses to hang up his gloves for good and call it a career, or he comes back with renewed vigor in search of vengeance, Manny Pacquiao has given the world a decade of amazing memories and has thoroughly stamped his place in history as one of the greatest fighters to ever lace them up.

Let’s hope he chooses to fight on and avenge his loss to Bradley this November, for our sake and for the sake of the sport.

Boxing just won’t be the same without him. – Rappler.com

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