Pacquaio pounds Bradley in rematch

The place was the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The date was June 6, 2012.

The match was Manny Pacquiao, the reigning WBO Welterweight Champion, and perhaps the greatest fighter in the world, vs. Timothy Bradley, a relative unknown from Cathedral City, California.

Pacquiao was coming off a seven-year unbeaten streak and went in as the overwhelming favorite. The fight seemed to be all Pacquiao, with Bradley barely hanging in for the 12-round fight. The announcers were singing the praises of Pacquiao, about how polished and professional the champion performed in the fight.

The time came for the judge’s decision. Ring announcer Michael Buffer’s voice rang out through the arena: “115-113…Pacquaio, 115-113 Bradley…115-113…the winner by split-decision…and NEWWW WBO Welterweight Champion of the WOORRLLDDD…TIMOTHY ‘DESERT STORM’ BRADLEY!”

The crowd was stunned. The announcers were stunned. A smattering of boos rang out from the crowd. One of the most controversial decisions in recent boxing history had been made.

Immediately following the fight, fans and members of the boxing world were crying foul and demanding a rematch. The WBO Fighting Committee had five of the top ring judges in the sport review the fight on tape and all five ruled in favor of Manny Pacquiao.

Due to various circumstances, the rematch had been delayed. Pacquaio had been knocked out in another shock loss to Juan Manuel Marquez, and Bradley had suffered various injuries.

That brought us to the rematch last Saturday night, again at the MGM Grand arena, after almost two years of anticipation.

Was Pacquiao still an elite fighter in the world of boxing or was he just too old and run down?

On the other hand, Timothy Bradley needed to prove he was not a paper champion, that he was legitimate and he could beat Pacquiao again.

So the stage was set for Pacquaio vs. Bradley, round two: Redemption vs. Validation, with the WBO Welterweight Championship at stake.

A partisan crowd for Manny Pacquiao filled the arena as the two fighters made their entrances. Early on, Bradley came out swinging, following up on his promise to knock Pacquaio out. The champion looked to bait Pacquaio to set him up for a killer punch. Through the first four rounds, there was an ebb and flow to the fight. Neither man backed down.

Bradley’s strategy seemed to be working, much to the surprise of the HBO announcers. The fifth round became the “swing round,” or the round that could possibly determine the outcome of the fight.

The complexion of the fight changed in the sixth round. Suddenly, Pacquaio was landing jab after jab, blow after blow. Before, Bradley had been leaning in following his punches, but now Pacquaio was the aggressor and had Bradley leaning back, leaving Bradley vulnerable to the eight-time world champion’s onslaught.

Five rounds in a row, Pacquaio proved why he is considered one of the greatest fighters in the world, with a masterful show of skill and technique. His hand speed, defense and power overmatched Bradley. Bradley was being outclassed, showing his fatigue and frustration.

Finally, Bradley was able to win a round with successive body blows in the eleventh, but it was too little too late. Bradley showed heart and determination, but after the 12-round fight, Pacquaio judged the winner by unanimous decision.

Pacquaio is the new WBO Welterweight Champion. He has found his redemption by avenging his controversial loss to Bradley two years ago. Bradley has earned the respect of the boxing world. It was a back and forth affair and a better fight than the previous encounter.

Now, what is next for these two champions? Can anyone say Pacquaio vs Bradley, round three?

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