- Manny Pacquiao v Timothy Bradley
Pacquiao suffers defeat on controversial night
Manny Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight belt to Timothy Bradley after a controversial split decision at Las Vegas' MGM Grand on Saturday.
Pacquiao, for so long considered to be one of the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world alongside Floyd Mayweather Jr, suffered a damaging loss as two judges stunned the majority in attendance by handing the fight to Bradley. Scores of 115-113 113-115 115-113 in Bradley's favour maintained the American's unbeaten record, but the fallout is sure to overshadow the fight.
Most importantly of all, the prospect of a long-anticipated battle between Pacquiao and Mayweather suffered a major dent, although for now the Pacquiao camp will only be focused on disputing a result they clearly felt was unjust.
The Filipino fighter had delayed his ring entrance, reportedly due to tight calf muscles, and certainly he looked a shadow of his usual self in the opening exchanges. Lacking movement and footwork, it took Pacquiao almost the entire first round to loosen up, landing three big hooks when he did so.
Stylistically it was a difficult fight to score with both men finding success with contrasting assaults. The left hand of Pacquiao regularly found a home on Bradley, but the American was always active with a series of rights in the second and third stanzas.
Both fighters tried to influence the judges in different ways, Bradley by starting each round strongly while Pacquiao stayed composed to pick his man off as each set of three minutes elapsed. Where Bradley seemed to be pushing himself forward, Pacquiao looked the more composed and often dictated the tempo.
Significantly, however, it was Bradley who finished the stronger - with Pacquiao wearing the look of a tired man in the last three rounds. As he returned to his stool after the 11th he looked visibly shattered, and Bradley took advantage.
The American arguably enjoyed his best round in the last stanza, connecting with a catalogue of combinations as the fight drew to a conclusion. To see Bradley clearly on top at the close may just have influenced the judges, who rendered a highly disputed decision.
"This is nuts," Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, said. "People don't know what they're watching anymore. I'm going to make a lot of money [with a rematch]. But who is going to take this sport seriously?"
Bradley was happy to trust the judgment of the officials, saying: "There's three judges out there. That's the way they judged it. What do you want me to do? My corner thought I was winning the fight.
"There's three judges out there. Two of them thought I won the fight. That's all I can say about that."