PACQUIAO APPEASES FANS, VOWS KO IN REMATCH / SUNDAY SHOCKER
 

[PHOTO - Manny Pacquiao lands a left to the head of Timothy Bradley in their WBO world welterweight title fight Saturday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)]

LAS VEGAS,  JUNE 12, 2012 (PHILSTAR) The outcry in this gambling city was so loud, Floyd Mayweather Jr. could have heard it in his jail cell. On the other side of the world, people cried in the streets in Manila, and the presidential palace issued a statement praying for the quick return of their hero's strength and fervor.

Through it all, Manny Pacquiao was a model of serenity.

"I hope you're not dismayed or discouraged," Pacquiao said. "I can fight. I can still fight."

That much was evident Saturday night (Sunday morning in Manila) in a fight Pacquiao seemed to have under control up until the time the judges' score cards were announced. He pounded Timothy Bradley early, landed more punches and looked a lot like the fighter who catapulted to fame on a remarkable undefeated run over the last seven years.

That he's a former champion now is thanks to some judging that was questionable, if not borderline incompetent. But boxing has always been a subjective sport, and anything shy of a knockout is always open to interpretation by the three judges who sit ringside and score things round by round.

Pacquiao understands that as well as anyone, which may account for his smiles and calm demeanor afterward. In his last fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, he was lucky to escape with a majority decision that just as easily could have gone to his Mexican challenger, and he's been the beneficiary of other close decisions, too.

He was never close to knocking out Bradley; he was never able to knock him down. He coasted some in the late rounds, and left his fate in the hands of other people – something every fighter is cautioned never to do.

It's a mistake he vows not to repeat if the two meet as expected Nov. 10, in a rematch both say they want.

"That will make me become a warrior in the next few months," Pacquiao said, "because in the rematch, my feeling is I don't want to go the whole 12 rounds."

The end of Pacquiao's 15-fight winning streak was even more startling because most near ringside didn't see it coming. Almost without exception, every writer had Pacquiao well ahead, and HBO's resident unofficial judge Harold Lederman had him winning 11 rounds out of 12. The Associated Press scored it 117-111 for Pacquiao.

"There's three judges out there. What do you want me to do?" Bradley asked. "Two of them felt I won the fight. That's all that counts."

Punching stats compiled by Compubox showed Pacquiao landing 253 punches to 159 for Bradley, and landing more punches in 10 of the 12 rounds. But boxing statistics are subjective, too, compiled by two people counting the punches they believe land in a fight — and this one got so wild at times it was hard to tell who was hitting whom.

Still, when the split decision was announced and judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross had Bradley winning 115-113, the pro-Pacquiao crowd booed loudly, and 81-year-old promoter Bob Arum nearly went apoplectic.

“This isn’t about a close decision,” said Arum, forgetting for a moment that he promotes both fighters. “This is absurd and ridiculous and everyone involved in boxing should be ashamed.”

Sunday shocker By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated June 11, 2012 12:00 AMComments (118)

[Timothy Bradley celebrates after the announcement of his split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao in their WBO welterweight title bout in Las Vegas. AP]

LAS VEGAS – Timothy Bradley scored a split decision over Manny Pacquiao that his fans deemed shockingly bizarre.

The unbeaten American, outfought and outgunned by Pacquiao throughout much of the 12-round bout, took a surprise decision and snatched the WBO welterweight crown from the Filipino superstar before a dejected predominantly pro-Pacquiao crowd at the MGM Grand.

Bradley, who hurt his ankle early in the fight and ended up in a wheelchair after the bout, couldn’t have made it without the help of two of the three judges whose minds, critics believed, were perhaps somewhere else, far outside the arena packed with a lively crowd of 14,206 on Saturday evening here and millions more all over the world.

Pacquiao, fighting like the vintage champion that he was in search of a convincing win after a lackluster performance the last time out, put the pressure on Bradley and was ahead for fans and fight experts’ scorecards.

But the judges saw it otherwise.

Jerry Roth gave it to Pacquiao, 115-113, but C.J. Ross and Duane Ford handed it to Bradley, 115-113, for the split decision.

“It is so bizarre. It is unfathomable,” said Top Rank chief Bob Arum in the post-fight press conference.

Upon hearing the decision, the eyes of the ageless promoter almost popped out of his head. He faced the press box, his arms spread on the ropes, wide-eyed.

Arum was surprised like he’s never been in his life, and it looked like he wanted to leave the ring as soon as possible.

“I have never been ashamed to be associated to the sport of boxing as I am tonight. This is ridiculous. This is absurdity,” he also said, adding that as stipulated in the fight contract, there will be a big rematch. The date already set for Nov. 10.

“I want a rematch. I want a rematch,” said Pacquiao.

Even the winning score for Pacquiao was questioned and contested because it was hard to believe that the fight was really that close.

After ring announcer Michael Buffer read Roth’s winning score for Pacquiao, there was a hush from the crowd. Then Buffer read the scores of Ross and Ford, and after brief pause, he announced Bradley as “the new” welterweight champion of the world.

The crowd, mostly Pacquiao fans, instantly reacted with boos that must have been heard along the famous Strip. Those inside the arena, except for the judges, were stunned, even American mediamen who had Pacquiao winning convincingly.

Pacquiao fans froze from their seats.

“This is the worst boxing decision I’ve seen in my life,” said the former mayor of Manila and one of Pacquiao’s biggest supporters Lito Atienza, on his way out of the arena.

Pacquiao dominated the fight that lasted 12 rounds, giving away more than a couple of rounds at most. He had Bradley in trouble at times, like in the fourth round when the American staggered. But he failed to bring Bradley down even once.

Still, it doesn’t mean that Pacquiao had no right to win the fight. The punch stats were all for the Filipino fighter who hadn’t lost a fight in seven years and three months, when he dropped a bloody decision against Erik Morales in the same MGM ring.

Bradley said he got his second wind in the sixth round, and started to move more, landing occasional punches to Pacquiao’s head and body. In the last three rounds, Bradley became more aggressive because he said that’s what his trainer asked him to do.

He also said he sprained his left ankle as early as the second round. He showed up for the post-fight presser on a wheelchair, and had to leave early to be taken to the hospital for X-Rays.

“I was told by my corner that if I win the final round I would win the fight,” said Bradley, who remained undefeated in 29 fights. He was the WBO junior-welterweight champion, and moved up to challenge Pacquiao.

On his wheelchair, Bradley said he was still “shocked” and didn’t know what to say. But felt that he deserved the victory.

“What do you want me to do?” he replied to one question. “There were judges and two of them felt I won the fight. I’m the new champion. We did it baby. I’m the new champion. Let’s do it again.”

The 33-year-old Pacquiao took only his fourth loss in his career (54-4-2) and how this loss would affect him will be worth watching. He fought a good fight, and was so much in control he often challenged Bradley to come in. He smiled a lot inside the ring.

Pacquiao just couldn’t believe it.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said in an interview inside the ring. “I did my best but my best wasn’t good enough I guess. I have no problem with the rematch. I will be ready.”

Pacquiao said Bradley never hurt him during the fight, because most of those punches he was able to block with his arms.

Did he feel he won the fight?

“No doubt,” he said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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