The opening round was close and it could have gone either way. Neither man stamped their authority on it and it was a typical feeling out round. It was, if you will, round 1 of the fight and not round 13 of the rivalry which had of course began 2 years ago when Bradley had taken a controversial and much debated split decision over the Filipino fighter.
Although the opening round had been quiet the fight really picked up in the second round as Bradley tried to turn the contest in to a dog fight. This saw Bradley charging in, trying to break down Pacquiao's body whilst leaving himself open to the much vaunted straight lefts of Pacquiao which landed time and time again. It was a brilliant round and showed the type of action a big fight like this deserves as both men put it on the line.
The action from the second round continued through rounds 3 and 4 as both men connected with bombs on each other. Bradley continued to attack the body, almost as if his entire game plan was based on breaking Pacquiao's body and destroying his speed and stamina with the body assault. It great to watch as both men dug their heels in and went to work with bad intentions and it was clear that the intensity couldn't last, at least one man was going to have to change their tactics and slow down or they'd both burn out by the championship rounds.
Unfortunately for Bradley it was he that had to slow down. The insane intensity and energy he had put into rounds 2,3, and 4 had taken it's toll on him and although neither man really really won round 5 it was clear the pace was being felt more by the American than the Filipino. Sure Pacquiao didn't dominate the fifth but it seemed like he was trying to find his rhythm whilst Bradley was just genuinely feeling like his energy reserves were dipping.
The sixth round seemed to prove that Pacquiao still had gas left as he he fired off the occasional, eye catching, combination including one very late in the round that brought the crowd to life despite mostly missing due to Bradley's incredibly movement with his head and body. Although it was a case of Pacquiao stealing the round it was something that seemed to irritate Bradley's corner man who seemed to feel that Bradley was beginning to the let the Filipino assume control.
If Bradley's trainer was frustrated after round 6 he was irate after round 7 as Pacquiao found a new gear and went to work whilst Bradley was against the ropes. Bradley, who even waved Pacquiao in, was looking for a counter punch to knockout Pacquiao but instead was forced to eat a series of big combinations before the bell in one of the most dominant rounds of the fight. It was as if Bradley had gone to plan D and that was to go for the run punch with out doing anything to set it up, just throw it and hope it connects. It was stupid tactic and one that failed, in fact it saw him giving away round 7.
Round 8 was slightly better from Bradley who tried to box cleverly though he didn't do nearly enough to win the round. It was another change of tactic that failed from the American who was almost cycling through ideas in desperation and his trainer couldn't help but show his anger at his charge shouting and swearing, trying to make his man use his brain.
Bradley was falling behind and fast. He needed something big to happen in his favour. Instead what happened was bad news for Bradley who appeared to hurt his leg when the two fighters came together in round 9. This saw Pacquiao smelling blood and unloading with some big shots that sent the crowd wild. It was as if both Pacquiao and the crowd could sense Bradley was a wounded animal and was there for the taking, worse yet for the American was that it seemed even he knew something was wrong as he went back to looking for a highlight reel KO. Bradley's trainer by now seemed out of ideas and lied to his fighter suggesting the fight was even, it had been difficult to give Bradley a round since round 5 at an absolute push.
The leg issues of Bradley from round 9 seemed to continue in round 10 as he flailed himself across the ring, completely off balance at times. It was a dream round for Pacquiao who got to land counters on Bradley as the American left himself open, throw wildly and began to look like a man running on fumes. Amazingly however Bradley showed his toughness to see out the round and even fought back in round 11. It was in round 11 that Bradley turned boxer, used his feet, and seemed to do enough to win the round. It was close but we gave him it and it his first in a long time as the cards had began to look very one sided. Had Bradley fought like that earlier, with his movement and pot shotting he may have been able to keep it close but by now he had needed a KO.
With the knowledge he needed a KO Bradley came our hard for round 12, his infamous will to win was put to the test. Unfortunately his will to win was less than Pacquioa's and the Filipino gave as good as he got in a thrilling round that saw both men trading and both men opening up, to varying degrees of success. Oddly, with less than 20 seconds to go, we got the first headclash of the fight with it opening a small cut on Pacquiao. With so little time left it hardly made sense for the doctor to look at it but they did before allowing the fight to continue to it's scheduled ending.
By the time we'd got to the final bell their was only going to be one winner, then again we all thought that last time. Thankfully the judges got it right this time scoring it 116-112, twice, and 118-110 to Pacquiao who picked up the victory many thought he had deserved 2 years ago.
After the fight the men got interviewed. Bradley mentioned that his leg was indeed injured during the fight whilst Pacquiao mentioned that his next fight would be left up to his promoter Bob Arum. The likely options for Pacquiao are either a rematch with Bradley, a rematch with nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez or the much touted superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
For note of interest, we had the bout 117-112 giving a 10-10 round in round 5 where we felt neither had done enough.
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