LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao once again outboxed Timothy Bradley Jr., but this time, the Filipino superstar got the decision he so richly deserved.
In a solid though not spectacular performance, Pacquiao outboxed Bradley to reclaim the WBO welterweight championship before 15,601 partisan fans at the MGM Grand Garden.
Pacquiao was masterful in giving angles and beating Bradley to the punch. Judges had it 116-112, 118-110 and 116-112 for Pacquiao, who lost a highly disputed decision to Bradley in the same ring nearly two years ago. Yahoo Sports had it 117-111 for Pacquiao.
Bradley, who suffered his first defeat, said he injured his right calf in the first round. But he congratulated Pacquiao after the bout.
"You deserved it," Bradley said to Pacquiao. "You won the fight."
This was most definitely not the 2008-09 vintage Pacquiao, who stopped a series of the greatest fighters in the world in devastating fashion. But Pacquiao boxed smartly, catching Bradley and then spinning away out of danger.
Promoter Bob Arum was so giddy that he went on a bizarre rant ripping Floyd Mayweather Jr. and reporters who he said are afraid to lose access for not ripping Mayweather and his team.
"Write all you want about 15-1 fights with no hopers and all this thuggery where, when I'm doing a promotion, they make the MGM put up signs for their stupid fight," Arum said. "You guys continue to do that. We'll give you quality fights. HBO will give you quality fights. But you want to close your eye to thuggery in this sport."
It was impossible for reporters at ringside to get Arum to speak about Pacquiao's performance. He went on and on about the May 3 Mayweather fight with Marcos Maidana, insisting it is a bad fight, and he blasted Mayweather's team for strong-arming the MGM.
Pacquiao said Bradley fought significantly better than he did on June 9, 2012, and said Bradley hurt him with shots on the chin.
But Pacquiao outlanded Bradley 198-141 and connected on more power punches than Bradley had total punches (148-141).
"He threw a lot of punches," Pacquiao said of Bradley, who threw 627 but landed just 22 percent. "I didn't want to get careless. I picked up more steam in the second half. I made the adjustments Freddie gave me in the corner."
Bradley trainer Joel Diaz said the right calf injury limited Bradley the rest of the fight.
"I didn't have much to work with," Diaz said.
Instead of using the magnificent boxing skills he showed against Juan Manuel Marquez in October, Bradley elected to try to get into a slugfest with Pacquiao.
Pacquiao clearly wasn't on his A-game – "Manny was a little sloppy," trainer Freddie Roach admitted – but Bradley never really threatened him with much.
Bradley frequently winged a wild right that Pacquiao was easily able to dance away from. And with Bradley firing crazily, Pacquiao got into the pocket where he was in less danger.
"Bradley was wild on the outside, so I went on the inside," Pacquiao said. "I knew I had to do more in this fight than I did in the last fight."
He did what he had to do and this time, the judges cooperated and did their jobs.
Arum was highly distasteful with the gloating and the nasty comments about Mayweather, a bizarre end to an otherwise quality fight.
Asked if he were disappointed that Pacquiao didn't get a finish, Arum sneered.
"He was fighting Timothy Bradley, who nobody had not only never knocked out but who nobody had ever beaten," Arum said. "Manny was fighting one of the great welterweights in the world, not a guy with cement in his shoes."