Pacquiao (56-5-2) pursued and peppered the previously unbeaten Bradley around the MGM Grand Garden ring with an aggressive effort occasionally recalling the Pacman in his prime. Bradley fought back with counterpunching and elusiveness, but Pacquiao kept up his attack while Bradley (31-1) struggled down the stretch.
In the same arena where the fighters met for their first bout, Pacquiao left little doubt about the result - although that’s what he thought last time, too. Bradley’s split-decision victory astonished most ringside observers, who felt Pacquiao had earned a clear decision.
“I knew I had to do more in this fight than I did in the last fight,” Pacquiao said.
Judges Craig Metcalfe and Michael Pernick scored the rematch 116-112 for Pacquiao, while Glenn Trowbridge favored the Filipino congressman 118-110. The Associated Press scored it 116-112 for Pacquiao.
“I tried, I really tried,” Bradley said. “I wanted that knockout. Manny is a great fighter, one of the best in the world. I lost to one of the greatest fighters in boxing. I kept trying to throw something over the top. That’s what we worked on in camp. That was the plan, but Pacquiao has great footwork.”
Pacquiao landed 35 percent of his 563 punches, while Bradley connected with just 22 percent of his 627 blow. Pacquiao’s jab was much more effective, landing 23 percent to Bradley’s measly 11 percent, and the Pacman had a slight edge in landing 148 power punches to Bradley’s 109.
Pacquiao’s performance righted one of the biggest perceived wrongs in recent boxing history. Pacquiao was an eight-division world champion on 15-fight winning streak when Bradley was awarded a split decision in their last bout.
Pacquiao was more aggressive and accurate from the opening minutes of the rematch, sticking to trainer Freddie Roach’s pleas to take the action to Bradley. They exchanged big shots in the opening rounds, but Pacquiao appeared to wear out Bradley with the heavy early pace - and the Pacman never slowed down.
“I didn’t want to get careless,” Pacquiao said. “I picked up more steam in the second half when I made adjustments that Freddie gave me in the corner. Bradley was much better than in the first fight we had. He hurt me on the chin.”
Although Pacquiao couldn’t knock down Bradley, he answered the questions raised by Bradley about his killer instinct with a consistent attack all night. Bradley couldn’t match that consistent aggression with counterpunching, apparently trying and failing to catch Pacquiao out of position.
“It looked to me like Bradley was just going for a one-punch home run,” Roach said.
The arena was crackling with energy when both fighters made their ring walks, with Pacquiao in the unusual position of going first as the challenger.