By Sean Crose
So guess what? Manny Pacquiao isn’t finished. Not by a long shot. Sure, he may not look like he did against the likes of Ricky Hatton so long ago, but he looked terrific against a good – a very good – Tim Bradley on Saturday.
Take nothing away from Bradley. He’s a top notch, world class fighter. He simply got outclassed in Vegas. Pacquiao is a legend, after all. And he proved with his unanimous decision win on Saturday that his loss to Bradley two years ago really, truly was a fluke.
Make no mistake about it, Bradley started off looking great. There’s little doubt he won the first round. He also won the fourth. It was all downhill from there, though, as PacMan completely dominated the entire fight. Take nothing away from Bradley, the guy has incredible heart. He’s just not Manny Pacquiao.
As for the politician from the Philippians, he did what he set out to do – he bested the man most thought never bested him the first time around. The year 2012 hasn’t been completely wiped away from memory – there’s still that knockout loss to Marquez in everyone’s mind – but the first Bradley fiasco is now truly a thing of the past.
In a sense, Saturday’s fight served as the end of an illusion. Many, many boxing analysts had assumed Pacquiao was a finished fighter. Yet even Bradley clapped his hands in appreciation when the final decision was read. He fought bravely, yet he was bested – and he knew it.
Does this mean the end of Bradely’s career, though? Of course not. What it means, however, is that Bradley’s not at the top of the sport, as some may have assumed. That position is held by two other fighters. One is Pacquiao. You know who the other one is.
“I lost to one of the best fighters in the world,” Bradley said after the end of the fight. He then went on to claim he had suffered a leg injury during the bout. And he was right. It was clear to those who were watching closely that the man had hurt one of his limbs.
Not that it mattered. The fight may have ended up being closer, but it’s doubtful – at least to this writer – that Bradley would have pulled off the victory had he not been injured. Still, the future looks bright for the man they call Desert Storm, even in the aftermath of what has to be a crushing defeat.
For, even if boxing’s insane cold war were to suddenly end, who else besides Pacquiao could beat Bradley at the moment? Shawn Porter? Nope. Adrien Broner? Sorry. Floyd Mayweather? Forget about it. Mayweather won’t go anywhere near Bradley at this point in his career.
The point here is that Timothy Bradley remains the future of the welterweight division. The only question now is how long Manny and Floyd will decide to stick around for. Manny probably doesn’t have much time left in the ring. As great as he looked on Saturday, he clearly wasn’t the Manny Pacquiao of 2009.
As for Floyd, well, Floyd can stay around a bit longer since he refuses to challenge himself with his choice of opponents. Yet the clock is still ticking on Mayweather’s career. Even if he goes beyond his lucrative Showtime contract, the man’s days at the top of the heap are numbered.
All Bradley has to do, then, is keep going like he’s been going. Sooner or later the giants will retire, the dust will settle, and he’ll be the man to beat. For now, however, he can take solace in the fact that he gave it his all and performed well against one of the greatest the world has ever seen.
And that’s nothing to scoff at.