Celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Will Ferrell and 50 Cent came out to Las Vegas Saturday night to see if one of the greatest boxers of his generation still could deliver the goods as Manny Pacquiao squared off against Timothy Bradley, Jr. for the WBO title. The eight-division world champion, who also serves as a Filipino congressman, did not disappoint the pro-Pacquiao crowd in a dominating victory over Bradley. The unanimous decision for Pacquiao avenged his June 2012 split decision defeat to Bradley in a bout that almost all observers had Pacquiao winning handily. Pacquiao put the decision in the hands of the judges once again, but they scored it 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112, and we avoided a repeat of what Top Rank CEO Bob Arum called a “death knell for the sport” after the decision for Pacquiao-Bradley I.
It was the eighth straight fight for Pacquiao that ended with a decision and not with knockout, but he was more aggressive than he has been in recent bouts. He controlled the second half of the fight winning at least six of the seven final rounds on all three judges’ cards. “I knew I had to do more in this fight than I did in the last fight,” said Pacquiao after the win. Pacquiao pocketed $20 million for the fight, down from $26 million for their June 2012 fight. Bradley earned a career best $6 million in his title defense. Pacquiao has earned more than $300 million in his career since he turned pro in 1995.
What’s next for Pacquiao? Forget the eternally discussed mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather. The blood feud between Top Rank/HBO and Golden Boy/Showtime/Mayweather is at an all-time high and makes the Hatfields vs. McCoys look quaint. Mayweather and Pacquiao are not crossing party lines to make this happen even it would generate $150 million for the fighters to share.
“I think I can fight for two more years,” said Pacquiao after Saturday’s fight. His most likely opponent is the winner of the May 17 matchup between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado. Arum promotes all three fighters greasing the wheels to an agreement, and the winner of the May fight will be Pacquiao’s mandatory challenger.
Marquez is a significant favorite over Alvarado and a fight against Pacquiao would be the fifth in a series between the two warriors that started in 2004. Pacquiao leads the series 2-1 with their first fight ending in a draw. Pacquiao had a 15-fight winning streak before Bradley defeated him under a cloud of controversy in 2012. Marquez knocked out Pacquiao in December 2012 leading many to question if Pacquiao was nearing the end. Pacquiao avenged his Bradley loss and no doubt would like to do the same with Marquez.
Money reportedly held up previous negotiations on Pacquiao-Marquez 5, which resulted in Pacquiao in the ring against Bradley Saturday night. But Marquez is coming off a split decision loss to Bradley in October and a showdown with Pacquiao is his chance to score a career high payday. “I have no problem with fighting Marquez again, but that’s up to my promoter, Bob Arum,” Pacquiao said.
Fans have not tired of the rivalry with the last two bouts averaging 1.3 million pay-per-view buys and both among the biggest audiences of Pacquiao’s long, successful PPV career. Look for Arum to make a fifth bout in the stories franchise for later in 2014.
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