LAS VEGAS — Timothy Bradley didn’t need big power to beat Manny Pacquiao after all.
Bradley won a contested split decision over Pacquiao, ending the Filipino fighter’s remarkable run and handing him his first defeat in seven years. It didn’t come easy and it wasn’t without controversy, with the pro-Pacquiao crowd booing loudly when the decision was announced.
Pacquiao landed more punches and seemed to land the harder punches. But when the scorecards were added up, Bradley was up 115-113 on two scorecards and behind by the same margin on a third. The Associated Press had Pacquiao winning 117-111.
Pacquiao tried to turn the fight into a brawl, using his power to hurt Bradley in the early rounds. But Bradley changed tactics in the middle rounds and used his boxing skills to win enough rounds to take the narrow decision for the welterweight title.
“I thought I won the fight,” Bradley said. “I didn’t think he was as good as everyone says he was. I didn’t feel his power.”
Ringside punching statistics showed Pacquiao landing 253 punches to 159 for Bradley, who vowed before the fight to take the 147-pound title from Pacquiao.
Bradley was so confident that he had oversized tickets printed up for a Nov. 10 rematch that will now likely happen.
Bradley seemed hurt in the fourth and fifth rounds, but Pacquiao had trouble landing big punches after that. Still, he seemed in control of the fight everywhere but on the judge’s scorecards.
“Can you believe that? Unbelievable,” promoter Bob Arum said. “I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, ‘I tried hard but I couldn’t beat the guy.”’
Bradley said he hurt his ankle in the second round, and that trainer Joel Diaz said he could either quit or try to take the fight to Pacquiao.
“I did my best,” Pacquiao said. “I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”
Pacquiao said he studied Bradley on tape before the fight and wasn’t surprised by anything he did. He said he thought he was in control of the fight and was shocked when the decision went against him.
“He never hurt me with his punches, most of them landed on my arms,” Pacquiao said.
Arum said there would be a rematch, though he criticized the judging. Arum has contracts with both fighters.
“I’m going to make a lot of money on the rematch, but this was outrageous,” Arum said.