By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – They were talking about a rematch even before the fight. They got it – in November.
But a return bout will not easily calm down the furor following Timothy Bradley’s unpopular split decision win over Manny Pacquiao Saturday night at the MGM Grand here.
Despite trailing most of the fight, Bradley got the nod of two of the three judges to lift the World Boxing Organization’s welterweight crown from the Filipino ring icon in a decision many called “outrageous,” “moronic,” and “ridiculous.”
And those were the kind words.
The rematch is set for November 10, very likely also at the MGM Grand, where Pacquiao won most of his fights in a remarkable streak of 15 straight wins, eight by knock-out, dating back to 2005.
It was the 29th straight win for the 28-year-old Bradley, a California native, who promised to give Pacquiao a rematch even before they met on the ring.
“Let’s do it again,” Bradley said after the fight. “I heard the boos.”
He promised to do better in the rematch and erase doubts he deserve the title, as most boxing experts who watched the Saturday night fight said he did not do enough to win.
“Bradley promised to shock the world,” said Dough Fischer of Ring Magazine. “It was the official decision that blew everybody’s mind.”
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, who scored the fight, 117-111 for Pacquiao, said Bradley fought a good fight, but Pacquiao was on top of him virtually all the way.
Pacquiao’s Hall-of-Fame coach, Freddie Roach, said his fighter fought his best fight since the Miguel Cotto bout, which Pacquiao won by TKO.
“I think the judges had their eyes closed,” Roach said. “Something’s not right. What they saw and what everyone else saw were two different things.”
According to the fight stats, Pacquiao landed 94 more total punches and 82 more power shots. Yet, judge Duane Ford and C.J. Ross scored it 115-113 for Bradley and Jerry Roth had it, 115-113 for Pacquiao.
“What we saw tonight was ridiculous,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. “I mean we’re not morons. This wasn’t a close fight.”
But Arum also promotes Bradley, and stands to make lots of money with a rematch, even though he said it would be hard to sell it.
Pacquiao, who suffered his fourth loss against 54 wins and two draws, said he felt he had won the fight, but accepted the verdict as “part of the game.”
“I did my best but my best wasn’t good enough, I guess,” he said. “The fans know, in their hearts, who won. There were a few rounds when I relaxed that maybe I gave him, maybe three rounds, but I thought I won most. I hurt him in most of the rounds.
“But (bad decisions) are part of the game, we accept that.”