By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – Timothy Bradley promised to shock the world. And he did.
In a stunning upset, the 28-year-old Bradley beat Manny Pacquiao by split decision to capture the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight championship.
Fans at the MGM Grand lustily booed as two of the three judges gave the fight to Bradley, who looked inept and had no answer to Pacquiao’s effective left hand.
In the 4th round, he nearly dropped to the floor after absorbing a flurry of punches, and was clearly the winner in only one round – the 10th – when Pacquiao appeared to have taken a breather.
Judges Jerry Roth had it, 115-113 for Pacquiao, Duane Ford, 115-113 for Bradley and C.J. Ross, 115-113, also for Bradley.
Pacquiao said he won the fight, “absolutely,” but losing is “part of the game.”
Bradley, who scored his 29th straight win, said he was not satisfied, and would give Pacquiao a rematch.
“I heard the boos,” he said. “Let’s do it again.”
The 28-year-old Bradley acknowledged that Pacquiao was the better fighter. “He was the stronger puncher. He rocked me a couple of times.”
One of those times was in the fourth when Pacquiao caught Bradley with a flurry of punches and sent him backwards, resulting in what Bradley’s corner claimed was a sprained foot.
Pacquiao, coming out with new energy and enthusiasm despite nearly half an hour of delay after reportedly watching an NBA basketball game, appeared to have won every round, until the tenth.
He repeatedly connected with a crushing left straight that Bradley did not know how to defend. Even though he did not come close to scoring a promised knock-out, he dominated the early rounds.
Bradley was aggressive and gamely mixed up with Pacquiao, but his power did not appear to bother the Filipino one bit.
In the tenth though, Pacquiao hardly threw a punch, allowing Bradley to somehow gain momentum. In the 11th and 12th, Pacquiao pursued Bradley around the ring once again, but looked not as sharp as in the earlier rounds.
Still, boxing experts said Pacquiao was the clear winner.
“It’ terrible, it’s a bogus decision,” said Jim Lampley, who called the fight for HBO.
The Las Vegas Orient Express scored every round, except the 10th, for Pacquiao, who lost for the first time after 15 straight wins since 2005. He dropped his record to 54-4-2
If there’s a rematch, it will likely happen in November, but the loss brought more doubt to a mega-fight with undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.