Vintage Pacquiao Back – Ends Tim Bradley Undefeated Record
By Peter Wells
Revenge is very rarely handed to someone on a plate and that was exactly the case for Manny Pacquiao last night as he had to work hard for every second of every round to score a unanimous decision win over Timothy Bradley, avenging his 2012 defeat.
Last night’s performance was arguably the best of Manny since he destroyed Miguel Cotto, and it was always going to take such a performance to become the first man to beat Bradley, and regain his WBO Welterweight crown.
Bradley 31-1(12) started the contest very well as he timed Pacquiao’s rushes to perfection, finding an early home for the right hand. The action only intensified as the first half of the fight wore on, both darting in and out frenetically, leaving judges and fans at home at a loss on how to score the rounds.
Pacquiao’s immense speed may have done him an injustice in many of the early rounds, as his punches swept across the chin of Bradley so fast, it was often hard to even notice Pacquiao’s punches. While Bradley’s punches were very noticeable compared to the lightning combinations of Manny.
After seemingly getting the better of the first 6 rounds, Bradley began to fade as posing and inviting Pacquiao to trade with him on the ropes replaced Bradley’s earlier work rate.
Pacquiao pushed hard for the stoppage but Bradley’s head movement remained as he proved an elusive target all night. But offensively Pacquiao was in control as Bradley could see the victory vastly slipping from his grasp.
Pacquiao himself began to tire in the final rounds, Bradley offered one final hurrah before the bell sounded, ending Bradley’s hopes of proving so many wrong.
The official scorecards were 116-112 (twice) 118-110 all for Manny Pacquiao who moves to 56-5-2(38).
At the top of the undercard Raymundo Beltran methodically broke down the fast and awkward but overpowered Arash Usmanee over 12 rounds in an entertaining, but relatively ominous bout.
Beltran struggled in the opening two rounds with Usmanee’s awkward style and fast hands and feet, but it was always clear that Beltran who stalked his prey throughout was in control of proceedings. Soon enough the gap closed and Beltran took over as he forced Usmanee to often fight fire-with-fire.
The size difference was clear, Beltran having fought last time out for a world title at Lightweight while Usmanee had recently fought for world honours at Super Featherweight. Not only that, but Usmanee came in at short notice and that lack of preparation for Beltran proved crucial.
The two traded bombs in the final few seconds to bring the crowd to its feet, applauding both fighters for their respective efforts.
Official scorecards read 118-110 and 117-111 (twice) to Beltran 29-6-1(17) as Usmanee drops to 20-2-1(10)
Elsewhere a 50/50 bout that truly lived up to its billing saw Jessie Vargas outscore the tough and rugged Khabib Allakhverdiev over 12 rounds.
Both fighters were unbeaten heading into the contest and it was hard to separate the two, as they slugged it out for most of the contest.
Allakhverdiev started the slower as he was tentative while Vargas kept the jab prodding to take the opening few rounds. Vargas soon began to feel the power of the Russian as Allakhverdiev began to apply the pressure, but Vargas was still very much in the fight.
In the second half of the contest a very nasty cut over his left eye brought about a slight desperation in Allakhverdiev’s work, but ultimately it proved to be crucial as Vargas was unable to punish him on a regular enough basis to steal these close rounds.
Allakhverdiev ended the fight on top and seemed slightly unlucky not to get the nod, but after a close contest it’s hard to dispute the decision.
Official scorecards were 115-113 (twice) and a far too wide 117-111 all to Jessie Vargas now 24-0(9) while Allakhverdiev drops to 19-1(9).
In the opening bout of the pay-per-view card, Bryan Vasquez handed a first defeat to Jose Felix Jr over 12 rounds.
Vasquez swarmed over Felix Jr all night, not allowing the rangier but less experienced Felix Jr to work behind his jab and tee off with his usual bombs from distance. Vasquez chased Felix Jr around the ring at a high tempo, forcing the 21 year old to fight inside, while he had his back to the ropes.
Vasquez’s only previous loss had come to world champion Takashi Uchiyama, and he provided Felix Jr with a lesson on the world stage, not allowing Jose to control proceedings as he had done in his previous 27 fights.
Vasquez took control of the fight in the second half of the contest, and was helped along the way when Felix Jr kneed him below the belt, forcing a point deduction which would prove extremely costly – had Felix Jr not received a point deduction we would have earned a draw from the bout.
The scores were 117-110 and 114-113 (twice) all for Vasquez now 33-1(17), while Felix Jr drops to 26-1-1(21).
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