The Pugilist

Bradley-Pacquiao II is a good thing

Bradley's title celebrations were met with boos at the MGM Grand, due to the circumstances

He knew it. His corner knew it. Everyone in the MGM Grand Garden Arena knew it. Timothy Bradley was the benefactor of daylight robbery against Manny Pacquiao.

After starting the contest with confident intent, Bradley soon fell prey to the incumbent champion's cerebral defence and superior positioning, and for seven brutal rounds was subjected to a constant stream of stinging combinations and killer body shots.

The decision of Duane Ford and CJ Ross to award the fight to the undefeated American 115-113 — with third Nevada judge Jerry Roth scoring the same in Pac-Man's favour — was so off the mark that fan fury and cries of 'conspiracy' were pretty much instantaneous.

Looking at the current state of affairs, the accusations hold water pretty well, too.

Pacquiao has made every effort in recent months to dispel suggestions that his best boxing days are behind him on the heels of a pair of unconvincing victories in 2011 and mounting pressure on several fronts outside the ring.

Nonetheless, between his efforts to rise to political power and maintain his marriage to wife Jinkee, controversy over gay marriage comments and alleged PED use and a rapidly-diminishing pool of untested talent, it does seem as if a controversial loss to a fighter he holds a rematch clause over is the perfect way to remain the hero, at least for now.

With one questionable decision, Pacquiao has gone from being portrayed as an over-the-hill great with too much baggage and no-one left to fight to a wronged warrior ready to take back what's his in a money-spinning return bout.

And that's precisely what makes the whole thing nauseating to diehard fans: it's almost too convenient.

Bob Arum promotes both boxers and has felt the wrath of fans for the monster payday a rematch would earn him.

Perhaps it was the Khan-Peterson and Haye-Chisora-Klitschko soap operas which put long-suffering spectators on the verge of breaking point before another hugely-questionable decision made them regret shelling out hard-earned cash for the umpteenth time.

Either way, the general consensus is that the sport of professional boxing picked up further velocity in its credibility free-fall, one shameful step closer to becoming pretty much a less physical version of the pre-determined professional wrestling pageantry which mainstream outlets dodge like the bubonic plague.

The Pugilist, however, disagrees. Well, somewhat disagrees.

Yes, the latest ridiculous judges' decision smacks of a self-fulfilling prophecy. But ask yourself this: would a second Manny-Timmy showdown be a waste of anyone's cash, based on the first confrontation?

Lost in the shuffle of the backlash against the decision is the fact that both fighters proved a hell of a lot that night: not only did Pacquiao's merciless middle-round display silence many critics of the Mosley and Marquez III let-downs, but by weathering the abuse to win a round or two late on, Bradley more than proved he deserves fights of this stature going forward.

Sure, there's a case to be made that Manny rather foolishly chose to take his foot off the gas in search of the decision rather than hit the kill switch, but who can honestly say they saw the state of the Californian in his corner after six and really thought he'd go on to see round 12?

He was not only tough enough to withstand the punishment, but conscious enough to change his strategy several times after the brunt of it until he finally found the approach which made a strong finish possible.

In an effort to stave off the reaction to the decision, actions are currently in place to investigate the whole affair, whether just to save face or because Bob Arum genuinely feels the wrong decision was made on the night.

But although possible actions such as stripping 'Desert Storm' of his newly-acquired title belt have been whispered, one can only hope that the rematch clause remains good.

No matter what the circumstances, another war between a more confident Pacquiao and a wiser, stronger Bradley is too appealing to be a casualty of the situation.

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The Arce-Rojas no-decision meant controversy spread beyond just the main event.

Those who were dedicated or wired up on sugary snacks enough to stay awake for the entire card that evening will have noticed further shocks and controversy on the infamous Nevada strip.

Pacquiao-Bradley was directly preceded by an immensely-promising match-up between Jorge Arce and Jesus Rojas in the latest instalment of boxing's never-ending battle between Mexico and Puerto Rico's finest fighters.

Unfortunately, a blistering opening round — featuring Arce scoring a knockdown after just 30 seconds — was soon followed in the second round at around the exact same time by Rojas catching his opponent below the belt AND in the kidneys before connecting with a wicked left hook to the ear.

With Arce incapacitated by a shot rendered possible by two illegal blows and the referee ruling the infringements as accidental, the Mexican's decision not to return to the bout led to a mandatory and disappointing no-contest — which in turn led to him being labelled a 'coward'.

And with an otherwise-insipid encounter between Mike Jones — at the time being groomed as a potential challenger for Pacquiao or Bradley — and ageing Randall Bailey snapping to life when the veteran ended Jones' untarnished record with a pair of sweet late knock-out blows, the only bout on a four-match bill to end satisfyingly and without incident was Guillermo Rigeondeaux's classy stoppage of Teon Kennedy.

Defending his WBA super bantamweight title for the first time in just his tenth professional fight, the undefeated Cuban continued to establish himself as one of the more exciting prospects across the weight-class board — as well as add good sporting news to a nation mourning the loss of a great.