MANILA, Philippines – Timothy Bradley maybe good at mind games, but it didn’t work against Manny Pacquiao.
This is because the Filipino champion showed nerves of steel all throughout the fight, according to veteran sports commentator Joaquin Henson in his post-fight analysis posted on Philboxing.
Henson, who saw the bout live in Las Vegas, said no amount of Bradley’s psy-war could budge Pacquiao from his intention to win that night.
“Leading towards the big fight, Bradley tried to get into Pacquiao’s mind. Whenever they got together for a press conference or a TV interview, Bradley made it a point to look Pacquiao in the eye, staring him down, hoping to unsettle his nerves. Bradley’s gambit was to scare Pacquiao or at least intimidate him,” said Henson.
Henson also pointed out that even during fight night, Bradley tried to ruin Pacquiao’s confidence by putting his hands down and showboating in front of the Filipino boxer.
Bradley also tried to surprise the Pacquiao by going toe-to-toe early in the fight, which went contrary to most expectations that the American would try to hit-and-run against the more popular Filipino.
But Pacquiao was able to adjust, especially after getting hit with Bradley’s huge right hand in the fourth. For Henson, these defensive adjustments allowed the Filipino to land more accurate punches in the latter rounds.
“His key adjustments in defense and offense were decisive. Pacquiao found an antidote to Bradley’s right hand by keeping his left hand up and spinning away from range. When Bradley tried to shoot the right, Pacquiao was a glove off-target. The Filipino’s defense was exceptional, forcing Bradley to land only 22 percent of his punches. Bradley connected only on 32 of 287 jabs thrown and 109 of 340 power shots,” the analyst explained.
Pacquiao’s co-trainer Buboy Fernandez admitted to ABS-CBN’s Dyan Castillejo that indeed they needed to make adjustments when Bradley started going all out.
“Hindi namin ine-expect na makipagsabayan," Fernandez said. "Pero nung nakita ko tinatamaan din tayo sa pakipagsabayan nila, hindi natin pinabayaan na gagawin nila 'yun."
Henson also said that when Bradley could not solve Pacquiao’s defense, it was Filipino’s turn to play mind games against the American near the end of the bout.
“Bradley got a taste of his own medicine as Pacquiao countered with his own mind game, starting nearly every round seconds before the bell waiting in the middle of the ring while the champion tried to catch his breath sitting on his stool,” he said.
Two of the judges eventually scored the bout 116-112 for Pacquiao. The other judge was more even generous, giving the Filipino a 118-110 card, officially handing back the WBO welterweight crown that Pacquiao lost to Bradley only two years ago.
The victory corrected the “monstrosity” of a decision that cost Pacquiao the title in the first Bradley fight.
“It's really important this fight for me in my career,” the fighting congressman said shortly after the bout. “because I have to prove that my journey in boxing will continue. That's what I did tonight.”