Pacquiao-Bradley Scorecards, The Morning After

By Eric Raskin

There have been bad decisions. There have been bogus decisions. But there has never been one quite this confounding.

When Manny Pacquiao got the controversial nod over Juan Manuel Marquez last November, many of us at ringside and watching on television were furious, but at least we could understand it rationally. Pacquiao was the money guy; we accept, even expect, going in that the money guy might get the benefit of the doubt. What makes Saturday night’s decision in favor of Timothy Bradley so perplexing is that Pacquiao still is the money guy. Pac-Man appeared to dominate the fight, and yet he got robbed. The scoring defied all logic, both in terms of what we witnessed in the ring and what we’ve come to expect from boxing’s politics.

Before we can point fingers and pursue conspiracy theories, however, the first step is to re-examine the fight. I re-watched Pacquiao-Bradley round by round on Sunday morning, to determine for myself whether the 115-113 scorecards in Bradley’s favor from C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, or even the 115-113 card for Pacquiao from Jerry Roth, were somehow justifiable. Here’s what I came up with:

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Pacquiao Loses to Bradley in Controversial Decision

By Kieran Mulvaney

Timothy Bradley - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Manny Pacquiao won Saturday night’s welterweight championship bout in virtually all eyes – except those of the judges. Even Timothy Bradley admitted he’d have to review the tape to decide whether he’d won, and then he left the MGM Grand in a wheelchair. It was that kind of a night.

There was a feeling of the unusual about the evening almost from the beginning, the sense that anything could happen and probably would.

Guillermo Rigondeaux dispatched Teon Kennedy easily and emphatically enough, dropping him five times en route to a fifth-round stoppage to remain undefeated and retain his 122-pound title. So far, everything was unfolding to the script.

It turned out that the script was for an episode of the Twilight Zone.

Read More at HBO.com

Relive All the Action of Pacquiao-Bradley Fight Week

By Eric Raskin

Fight week is a steady build, with interviews, press conferences, and analysis on top of analysis leading toward the moment when the fighters touch gloves on Saturday. But something happens on Friday night where the steady build ends and the spike in excitement takes everything to the next level. Nowadays, the signifier that fight week is winding down and fight day is all but here is the airing of the final episode of 24/7. That’s the moment when it becomes real. The fighters are in place. The weigh-in is complete. The fight is officially on. Now we’re all just watching the clock, wishing the hands would turn a bit faster.

How will you pass the time in the final hours before Pacquiao-Bradley? How will you occupy your mind to take the edge off the anticipation? You can relive not just that final episode of 24/7, but the first, second, and third, as well. And you can celebrate everything that happened during fight week.

You can watch the fighters’ arrivals and hear what they had to say when they got to Vegas. You can look back at each man’s previous fight. You can focus on Pacquiao and what’s changed for him lately, or on getting to know Bradley. Or you can strike a balance and explore what’s at stake for each warrior, both the legendary Pacquiao and the undefeated Bradley.

If it’s strategic insight you crave, there’s no shortage of that. You can enjoy a visual breakdown. You can hear what legendary trainer and neutral observer Emanuel Steward has to say, or what legendary trainer and not-at-all neutral observer Freddie Roach has to say. You can go inside the mind of one of one of Pacquiao’s most famous knockout victims, Ricky Hatton. You can check out the CompuBox stats, or go one step farther and see what Inside HBO Boxing bloggers Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney had to say about those stats. And if you think this one’s going to go the distance, you can step up your knowledge of how to score a fight right with Harold Lederman’s help.

And if it’s predictions you want, check out who the media tabbed to win when they gathered at the final press conference. Or read what the fans are saying, from those picking Pacquiao to those predicting the upset.

The clock keeps ticking, slowly but surely. Before you know it, the undercard will be underway. And then, finally Pacquiao and Bradley will step into the ring. Fight week will be over. It will be fight time.

Jim Lampley Expects to See Early Intensity

By Kieran Mulvaney

Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley - Photo Credit: Will HartCalling the action on Saturday night’s pay-per-view battle between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley will, as ever, be Jim Lampley, who has been the voice of HBO Boxing since 1988. We sat down with the broadcast veteran in a relatively quiet corner of the bustling MGM Grand on Friday, to solicit his opinion on what we are likely to see once the bell rings.

There appears to be an undercurrent of opinion that, if ever Manny Pacquiao were to be upset in the ring, it might be in this fight, by this opponent.

I’d call it more than an undercurrent. I’d call it a groundswell. I’m surprised by the number of intelligent people I know who are picking Bradley to win the fight. I’m not one of them. I personally believe that Manny Pacquiao’s vast experience and punching power differentiate him in such a way that he should be the clear favorite in the fight – and he is. But there are a number of people who have obviously come to that conclusion based on Pacquiao turning toward religion and away from a flamboyantly raucous lifestyle, and making a commitment to the kind of behaviors we’re now seeing, such as smiling through the stare-down at the weigh-in today and then smiling benevolently through the interview with Max Kellerman afterward, and not even commenting on why he behaved that way. It was quite unusual.

Obviously, there’s a huge body of opinion that if you turn that way in your life, you’re not going to be the same fighter in the ring any more. I’m not of that opinion; I don’t believe that’s necessarily true. I think that Pacquiao can go in and fight the way he always has.

Stylistically and tactically, how does Timothy Bradley put himself in position to win this fight?

The first thing you think of is: rough him up, and break Pacquiao’s rhythm by doing things that, really, haven’t much been done to him during this spectacular streak of his. I don’t remember seeing anybody grab him by the shoulders and try to wrestle him around the ring. I certainly don’t remember, within the last several fights, seeing an accidental head butt that truly bothered him. He did get butted in the tenth round of the [Juan Manuel] Marquez fight [in November], and it bled somewhat, but it wasn’t like the bleeding that so clearly bothered him and may have emotionally debilitated him, in the first [Erik] Morales fight, which was his only loss on American soil.

Roy Jones said to me on the first edition of The Fight Game that, when a fighter is involved in several fights where there are head butts, that’s not an accident. And he went through a very cogent demonstration of how it is that a guy like Bradley gets his head in such a position that the other guy’s head is going to find it. And if there’s a butt, it wouldn’t shock me; and if Pacquiao bleeds from that butt, Bradley has exactly the conditions he wants.

How do you anticipate the fight developing?

I think the first couple of rounds will be intense, because I think that Bradley is quite aware that the head butt thing has reared its ugly head in quite a number of his fights, so he has had the experience many times of understanding that, if a butt causes a stoppage, he wants to be ahead on the scorecards, as he was when he fought Devon Alexander [in January 2011].  So there’s an urgency that’s involved in winning rounds, and Tim Bradley has said he’s going to fight to win every round. I’m very certain that Freddie Roach has also been telling Manny Pacquiao that it’s extremely important to win every round, especially the early rounds, so you’re ahead on the scorecards should there be a stoppage due to an accidental butt.

So I think the first few rounds will be intense. I think that whatever Bradley has in store for Pacquiao that might be a surprise, he’s got to unfurl it and use it early, and I think that Freddie Roach has been quite forthright in telling Pacquiao that he needs a spectacular performance, that he needs a violent knockout, that he needs the kind of thing that will coalesce his fan base around him and increase the chance that Floyd Mayweather feels he has to fight him.

I think we’re going to see Manny Pacquiao trying to land power punches and set up a knockout in the first four or five rounds of the fight, and I think we’re going to see Timothy Bradley trying to take advantage of that, to counter in a hurry and to get Pacquiao in positions he doesn’t like – and oh, by the way, if he can pin him against the ropes, that would be ideal.

Go to HBO.com for more fight info.

Roy Jones and Amir Khan Make Their Last-Minute Predictions

By Kieran Mulvaney

Who better to analyze a fight than a fighter? How about two fighters? We asked two of the best – Roy Jones, Jr. and Amir Khan – for their take on tonight’s meeting between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.

Roy Jones, Jr.

The biggest key is you have to watch out for the head butts. When an orthodox fighter and a southpaw fighter meet, what happens? We get a clash of heads. So we’ve got a guy who has an enormous amount of head butt issues with other right-handers; now he’s fighting a left-hander, so what else can we expect? We have to figure out how these two guys have a formidable fight, a real good fight, minus the head issues. That’s going to be the key.

Pacquiao’s probably the better boxer. And he’s certainly the quicker fighter and the more powerful fighter. Timothy Bradley is the more durable fighter. So you’ve got an early horse and a late horse. It all depends which horse prevails and which horse gets the race in his favor. Early, I think it’s Pacquiao. Late, I think it’s Bradley. So we’ll see.

Bradley has to get inside and rough him up. He has to. It’s his only chance. If he stays outside, Pacquiao will pick him apart. Bradley’s not as fast, and he’s not as mobile.

I like Pacquiao early, I like Bradley late. If Bradley can withstand Pacquiao’s onslaught, it can be a tough fight for Manny.

Amir Khan

It’s going to be a hard fight. I’ve seen Bradley train hard on 24/7. He looks in great shape. Bradley was a guy we tried to fight twice, and he turned me down twice. His excuse now is that he was waiting for a Pacquiao fight. Still, he could have fought me in between if he really thought he could beat me.

This will be a good fight tonight. It will be explosive. They’re both hungry. Manny Pacquiao doesn’t want to lose his pound-for-pound title, and I’m sure Bradley doesn’t want to lose his undefeated record. That’s what makes this fight interesting.

They have to work hard, not let up and not let the crowd get to them. There are thousands of people watching you, millions watching around the world. Bradley seems strong in the spotlight, but it always hits a fighter when it’s the day of the fight. This is the time where he will be nervous when he’s in his room, thinking, ‘The time’s come now. This is the biggest fight of my career.’ He will be nervous, because it is the biggest fight of his life.

Go to HBO.com for more fight info.

Business and Pleasure Don’t Mix at the Weigh-In

By Kieran Mulvaney

Manny Pacquiao - Photo Credit: Will Hart

There has long been an apparent dichotomy when it comes to Manny Pacquiao. Outside of the ring – even on his way to the ring, as he smiles and waves at his fans – he speaks quietly, laughs innocently at his own jokes, and professes his love for a wide variety of people, up to and including past, present and future opponents. Inside the ropes, once the bell rings, he is a brutalizing force, bludgeoning the likes of Ricky Hatton into unconsciousness, Miguel Cotto into retreat and Shane Mosley into effective submission. And then, the bell rings to end the fight, and the other Manny materializes again.

Timothy Bradley is less of a study in extremes. During the build-up to Saturday’s clash with Pacquiao, he has been eloquent, thoughtful, and calm, certainly; but by the time of Wednesday’s press conference, he was demonstrating an expression of consistent intensity, not demonstrably different from the one he will likely wear in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.

And so it was at Friday’s weigh-in, the final pre-fight public appearance for both men, before a crowd of several thousand that was cheering almost exclusively for the fighting congressman for the Philippines. After stepping off the scales – Pacquiao weighing 147 lbs., Bradley 146 – they stood nose-to-nose for the traditional face-off, Bradley exuding menace and Pacquiao, who has never been able to take such  rituals seriously, dissolving into giggles.

Immediately afterward, HBO’s Max Kellerman asked Pacquiao why he was laughing.

“Because I am happy.”

Why did he think Bradley was so serious?

“I don’t know.”

Kellerman turned to Bradley, and asked him to explain his severe expression.

“Because I’m ready for war. I’m ready to prove everybody wrong.”

Not everybody, corrected Kellerman; there is no shortage of observers who think he may spring the upset. Why did he think that is?

“Because they know how hungry and determined I am, baby.”

A study in emotional contrasts. Will Bradley’s intensity remain, and will Pacquiao’s ramp up, come fight time?

Go to HBO.com for more fight info.

How Powerful Is Manny Pacquiao's Left? Ricky Hatton Knows.

By Ricky Hatton (as told to Richard Fletcher)

Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton - Photo Credit: Will Hart

Manny Pacquiao is obviously a big, big hitter. With people like myself and Miguel Cotto, who move straight down the middle, there's always a chance you can walk on to that left-hand shot, and it was sadly the case with me.

There was always a chance, with my style, that I could have outmuscled him and outpunched him and mauled him, like I did Kostya Tszyu and a few others. I'd always been aggressive, I always went for the knockout--and that proved my downfall, really. He wasn't even looking at me [when he landed the knockout punch in the second round]. I think he just knew where I was, he winged it over and that was that.

His short left is very good. He's had many successes with it. I've always been a little bit reckless, but I got a little bit over-reckless in that fight. You can't do it at that level. With someone with a left hand like Manny Pacquiao's, you can't go in like that. I think a lot of people have learned that with Pacquiao because the fighters who are a little bit more cagey and a little bit more safety-first tend to have fewer troubles. With Manny Pacquiao, there's every chance he can knock you out.

Timothy Bradley can do a little bit of brawling and boxing. He can have a little bit of a fight, but he's a very well-schooled all-rounder. He's a very capable boxer, a very talented fighter. I think he'll come in and fight a cagey fight and I think he'll give Manny a few problems. I don't think he'll win, though. After the third Juan Manuel Marquez fight, Pacquiao will want to come back and destroy somebody. Timothy Bradley might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

24/7: Pacquiao/Bradley - Final Episode Tonight at 8PM ET

Speed is Key to Pacquiao Victory, Says Trainer Freddie Roach

By Kieran Mulvaney

Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach - Photo Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Asked what he thinks will be the key to this Saturday’s contest between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach offers one word:

“Speed.”

His guy, he believes, has it, and the other guy doesn’t. And when he says speed, he doesn’t just mean that Pacquiao’s hands are fast. More importantly, his feet are as well.

“His footwork is the best part about him,” he explains. “He’s in and out a lot; you don’t know when he’s coming in and out. It could be a feint, you can’t read when he’s going to attack you, and that’s why he’s been so successful, because he doesn’t necessarily have a rhythm. It always changes.”

He believes the Filipino icon’s unpredictability will be of particular advantage against an aggressive fighter like Bradley, whom Roach is convinced will take the fight to Pacquiao – even if the champion doesn’t necessarily agree.

“I think Bradley’s going to attack us, but Manny thinks he’s going to run,” Roach revealed to reporters on Thursday. “I told him, ‘He won’t run until he feels your power,’ but we’re ready for both. Bradley isn’t really built to be a runner, though, and if he does run, it isn’t going to be in a fast mode. He’s very slow on his feet, and so speed’s the biggest factor. But if he does try not to engage, we’ll have to take the fight to him and we’re prepared for that. I think we can count on him coming to us, because that’s who he is. He’s the same fighter he was as an amateur. He makes the same mistakes, and they will be taken advantage of.”

Manny Pacquiao - Photo Credit: Chris Farina - Top RankAnother insight Roach is confident about is that Bradley will not attempt to emulate the comparative success of Juan Manuel Marquez, who last November came dangerously close to defeating Pacquiao in the third installment of their contentious rivalry. Marquez always provides difficult opposition for Pacquiao because of his ability to lure the Filipino off balance and then fire a succession of hard counterpunches. But if Marquez has provided the theoretical blueprint for beating Pacquiao, that doesn’t mean Bradley will be able to take advantage.

“I just don’t see that happening, because he’s not like Marquez at all,” says Roach. “He’s never been a slick counterpuncher. To try to be like someone else as a fighter would not be conducive for anybody. He’s going to be Timothy Bradley. I think he’s going to come after us, and he’s going to keep trying and trying really hard. I think he’ll be resilient, but all the muscle and all the pressure in the world isn’t going to win the fight for him.”

Immediately after the post-fight press conference on Saturday night, Roach will fly to Canastota, New York, to be inducted Sunday into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Asked which would mean more, the induction or a Pacquiao win, Roach doesn’t hesitate.

“The win,” he says. “That’s what I live for. I hate to lose, and winning is what it’s all about. Besides, a large part of the reason I’m going into the Hall of Fame is Manny Pacquiao.”

Will Pacquiao-Bradley End in an Upset?

Members of the media packed the Hollywood Theater at the MGM Grand on Wednesday and made their final predictions about this weekend's mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. Most boxing experts favored Pacquiao -- with one very notable exception -- and of course the fighters had their own opinions on what will go down in the ring this Saturday night.