- Last Updated: 6:22 AM, June 10, 2012
- Posted: 2:28 AM, June 10, 2012
LAS VEGAS — After the final bell, Manny Pacquiao found a neutral corner and kneeled to pray. Perhaps he was asking for favor from the judges at ringside, just in case his welterweight championship fight with Timothy Bradley was too close for comfort.
His prayers went unanswered. When the judges’ scorecards were read, a sellout crowd in the MGM Grand Garden arena Saturday night was in stunned disbelief. Jerry Roth had it 115-113 for Pacquiao, and C.J. Ross had it 115-113 for Bradley. The final vote went to veteran judge Duane Ford, who gave it to Bradley 115-113. The Post scored the bout 116-112 for Pacquiao.
“I didn’t think he’s as good as everybody thinks he is,” Bradley said. “I didn’t feel a lot of his power.”
Now Bradley can cash his rematch ticket for a return match with Pacquiao in November. From now until then many will wonder whether he deserved the split decision and the WBO welterweight championship.
Pacquiao landed 253 punches to 159 for Bradley. Pacquiao, who lost for the first time in seven years, seemed to control the fight by moving forward, while Bradley was constantly on the defensive. At no point in the fight did Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) ever hurt Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs). Top Rank boss Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, stood on the ring apron, holding his hands up as the crowd booed.
“I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough,” Pacquiao said. “I’ve been watching tapes of Bradley’s fight. Tonight he never hurt me. Most of his punches hit my arm. He never hurt me. I don’t know what happened. I know there’s going to be a rematch.”
When asked if he believed he won the fight, Pacquiao said: “No doubt.”
This was the first pay-per-view fight for Bradley. After dominating in the 140-pound junior welterweight division, he moved up to the 147-pound welterweight limit to take on Pacquiao. The native of Palm Springs exuded confidence in the build-up to the fight, saying Pacquiao would have to prove to him that the Filipino was the better fighter.
“I got my second wind in the sixth round,” Bradley said. “I worked the angles sticking and moving. Manny hurt me a few times in the fights with his left. ... He’s a beast. I’ve got to give Manny a rematch.”
Pacquiao, meanwhile, seemed more focused on maintaining his religious transformation that had him conducting Bible studies around training sessions. A constant question was whether Pacquiao’s determination to bring peace to his life would soften his aggression in the ring. He was coming off a lackluster performance in earning a majority decision against Juan Manuel Marquez last November, a showing he blamed on personal and marital problems the week of the fight.Follow @NYPostsports