Pacquiao Completes Bradley Trilogy, Career With Victory
Manny Pacquiao didn’t win the biggest fight of his career last year against Floyd Mayweather, but he won what he’s saying might be his last one, picking up a unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley in their third fight against each other.
Officially their rivalry concludes with Pacquiao winning twice and Bradley winning once. To most, however, Pacquiao deserved the victory when he and Bradley first met back in 2012, only to hear Bradley’s name announced as the highly controversial split decision victor. There was no controversy when Pacquiao won their 2014 rematch, though Bradley blamed a calf injury for his loss.
There would be no excuses this past Saturday. Pacquiao came out on top, with all three judges seeing him the 116-110 winner, giving him eight rounds and scoring four for Bradley. Those numbers also reflect the two knockdowns Pacquiao scored, dropping Bradley once in the seventh and once in the ninth.
Bradley tried to pick his spots, using movement to get in at the appropriate time to throw punches without getting caught and then moving away. He wasn’t able to land enough shots of his own, nor was he always able to stick to that strategy and stay away from harm himself.
It was often a tactical fight, one that Pacquiao won with his speed and class. Bradley sometimes started the rounds off decently, only for Pacquiao to kick into a higher gear. Bradley was visibly frustrated walking back to his corner at the end of the fifth. Pacquiao scored a knockdown in the seventh when he struck while Bradley was off-balance. Bradley landed a left hook in the eighth that had Pacquiao retreating.
But in the ninth, Pacquiao caught Bradley with a good straight left, threw two more shots that caused Bradley to duck, then hit Bradley as he came back up, putting him on the seat of his pants. Bradley’s trainer, Teddy Atlas, knew his fighter was losing. There was no miracle blow to bring them a stunning come-from-behind win.
Pacquiao moves to 58-6-2 with 38 KOs. That may be where his record remains. He had said in the months beforehand that he would retire after the Bradley bout, particularly as he campaigns for a senatorial seat in the Philippines; he’s been a member of its House of Representatives since 2010. We’ll see if the future Hall of Fame inductee has hung up his gloves for good. We boxing fans tend to be skeptical of retirements, particularly those that come while a fighter can still perform at a high level.
Bradley drops to 33-2-1 with 13 KOs. His only defeats are at the hands of Pacquiao. He’s not great enough to beat Pacquiao, but that doesn’t mean he’s done at welterweight. It wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up with a rematch against Jessie Vargas, whom Bradley beat last year but who rocked Bradley badly in the final seconds. Vargas wants that sequel, after all, and he can offer in return a shot at the world title he now holds, a title Bradley dropped in order to take this fight with Pacquiao.
Anthony Joshua Wins Heavyweight Title Easily From Charles Martin
There is another new star in the heavyweight division, another fighter who can bring excitement back to a weight class that in recent years had been desperately in need of it.
That fighter, Anthony Joshua, sold out an arena in London within minutes and then made sure the crowd didn’t leave disappointed. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist captured his first world title as a pro, dropping Charles Martin two times in the second round for a knockout victory.
Joshua, towering at 6-foot-6 with a muscular build, won not with size but with speed and smarts, knowing when to deliver with power and being able to deliver it quickly. He began landing right hands on Martin with regularity halfway through the first round, often countering Martin’s southpaw jab.
Martin barely made it halfway through the second round. He couldn’t get out of range in time when Joshua attacked. And he walked into the shots that floored and finished him. Martin stepped forward with a jab and got caught with a right hand that put him on his tail a minute into the round. He took his time getting up, rising as the referee counted nine.
Then it happened again. Martin moved in with a jab and was countered with one more Joshua right hand. Joshua smiled, held his arms out to his side and walked to a neutral corner. Martin sat up and nodded his head, watching the referee count. He began to get up at seven. He had one knee and one glove on the canvas at nine. And he was only barely beginning to complete his rise at 10. It was too late. The fight was over — and likely would’ve been over soon anyway had he beaten the count.
Joshua is now 16-0 with 16 KOs and holds one slice of the heavyweight title picture. Two of the other three belts belong to fellow British big man Tyson Fury, who upset Wladimir Klitschko last year. Deontay Wilder, who won bronze representing the United States in 2008, has a world title as well. There are several other names worth noting, including Lucas Browne, Luis Ortiz, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin.
Martin likely won’t among them. This was his first pro loss; he’s now 23-1-1 with 21 KOs. Yet his short time with a world title wasn’t wholly surprising. He won the belt — which had been vacant, stripped from Fury — after Vyacheslav Glazkov suffered a bad knee injury early in their January bout. He was a heavyweight titleholder for less than three months.
Oscar Valdez Passes Test, Stops Evgeny Gradovich in Four
Oscar Valdez took another step toward challenging for a world title by defeating someone who used to hold one himself, beating featherweight Evgeny Gradovich via fourth-round technical knockout.
Gradovich won a belt in the 126-pound division in 2013 and held it until a loss in 2015. He’d fought twice since then, yet those victories had some wondering whether his best days are over.
Whatever the truth is about Gradovich, Valdez looked like a true contender. He was poised against Gradovich’s pressure, throwing and then moving and then beginning that process anew. Cuts opened up on Gradovich’s face, which also bore other signs of being on the receiving end of leather.
Through three, Valdez had outlanded Gradovich 77 punches to 41. And then it got worse for Gradovich in the fourth. He hadn’t landed a single punch through the first two minutes — not even a jab. Valdez, meanwhile, was on pace to have his best round yet. And then he downed Gradovich with a left hand. Gradovich beat the count, but the referee didn’t think it was necessary for the beating to continue. It wasn’t going to get any better for Gradovich, only worse.
Valdez, a two-time Olympian for Mexico, is now 19-0 with 17 KOs and is setting his sights on challenging for a world title.
Gradovich is now 21-2-1 with 9 KOs. Fighters with his style have a history of not lasting long in the sport. It’s hard to tell whether that’s the case given the quality of fighter Valdez appears to be. We’ll know more if and when Gradovich gets back in the ring.