- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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Vindication. Hopefully that’s what Manny Pacquiao felt on Saturday when he took back the welterweight belt he lost to Timothy Bradley Jr. in June 2012 due to one of the worst decisions the sport of boxing has seen in years.
Pacquiao, 35, said prior to Saturday’s championship fight he didn’t feel as if he had much to prove -- after all, he knew who really won that first fight. Even though many of us would tend to agree, here are five other things we learned from the Pacquiao-Bradley card.
1. The rematch had to happen, even though it kind of didn’t have to happen
Pacquiao had to “erase” the Bradley loss from his record, even though it didn’t really teach us anything new. Two people, it seemed, thought Bradley beat Pacquiao when they fought the first time in June 2012. But those two happened to be judging it. Other than judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross, most felt Bradley had won somewhere between two and four rounds. Fast-forward to Saturday, and very little changed. Final scores read 116-112 twice and 118-110 for Pacquiao. Again, Bradley won somewhere between two and four rounds. The rematch played out very different from the first in the ring, but ultimately produced the same result.
2. Timothy Bradley has learned (kind of) that nobody likes excuses
Shortly after scores were read on Saturday, Bradley said in a post-fight interview he had suffered an injury to his calf early in the fight. A chorus of boos followed, which Bradley should have expected. By the time he arrived at the post-fight news conference, Top Rank officials confirmed he had suffered a strained calf muscle, but Bradley refused to discuss it. When Top Rank CEO Bob Arum asked the media to keep questions short due to the pain Bradley was in, he quickly said, “No excuses, no excuses. I’m OK.”
There’s more than a decent chance Bradley did injure himself in the fight, but it would have done him no favors to talk about it. He realized as much in the time it took him to get from the ring to the news conference. “I accept defeat like a man,” Bradley said. “I lost tonight.”
3. The winner of Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado will fight Pacquiao next
We already knew this going in. As much fun as it is to see a red-faced Arum answer to the demands of a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight (“We’re prepared to sit down with his people any time!” Arum said), we know how highly unlikely it is for the two sides to come to an agreement on that fight this year. Pacquiao dealt with the “loss” to Bradley on Saturday and he wants to deal with the knockout loss to Marquez next. "I think what we're looking at, as far as Manny is concerned, is the winner of Marquez and Alvarado, that's been talked on and so forth," Arum said.
4. As much fun as Pacquiao still is, Mayweather would roll him
He just would. Mayweather’s style always appeared well suited to handle Pacquiao and it still is. Pacquiao was impressive on Saturday, but he wasn’t the fighter who terrorized Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto five years ago. Freddie Roach basically admitted as much afterward. He used the words “pretty well,” to describe Pacquiao’s performance and acknowledged Bradley’s success with counter punches -- which Mayweather, too, would certainly have. If that fight were to take place in 2014, Mayweather wins 10 of 12 rounds.
“He got caught in the pocket a couple times,” Roach said. “He stayed in front of Bradley a little too long from what I saw. He was trying to beat Bradley down the middle and he had some success with it overall, but it was looking like Bradley was landing the bigger shots.”
5. Bob Arum is not impressed with Floyd Mayweather, Marcos Maidana on May 3
Shocking, right? Arum ripped the MGM Grand Garden Arena throughout the Pacquiao-Bradley fight week for the property’s decision to hang advertisements of a May 3 bout between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana. On Saturday, Arum praised his event for featuring what turned out to be a mostly competitive fight. He referred to the fight on May 3, in which Mayweather is a 12-to-1 betting favorite, as “nonsense.”
“I don’t think the Mayweather fight is bad for boxing,” Arum said. “It’s bad for the public who will be talked to about spending money on nonsense. It’s bad for a property like MGM, which continues to peddle non-competitive matches.”