Pacquiao loses title after split decisionLAS VEGAS - Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines was stunned by American Timothy Bradley on Saturday, surrendering his WBO welterweight title on a controversial split decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
It was Pacquiao’s first defeat since he lost to Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005, ending a run of 15 consecutive wins by the Filipino who has held world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions.
“Desert Storm” Bradley, a 5-1 underdog against Pacquiao, improved his record to 29-0 with 12 knockouts, while Pacquiao slipped to 54-4-2 with 38 knockouts.
Judge Jerry Roth (115-113) awarded the fight to Pacquiao while CJ Ross (115-113) and Duane Ford (115-113) gave it to the American, but the crowd responded with boos after 12 rounds which the Filipino appeared to dominate.
“I accept what the result is,” Pacquiao said ringside. “I respect the judges, I cannot blame them. It is a part of the game. I give thanks to the Lord. I do my best, but my best wasn’t good enough.”
Asked if he thought he had won the fight, Pacquiao replied: “Absolutely, yes,” and the crowd erupted with cheers.
“It was a good, competitive fight,” said Bradley. “Every round was pretty close. Pacquiao won some of the early rounds. I controlled the later rounds with my jab.”
The American landed several early body jabs before the Filipino ended the opening round with a flourish, landing three crunching lefts to the head.
Watched by a crowd of just under 16,000 that included former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, Pacquiao continued to dominate Bradley with his probing left hand, then mixed in a series of telling combinations in the third round.
As chants of “Manny, Manny” echoed through the Garden Arena in the fourth round, Pacquiao pummeled Bradley with a withering array of body punches and jabs to the head.
Pacquiao maintained control in the fifth round, subjecting Bradley to a flurry of blows on the counterattack and snapping his head backward with a shuddering left hook.
The Filipino kept Bradley backpedaling for most of the sixth round, though Bradley fought back bravely in the seventh round. Pacquiao was hit by a glancing head butt in the eighth round but he remained in control while frequently smiling.
Bradley enjoyed his best round of the night in the 10th when Pacquiao appeared to relax but the Filipino came storming back in the 11th.