By Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times –
LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao reserved a contractual right to request a rematch against Palm Springs’ Timothy Bradley if he lost Saturday.
And even though Pacquiao was left stunned by a split-decision defeat in which two of three judges awarded Bradley a 115-113 victory, it’s not a given that the pair will reunite in November.
Fight promoter Bob Arum said after the bout that he heard from ticket brokers who said they would have trouble selling seats to a Bradley rematch because most fight watchers considered the World Boxing Organization welterweight title bout on Saturday at the MGM Grand a one-sided Pacquiao victory.
“The brokers are telling us if we make a Bradley rematch, no one will go,” Arum said.
Todd duBoef, president of Arum’s Top Rank promotional company, said he’d like to see the results of polls asking fans if they want a rematch before committing to a second fight.
Veering from Bradley would deny him another major purse after he earned $5 million against Pacquiao. Bradley manager Cameron Dunkin said following Saturday night’s fight that he would expect a rematch purse to be “something near” $10 million now that Bradley has the belt.
So there’s some leveraging going on too.
Pacquiao’s alternatives would be another run atFloyd Mayweather Jr., who’s due for release from Clark County (Nev.) jail on a domestic-violence conviction in August, or a fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Bradley improved to 29-0 with Saturday’s victory, but few outside of his supporters were buying the scores that favored him from judges Catherine J. Ross and Duane Ford.
Arum said Bradley told the promoter in the ring before the scorecards were turned in, “Manny’s a great fighter. I tried as hard as I could, but I came up short.”
Despite concerns Pacquiao (54-4-2) had been flat in his two previous fights and might be unfocused after experiencing a religious awakening this year, the Filipino superstar returned to form close to his peak and connected on 253 punches to Bradley’s 159, according to CompuBox statistics.
“I was proud of Manny,” Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said. “I thought it was his best fight since” a 2009 victory over Miguel Cotto. “He clearly won the fight. I think the judges had their eyes closed. Something wasn’t right.”
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer said he does not anticipate any discipline or review of Ross or Ford.
“Every fighter who loses a close fight looks at the judges,” Kizer said. “I think every judge should strive to get better.”
Arum expressed concern for boxing fans’ faith in the sport.
“The outcome of this is not good,” he said. “I hope boxing recovers.”
Pacquiao said he would “respect the decision, but I 100 percent believe I won the fight. The best attitude is respect and professionalism. I hope this dismay doesn’t cause people to discard the sport. I’m still here. I can fight.”
Arum told Pacquiao on the news conference stage that, “If you want,” the Bradley rematch, “that’s what we’ll do.”
Pacquiao, who hadn’t lost since March 2005, hasn’t knocked out an opponent in five consecutive fights. He said meeting Bradley again, “would make me become a warrior in the ring, because I don’t want it to go to the judges.”
Pacquiao had a 158-to-80 lead in punches-connected after seven rounds against Bradley, who twisted an ankle in the second round and was clearly failing to convince the champion that he was capable of a knockout.
“I was glad Bob Arum gave me an opponent who would fight toe-to-toe,” Pacquiao said. “My goal was to exchange strong punches, but then toward the end he started running. … Aside from three rounds, I hurt him, and I know he felt that.”
Bradley trainer Joel Diaz said his fighter won five of the last six rounds on Ross and Ford’s scorecards by “moving.”
“After the seventh round, I was continued action,” Bradley said. “There were three judges, and two of them thought I won. What do you want me to do?”