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Filipinos celebrate as Pacquiao regains crown ‘Tim Bradley was not an easy fight’

MANILA, April 13, (Agencies): Meanwhile, Filipinos jumped from their seats, raised their arms and burst into cheers as the country’s boxing hero Manny Pacquiao regained his WBO welterweight title against American Timothy Bradley Jr in Las Vegas late on Saturday. In cinemas, hotels, public parks and even army bases across the Philippines, people celebrated as Pacquiao avenged his defeat to Bradley in June 2012. Bradley’s victory over Pacquiao, two years back, was met by a chorus of boos from the crowd in Las Vegas after the shock split decision was announced, and promoter Bob Arum later described the judges as “The Three Blind Mice”. The Filipino southpaw went on to lose his next fight, a sixth-round knockout at the hands of Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 which prompted retirement talks. “He’s back,” said a local boxing analyst who was giving a live blow by blow coverage of the 12-round title fight. “He’s on his way to regain his superstardom in the boxing arena.”

It was Pacquiao’s second win after punching a unanimous decision over American Brandon Rios in Macau in November, where he brought cheers to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in Samar and Leyte in the central Philippines. The unanimous decision win on Saturday was the first loss for the American fighter.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino congratulated Pacquiao, a two-term congressman and a lieutenant-colonel in army reserve force, on his victory. “He embodies the world-class qualities of the Filipino in many competitive fields,” Herminio Coloma, the president’s spokesman, said in a statement, adding that the nation will give Pacquiao a hero’s welcome when he comes back.

The Filipino ring icon improved to 56-5 with two drawn and 38 wins inside the distance. Although he couldn’t get his first knockout win since 2009, Pacquiao lived up to his pre-fight promise to come out with more aggression, denying Bradley’s avowed aim of sending him into retirement with another defeat. “I think I can go another two years,” said Pacquiao, who had been stung by Bradley’s pre-fight claim that at 35, Pacquiao had lost the fire that had made him one of the most feared fighters in the world. “I’m so happy to be world champion again,” Pacquiao said. “Tim Bradley was not an easy fight.” Bradley, who said he fought from the first round with a right calf injury, fell to 31-1, with 12 knockouts. “Life goes on,” Bradley said of his first pro defeat. “Not a big deal.”

Judge Glenn Trowbridge scored the bout 118-110 for Pacquiao, while both Michael Pernick and Canada’s Craig Metcalf saw it 116-112 for the ‘Pacman,’ whose every move was cheered by the star-studded crowd of 15,601 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. After a tight first round, Pacquiao made his power felt in the second. The third saw both fighters exchange at a furious rate, Pacquiao again landing the more damaging blows. But Bradley rocked Pacquiao in the fourth, and Pacquiao said California’s “Desert Storm” was an improved fighter from the one who took that bitterly debated split decision in their first fight. Even the WBO said upon review that Pacquiao should have won that fight on June 9, 2012. Instead he saw a 15-fight winning streak end, and went on to be knocked out later that year by Juan Manuel Marquez. “Bradley is better from the first fight,” Pacquiao said. “He hurt me on the chin.

“I knew I had to do more this time than I did the last time,” he added. Pacquiao had launched his comeback from the back-to-back 2012 defeats with a lopsided points win over Brandon Rios last November. That victory was a clinical display of boxing skill. Saturday’s victory showcased more of the old “killer instinct” that Bradley had questioned. Bradley finished the fight with bruising around his right eye from repeated Pacquiao lefts, but Pacquiao said Bradley was just too tough to go down. “Many times I hit him hard, but he’s still there,” Pacquiao said. Trainer Freddie Roach was surprised to see Bradley in search of one big knockout blow himself. “He was swinging for the fences all night,” Roach said of Bradley, who said he thought it was the only way he could win the fight. But the American appeared in the later rounds to have punched himself out. “I tried, I really tried,” said Bradley. “I wanted that knockout. I kept trying to throw something over the top, that’s what the plan was.”

Bradley trainer Joel Diaz said he knew the plan had gone out the window when Bradley came to the corner after the first round saying he thought he had torn his right calf muscle. The injury was later diagnosed as a strain, and Bradley said he had “no excuses”. “Manny is a great fighter, one of the best in the world, maybe the best ever,” he said. After throwing few punches in the 11th, a desperate Bradley swung wildly in the 12th. Pacquiao finished the fight with a jagged cut over his left eye from a clash of heads late in the final round which required 32 stitches. Pacquiao’s next opponent could be the winner of the May 17 bout between Mike Alvarado and Marquez. If Marquez wins, he could meet Pacquiao for the fifth time. “I have no problem with fighting Marquez again,” he said.

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