Sunday, June 10, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer, Case Keefer and Taylor Bern usher in fight week by discussing everything surrounding Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley on their weekly "Waking up with the Sun" radio program. Has Pacquiao lost something? Does Bradley have a chance? And the obligatory question — Will Pacquiao ever fight Floyd Mayweather? Catch Las Vegas Sun sports talk Monday mornings at 8 on 91.5 KUNV.
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With a championship belt slung around his shoulder and a smile stretched across his face, Timothy Bradley, Jr. took his time exiting the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
Bradley attempted to take in the moment, the one he had spent envisioning for the past three months while going through a training camp he equated to hell. But that fantasy was surely without parts of this reality.
Some fans stuck around for nearly 15 minutes after ring announcer Michael Buffer revealed a baffling a split-decision victory for Bradley over Manny Pacquiao to boo the new WBO welterweight champion. A few of them sprinted down the aisles to hurl insults. Security guards bunched around Bradley like a swarm of ants protecting their hill to ensure his safety.
As much as inexcusable judging victimized Pacquiao, misdirected hostility did the same to Bradley. The undefeated 28-year old from Indio, Calif. — who had only $11 to his name less than four years ago — emerged as the unlikely enemy of boxing fans everywhere.
“What do you want me to do?” Bradley asked incredulously. “That’s what the judges saw.”
The question was rhetorical, because Bradley couldn’t even figure out what he wanted to do. Immediately after he found out he won the fight, Bradley leapt into his father’s arms in celebration but shared no opinion.
While still in the ring, Bradley said he would need to re-watch the fight to see if he really won. By the time he made his way to the press conference, Bradley’s attitude had changed.
Feigning ignorance gave way to proclaiming victory.
“I got hit with some big shots early, but I persevered,” Bradley said. “I fought through the pain and used my boxing ability towards the end to win some rounds, the last five rounds, I feel, to get the victory.”
Members of Bradley’s team had to push the champion into the press conference in a wheelchair. Bradley either broke his foot or sprained his ankle in the second round, which he said severely limited his movement. Pacquiao took advantage by dominating and nearly finishing Bradley in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.
“My corner asked what I wanted to do, if I wanted to quit,” Bradley explained. “I said, ‘No, I want to keep rolling.’ I caught my second wind around the sixth. I was a little tired, but I felt like I was carrying the fight with my jab. Manny missed a lot.”
Bradley may not have deserved a victory, but he showed tremendous heart to make it competitive in the late rounds. That was a message Pacquiao and his team spread about Bradley.
Even with unruly supporters yelling tired phrases like “this fix was in” from the back of the room, Pacquiao refrained from disparaging his opponent at the press conference. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum paused a couple times during a 15-minute tirade to praise Bradley.
“It’s a disgrace to the sport of boxing,” Arum said of the decision. “This wasn’t even close, but I’m happy for Tim. He’s a great young man who made a lot of money and deserves this break.”
Pacquiao’s bunch wouldn’t go that far.
“Bradley was very tough and durable,” Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said. “So be it, but I clearly thought we won the fight.”
Roach and Pacquiao each felt Bradley won three rounds, including the last two. They couldn’t rationalize how two judges awarded the challenger seven out of 12, or even how a third gave him five rounds.
Regardless of how hard he tried to savor the experience, Bradley heard more commotion about the decision than praise for his win. He said that motivated him to make a pending rematch — which should take place Nov. 10 according to a clause in the fight contract — more decisive.
With all the conflicting emotions, it was hard to gauge Bradley’s true demeanor. But his final comment of the night may have provided the most insight.
“For all of those who say good things don’t happen to good people, yeah they do, baby,” Bradley said.