The fight that changed Manny Pacquiao’s career forever

Manny Pacquiao Timothy Bradley

Mikey Williams

One night in the career of Manny Pacquiao began a chain-reacted to alter the course of his career forever. It was a decision very few will ever forget.

World Boxing News covered the happening at the time and could not believe what had just transpired.

As the fallout from their first clash continues to rankle with those who witnessed it, Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley is one of the worst stains in boxing history.

Who knows where Pacquiao would have taken his legacy if he’d not been bereft of certain victory?

To this day, disbelief reigns. How was their June 2012 fight was anything other than four-to-eight-rounds for the Filipino?

The apparent winner didn’t get the credit.

Bradley, who got the misfortune of the split-decision win, admitted afterward that he went through some dark days after torrid abuse aimed at him. It was through no fault of his own.

In this manner, those judges hit a double-whammy against two fighters that night.

Pacquiao’s career has nosedived spectacularly six months later due to the unbelievable nature of the decision as he hit the canvas face-first against Juan Manuel Marquez.

Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao KO 2012
Chris Farina

Had he gone into that fourth bout victorious against Bradley and not second-guessing himself, there’s a strong argument that it may never have happened.

Pacquiao taking his damaged mindset into the contest was off the table had he been given the correct result against Bradley.

Injuries suffered by Bradley in their first meeting meant Pacquiao could not secure an immediate rematch, and rushing into the Marquez fight was a wrong decision all around.

If Pacquiao would have taken stock and waited for Bradley to heal, along with taking his own time to contemplate what transpired, this, in turn, may have meant he’d have avoided that terrible knockout.

Add to that the fact, Pacquiao never had before or since suffered back-to-back defeats. It was a disaster for him.

He had to claw his way back up in the aftermath, with his next three opponents from the also-ran collection at 147. Bradley was one of them.

With most now questioning whether the ‘Pacman’ had ever fully recovered from the Marquez knockout, Pacquiao goes into his fights with added pressure to prove those doubters wrong.

This scenario possibly would never have occurred with a Bradley win, and we can only speculate where Pacquiao would be without this injustice.

Manny Pacquiao
Chris Farina

Gaining that rightful victory over Bradley, which would have been a 16th straight for Pacquiao, would have skewed him off into a different career path. A win kept him in touch with Floyd Mayweather in the pound-for-pound race for superiority.

Who knows whether Pacquiao’s run of invincibility could have even persuaded Mayweather that a fight with the eight-weight king was the right bout to take before 2015. Any career doubts that dog Pacquaio now would be non-existent.

The actions of judges Duane Ford, CJ Ross, and even Jerry Roth (who scored the fight 115-113 to Pacquiao), to an extent, should not be taken lightly. The damaging effect on Pacquiao’s career has been evident to all since then.

Pacquiao took a year out of the sport before returning to fight Brandon Rios. A fight that probably would never have been on the cards if Bradley never defeated Pacquiao.

The reverse firmly pushed Bob Arum’s main man out of the reckoning at the top of the welterweight scene.

It was something that only two decisive but unwarranted victories over Bradley rectified. The Marquez revenge attempt would elude him forever, though.


An immediate rematch with Bradley was the only way to right the terrible wrong of 2012. Sadly, it was never on the cards.

Re-matching Bradley instantly would have meant Manny Pacquiao never suffered his humiliation against Marquez.

That fateful punch that ended that fourth contest may be too hurtful to entirely erased from his memory.

A huge what if?

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