Abner Mares returned to the ring for the first time since losing for the first time in his career, defeating Puerto Rico's Jonathan Oquendo by unanimous 10-round decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The scores were 96-94 and 98-92. But it wasn't easy. Mares was cut early on and seemed extremely reluctant. He also had 11 years of rust to shake off, as he hadn't fought but one round in almost a year - the one round in which he was knocked out by Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013.
Mares improved to 27-1-1 (14 KO's). Oquendo, who had a chance in this one but just didn't follow up, fell to 24-4 (16 KO's).
Mexico may have a new star.
Undefeated Francisco Vargas won the WBO International and NABF junior lightweight titles with a thrilling third-round knockout of former Puerto Rican world champion Juan Manuel Lopez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The bigger, stronger Vargas forced the fight in the third round, landed a left hand and forced a vicious exchange. Lopez punched back, but couldn't hurt Vargas. Eventualy, Vargas pummeled him to the delight of the Mexican crowd before Lopez tumbled to the canvas.
The round ended, but Lopez' corner had seen enough and stopped the fight.
"I'm very happy for this moment," Vargas, 20-0-1 (14 KO's), said. "I prepared well in training and I'm here to tell everyone that I'm ready."
"I knew he was hurt. I knew he was a warrior. And my corner and I were making plans to knock him out."
Lopez, 34-4 (31 KO's), said: "I wanted to keep fighting . I'm a warrior."
Mauricio Herrera rebounded from his controversial loss to junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia Saturday, taking the WBA interim super lightweight title with a majority decision over Johan Perez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Herrera, 21-4 (7 KO's), switched between aggressor and counterpuncher throughout the fight, lanidng the harder punches and dictating the pace. But Perez, 19-2-1 (13 KO's), was there the whole time, often hurting Herrera with body shots. The crowd was appreciative at the end.
Herrera won by scores of 116-112 twice and a draw on the third card at 114-114.
Early in his career, Matthew Franklin was a safety-first boxer who danced and jabbed his way to 13 wins in a rugged 1970s light heavyweight division. Then, in 1977, he lost a rather ho-hum decision to future rival Eddie Gregory - and a switch was flipped.
The man who was abandoned by his aunt at age five and named for Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia where he was found wandering and confused, suddenly morphed into a take-no-prisoners brawler. He used the anguish of a childhood spent bouncing from foster home to foster home as his internal inferno. And his trademark became an ability to soak up a profound amount of punishment, before storming back to win in dramatic fashion. That style carried him to the WBC light heavyweight championship and, eventually, to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Franklin, who later became known to the world as Matthew Saad Muhammad, reportedly died Sunday. He was 59, and had fallen, again, on hard times. But for four years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Saad Muhammad was the prototypical blood-and-guts warrior - the "human highlight reel" long before Arturo Gatti came along.
After the disappointing loss to Gregory (a.k.a. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad), Saad Muhammad went a stunning 18-0 with 15 knockouts and introduced the world to his new alter ego. Over the next four years, he beat up the best the light heavyweight division had to offer with his new style, including Richie Kates (TKO 6), Marvin Johnson twice (TKO 12, TKO 8, the second time for the WBC 175-pound title), Yaqui Lopez twice (TKO 11, TKO 14), John Conteh twice (W 15, TKO 4), Murray Sutherland (KO 9) and Jerry Martin (TKO 11).
And he did it all in thrilling fashion. His title-winning knockout of Johnson in Johnson's native Indianapolis in 1979 resembled a real-life "Rocky" movie (like Saad, also a Philly native). Saad was bloody and seemingly beaten when he stormed back to stop the defending champ. He earned the nickname "Miracle Matthew."
But Saad will forever be known for his 1980 "Fight of the Year"with Lopez in the rematch. Lopez, who had been unsuccessful in two previous title bids, trapped Saad on the ropes in the eighh round and unloaded his guns. As KO Magazine reported in its "Round of the Year" profile, everyone waited for either the ref to step in or for Saad to fall. Neither happened. And Saad survived.
Somehow, someway, he came back to knock an exhausted Lopez out in the 14th round.
Eventually, though, it had to end. No human being could possibly take that amount of punishment forever, and, in December 1981, Dwight Braxton (Muhammad Qawi) knocked Saad out in the 10th round. Eight months later, he did it again in six rounds, and Saad's career as a top-flight fighter was officially over.
Saad never fought Mustafa Muhammad in what would have been a tremendous 175-pound unification fight in the early 1980s. And he just missed the prime of Michael Spinks, who went on to dominate the divison after Saad's fall. But, otherwise, Saad's achievements are unbelievable considering where he came from - literally, the streets of Philadelphia.
His story remains one of the more incredible in boxng history. His aunt instructed her son to literally drop Saad off on Franklin Parkway and walk away because she could not afford to care for him. He was found and raised for a time by nuns, who couldn't understand the name the little boy was murmuring ("Maxwell Loach") and named him "Matthew" because it sounded like "Maxwell," and "Franklin" for Franklin Parkway.
He last fought in 1992. He finally retired with a record of 49-16-3 (35 KO's). He made eight defenses of his WBC light heavyweight title, and is regarded as one of the hardest punchers in division history. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998.
For years, his life was rumored to be made into a movie. But it never materialized. Perhaps one day, it will. It certainly should.It's unfortunate he'll never be able to reap the benefits of such a project.
At the time of his death, Saad Muhammad was reportedly homeless.
Regardless, Matthew Saad Muhammad made his mark in life. He turned the rage of an unthinkable act and turned it into a world championship. It's what boxing is all about.
RIP to a great warrior.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is undefeated at 45-0 with 26 knockouts. “Money” is regarded, almost undisputedly, as the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing. He is not only considered the best fighter of his generation, but, lately, some have suggested that he may be the best fighter in the history of boxing.
The Mayweather legend is built on the foundation that he has fought in five weight divisions – 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds – and has emerged unblemished. Forty-five fights, 45 wins. Forty-five opponents, 45 victims. He says there is no “blueprint” for his defeat. Like a trip to Jupiter or licking your elbow – it has never been done.
Or has it? On April 20, 2002, Mayweather jumped up from 130 to 135 pounds to meet WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At the time, he was 27-0 and a heavy favorite to beat the slugger from Sonora, Mexico. Even though he was giving up a significant size advantage – Castillo rehydrated and entered the ring nine pounds heavier – most expected Mayweather to come out of this one relatively unscathed, as he had all the others.
But he didn’t. After 12 rounds of boxing, most ringsiders – including the HBO broadcast team of Jim Lampley, George Foreman, Larry Merchant and Harold Lederman – felt Castillo had won comfortably. The look on Mayweather’s face at the end of it was not the confident visage of a champion – but the worried look of a fighter who knew he was about to experience defeat for the first time. In the end, Mayweather won a unanimous decision that many consider one of the worst of the 2000s. The scores: 115-111 twice, and a ridiculous 116-111.
Afterward, Lampley bellowed: “Not the fight we saw.”
As Mayweather prepares for his 46th professional fight Saturday against Argentine slugger Marcos Maidana for the WBA/WBC welterweight titles, some consider the first Castillo fight (they fought again in December 2002, with Mayweather winning a clear-cut decision) as the blueprint that “Money” says does not exist.
Below is a round-by-round summary of the Mayweather-Castillo fight, which the Maidana camp surely studied heading into Saturday.
Could it be a map of the road to victory?
Round 1: Mayweather comes out fast, and lands several left hands early. Castillo seems a little surprised by Mayweather’s speed. Castillo is aggressive, but ineffective, and lands all of three punches. Mayweather draws blood from Castillo’s nose. Mayweather’s round, 10-9.
Round 2: Castillo, still trying to find his footing against the fleet challenger, awkwardly slips onto the canvas. He is having a hellacious time timing Mayweather’s movements. They bang heads, and they both stop and check for blood. Mayweather got the worst of it – a small cut on the lip. Castillo is more aggressive, but still being outworked. Mayweather 10-9.
Round 3: Castillo begins to jab more, and seems to be closing the distance. Mayweather begins to pot-shot Castillo with right hands during one beautiful sequence of boxing. Mayweather is deadly accurate. Castillo doing better, but still figuring things out. Mayweather 10-9.
Round 4: Mayweather lands a left hook before inexplicably turning southpaw. Castillo is doing a better job of staying close, and is starting to land heavy body shots as a result. Castillo connects with a sharp uppercut, and appears to be making some headway. Castillo 10-9.
Round 5: Suddenly, Mayweather is looking unsure and trying new things. He strangely squares up on Castillo a few times, and continues to turn southpaw. He rips a left hand, and is displaying a ton of side-to-side movement. Castillo is increasing the pressure incrementally. Mayweather is still countering beautifully behind the jab. After the round, Roger Mayweather tells his nephew to stop turning southpaw. Mayweather 10-9.
Round 6: Castillo lands a hard right hand and is starting to put combinations together. Mayweather falls to the canvas after fielding a couple of low blows. Mayweather gets up, but seems to be wearing down physically and is increasingly fighting Castillo’s fight. Castillo is advancing and bothering Mayweather with body shots. Castillo lands a right at the bell. Castillo 10-9.
Round 7: Castillo is pounding the body now. He lands a right to the body followed by a left to the head. His nine pound weight advantage is showing itself. Mayweather is in full retreat. Castillo has Mayweather against the ropes and lands a spectacular double left to the body, a right to the head, and a left-right and is looking dominant. Mayweather smiles at the bell. Castillo 10-9.
Round 8: Castillo opens the round with three big body shots. But Mayweather is reestablishing the jab and some distance and is dictating again. At the end of the round, Castillo lands a left on the break and referee Vic Drakulich deducts a point from Castillo. Mayweather 10-8.
Round 9: Castillo digs a left to the body, and is almost chasing Mayweather now. He lands a right-left against the ropes. Strength is a factor as Castillo traps Mayweather on the ropes and pummels away. Castillo is outworking Mayweather, turning the fight into a brawl, and throwing in combination to the head and body. Castillo 10-9.
Round 10: Mayweather starts out boxing well, but doesn’t appear to have the strength to keep Castillo off of him. Castillo lands a left, left, right against the ropes. Mayweather pushes off with his elbow, and Drakulich takes a point away. Castillo 10-8.
Round 11: Castillo is non-stop now, outworking Mayweather on the inside and punishing the body. Mayweather is completely flat-footed now and is being outmuscled on the inside as a result. Still, he is fighting back hard and landing his own shots. Castillo is landing first and connecting with combos. Castillo 10-9.
Round 12: Castillo lands body shots. Mayweather is fighting back, but is getting overrun. Castillo is landing big body blows still. He is dominant down the stretch. Castillo 10-9.
Final tally: Castillo 114, Mayweather 112.
Mayweather was dictating this fight for the first five rounds, as Castillo struggled to make sense of his speed. In his famous quote, Castillo said of Mayweather: “By the time you figure him out, you’re five rounds down.” But the turning point came in round six, when his pressure and roughhousing tactics – specifically low blows - began to pay off. Mayweather tumbled to the canvas, and it was as much from being physically outmuscled as him slipping. He seemed to be trying different tactics almost in desperation. The weight difference was perhaps the biggest factor.
Maidana will have no such weight advantage. But he does possess many of the same traits as Castillo, namely, physical strength, aggression, relentlessness, a strong body attack, good conditioning and a powerful punch – more powerful than Castillo’s. Much like Castillo, he rarely lets outside forces bother him, and he has a strong mental will, as he proved in December when he refused to allow Adrien Broner’s psychological mind games affect him.
Strategists say Maidana must do the same as Castillo - refuse to allow Mayweather to dictate the pace, and throw him off with pressure, determination and mental fortitude.
Whether or not “Chino” has the ability to execute Castillo’s disciplined fight plan remains to be seen.
Manny Pacquiao outpointed Timothy Bradley Jr. by unanimous decision Saturday in Las Vegas to regain the WBO welterweight title, avenging a controversial loss two years ago in the same MGM Grand ring.
The fight started out blazing, as Bradley made good on his promise to go for the knockout. He landed right hands early by fighting at a good distance. He looked physically bigger than Pacquiao, 56-5-2 (38 knockouts), and, by round two, both fighters were standing flat-footed and firing their biggest shots. Pacquiao staggered Bradley with a left hand in round two, but Bradley came back strong, swinging for the fences with wild haymakers. He hurt Pacquiao himself with a right hand in round four, and the pace was torrid.
But it appeared Bradley, 31-1 (12 KO's), never quite recovered from the second round left hand, as his legs betrayed him the rest of the fight. He appeared rubbery and unsteady and Pacquiao began to take control in round six.
Pacquiao swept most of the next six rounds with high-volume, highly-accurate punching to win by scores of 116-112 twice and 118-110. Bradley appeared out-of-sorts late in the fight, abandoning his pursuit of a knockout. He said he injured a calf late in the fight (he injured both his ankles in the June 9, 2012 original). But he likely also punched himself out trying for the KO in the early rounds.
"He threw a lot of wild punches," Pacquiao said. "I got hit one time and thought that it was not good to take chances."
Bradley said: "He's a great fighter. I lost to one of the best fighters in the world."
Talk will no doubt now turn to the evasive Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight, especially if Mayweather defeats Marcos Maidana May 3 in Las Vegas.
Top Rank Boxing - the promoter of the anticipated rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr. - conducted a poll of boxing writers before Saturday's showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. In the end, 23 of the writers picked Pacquiao (including yours truly); 13 Bradley.
The results are below.
It's another nail-biter with Pacquiao and Bradley waging a fight of the year type bout. I just think Bradley is on the upswing, swelling with confidence after his two recent wins while Pacquiao is on the way down. As a result, I see Bradley controlling the bout with his superior boxing ability and winning a split decision, further nudging Pacquiao off the stage of the world's top fighters.
- Mitch Abramson, New York Daily News
Pacquiao W 12 Bradley: What's the saying about awakening a sleeping giant? Bradley has been on the verbal offensive lately, and may be one of the few Pacquiao opponents to have succeeded in crawling under the Filipino Congressman's skin. If, as Bradley says, the Pacquiao fire has been extinguished lately - "Desert Storm" has rekindled it. Look for a refocused, aggressive "Pac-Man" to force the issue - disregarding Bradley's average punching power. He'll hurt Bradley early, put him in a defensive posture for much of the fight, and survive the late-rounds rally to win a split decision.
- Matthew Aguilar, El Paso Times
Pacquiao via decision. I see Bradley trying to prove something after the controversy of their first encounter and being drawn into the trenches by the refocused Filipino. The superior speed and work-rate of Pacquiao earns him the nod. The ‘couch scorecard’ of C.J. Ross does not count.
- Mark Butcher, Boxing Monthly
Although he was clearly handled by Pacquiao in their first meeting -- despite the judges' scores -- the ensuing two years have been kinder to Bradley, who has evolved into a versatile and dynamic boxer with the fearlessness of a puncher. Bradley wins close split decision in a true pick 'em fight.
- Brian Campbell, ESPN.com
In picking a fight, we often talk about physical assets and strengths. But I think this fight has a lot to do with each fighter's mindset. Particularly, Pacquiao's. Manny Pacquiao has to win this fight, and he knows it. What he also knows, is that he won the first fight. (I also had him winning the fight) That is a huge advantage in a rematch. On the flip side, despite everything he has been saying, I believe that Timothy Bradley is not really sure he won that first fight. This may be Pacquiao's last great night in the ring. But he will have a great night Saturday, winning a clear unanimous decision over Bradley.
-Bobby Cassidy, Newsday
Pacquiao by decision. Manny Pacquiao will prove this time that he is the best between the two, but it won’t be easy because Bradley is also looking for respect among boxing fans. It will be a much closer fight than the first one.
-Eduard Cauich, Hoy!
I expect a closer fight than the first one (scorecards be damned), as Bradley should have two good wheels for this one and is coming off the biggest (legitimate) win of his career. However, the loss to Bradley still stings Pacquiao and I expect to see the killer instinct finally return. Pacquiao should hurt and drop Bradley, but Bradley will have his moments, coming up just short. Pacquiao by Split Decision
- Mike Coppinger, RingTV.com
Tough call. Regardless of how people saw their first meeting, I think Bradley knows how to fight Pacquiao. And he only got better with those fights against Ruslan and Juan Manuel. So unless he gets caught early, I see the fight lasting the distance. Anybody's game. Pacquiao wins on points and we're on to a third fight.
- Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star
I like Pacquiao in a split decision close fight. Manny will be aggressive but Bradley will be better than the first time they met. The judges will also be better, and that will give Manny the win.
- Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press
Manny Pacquiao really does lose this time on a split points decision. The styles don't gel. Pacquiao will want a war, Bradley will pick his shots. This is not the Manny Pacquiao of three years ago, tearing a strip off every opponent. There is a reason why Bradley is unbeaten. He finds a way. If it is God's will, Pacquiao could earn a decision
victory. I had him winning 117-111 first time around against Bradley.
- Gareth A. Davies, The Daily Telegraph
Hopeless romantics will want Manny Pacquiao to return to his best, as the awesome force that swirled so violently in 2009 and 2010. But since letting Margarito go the distance, his high-five fest with Mosley, the loss to Bradley, the knockout by Marquez and his failure to stop Rios – who took a lot of punishment – then it is hard to see him returning to his best at the age of 35. Bradley, as he has consistently shown, is a hard nut to crack. And while I think Pacquiao won last time, I don't think he will this time. Bradley on points.
- Tris Dixon, Boxing News
I was one of the few to pick Bradley by split decision the first time they fought - yet feel like I got it wrong, given the controversial nature of the final decision. This time, Tim leaves no doubt, winning an 8-4 type of fight. Bradley by Unanimous Decision.
- Jake Donovan, BoxingScene.com
It will be a great fight. Bradley should not be underrated. Pacquiao will win because he still is fast and he learned from the Marquez knockout
- Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times
Pacquiao might not be all that he was, and Bradley clearly is ascending, although I'm not sure that the intersection of those career paths has been reached. It would be no shocker if Bradley would make it 2-for-2 over "Pac-Man," this one truly legitimate and beyond dispute. The guess here, though, is that Pacquiao still has enough tread on his tires to win on points, but close -- majority or split decision.
- Bernard Fernandez, The Ring / TheSweetScience.com
I think Bradley will clearly outmanuever and outhustle Pacquiao in the majority of rounds, but a more intense and focused Pacman than the version Timmy faced in 2012 will have some strong moments in the fight. I think Pacquiao will rock Bradley at least once; he might score a knockdown. This will make the fight close on the official scorecards. I think most of the media will score the fight for Bradley, but the majority of the public will believe that Pacquiao once again deserved the nod. Bradley by Majority or Split Decision.
- Doug Fischer, RingTV.com
While I agree with the masses that Pacquiao deserved to win the first go-round in 2012, I also think the intervening two years have been kinder to Bradley. Particularly in his Marquez fight, he showed the varied skills he'll need to handle a Manny who's either still what he was back then, or a trifle diminished. He's got speed, he's got guts and he's got the patience and the smarts to stick to a game plan that might make for a dull fight... but a successful ending. Give me Tim by a close decision, 115-113 let's say, and get ready for the third match
- Lyle Fitzsimmons, CBSSports.com
Manny Pacquiao by Unanimous Decision. Pacquiao figures to get the scorecard victory he should have got the first time, but it won't be as easy as nearly everybody but two judges thought it was. Above all, Timothy Bradley is a survivor. He's not the best of his generation, but he has unrivaled versatility and smarts. To wit: He knows how to win the close ones. He beat Ruslan Provodnikov with blood-and-guts. Then, he beat Juan Manuel Marquez with tactics and patience. Show him a style and he'll come up with adjustments for just enough points on the cards. That's the challenge that awaits Pacquiao.
There's talk Pacquiao has lost his edge. The theory is he's grown too compassionate for his craft. Who knows? But he is older. That we do know. At 35, his reflexes aren't as quick as they were. But they're still quick enough to confuse, elude and score if he understands the differences and has learned how to make his own adjustments. It's a process that can transform a young lion into a mature one. Different, yet still a lion. The guess here is that Pacquiao has made the transition and will deliver the proof on April 12.
- Norm Frauenheim, The Ring / 15Rounds,com
Bradley has matured as a fighter and will be much better prepared. Pacquiao seems a little too overconfident. Bradley by Decision.
- Leighton Ginn, The Desert Sun
This definitely won't be an easy fight for Pacquiao or Bradley. It looks like it will go 12 rounds again and if it does, expect Pacquiao to emerge victorious this time. I'm not ruling out a stoppage win by Pacquiao though,. if indeed he is training like hell, Bradley is going to be in trouble. Pacquiao by KO within ten rounds. If he lands a perfect punch early, the fight will be over in four.
- Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin
Bradley's "victory" in the first fight, one of the more dumbfounding decisions in recent memory, informs the rematch with a built-in storyline. Problem is, it doesn't make it a more competitive fight. I love Bradley. I think he's a Hall of Famer. But Pacquiao is the worst possible matchup for him: just as fast and better defensively. It says here Pacquiao wins -- again -- in a fight that plays out much like the first. Pacquiao by unanimous decision.
- Bryan Armen Graham, Guardian U.S.
They say Manny Pacquiao has lost a lot in his advanced age. But why? Because he was too aggressive in a loss to Juan Manuel Marquez? Because judges gave Bradley a split decision that belonged to Pacquiao? That's not proof of any large lost steps. Bradley is the best athlete Pacquiao has faced. If Pacquiao also winds up out-boxed, then we can say he's lost a step. But that seems less than likely. Pacquiao by 10th Round TKO.
- Nick Groke, Denver Post
I am one of the few boxing writers who didn't think Bradley's decision over Pacquiao was that outrageous. Bradley seems to have improved since their last fight and I expect this long-awaited return will be close.
No doubt Manny will have learned much from his first meeting with Tim and that will probably be enough to get him revenge - but once again I expect it to go to the judges.
- Colin Hart, Hall of Fame Journalist
Manny Pacquiao by Unanimous Decision over Timothy Bradley. A motivated, rejuvenated Pacquiao will beat Bradley again, but this time he’ll get the decision he deserves. It won’t be as easy for Pacquiao as their first fight, though. Bradley’s ankle and foot injuries were big factors for much of that 12-round fight. A healthier Bradley will win rounds in this rematch and already has proven he can take Pacquiao’s power. His willingness to trade, especially at close range, still will cost Bradley valuable points on the scorecards. He’ll have his moments. He just won’t win enough rounds to come out ahead in what should be a highly competitive fight.
-Keith Idec, The Record
Bradley W12 — I believe Bradley’s confidence has soared after his wins over Provodnikov and Marquez. Bradley will avoid the ropes and keep the fight in the center of the ring, where his jab, lateral movement and boxing ability will carry the day.
- Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
I thought Pacman won the first fight, of course, and think he’ll not only win the rematch, he’ll get the decision.
- Michael Katz, Hall of Fame Journalist
Manny by TKO in the 11th round.
- Mark Kriegel, Author of The Good Son: The Life of Ray Mancini
I like Pacquiao by hard-fought decision in what is a very good fight. I think this time around Manny doesn't let up in the late rounds and continues to punch in volume throughout
- Steve Kim, MaxBoxing.com
Bradley by decision. Will be easier the second time around
-Thom Loverro, The Washington Times
Mark it down, Manny by decision. Almost the KO, but settles for a unanimous decision.
-Chris Maathuis, KLAS-TV
PACQUIAO BY UNANIMOUS DECISION. I had Manny up by 2 rounds in their
first fight. Even though he out-landed Bradley, in the middle rounds his activity level slumped after the 6th stanza. Manny is inspired for this one and I believe he will consistently press the attack this time around. In their first fight, Bradley was often able to slip Pacquiao's 3rd and 4th punches. The Pacman has to change that on Saturday night and score his signature long combinations. Pacquiao has no respect for Bradley's power - which is both a plus and a minus. The minus is, of course, that Bradley could surprise him with a potent counter-right. The plus is that the power differential will make
Pacquiao more comfortable staying in the pocket and throwing punches in bunches. Either way, I can't wait for this one - two amazing fighters and ambassadors for boxing.
- Gordon Marino, The Wall Street Journal
Based on his dynamic boxing ability and his will to do whatever it takes to win, and the age difference, Bradley. Based on his amazing career and his ability to reinvent himself, and the old saying that every great fighter has one great fight left in him, Pacquaio.
- Larry Merchant, Hall of Fame Journalist
My feeling at the moment, before seeing the fighters next week, is a late stoppage by Pacquiao. So much to prove, too much to lose, so much to gain…..and will feel he can’t trust leaving it to the judges this time.
- Jeff Powell, Daily Mail
I think it will be a close fight again, but I will be rooting for my friend Manny Pacquaio. He needs to prove to everybody that he won this fight already the first time around, and I think he will!
- Ruslan Provodnikov, WBO junior welterweight champion
Pacquiao won the first fight easily and got robbed of the decision. In the rematch, he will get the decision. Pacquiao W12.
-Dan Rafael, ESPN.com
Tim Bradley by Split Decision : This will happen if Bradley fights the way that he did in his last appearance, which was the split-decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez.
If Bradley does that, then the only reason for him not to get the decision is if the judges get it wrong, like they did in Bradley-Pacquiao I, which I saw as a close fight and had Pacquiao winning, 115-113. I Bradley is all there, mentally, I see a scenario similar to Michael Spinks' repeat victories over Larry Holmes.
- Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com
Both fighters have something to prove in this one, but I believe Pacquiao has a greater need to win. His career is on the line. Unless Bradley decides to go toe-to-toe with Manny and slug it out, which I don’t think he will – I see him using Marquez’s counterpunching strategy and try to catch him as JMM did -- I have no doubt that Manny will outwork him and prevail by unanimous decision.
- Bob Velin, USA Today
I think Tim Bradley will win another split decision, this one not as controversial, because he can box, move and take a punch -- all prerequisites for dealing with Pacquiao.
- Mark Whicker, Orange County Register
Despite being viciously concussed during his fight with Ruslan Provodnikov, Timothy Bradley has gotten better, arguably a lot better, since he and Pacman faced off. Bradley in his last bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, proved to be master of his domain. He owns a newfound and potent brand of confidence which will show up on April 12. I see every round being ultra-close, and another judging snafu is entirely possible. For that reason, two of the three will punt, and we will see a draw. Yep, like kissin' yer cousin...Which sets us up for a third tangle, which will get done after Manny and Marquez meet yet again!
- Michael Woods, TheSweetScience.com / ESPNNewYork.com
T O T A L
Pacquiao 23 / Bradley 13
It's said the most thankless job on the planet is that of a sports official. That may be especially true for boxing referees.
Stop a fight a punch or two too soon - and you are second-guessed, questioned and, sometimes, vilified. Years after stopping the Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor fight with two seconds to go, referee Richard Steele was still roundly booed when his name was announced to the crowd. Though he was one of the best referees in the world at the time, Steele's career never quite recovered from that call.
But stop a fight too late - and a ref has more than a tarnished legacy and a few upset fans to think about. Veteran Las Vegas referee Richard Greene was said to be so devastated after Duk Koo Kim died in his 1982 fight with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini that it reportedly led to his suicide.
There are dozens of examples of refs who let one-sided fights go on just a tad too long - with tragic results. Gabriel Ruelas-Jimmy Garcia and Jesus Chavez-Leavander Johnson are just a couple.
Through nine rounds Saturday in Las Vegas, Mexican tough guy Alfredo Angulo had taken a horrific beating from countryman Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. That ominously shaved skull had been rocketed backwards again and again - often times sickeningly. Left hooks, right hands, uppercuts, body shots - Angulo absorbed it all and kept chugging forward like the true warrior that he is. His determination and toughness were awe-inspiring, as he took a beating and continued to wing his slow, ponderous punches to the delight of his barking fans (his nickname is "El Perro") and a large pay-per-view audience.
You couldn't help but root for the man from Mexicali, as he shrugged off Canelo's huge shots.
He started to get close in the eighth and ninth rounds - as close as he'd been all night. He was pressuring Canelo against the ropes and landing some shots. Alvarez, who came out on fire and seemed to be tiring, was certainly feeling some of Angulo's blows.
But Canelo was also continuing to tee off on Angulo, and you could tell, in the ninth round, referee Tony Weeks was starting to become alarmed. There was a sequence where Angulo absorbed a frightful blow, stopped punching, and Weeks almost jumped in to stop it. But then, Perro suddenly swung back as he had all night. And he made it through the round.
But Weeks had his eye on Angulo. He was the man closest to the action, the guy who had seen Angulo take blow after blow. He saw his ballooned eyes and his swollen face. And when round 10 started, you could tell he would not tolerate much more.
Then, Canelo landed another mammoth uppercut, and Angulo's head popped skyward yet again, and his eyes glazed for a second. Weeks had seen enough. He stepped in and stopped it.
Weeks, like Steele back in 1990, is one of the best referees in the game. He has overseen some of the greatest fights in boxing history, including the 2005 classic between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, in which Corrales rebounded from two knockdowns in the 10th round to knock Castillo out in the same round.
That stoppage was almost artistic in its perfection.
More recently, he refereed the Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse fight in September.
What he did Saturday night was keep Angulo in the fight game - and in the life game. El Perro was hopelessly behind on all the scorecards, so was Angulo's life worth the slim chance of a lucky punch? Should the prospect of an unbelievable ending justify a potentially unthinkable result?
Boxing fans are passionate. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. It's one of the many reasons the sweet science is so sweet. But passion also breeds bias. Those who were upset were probably hoping Angulo would pull out a miracle - like Chavez had done against Taylor 24 years ago.
But Angulo isn't Chavez, and that wasn't going to happen. What could've happened, had Canelo beaten Angulo up for another 2 1/2 rounds, was another tragedy.
The referee - that guy with the thankless job who is invisible until there is a controversy - saved boxing from that.
Well done, Tony Weeks. Well done.
It's not the fight the whole boxing world wants to see, but it's certainly better than what could've been.
Boxing's pound-for-pound king and WBC welterweight champ Floyd Mayweather will meet WBA titlist Marcos Maidana May 3 in a unification showdown at either the MGM Grand in Las Vegas or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, live on Showtime pay-per-view. Mayweather made the announcement on his Twitter account late Monday.
For months, former junior welterweight champ Amir Khan of England had been rumored as Mayweather's next opponent - a prospect that infuriated most knowledgeable fight fans. While Khan beat Maidana by narrow decision in 2010, he has since been knocked out by 140-pound champ Danny Garcia and is regarded as a fighter with a weak chin and on the decline.
And while "Money's" opponent will not be Manny Pacquiao in a fight that would turn the boxing world on its head, the Argentine powerpuncher is a more than acceptable option.
"El Chino" Maidana, 35-3 (31 KO's), recorded a career-best win last Dec. 14 when he upset superstar-in-the-making Adrien Broner by exciting decision to win the WBA 147-pound title. With trainer Robert Garcia in tow, Maidana has shown a marked technical improvement since a disappointing loss to Devon Alexander in 2012. He hurt the faster Broner almost immediately with looping overhand rights, and his physical condition carried him through a bruising fight.
Even in losses, Maidana has shown a steely determination, a granite chin and an uwavering will to win. Many felt he was robbed against Khan, and his victories over Victor Ortiz and Erik Morales in 2009 and 2011 were among the best fights of those years.
He lost a 2009 fight to Andriy Kotelnik, also by close nod.
Mayweather, 45-0 (26 KO's), turned 37 Monday. He has not fought since September, when he won an easy decision over Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas. Before that, he shut out Robert Guerrero in May 2013. He has not had a competitive fight since May 2012, when he won a tough decision over Miguel Cotto.
With his power, experience against elite competition and killer instinct, Maidana is easily Mayweather's most compelling opponent since Cotto.
How that translates to pay-per-view buys may depend on what Golden Boy Promotions does with the undercard.
Matt Aguilar was a sports reporter for the El Paso Times for many years. Now based in Chicago, he writes about his love of boxing.