Defending Timothy Bradley

By Adam Berlin on April 8, 2014
Defending Timothy Bradley
Manny was the one not throwing enough punches; he was the one getting hit and bloodied.

No matter how much he believed he’d won, his own vision of the fight, his first-hand vision, was tarnished by the hailstorm of boos. Doubt set in…

The outcry after the Timothy Bradley/Manny Pacquiao fight was not only loud. It lasted a long time, far longer than most boxing controversies. That’s because Pac Man, even before his retirement, is being lauded as one of the all-time greats. In fact, if you re-watch the twelfth and final round of Bradley/Pacquiao 1, the HBO crew is chattering about Manny’s legendary status even as Bradley, always busy, is winning the round. Boxing’s legitimacy has been tarnished by too many unjust decisions. And, sadly, the clamor against these poor decisions lasts about as long as the time it takes for the ring announcer to read the scores and BoxRec to put the result on its ledger. Not so for Bradley/Pacquiao 1. The outcry continues to resonate and, frankly, I’m not sure why.

I recognize my opinion is going to get hammered here. But that’s fine. When I watched the Bradley/ Pacquiao fight on pay-per-view, I was tallying the rounds in my head, and when the fight was done, I felt Bradley had boxed himself to a draw. So when the outcry started, precipitated perhaps by Harold Lederman’s dramatic 119-109 scorecard for all the world to see, I was surprised. If anything, this was a close fight and not a complete shutout. I usually agree with Lederman’s round-by-round assessments. I usually admire Max Kellerman’s knowledge about boxing and his impassioned, honest insights. And Jim Lampley, over the years, has proved himself to be not just a fine blow-by-blow commentator but a true fan of the sport—he has come of age as an aficionado over his many years at HBO. The HBO team deserves credit for at least taking a stance, even if, I believe, their stance was misguided for this fight. (I’ll take the HBO team over the Showtime team any day. On Showtime, only Paulie Malignaggi’s heated voice rings true. The remainders of Showtime’s triumvirate are yes-men who homogenize the most blatant controversies and seem content with accepting the easy, dismissive cliché that boxing is boxing, that injustice is part of the game.)

Recently, I watched the Bradley/Pacquiao fight again, hoping my eyes would stay objective even if I believed what I’d seen originally was true—that Bradley may not have won the fight, but that he didn’t lose. On second-viewing, I’m convinced the judges got it right. The fact that all three judges had a two-point differential in this bout begins to chip away at Lederman’s lopsided scorecard and at HBO’s constant commentary (and it was constant) that Pac Man was snuffing out Desert Storm. 

This is what I saw:

Round 1 was very close, but I gave it to Bradley because he worked for two and a half minutes of the round while Pacquiao rallied during the last thirty seconds. Manny’s shots were more impressive, but not so impressive to nullify Bradley’s work rate. Round 2 was, again, very close, and, again, a strong case could be made that Bradley’s flurries and three-punch combinations trumped Pac Man’s heavier shots. Pacquiao took the next two rounds, rounds 3 and 4. And then, in the four middle rounds of the fight, rounds 5 through 8, a pattern emerged. Bradley circled to the left and boxed, throwing punches, and catching most of Manny’s shots. Whoever was keeping punch stats for HBO that night was blind—blinded by Manny’s reputation, blinded by Lederman’s visible scorecard, blinded by the HBO crew’s constant assertions that Manny was fighting beautifully. The truth is, the majority of Manny’s heavy shots were landing on Bradley’s gloves and forearms and should not have been counted as scoring blows. I gave the edge to Bradley in these middle rounds. He was the dominant fighter in the first two minutes of each middle round. He landed punches in bunches. His foot-movement showed ring generalship. And if blood counts for something in this brutal sport, Manny was bleeding from his mouth. There was no urgency in Manny’s demeanor during any of these rounds. And his corner was surprisingly complacent as if they were privy to HBO’s soundtrack, buying the Kool-Aid that this was indeed a shutout.

Manny was more in tune with the fight’s truth—he was the one not throwing enough punches; he was the one getting hit and bloodied—and in the ninth, urgency finally set it. Manny suddenly became physical, roughing Bradley up the way losing fighters often try to rough-up their opponents Listen to his interviews today, as the hype for Bradley/Pacquiao 2 heats up, and you’ll hear Pacquiao say, over and over, how he should have been meaner, should have fought harder. Manny Pacquiao fought mean and hard in Round 9. He did not take time off. He imposed his will on Bradley. And he won the round. But in Round 10, Manny took his foot off the gas and even Harold Lederman conceded that Bradley won the round (the first and last on Lederman’s scorecard).

Between the tenth and eleventh, Manny’s corner sounded worried. Roach admonished his charge to let his hands go. In Bradley’s corner, trainer Joel Diaz clearly believed his man was winning—“You’re a warrior,” he said, as a matter of motivation and a matter of fact. A warrior wins not necessarily by pure force, but by tactics, by craft. Unfortunately, Bradley was not getting any credit for his boxing acumen during the HBO chatter, but he was boxing well, moving and hitting and defending himself. The see-saw swung back to Manny in Round 11. Urged on by Roach’s urgency (why would Roach sound so urgent before the eleventh round if the fight were a shutout? Shouldn’t a veteran trainer tell his fighter to put defense ahead of offense when victory seems imminent?), Pac Man started Round 11 busy instead of waiting for the last sixty seconds to attack. The eleventh was easy to score: 10-9 for Pacquiao. And then came the twelfth, during which the commentators praised Manny’s greatness while Bradley, landing the majority of clean shots, took the round. 

The scores were read. The protests began. But perhaps too many people were brainwashed by the fight the HBO team saw, which was not the fight I saw in the ring and not the fight the judges saw ringside. It could have gone 115-113 for Pacquiao. Maybe. It could have gone 114-114, which was the draw I saw on fight night. But 115-113 for Bradley was certainly a plausible score. It was not unjust. It did not deserve the outcry it received. The Pacquiao mystique (and, remember, the Bradley fight was pre-Marquez 3, a fight where Manny was starched without controversy, a fight which dulled Manny’s luster) clouded too many eyes that night. 

Timothy Bradley has never had it easy, but he has always possessed the heart and mind to persevere. He was devastated after his victory over Pacquiao. No matter how much he believed he’d won, his own vision of the fight, his first-hand vision, was tarnished by the hailstorm of boos. Doubt set in. How could it not? During the post-fight interview, Bradley candidly said, “I’ve got to go back home, review the tape and I’ll see if I won the fight.” Bradley did just that. He reviewed the fight. He saw for himself what happened from a more objective place. When Bradley re-assessed his performance from the comfort of his couch, his resolve became firm. I don’t believe Tim Bradley is bullshitting himself or us when he says he won the fight 8 rounds to 4.

Perhaps Bradley/Pacquiao 2 will make many of boxing’s experts re-assess their views of Bradley/ Pacquiao 1. This fight will be close, but Bradley, the smarter fighter, will win. He boxed well with a busted foot. He’ll box better with two strong feet providing added mobility and added leverage for his punches. Manny Pacquiao will always be the heavier hitter, but there’s much more to boxing than heavy hands. In their first fight, Timothy Bradley was the better boxer. And that’s why the official scorecards for Bradley/Pacquiao 1, and not Harold Lederman’s scorecard, were more in keeping with the truth of that June night at the MGM Grand.

The other reason I predict a Bradley victory is because he possesses the stronger mind. HBO’s Face Off, if nothing else, allows us to see each fighter’s face in close-up. It’s a game of pugilistic poker where tells are easy to spot. Look closely at each man’s face. Bradley is completely assured, comfortable with himself, comfortable with what he’s saying; any doubts he may have had, about his abilities or about his first bout with Pacquiao, are gone. Since that fight, Bradley has beaten the brutal Ruslan Provodnikov and decisioned the ring legend Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley’s resolve has been forged in fire and ice, a heated war with the Russian, a tactical battle with the Mexican. Pacquiao does not look so sure of himself, his eyes averted. Perhaps that’s part of Manny’s humble nature, but perhaps not. When pressed by Bradley and Max Kellerman, Pac Man asserts he’ll be more violent in this fight. His opponent disagrees. Speaking about the fire in their bellies, where so much of boxing resides, Bradley says of Pacquiao’s flame, “It’s gone.” What’s Manny’s retort? “I will pray for that” (that being the fire). Bradley knows he has the fire. Pacquiao doesn’t. Bradley is clearly in Manny’s head. Bradley has convinced Pacquiao that Pacquiao needs to prove himself, not the other way around. The theme of this fight was supposed to be Bradley fighting for redemption. Now the theme is Pacquiao fighting to prove he can still be the beast. Last time Pacquiao tried to prove he was the violent fighter of his youth, he left himself open to throw a knockout punch. He walked into Marquez’s fist.

So look at the faces. At the end of Face-Off the camera zooms in on Timothy Bradley. His eyes don’t move. The camera zooms in on Manny Pacquiao. The fighter of the decade (a decade that ended four years ago) stares straight, eyes unflinching, and for a moment we believe Manny believes. Then Manny blinks.

Adam Berlin is the author of the recently published boxing novel Both Members of the Club (Texas Review Press/winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize). His other novels are The Number of Missing (Spuyten Duyvil), Belmondo Style (St. Martin’s Press/winner of The Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award) and Headlock (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill). His stories and poetry have appeared in numerous journals. He teaches writing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and co-edits J Journal: New Writing on Justice. For more, please visit adamberlin.com.

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HBO Face Off - Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley II with Max Kellerman



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  1. Mel 01:17pm, 04/14/2014

    Yo Adam!? Any post fight comments you would like to take back now that the fight is said and done?
    -Obviously I am a big PacMan fan but I have to say, Bradley TOTALLY could have won fight had he not exhausted himself and actually boxed Pacquiao.

  2. The Truth 10:50pm, 04/13/2014

    “This fight will be close, but Bradley, the smarter fighter, will win.”

    “So look at the faces. At the end of Face-Off the camera zooms in on Timothy Bradley. His eyes don’t move. The camera zooms in on Manny Pacquiao. The fighter of the decade (a decade that ended four years ago) stares straight, eyes unflinching, and for a moment we believe Manny believes. Then Manny blinks.”

    This is why we have guys fight to see who wins.  If we picked winner based on holding a face or who’s been doubted their whole life then vegas would be cleaning up with foolish bets.  Oh wait, that does happen.  Thanks for helping the bookies!

  3. Thresher 05:16pm, 04/11/2014

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6C0laSh8W0

  4. bk don 11:51am, 04/11/2014

    I respect Adam’s professional opinion & this well put together piece but i don’t agree with his assement of this fight at all. Punchstat numbers aren’t the end all and be all of a fight but the final power punch totals for this contest were overhwhelming in Pacman’s favor. If you look at the compubox final breakdown rd by rd there are 6 rds that are damn near indisputable. Here’s what they show for Pacman/Bradley Rd 4 31-13, rd 5 18-4, rd 6 18-5, rd 7 22-9, rd 8 12-7(i can you can argue 4 bradley) , & rd 11 15-6. If you’re going to give him all those rds, there wasn’t one rd in the entire fight where Bradley landed more power punches even in the 12th rd which many writers/fans gave to him. So you’re telling me in those other somewhat close 6 rds Tim won all of them. Tthere’s only 1 rd in the fight where bradley landed more total shots!  Bradley did box well, but pacman still landed his jab more effectively, 24% to 11% & he landed more of them. Bradley was very agressive in this fight but he landed less than   of the punches he threw. Unless you’re a power puncher it’s very unlikely you’re going to win a 12 rd fight landing with those kinds of numbers. It wouldn’t be hard to call a fight a draw when the punches are equal between fighters with similar power, it’s hard to do so when 1 fighter(pacman) clearly has more power therefore lands the harder shots and he lands allot more of them. This is professional fighting not the amateurs.

  5. Steven 08:22am, 04/11/2014

    He lost by a landslide. He will get KOd this time. I have rarely seen such a deluded fighter who was “flirting with P4P greatness” (joke) whine and cry and justify his gift from the judges. Even Hopkins stops the whining at some point. Bradley lost and lost bad.

  6. robyn bunting 12:08am, 04/11/2014

    This is a very welcome article. I watched the fight and thought Bradley had nicked it. In particular, I thought there was a disconnect between the commentary and what was happening in the ring. A great deal of very good work by Bradley was simply ignored. He was effectively boxing and nullifying from rounds 1-12. I am going to pick Bradley as winner for Saturday.
    That said if the judges had given Pacquaio the fight by a round or so, I don’t think that should occasion loud complaint either. But the “Pacquaio Robbed” narrative is nonsense and has somehow gained totally inappropriate momentum.

  7. Galvar 05:47pm, 04/10/2014

    This must be the 100th article and umpteenth comments I’ve read about the announcers influencing the decision or making it seem like Bradley didn’t do as well.  Can the wisemen of Boxing.com tell me if the judges can hear what Jim and Max are saying during the fight?  Are the judges watching the fight on small TV with headphones?  I’m not trying to be a smart***, I just really want to know how announcers can influence a fight.

  8. Darrell 11:52pm, 04/09/2014

    No wonder Pacquiao always seems to look serenely happy, his acolytes do all the crying for him…..lol.

  9. PACMANUSA 04:35pm, 04/09/2014

    I have no sympathy for Bradley . “If” what Arum said was true about Bradley telling him he did his best but he couldn’t beat Pacquiao was correct at the end of the fight before the decision was announced then he should have admitted it after the decision . When he comes back later and says he won 8 rounds to 4 he was full of BS .

    I truly hope Pacquiao hurts this guy BAD this time and maybe bad enough so he cannot fight any longer .

    I used to have a small amount of respect for Bradley until he got the typical hoodrat loudmouth black mentality and showed his TRUE colors !

    Screw the SOB I hope Pacquiao decapitates the SOB !

  10. Koolz 03:11pm, 04/09/2014

    Let’s always remember Bradley’s great answer to(do you think you won the fight)
    Bradley:  I don’t know I have to watch the tape.

    Then he leaves in a wheel chair the winner of the fight….

    and…
    let’s face it that fight and all the fights after Bradley hasn’t really won any of them.

  11. Eric 11:03am, 04/09/2014

    One thing we know for sure is that Manny doesn’t have to worry about being knocked out by Bradley. Bradley has to be one of the most featherfisted “champions” out there.  If Pacquiao dominates this fight like he did their first encounter and receives the decision victory, we can expect Bradley to cry he was robbed

  12. kid vegas 09:19am, 04/09/2014

    “On Showtime, only Paulie Malignaggi’s heated voice rings true. The remainders of Showtime’s triumvirate are yes-men who homogenize the most blatant controversies and seem content with accepting the easy, dismissive cliché that boxing is boxing, that injustice is part of the game.” Excellent.

  13. CJ Ross 08:40am, 04/09/2014

    Adam Berlin is the smartest man on the planet. 

    Adam, how did you score the Mayweather - Alvarez fight?

    Just kidding, I know I am terrible.  But at least Jerry Roth and I were only off by one round in our scores. 

    I am dealing blackjack now at a casino.  I argue with customers all the time about who won the hand. But I know I am right.

  14. Matt McGrain 08:33am, 04/09/2014

    I always feel bad for a non-English speaking participant in these head to head chats.

  15. Ted 08:19am, 04/09/2014

    Absolutely Ezra

  16. Ezra 08:05am, 04/09/2014

    Adam has balls to put himself out there like this before the fight. Respect, even if I disagree.

  17. andrew 08:02am, 04/09/2014

    1 out of every thousand believe the decision was fair, but they always seem to have a prejudice or an agenda. Which one do you have?

  18. Ted 07:59am, 04/09/2014

    The way Bradley attempted to rationalize the decision a few weeks after the fight made him look terrible from a PR perspective and only his war with Provodnikov salvaged his image. He knew better than anyone that he had lost the fight just as JMM knew he lost to Bradley—but that didn’t stop him from whining as is his habit.

    If Pac can’t beat him again, he should retire.

  19. Eric 07:30am, 04/09/2014

    “One of the most honest athletes I know.”  Not on this occasion. The smirk on Pacquiao’s face says it all, he can’t believe that Bradley is talking all this shit. This is pathetic.

  20. Ted 07:15am, 04/09/2014

    Typos-sorry

  21. Ted 07:13am, 04/09/2014

    To (and Lederman) Punch stats are not nearly as important as quality of punches. Two heavy shots are worth a lot more than a bunch of light stuff. As for announcers, they have no influence on me whatsoever. In anything, they make me kind of wince, but I respect Lampley’s views based on his experience. I keep my own scores on fights like this. The people who watched this one with me actually were in the driveway before the scores were read. I had to go out and tell them what happened.

    I have said it once and I’ll say it again, aside from Casamayor-Santa Cruz and Foreman-Briggs, this was the most egregious decision I have ever witnessed in 65 years of watching. As for Louis-Walcott, that one was so bad Louis had even left the ring before the decision was announced.

  22. Duane Ford 07:06am, 04/09/2014

    Nice job on your article on the Bradley/Pac fight… nice job and so dead on as how the judges saw the fight… NICE JOB!

  23. Eric 07:05am, 04/09/2014

    Manny showed a lot of class by not laughing in Bradley’s face, 8 rounds to 4????????? Kellerman even knows that Bradley is full of caca. Bradley must be trying to pull an Ali or a Hagler. Ali and Hagler were clearly beaten by Frazier and Leonard, and yet both thought they could convince the public that they won by talking shit afterwards. Look at Bradley just after the fight, he knew he lost, the same thing with Ali after his first fight with Frazier, and Hagler after the Leonard bout.

  24. Objective, Rational Man 06:44am, 04/09/2014

    I actually agree with Adam.  It is impossible to not be influenced by the announcers.  And for the argument that the ringside media all had Pac-man winning big, that is moot.  Have you ever seen the ringside media “scoring the fight”?  They talk to each other, which influences them.  They often submit their scores for the previous round in the middle of the next round. 

    And even for the argument that 5 WBO judges scored the fight on video for Pac-man… that is a decent metric.  However, all five of those judges already knew that there was a major controversy on that fight.  Perhaps all five of those judges had already seen the fight live.  Therefore their that had an opinion going in. 

    The only way to have a really useful control group, is to have real judges score the fight live from the first row, or on t.v. (with the sound muted).  Then compare those scores with the 3 official judges.  Perhaps Boxing.com could commission such an endeavor?

  25. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 03:35am, 04/09/2014

    Thanks for the psycho-babble…just what I needed first thing in the morning….not “bullshitting himself”....you can’t be serious….then again of course you are….you’re talking about someone who believes that he won the first round and even the last round against the “brutal Ruslan Provodnikov”, a round wherein Ruslan came close to killing Tim…if you can get inside Manny’s head then I can get inside Bradley’s. Your read on Manny in the “Face Off” is faulty as well….Manny is embarrassed for Bradley….for “bullshitting himself” in public….plain and simple….nothing more, nothing less.

  26. Matt McGrain 02:24am, 04/09/2014

    Aye, Ted.
    Additionally - this HBO thing is a non-issue for us in the UK.  I’ve never seen the HBO broadcast.

  27. Ted Spoon 02:17am, 04/09/2014

    I think those who genuinely believe Bradley deserves consideration are unable to spot the difference between trying hard and occupying the driver’s seat. Take the first round as an example. Pacquiao’s little burst at the end was the only meaningful work done. I’m quite wary of fighter’s stealing rounds, but Bradley’s output was like a water pistol trying to dampen a bonfire; commendable yet ineffective. There is not a single Bradley punch that stands out in that fight. He worked hard, he didn’t convince. On the flipside, every time Manny put them together Bradley was flustered, was backed up. Easing off in the closing stages was (evidently) not a good idea, but after 10 rounds I already had Manny a clear winner, not because of Jim Lampley’s affinity for the word “Bang!”, but because he was the boss.

  28. Leo John Quiachon 02:04am, 04/09/2014

    Mr. Adam Berlin,
    you did not take into consideration that everytime Pacquaio fights, it’s him that always initiates offensive assaults and the actions. he is noted for this kind of trait as he always thinks of giving entertainment to fans and audience the world over, more so, he always thinks to give them back worth of their money they are paying. In Pac-Bradley 1, it was the same. You should have at least noticed that during the 12 round rumble, It was Pacman who would occasionally start the actions and TB seldom hunts Pacman in the ring. It was just obvious for Pacman to slow down the first 2 minutes after he realizes that’s it was always him who tries to give life to the fight, and having realized that TB could not be lured in close exchanges, we had seen Pacquiao very busy everytime the rounds were about to end to compensate what was lacking in the part of TB who was mainly counterpunching. Hope you got my point..

  29. Matt McGrain 01:56am, 04/09/2014

    The two things I always want to see refuted, or at least explained by an article like this are 1) the fact that the punch stats favour Pacquiao so enormously, seeing him outland Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds and land nearly 100 more power punches and why 2) even *including* the judges, the ratio of Pacquiao:Bradley cards from ringside is something in the region of 10-1 and collected scorecards from media outlets are in the region of 50-1.  For comparisons sake, Louis-Walcott I had Walcott by a margin of 3-2 in ringisde cards, and that fight is considered a controversy.  It is *as big a difference in media cards as has ever been reported anywhere*
    Neither of these issues are ever dealt with in such articles.
    Having said that, Adam is Adam, and as such what he says must be respected.

  30. erap 01:52am, 04/09/2014

    In order to win a boxing match, one must give the most damage and be dominating over one’s opponent. Tim was dominant in running and pitter-patter-touch-and-go-no-damage-girly-punches. Hell, those punches Pac will take for a 1000 but will never damage him.

    Who do you think was most damaged in the match ? Who did the most running ? Who was the most effective ?

  31. erap 01:48am, 04/09/2014

    Assuming Pac was inactive in most parts of each round, did Tim do any damage as well ? None.

  32. artjd 12:32am, 04/09/2014

    You’re not sure why the outcry resonates???  Then you must be blind, very blind.

  33. Pinoy Superman 11:48pm, 04/08/2014

    Ridiculous! Pac wins more rounds against bradley..your a pro bradley..hehe..think before you write..hehe

  34. diko 11:31pm, 04/08/2014

    Definitely, you need to have your eyes CHECK UP please.  Even Stevie Wonder knows who won the fight fair and square!!!

  35. bobby cleofe 10:34pm, 04/08/2014

    Defending Timothy Bradley - what a stupid write up !!!  change your profession mate ! you don’t deserve to be there.

  36. Darrell 10:18pm, 04/08/2014

    Most definitely with you there, Adam Berlin.  Though I believe Pac won the fight, narrowly, due to some big middle rounds.  Namely 4, 5, maybe 6, 8, & especially 9, I do not have any quibbles with the decision due to massive inactivity in the first two & last three rounds.  Basically Pacquiao did zero in those particular rounds.  Even in the rounds he did win, he generally did little for large segments of them whereas Bradley worked, even when shaded in several rounds, for the whole fight.

    It also has to be said that the compubox stats were wildly inaccurate, obviously counting just about everything Pac threw, even those many punches which Bradley either slipped or rolled with (Bradley’s “rolling” can often look like a punch landing when in actual fact he just moves with the same line of the punch, never actually being touched.) the punches.

    I like Bradley & believe he will win this fight fairly comfortably.

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