Timothy Bradley lands a right to the body of Manny Pacquiao. (Julie Jacobson / Associated…)
LAS VEGAS -- Minutes after Manny Pacquiao entered a post-fight news conference with an unmarked face, his injured opponent Timothy Bradley was wheeled into the same room.
"There were three judges, and two of them thought I won," Palm Springs' Bradley said of his victory over Pacquiao. "What do you want me to do?"
Bradley made it through the 12-round bout despite suffering a fractured left foot and a twisted right ankle during the fight, according to his manager Cameron Dunkin.
Yet, Bradley's performance was enough to convince judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford that he beat Pacquiao, 115-113, resulting in a stunning split-decision triumph in the world welterweight title fight at MGM Grand. Judge Jerry Roth scored the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao.
Many at ringside thought the decision went the wrong way, in part because Pacquiao out-connected Bradley in punches, 253-159, in the fight.
"Yeah, Bradley landed here and there with no impact, but Pacquiao was landing power punches, particularly his straight left hand, with rhythmic regularity," said boxing play-by-play man Jim Lampley of HBO, whose unofficial scorer Harold Lederman gave Pacquiao a dominant triumph, 11 rounds to one.
"Nobody wants to give Tim credit but the judges -- and they've probably seen some fights," Bradley trainer Joel Diaz said. "By moving, I think Tim dominated the fight."
Diaz, noting that all three judges awarded Bradley (29-0) at least four of the final six rounds, likened the victory to Felix Trinidad's surprise 1999 decision win over a backpedaling Oscar De La Hoya.
"You've got to win the last rounds to win a fight," Diaz said.
As the scores were passed from the judges to ring announcer Michael Buffer, Lampley said an HBO staffer told him in his earpiece, "You're not going to believe what you're about to hear."
Lampley said he was "disgusted enough by the decision to question my commitment to boxing for about two hours last night."
According to his contract, because Pacquiao lost the fight he can request a rematch against Bradley. But fight promoter Bob Arum said it's not a given that the two will reunite for another bout in November.
Arum said he's heard from some ticket brokers that "no one wants to come" to a Bradley rematch because most fight watchers considered Pacquiao's effort a one-sided victory.
"The only thing I can think that would prevent a rematch is Manny saying, 'Why do I need this anymore?'" Lampley said. "In the wake of this disappointment, and with all the other things happening in his life, this could be his moment."
Pacquiao's first words to reporters after the fight were, "That's why we love boxing."
Bradley earned $5 million for his bout against Pacquiao. Bradley manager Dunkin said he would expect a rematch purse to be "something near" $10 million now that Bradley has the belt.
Pacquiao's alternatives would be to try to finalize a deal to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr., or have a fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.
As for Bradley, Dunkin said, "To go through those rounds with the great Manny Pacquiao in that condition ? there will be great options ahead for Tim Bradley."
Despite concerns that Pacquiao (54-4-2) had been flat in his two prior fights, many at ringside thought the Filipino superstar seemed to have returned closer to his peak.
"I think the judges had their eyes closed," Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said. "Something wasn't right."
Pacquiao said he would "respect the decision, but I 100% believe I won the fight. I hope this dismay doesn't cause people to discard the sport. I'm still here. I can fight."
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer said he does not anticipate any discipline or review of Ross or Ford.
"Every fighter who loses a close fight looks at the judges," Kizer said. "I think every judge should strive to get better."
Las Vegas Hilton Race and Sports Book Director Jay Kornegay said that boxing needs to "change its system," by adding replay or "the punch stats."
"It created such an ugly atmosphere in the sports book," Kornegay said. "Many felt ripped off, and I've got to agree. It was a debacle for a sport that can't afford it."
Pacquiao now hasn't knocked out an opponent in five consecutive fights. He said meeting Bradley again "would make me become a warrior in the ring.
"Because I don't want it to go to the judges."