Pacquiao hits fight fans hard

Manny Pacquiao addresses the media during the post-fight

Manny Pacquiao addresses the media during the post-fight press conference after he was defeated by Timothy Bradley by split decision at MGM Grand Garden Arena. (June 9, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS -- The outcry in this gambling city was so loud, Floyd Mayweather Jr. could have heard it in his jail cell. On the other side of the world, people cried in the streets in Manila, and the presidential palace issued a statement praying for the quick return of their hero's strength and fervor.

Through it all, Manny Pacquiao was a model of serenity.

"I hope you're not dismayed or discouraged," Pacquiao said. "I can fight. I can still fight."

That much was evident Saturday night in a fight Pacquiao seemed to have under control up until the time the judges' score cards were announced. He pounded Timothy Bradley early, landed more punches and looked a lot like the fighter who catapulted to fame on a remarkable undefeated run over the last seven years.

That he's a former champion now is thanks to some judging that was questionable, if not borderline incompetent. But boxing has always been a subjective sport, and anything shy of a knockout is always open to interpretation by the three judges who sit ringside and score things round by round.

Pacquiao understands that as well as anyone, which may account for his smiles and calm demeanor afterward. In his last fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, he was lucky to escape with a majority decision that just as easily could have gone to his Mexican challenger, and he's been the beneficiary of other close decisions, too.

He was never close to knocking out Bradley; he was never able to knock him down. He coasted some in the late rounds, and left his fate in the hands of other people -- something every fighter is cautioned never to do.

It's a mistake he vows not to repeat if the two meet as expected Nov. 10, in a rematch both say they want.

"That will make me become a warrior in the next few months," Pacquiao said, "because in the rematch, my feeling is I don't want to go the whole 12 rounds."

The end of Pacquiao's 15-fight winning streak was even more startling because most near ringside didn't see it coming. Almost without exception, every writer had Pacquiao well ahead, and HBO's resident unofficial judge Harold Lederman had him winning 11 rounds out of 12. The Associated Press scored it 117-111 for Pacquiao.

"There's three judges out there. What do you want me to do?" Bradley asked. "Two of them felt I won the fight. That's all that counts."

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