Even though a case can be made Tim Bradley made it close in the end, almost everyone thought Pacquiao was on his way to another triumph and possibly a mega money showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
As we know, that didn't happen and Bradley got the “W” on his record, much to the dismay of the fans.
Pacquiao and Bradley will meet again next month.
Can either man will definitively this time?
Manny Pacquiao had been on a fifteen fight unbeaten streak and one had to rewind seven years (2005) to find the Pacman’s most recent defeat - a decision verdict to the legendary Erik Morales (then 47-2).
The Morales loss would be avenged twice.
Since Pacquiao vs Morales I, Pacquiao had bulldozed his way through the weight classes in spectacular fashion, outpointing and knocking out future hall of famers with relative ease on his way to becoming an eight weight world champion.
While awaiting the judges' verdict on the night of June 12, Pacquiao was seemingly gathering himself for another winner's post fight interview and repetitive questions regarding a potential bout with Floyd Mayweather (45-0 26KO).
Little did anyone know, moments later, Mayweather would be far from the topic of conversation.
Surprise! Manny losses a split decision.
And the post-fight drama that ensued was more intriguing than the bout itself. Tim Bradley’s fight had only just begun as the fans and some in the media unleashed their fury on him.
In fact, the fighter known as 'Desert Storm' found himself having to take most of the criticism for a decision that was completely out of his control.
Bradley's fight with Pacquiao lasted only 12 rounds (or 36 minutes) but intense public scrutiny of the California fighter did not cease until he stepped into the ring in March 2013 against the 'Siberian Rocky' Ruslan Provodnikov (then 22-1), nine months later.
Hellbent on proving his critics wrong, Bradley abandoned his style of boxing and opted to slug it out toe-to-toe with the 140 lb 'Monster from the Motherland.' The strategy was a big mistake.
Provodnikov had Bradley in trouble numerous times throughout their fight, particularly in Rounds 1, 2 and 12, scoring two knockdowns in the process.
However, Bradley boxed intelligently every other round and, at times, left the' Siberian Rocky' chasing his shadows. Tim's win was testament to his heart, courage and craft.
Provodnikov vs Bradley fight was voted Fight of the Year by most pundits and finally gave the man from California the praise and respect he'd been craving, even prior to the Pacquiao fight.
Since their fateful encounter, both men have been pushed to the limit by Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1-40KO), producing contrasting results.
Unlike their three previous epic battles, Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 left little dispute as to who the real winner was. Marquez (then 54-6-1), with one counter right hand, brutally knocked Pacquiao out in the sixth round, leaving question marks about whether the Filipino would be the same.
Bradley fared better against the fighter dubbed “Dinamita,” outfoxing the cunning Marquez en route to a tense but deserved narrow, split decision victory.
And eleven months after losing to Marquez in brutal fashion, PacMan would come back strong to outpoint the tough Brandon Rios (then 31-1-1) in Macau in a thrilling performance that was reminiscent of the Pacquiao of old.
Both combatants have dealt with various demons since the last time their paths crossed and both surely understand they must win decisively this time around, leaving no doubts, uncertainties or suspicions.
Given what both fighters have endured that last several years, Pacquiao and Bradley can do without added controversy.... And more importantly, so can boxing.