Timothy Bradley, left, trades blows with Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, in their WBO welterweight title boxing bout Saturday. Pic: AP.

Nobody really expected Timothy Bradley to get his redemption and validation.  Well, at least seriously.

But many were expecting Manny Pacquiao to score a knockout for two compelling reasons.  One, to regain the crown robbed from him by Bradley and the judges in 2012.  And, two, to prove that he’s still got what it takes to knock an opponent out.

Pacquiao got some measure of revenge when he again dominated Bradley with his superior speed and power shots in Las Vegas this weekend.  No, he did not score a knockout, not even a near knockdown. He did not need to.  After all, Sunday’s rematch was just another day in the office for the all-time Filipino boxing great who dabbles as a congressman on the side.  Or is it the other way around?

In defeating Bradley (again), Pacquiao proved two things:  he is still great but is no longer the feared finisher he was before.

Many said he is now old at 35.  By boxing’s standard, he is. 

Pacquiao is now faced with the inevitable. Pic by Edwin Espejo

But I will take an aging and ‘aged’ Pacquiao against all comers in his division, anytime.  Except perhaps against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Yes, Pacquiao has visibly become unanimated in finishing off opponents. 

It all started with Antonio Margarito.  Pacquiao made a mess out of Margarito’s face, even breaking the poor guy’s eye socket. Then in the 11th and 12th rounds, Pacquiao looked at the referee with a face pleading to stop the fight.  Even Pacquiao could no longer bear to look at Margarito’s badly damaged dial.

It was followed by another one-sided win over a scared Shane Mosley who repeatedly touched gloves with Pacquiao at the start of every round after the Hall of Fame-bound American boxer got clipped with Pacquiao’s patented punches in the 3rd round, as if to beg that the knockdown was enough and Mosley was already tanking.  That let out a frustration in Pacquiao, one that he will repeatedly showed in his succeeding fights.

Well, if they do not come to fight, then I will box – maybe he thought so.  Not a bad 36 minutes, 45 including the one-minute break between rounds, to earn your $20-million paycheck, indeed.  Then the unthinkable happened.  He got robbed by a quick-footed Bradley, precisely because he got accustomed to going through 12 rounds in business-as-usual mode.

What before was his bread and butter became his night job, with politics eating up all his attention.

After the 2012 Bradley defeat he was forced to take a 4th fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, despite all the attendant risks.  Marquez has always been a nemesis and Pacquiao was left with no choice but to go through the pains of facing the only man that he has failed to completely dominate.  Pacquiao was leading and was rushing to deliver the coup d’ grace when he got banged with an overhand right from Marquez.  It sent him to dreamland and shattered his invincibility.

That loss zapped a good part of the confidence and bravado in him. It made him even more calculating, careful and cautious.

It also gave pretenders to his throne the formula for vanquishing him. He was no longer the feared knockout artist and Brandon Rios showed him little respect. And Bradley too.

Both Bradley and Rios said Manny is old and no longer the hungry fighter. Well, they ate their words.  But, hey, they too saw the writing on the wall.

Manny no longer has the incentive and the burning desire to go for the kill.  He has become more business-like, but not in the boxing sense. 

Whatever they are, this reasons are what is eroding Pacquiao’s image and persona as the great boxer who took the world to another level of excitement for over a decade.

Pacquiao has crossed his Rubicon.  Both his feet are over the point of no return.