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Pacquiao unanimously outpoints Bradley

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao may not be ready for retirement just quite yet.

Pacquiao returned from the biggest loss of his career with a bang Saturday night, knocking down Timothy Bradley twice on his way to a unanimous 12-round decision in their welterweight showdown.

Pacquiao shook off the ring rust from a layoff of nearly a year after losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. to beat Bradley for a second time in the rubber match between the two fighters. In doing so, the Senate candidate in his native Philippines showed he may have to reconsider his plans to retire and devote his full time to politics.

Pacquiao (58-6-2) knocked down Bradley (33-2-1) in the seventh round, though Bradley seemed to have slipped. He left no doubt in the ninth with a big left hand that sent Bradley sprawling.

The fight was scored 116-110 by all three ringside judges. The Associated Press had it 117-110.

In the final seconds, many in the crowd of 14,665 at the MGM Grand arena were on their feet chanting “Manny! Manny!” as Pacquiao tried to end the bout with a flourish. He never came close to finishing off Bradley, though he was so far ahead on the ringside scorecards that it didn’t matter.

If the fight was indeed the end of the 37-year-old Pacquiao’s career, it was a remarkable one. Aside from the loss to Mayweather last year he did little wrong in winning eight weight class titles in 21 years as a pro.

“As of now I am retired,” Pacquiao said. “I am going to go home and think about it but I want to be with my family. I want to serve the people.”

Pacquiao had no problems with the right shoulder he injured against Mayweather as he stalked Bradley across the ring, looking to land big shots. He landed enough of them to make Bradley wary, and the knockdown in the ninth round seemed to take the rest of the fight out of Bradley.

“Manny was strong the entire fight and he was also very patient,” Bradley said. “I wasn’t professional enough to stay patient myself and I walked into shots.”

Both fighters took some time to get untracked, with the early rounds offering little action. Pacquiao seemed a bit rusty from his layoff and Bradley was unwilling to get inside and trade punches.

Pacquiao began picking up the pace and stalking Bradley, though, coming in behind a right jab and following it with his left hand. In the seventh round, he seemed to graze Bradley with a pair of punches and Bradley went to his knees for what referee Tony Weeks ruled a knockdown.

“He was very quick, very explosive,” Bradley said.

Ringside punching stats showed Pacquiao landing 122 of 439 punches to 99 of 302 for Bradley.

Pacquiao said before the fight that he felt refreshed after his layoff and stronger than ever. He hadn’t scored a knockout at 147 pounds since stopping Miguel Cotto in 2009, and went after Bradley with big left hands to try to break that streak.

“I was looking for a knockout in every round,” Pacquiao said. “He’s a very tough fighter and a very good counter puncher.”

Pacquiao, who was guaranteed $7 million, was fighting for the first time since losing to Mayweather last May in the richest fight ever. He lost a unanimous decision in that fight, blaming his lackluster performance on the shoulder injury that flared up in the fourth round and required surgery afterward.

Still, Pacquiao was a 2-1 favorite against Bradley, who beat him on a controversial decision the first time they fought before losing a unanimous decision in the second fight in 2014.

Bradley vowed this would be his best fight, with new trainer Teddy Atlas in the corner giving him instructions. Atlas fulfilled his job, jumping into the ring after each bell to lecture Bradley, sometimes having to be pushed out of the ring by Nevada boxing officials so the next round could start.

“Teddy obviously made a difference,” Pacquiao said. “This was the best Timothy Bradley I have faced in the three fights.

If it was Pacquiao’s last fight, he goes out as one of the biggest pay-per-view attractions in the sport. Pacquiao headlined 22 pay-per-view fights, generating more than 18 million buys and $1.2 billion in PPV revenue.

His next career probably won’t be as lucrative, with Pacquiao running for the Senate in elections next month in the Philippines. Should he win – and he is one of the favorites – it would be almost impossible to remain an active fighter.

Pacquiao said in the days leading up to the fight that his family – particularly his wife – wanted him to retire.

“Thank you boxing fans,” he said in the ring afterward.

‘It’s about time’: Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson

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WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump on Thursday granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially-charged conviction.

“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.

Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice and described his decision as an effort “to correct a wrong in our history.”

“He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time,” Trump said.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, for traveling with his white girlfriend.

Trump had said previously that Stallone had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.

“His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial,” Trump tweeted in April. “Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!”

Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing and crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.

He died in 1946. His great-great niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been pushing Johnson’s case for years.

The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then mowed down a series of “great white hopes,” culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries.

McCain previously told The Associated Press that Johnson “was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.”

“Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor,” McCain has said.

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949.

Linda E. Haywood, the great-great niece, wanted Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says “processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons.”

The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president. The general DOJ policy is to not accept applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions, according to the department’s website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past.

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

Lomachenko stops Linares in 10th, wins lightweight title

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NEW YORK (AP) Vasiliy Lomachenko stopped Jorge Linares in the 10th round of their lightweight championship fight Saturday night, winning a title in his third weight class in just his 12th pro bout.

Lomachenko landed a hard left to the body during a flurry of precision punches that sent Linares went to a knee. Linares finally got up just as the count was reaching 10 but referee Ricky Gonzalez called an end to the fight at 2:08 of the round.

Linares knocked down Lomachenko in the sixth and the fight was all even after nine rounds before Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) put an overpowering end to his first fight at 135 pounds, adding that title to his belts at 126 and 130 pounds.

Linares (44-4, 27 KOs) hadn’t lost since 2012 and used his size advantage to do some damage, but in the end Lomachenko did more in an exciting Madison Square Garden match.

The fighter widely known as Vasyl said this week he prefers to use Vasiliy, his legal name. And now he can be called lightweight champion after picking up the WBA’s version of the belt in front of a crowd of 10,429 that chanted “Loma! Loma!” and waved blue and gold flags for much of the night.

It was Lomachenko’s eighth straight victory by stoppage, but this one was much tougher than a recent stretch of clinics in which his last four fights ended when his opponents’ corners wouldn’t let them take more punishment from the Ukrainian.

Lomachenko had joked he should be called “no mas Chenko” for his habit of making opponents quit, but Linares made him earn this victory.

The Venezuelan was on a 13-fight winning streak and was giving the two-time Olympic gold medalist the test he wanted, one that he said would bring out the best in what many already consider the most skilled fighter in the world.

Each fighter was ahead 86-84 on a judge’s card, while Julie Lederman had it 85-all after nine rounds.

Lomachenko said Thursday he needed to finally be put in danger to show his complete array of skills, and then on display in the 10th round with a series of shots that Linares couldn’t defend, especially the left to his midsection that took the biggest toll.

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