For several months after what was supposed to be the landmark victory of his career, Timothy Bradley was miserable.
He was attacked by the media, scorned and vilified by the public. He was, for a long time, miserable and didn't want to see or talk to anyone after he defeated Manny Pacquiao on June 9, 2012.
The vast majority of media felt Pacquiao deserved the victory. Promoter Bob Arum decried the outcome and called for the Nevada attorney general to investigate. The WBO, which sanctioned the fight, appointed a panel to re-judge the bout, which concluded Pacquiao had won.
All of that had an impact upon Bradley, but it was nothing like the invective heaped upon him by outraged Pacquiao fans. They bombarded him with vile, malicious comments and turned his life into a nightmare.
Bradley will put the WBO welterweight title he lifted from Pacquiao that night on the line Saturday when he rematches Pacquiao in an HBO Pay-Per-View bout at the MGM Grand Garden.
He is, however, a much different man, though it took a lot of time for the wounds to heal from the torrent of abuse he'd received.
"It was horrible man, I can't lie," Bradley told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. "People said some pretty unbelievable things to me. It was hard, real hard. I'm like, 'What did I do?'
“I just went out and fought, did my job. And what I was going through, wow, that was terrible. I was in a pretty dark place. I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
The outcome of that fight changed many lives, not just Bradley's. Bradley opted to switch managers, and hired his wife Monica to replace Cameron Dunkin.
Judge C.J. Ross, who was one of two that night who scored it for Bradley, would lose her job not long after when her score in the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight was also roundly ridiculed.
She took a leave of absence after that bout, given the outrage over what were perceived to be two horribly incorrect scores.
Pacquiao, feeling the need to be more aggressive after feeling he'd missed opportunities in the Bradley fight, went after Juan Manuel Marquez in his next start and got knocked out courtesy of one of the best counter punches in boxing history.
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, whose fighters seemingly could not lose before that bout, saw his fortunes reversed and a number of his key fighters were beaten in the immediate aftermath.
Arum was accused by scores of boxing fans of fixing the fight and became the target of nearly as much abuse as Bradley.
Arum has had a lengthy promotional relationship with Pacquiao, but he is also Bradley's promoter, as well. And Bradley was astounded at the time by hearing Arum rant about the outcome.
It clearly impacted their relationship and the Bradleys now primarily deal with Top Rank president Todd duBoef rather than Arum.
Arum, though, never has been afraid to speak his mind no matter the price he may pay, and doesn't regret calling for an investigation. The attorney general's office did an inquiry and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
"It was the right thing to do," Arum said of calling for an investigation. "In a lot of ways the scoring was so bizarre that it required an inquiry.
“I didn't think for a minute they'd find any malfeasance, but it was important that the attorney general at least try to determine if there was anything improper there."
Bradley remains adamant he won, and Pacquiao is just as convinced he won.
When Pacquiao was pressed about the scoring of the first fight, he laughed.
"I have been around boxing for 20 years and I know who is winning and who is losing," Pacquiao said.
Such talk would have riled Bradley at one point, but he insists he's moved beyond it.
On Saturday, he'll have a chance to look some of his old tormentors in the eye, as many of those same fans who attacked him so viciously after the 2012 fight will be in attendance for the rematch at the MGM Grand Garden.
At one point, he may have wanted to confront some of those people. But he said if he sees any of them now, he'll smile.
"I forgive everyone who said and wrote all those nasty things about me," Bradley said. "I've moved on and I've forgiven everyone.
“I learned a lot from that first fight and what I learned is that your family is the most important thing. They're the ones who are with you in the good times and the bad. As long as my family is happy and healthy, that's what matters to me.
"I'm a different person now. All I went through made me stronger, man. I personally want to thank the media and the whole world for making me who I am, a stronger fighter, a stronger man and a guy with a total belief in himself.
“My life completely changed because of that and all of it, believe it or not, has been for the good."
Michael Koncz, Pacquiao's manager, said everything is good on his end, as well.
Nothing really changed for Koncz, though he was excoriated by many Pacquiao fans after Pacquiao was knocked out by Marquez.
But Koncz said that only seconds after the fight ended, he knew it didn't make much sense to rant and rave. He decided to act like the loss never happened.
"I don't regard it as a loss and I don't think Manny does, because let's be honest: Who does think we lost that fight?" Koncz said.
"I treat it as a win, which is what it was. Someone made a mistake that night, but it wasn't Manny Pacquiao and it wasn't me. But that doesn't matter now.
"We're past that, each guy has fought in the interim and here we are back again. You might say so much has changed, but we're back to where we were in 2012 and I think Manny is going to win the fight. Again."
Kevin Iole | Yahoo Sports
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- Manny Pacquiao
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