LAS VEGAS — The old Manny Pacquiao returned for bursts, hounding Timothy Bradley onto the ropes and battering the welterweight champion with whip-quick combinations that recalled the Pacman’s magical prime.
The older Pacquiao, now 35, couldn’t finish the trick, however.
Although he tried mightily, Pacquiao didn’t stop or even really hurt Bradley during 12 mostly exciting rounds Saturday night, settling for the lucrative revenge of a unanimous-decision victory.
‘‘I didn’t want to get careless,’’ Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao (56-5-2) proved he is still one of the world’s most exciting boxers with his second straight win, even if he might never recapture his most destructive form. His hands and footwork are still inimitable, but the eight-division world champion’s power and timing weren’t good enough to stop Bradley (31-1) — or any of his opponents since late 2009, the date of his last knockout.
Pacquiao showed up to his postfight news conference with a large bandage concealing 32 stitches in a deep gash on his left eyebrow from a head butt. Trainer Freddie Roach had praised his fighter while acknowledging Pacquiao’s days of highlight-reel knockouts have faded.
‘‘I think he was doing his best to stop him,’’ Roach said. ‘‘He was throwing combinations. I told him, ‘All you have to do is outbox this guy. You can outbox him in and out, all night long.’ I thought he had the killer instinct. It just didn’t seem like he had the power he usually has. It was a little bit slower than he seemed in the past.”
Bradley, still classy after his first career defeat, gave a mixed review of Pacquiao’s physical skills in comparison with their first fight.
‘‘He still has the real sharp snap on his punches,’’ Bradley said. ‘‘[But] I believe in the first fight, his punching power was way harder.”
Pacquiao still beat up one of the world’s best boxers with relative ease, and his next bout in the fall will be among the biggest happenings in sports. His most likely opponent is a fifth meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez, who fights Mike Alvarado May 17.
But Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum still hold out hope of a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., even while the distance between the fighters appears to grow.
‘‘It’s really hard to talk about that,’’ Pacquiao said. ‘‘How many years, days, months we’re talking about that? The line is open 24 hours. If he’s awake and he wants to fight, the fight will be.’’
Arum became nearly apoplectic when asked about the possibility of a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout, claiming Pacquiao already has agreed to all of the unbeaten Mayweather’s conditions.
‘‘The only people that can make Floyd Mayweather fight Manny is the public,’’ Arum said before urging fans to boycott Mayweather’s bout against Marcos Maidana May 3.