By Perry Diaz
The loss of Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao to Timothy Bradley would most likely become one of the most controversial fights in boxing history and could become the catalyst for reforms in the way fights are judged.
These are the facts:
The round-by-round Lederman Card showed Pacquiao winning, a total of 119 over Bradley’s 109. Lederman gave Round 10 to Bradley and the rest to Pacquiao.
The Final Punch Statistics showed Pacquiao landed 190 punches out of 493 punches thrown while Bradley landed 108 out of 390 punches thrown.
There were no knockouts.
However, two of the judges saw it differently. While Judge Jerry Roth scored the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao, judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford scored it 115-113 for Bradley, which gave Bradley a split decision victory over Pacquiao.
What the hell happened?
The fight was lopsidedly in favor of Pacquiao from start to finish except in Round 10, yet the two judges decided to give it to Bradley. For those who watched the fight, most of you would agree that Pacquiao should have won the fight by unanimous decision. Yet, the two judges turned a blind eye to the fact that Pacquiao landed 82 more punches than Bradley.
Ringside punching statistics showed Pacquiao landing 253 punches to Bradley’s 159. The Compubox statistics showed Pacquiao landing more punches in 10 of the 12 rounds. The Associated Press (AP) reported, “Bradley came on strong in the later rounds, winning five of the last six rounds on two scorecards and four on the third. He won 115-113 on two scorecards, while losing on the third by the same margin.” But still, AP had Pacquiao winning 117-111.
Just about everybody who scored the fight gave it to Pacquiao. But judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford gave it to Bradley. What made them see it differently?
This question would in the forefront of debate for a long time. Sad to say, what happened could erode the confidence and enthusiasm of boxing aficionados who were drawn into a sport that experienced a Renaissance since Pacquaio entered the ring with his spectacular performance in the past seven years.
King of the “Sport of Kings”
Pacquiao had a 15-fight winning streak that began in 2005. With eight world championship titles in eight different weight divisions, Pacquiao had brought the “Sport of Kings” to new heights. Indeed, he was the king of the “Sport of Kings.”
He became a superstar in a sport made only for the strong. He became a national hero to his 90 million compatriots. And he brought glory to a sport that had reached rock bottom in revenues and public patronage until he showed and proved that boxing was not a disreputable sport – as it was once -- dominated by promoters who fixed fights to feed their greed and those who profit from it.
Pacquiao’s loss brought a financial windfall to those who placed bets for Bradley, who was a 4-1 underdog. The nagging question is: Could it be that the fight was fixed to profit a few? If so, then boxing is back to where it was when decisions were made in the back room. I hope not, because if it did, then boxing would once again slide into the bowels of disrepute and perhaps never to emerge again in a respectable milieu of sportsmanship and entertainment.
It’s interesting to note that when promoter-- who handles both Pacquiao and Bradley -- went over to Bradley before the controversial decision was announced, Bradley told him: “I tried hard but I couldn't beat the guy.” This led Arum to say that Bradley -- the new “paper champion” -- didn’t even feel he earned it. Could there be a worse insult than being called a “paper champion” by no less than his own promoter?
Indeed, for someone who had been promoting boxing all his life, Arum saw the handwriting on the wall. Ominously, he said: “Something like this is so outlandish, it’s a death knell for the sport.”
But death knell or not, Arum would immensely benefit from a rematch, which was agreed upon in the contract between Pacquiao and Bradley. “I have both guys, and I’ll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it’s ridiculous,” Arum said. He accused the judges of incompetence saying, “they don’t know what the hell they’re looking at. Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight.”
The question is: Would Pacquiao agree to a rematch to regain his title and earn another $20 million or would he call it quits? A rematch would be very enticing and hard to refuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pacquiao agreed to a rematch.
But to the every end, Pacquiao proved himself to be who he really is: a great boxer who knows himself better than anybody else. “I did my best,” he said. “I guess my best wasn't good enough.” However, the Pacquiao-Bradley fight proved one thing: “If you can’t beat your opponent with punches, beat him in the judges’ score cards.” And Bradley did.
At the end of the day, it can be said that Pacquiao won the fight but the judges cheated him of victory.