On Saturday, June 9, I watched the Pacquiao – Bradley WBO Welterweight Championship fight on pay-per-view with a bunch of Filipino friends. The fight took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with a most disheartening conclusion. No, Manny Pacquiao did not lose the fight. He was robbed blind by two of the three judges. Judges Duane Ford and C. J. Ross voted 115-113 for Tim Bradley. The other voted by the same score for Manny.
HBO’s Harold Lederman had Manny winning 11 out of 12 rounds. As Lederman posted his score round after round, up to 90 – 81, we were saying that Bradley’s only hope was a knock-out of Manny, which did not happen as Manny won two more of the last three rounds. Even fight analysts including Jim Lampley and E. Stewart were incredulous. Promoter Bob Arum probably suffered a minor apoplexy as he expressed his disbelief. Arum, who promotes both fighters, said that the decision was ridiculous and everyone should be ashamed of it.
According to ESPN, Arum said, “Something like this is so outlandish, it’s a death knell for the sport. This is f—— nuts. I have both guys, and I’ll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it’s ridiculous. You have these old f—- who don’t know what the hell they’re looking at. It’s incompetence. Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight.” Arum also claimed Bradley himself thought he lost: “I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, ‘I tried hard but I couldn’t beat the guy.'”
During and at the end of the fight, the Compubox showed the number of punches and power punches thrown by each boxer as well as the number that connected. Statistics therefore showed that Manny thoroughly out-boxed Bradley, not marginally but by a big edge (253 punches for Manny to 159 for Bradley). It is very difficult to understand where Ford and Ross based their scores. There were no knock-downs although a few times, Bradley was a bit unsteady after being hit by Manny. Indeed, most of the replays during the fight showed Manny hitting Bradley. But these occurred towards the ends of the rounds. So Manny wasn’t able to follow through and finish Bradley off.
The decision was booed by the audience. Unfortunately, the judges have the final say and Manny Pacquiao’s streak of fifteen wins has to come to end. Many reasons were advanced for this turn of events.
1. There’s a great deal of money involved in this match especially by gamblers betting. Because Manny was favored to win 4 to 1, a bet of $4000 for Manny to win will bring you $1000 in Vegas. By the same token, a bet of $1000 for Bradley to win can earn you $4000. The judges had to be bought for high rollers to hit big. I doubt that the judges would risk their reputation or livelihood.
2. The judges were pissed off by having to wait for Pacquiao while he finished watching the seventh game of the NBA Eastern Championship between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. (The latter are Pacquiao fans and Manny could be depressed by their loss. Thus he made Bradley and the judges wait while he calmed himself.)
3. With Bradley’s win and a purse of $5 million (Pacquiao made at least twice that), a rematch is likely in November. Bradley’s manager Cameron Dunkin expects a purse closer to $10 million now that Bradley has the championship title. This means that the expected Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is hanging in the air. Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be released from jail (for battery) in August and may have to wait after the rematch. Is it possible that the judges are in on continuing the huge payouts?
According to Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer, he does not anticipate any disciplinary action against Ross or Ford. So we will leave the decision to poor eyesight or just incompetence.
In the meantime, Manny Pacquiao showed his unusual calm and kindness by not complaining of being robbed. He knew he won but he accepted the decision and he expressed his respects for the officials and for his ring opponent when brought before the camera. This seems to confirm his renewed devoutness as a Catholic. (A friend said that with $10 million in his pocket for a hard day’s work, who would not be smiling? And there’s more to come!)
Personally, I think Manny Pacquiao is a true Filipino hero and icon. At 33, he has some more years to make us proud in the boxing arena. His political career may also be in the rise. He may aspire for the Senate and later for the executive branch of the Philippine government.