I remember Tyson, Bruno, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman and heck, even Lennox Lewis had a certain ‘draw’ to him. The great heavyweight fights, the drama and the prestige. Being allowed stay up late to watch a big bout. People talking about it the next day in school, college and then work. Well, people are still talking about fights, however the water-cooler conversation is now invariably based around whatever controversy is drowning Boxing at the time.
The once great sport is absolutely reeling right now in the wake of the incredible scenes after the Pacquiao versus Bradley fight from the weekend just passed.
Essentially, every single person who watched, commentated on or wrote about the fight is saying, with authority, that Manny Pacquiao was the clear winner of the fight. Post-fight analysis of the statistics is also showing, again with authority, that Pacquiao was an overwhelming winner. The only dissenting voices around? Two of the three judges. Duane Ford and C.J. Ross both scored the fight in favour of the challenger, Timothy Bradley Jr, thus awarding him the welterweight title fight 2-1.
If you didn’t see the fight the evidence that Pacquiao dominated and should have won, easily, is all around. Take for example these telling excerpts from this excellent round-by-round account in the LA Times.
- Round 3 Pacquiao is bobbing and weaving, looking for an opening. With 90 seconds left, he finds it and gets off the kind of lightning-fast shot Bradley fears.
- Round 4: The most action in the fight so far with both men mixing it up in the center of the ring. Pacquiao is getting the best of it, and Bradley is cautioned for a low blow
- Round 5: Bradley has become much less aggressive, and now it's Pacquiao who is charging forward, his confidence growing
- Round 6: Bradley lands a soft left, but it doesn't hurt Pacquiao, whose speed is overwhelming the challenger. Bradley flinches every time Pacquiao so much as feigns a punch. Pacquiao gets off a good left counterpunch.
- Round 7: It took Pacquiao most of the first two rounds to get a feel for Bradley, but he's unstoppable now.
- Round 12: The fighters touch gloves to start the round. Bradley needs a knockout
In reading even that alone the most casual of observers would obviously say that Pacquiao must surely have been given the win. Despite all of the above obviously pointing to a clear and easy Pacquiao win, those afore mentioned judges found a way to award Bradley the fight on points. ESPN reported the end of the match as such;
"Nearly every media member at ringside, as well as HBO's broadcasters, had the fight as a wide victory for Pacquiao and the crowd of 14,206 rained boos down when the result was announced.’’
HBO boxing analyst Max Kellerman is reported as having said he scored it eight rounds to four for Pacquiao, and that he thought doing so was being generous to Bradley. Manny Pacquiao clearly won the eyeball test. For the duration of the fight, particularly the middle rounds, he constantly outfight, harassed and at times clearly terrified Bradley. Manny Pacquiao clearly and undeniably won the statistical battle also.
ESPN.com scored the fight 119-109 for Pacquiao. HBO's unofficial judge, Harold Lederman, also had it 119-109 for Pacquiao, meaning he gave Bradley only one round. Most ringside media also scored it clearly for Pacquiao. Pacquiao also dominated in the ‘CompuBox’ punch statistics. According to CompuBox, Pacquiao landed 253 of 751 punches while Bradley landed only 159 of his 839 attempts. Pacquiao also connected with 82 more power punches (190-108) and landed more overall punches in 10 of the 12 rounds.
There is not one shred of evidence, visual or analytical that even hints at suggesting a Bradley win. So, where did it all go wrong?
Let’s start with boxing mega promoter Bob Arum, who interestingly promotes both Pacquiao and Bradley (conflict of interests, much?!). In the aftermath of the fight Arum has presented himself as an angry man, disgusted at the result. Despite promoting Bradley, he has shouted very loudly that the result was wrong. He has gone so far as to submit a formal request to the office of Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto for a "full and complete inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the scoring" of Saturday's fight.
Arum is quoted as saying;
"The public has a right to know (what happened). The fighters have a right to know. The only way to restore fans' confidence in boxing is by letting an independent body investigate every detail of the fight no matter how big or small. Sunshine never hurt anyone."
Arum continued to play to the crowd with the following vociferous monologue;
"What the hell were these people watching? ... How can you watch a sport where you don't see any motive for any malfeasance and yet come up with a result like we came up with tonight. How do you explain it to anybody? 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."
Here’s a thought, and it is based around Arum. Maybe this is exactly the way it was meant to happen. We are already hearing about a re-match. Maybe Arum and co will re-brand the re-match as a ‘redmeption’ match, ensuring a massive buy-in from the angry boxing public. Arum is spouting vitriol to everyone and anyone who will listen to him, and his protests are so vehement that, at this stage he is starting to insist a little too much upon us. He isn’t just spouting off about the result, he is wandering around like some sort of modern day Iago and placing the seeds of doubt in anyone who will listen’s mind, take for example this pithy little anecdote he was spreading around post match
"I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, 'I tried hard but I couldn't beat the guy.'"
Bob, you can fool some of the people some of the time…
Meanwhile, Arum’s stable is dutifully spitting out the company line. Bradley himself is barely able to conceal his interest in a re-match "We definitely have to do it again." Pacquiao said he wants the rematch, too. "No problem, I'll be ready for the rematch." Of course he will be ready, he has $26 million reasons to be ready, and Bradley will take another $5 and laugh his way to the bank. Those are the dollar figures both men earned in 'round one'.
The wheels are in motion. The awful decision on the night is already almost behind us. Arum and his cohorts are busy moving the chess pieces around the board. Bradley and Pacquiao will fight again, and everyone connected with the fight, the boxers themselves, Arum, and all other interested parties will make a large yacht full of money. Everyone will forget Ford and Ross, and the whole venture will be deemed a success.
A success at the cost of sporting-justice.
A success at the continued and eventually complete erosion of boxing’s remaining dignity.
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