LAS VEGAS — There is really only one way to look at the stunning debacle that took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. In a state where prostitution is legal, what else would you expect?
What happened to Manny Pacquiao was either incompetency or corruption, and frankly it had the reeking odor of both after two of the three judges ruled undefeated junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley had won a split decision from a guy who according to CompuBox statistics or 20-60 eyesight outlanded him in 10 of the 12 rounds.
In sports, one understands how a referee or an umpire misses a call from time to time, but how do you miss an entire fight? That is what happened to judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford. There is no other way for them to have come away thinking Bradley won 115-113 when he spent the second half of the fight retreating and the first half getting hit.
Ford even got the 11th round wrong, which he gave to Pacquiao. That was a round after which Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, was so angry at him for taking it off he ordered him to go for a knockout in the 12th.
Truth be told, even the guy who got it right got it wrong. Jerry Roth had the correct winner but that’s all he had right in scoring the bout 115-113 for Pacquiao after giving Bradley the final three rounds. The Herald had Pacquiao winning 117-111 and felt exceedingly kind to Bradley in doing so. HBO’s unofficial scorer, Harold Lederman, awarded only one round to Bradley.
What gave this outcome a stench that left the Twitter world atwitter was that in the weeks leading up to the fight, Bradley openly talked of a Nov. 10 rematch already being set. He claimed the date and place were already agreed to because he would derail Pacquiao.
Turns out it was C.J. Ross and Duane Ford. If you are a conspiracy theorist you would look at Bradley’s boldness, three cards which together conspired to make a fight look close when it was not, and the fact promoter Bob Arum had both sides of the equation (and hence both sides of the rematch) and come away asking yourself if you should ever watch another fight. Had Don King been the promoter you would have heard the word “corruption” all night long.
The fact of the matter is this is the second straight Pacquiao decision that was outlandishly wrong. The last also came in Las Vegas, when he was awarded a majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez on a night when not even Pacquiao was sure he won.
Bradley, who was certainly not to blame for what happened to Pacquiao either on the scorecards or in the ring, seemed downcast when the fight was over and agreed a rematch was needed.
“It was a good fight,” Bradley (29-0, 12 KO) said. “Every round was pretty close. Pacquiao won the early rounds, I won the later rounds with my jab. I have to go home and see the tape to see who won.”
What jab? According to CompuBox, Bradley landed only 51 jabs all night, 12 fewer than Pacquiao.
The judges were not available after the fight and neither was the man who oversees them, state commission executive director Keith Kizer. He should be ashamed of himself for not showing up after a jammed arena filled with spectators booed the decision so lustily poor Bradley couldn’t be heard when HBO analyst Max Kellerman tried to interview him after the dastardly deed was done.
According to Arum, even Bradley conceded he’d lost, although he never did so publicly.
“When I came into the ring (after the fight), I said to Tim, ‘You did very well,’ and he said, ‘I tried hard and I couldn’t beat the guy,” Arum claimed. “Something like this is so outlandish, it’s a death knell for the sport. This is (expletive) nuts. I have both guys, and I’ll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it’s ridiculous.
“You have these old (expletives) 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.
“You all know who won. I hope boxing recovers because this isn’t arguing about a close decision. This is an absurdity. Everybody involved in boxing should be ashamed. Let’s be honest about the situation.”
Why start now? Boxing has been both corrupt and littered with incompetence for years. When the latter becomes institutionally accepted, which frankly it seems to be, is that not a form of dishonesty?
The always placid Pacquiao urged observers “not to be dismayed or be discouraged at the result. I respect the decision but 100 percent I believe I won the fight. In your heart you know who won, but the best attitude is respect and professionalism.”
Roach was not as sanguine, saying he’d scored the bout 10-2. When asked if he felt close rounds had gone to Bradley as payback for the disputed win over Marquez, Roach snapped, “I didn’t see that many close rounds. I’m not sure if our last fight had anything to do with it. Did they hold that fight against us?
“Bradley took some really good shots. He has a good chin. But he chose to not fight about midway through the fight. I told Manny before the fight Bradley would come, come, come. Manny said not after he felt his power. Manny was right.”
That put him way ahead of C.J. Ross and Duane Ford.
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