|Timothy Bradley Jr. W12 Manny Pacquiao|
Wins a welterweight title
Scores: 115-113 (twice) Bradley, 115-113 Pacquiao
Records: Bradley Jr. (29-0, 12 KOs); Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs)
|Rafael’s remarks: Where do we even begin? How about with this: The decision will go down as one of the worst, most bogus calls in the whole history of boxing. It was a disgrace. Shameful. Pathetic. We are not talking about a fight that was really close with several tight rounds that could have gone either way, so reasonable people can have a different opinion. No, we’re talking about a fight that Pacquiao dominated. But judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford both had it for Bradley, the junior welterweight titleholder who moved up in weight to challenge Pacquiao. Even Jerry Roth, who had it for Pacquiao, doesn’t deserve a pass for having it even that close. The prevailing scores at ringside ranged anywhere from 119-109 (11-1) to 116-112 (8-4), with a few who had it 115-113 (7-5). HBO’s announcers had it wide for Pacquiao. The crowd of 14,206 at the MGM Grand, admittedly a pro-Pacquiao house, clearly thought he had won, and boos rained down after the decision was announced. Frankly, other than Ross and Ford, Pacquiao was deemed the clear winner without question. CompuBox punch statistics are not the gospel, but they usually give a reasonable guide to a fight in terms of quantity of punches (not quality, but Pacquiao was very obviously the heavier hitter). Pacquiao dominated those stats. He landed more blows than Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds. He landed 253 of 751 punches (34 percent), while Bradley landed 159 of 839 (19 percent). Pacquiao also landed 82 more power punches (190-108). If you missed it and want to score for yourself, HBO will replay the fight on Saturday night (10 ET) before live coverage of middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s defense against Andy Lee.
Pacquiao, with his life under better control than it was and with his newfound devotion to his Catholic faith, looked far better than he did in November when he won a controversial decision against rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their third fight — which was indeed very close and could have gone either way.
Pacquiao landed his left hand at will against Bradley and he rocked him many times during the fight. He did much more damage. All credit to Bradley for coming to fight, showing heart to hang in there, especially after injuring both feet — a fracture in his left foot in the second round and a twisted and swollen right ankle in the fifth round. He came to the postfight news conference in a wheelchair. He also came as the owner of a welterweight belt, which he did not deserve, no matter how good of a guy he is or how hard he fought.
Pacquiao, 33, the national hero of the Philippines and boxing’s only eight-division champion, was making the fourth defense of his welterweight belt and looked like he would easily retain it. He got off to a fast start by dominating the first half of the fight. He controlled the fight with relative ease. While Pacquiao did slow down a little in the second half of the bout, when Bradley might have won three rounds at most, Pacquiao was still in command. Bradley’s punches had no power on them and he didn’t even land all that many.
As good as Pacquiao looked, we are likely to see a rematch with Bradley, 28, of Palm Springs, on Nov. 10, even though it would be utterly unnecessary had Ross and Ford had good nights. Pacquiao, who made a minimum of $26 million, has a rematch clause and said he intends to exercise it. Bradley, who made a career-best $5 million minimum, will be happy to live up to the contract and fight Pacquiao again. It means an even bigger payday.
If the rematch takes place and Pacquiao dominates again and gets the decision, it still won’t make up for the damage to boxing that this fight did. So many people are upset over what happened and it’s hard to blame them. You pay $54.95 — more for HD! — and watch a pretty good fight, and then have an incompressible result. It makes you angry and not want to buy or support boxing in the future. The sport is killing itself with decisions like this one. Bad ones happen too often, but often go ignored until it happens with a megastar. It is doubtful there was any corruption involved here, just horrible jobs by the two judges. What boxing needs is a more clearly defined criteria on how to score a round instead of leaving it to the whim of a judge at ringside. Bottom line: Pacquiao won, but got robbed. Boxing fans lost and got robbed, too.
|Jorge Arce No Decision 2 Jesus Rojas|
Records: Arce (60-6-2, 46 KOs); Rojas (18-1-1, 13 KOs)
|Rafael’s remarks: For many years, Arce, 32, of Mexico, has been one of boxing’s most dependable brawlers. Put him in the ring with anyone and usually it will be a crowd-pleasing fight. On this night, it looked like we were in for another treat after a blistering opening round in which Arce and Rojas, 25, of Puerto Rico, combined to land a staggering 73 of 170 punches thrown, and Arce scored a knockdown. However, the fight was short-circuited in the second round by an accidental foul — fouls, really — that left Arce unable to continue, and the fight ruled a no-decision. It seemed as though Rojas committed three virtually simultaneous accidental fouls: a head butt, a left hand to below the belt and a left hand behind Arce’s head. Arce was down and appeared to be in pain, especially around his neck are after taking the shot behind the head. Referee Kenny Bayless called timeout, and there was a delay as the ringside doctor examined Arce. Eventually, it was determined that Arce could not continue, and the fight was called off in a big disappointment. Arce, a reigning bantamweight titlist, was fighting a nontitle bout at junior featherweight in anticipation of a likely fight with titleholder Nonito Donaire in the fall. Arce has won titles in three weight classes (plus an interim title in a fourth), including junior featherweight, and Top Rank has talked about the match with Donaire for awhile. Donaire must win his unification fight with Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7. Rojas called for a rematch and said Arce was just looking for a way out of the fight. There probably won’t be a rematch, certainly not before the proposed Donaire fight, and for all of the blood Arce has spilled and guts he has shown, it’s hard to believe he was not legitimately hurt.|
|Randall Bailey KO11 Mike Jones|
Wins a vacant welterweight title
Records: Bailey (43-7, 37 KOs); Jones (26-1, 19 KOs)
|Rafael’s remarks: Let’s cut right to the chase here: For nine-plus rounds this fight stunk out loud. It was a sleep-inducing bore that made John Ruiz fights look like Arturo Gatti brawls. It was that bad and the crowd booed throughout. But Bailey won the fight basically by landing two punches. Bailey, 37, of Miami, and Jones, 29, of Philadelphia, were fighting for the belt that Andre Berto vacated in order to take the rematch with Victor Ortiz (which was later canceled after Berto’s positive drug test). Jones was a heavy favorite. He’s bigger, longer, a better boxer and had been hailed as a rising contender for a few years. But Bailey has the greatest equalizer a fighter could want — the power to knock anyone dead with one right hand. For one punch, Bailey’s pure power might be the best in boxing and it has been for more than a decade. The rest of Bailey’s game is average, but the power is devastating and he landed the Hail Mary. The only thing Bailey tried to do from the outset was to land the right hand. Seconds before the end of the 10th round, Bailey finally connected with a clean right hand to knock Jones down. The round ended before Bailey could get rid of him, but that came soon enough. Jones, who boxed ultra cautiously in an effort to avoid the right hand — and any contact at all it seemed — left himself open enough for Bailey to land a wicked flush right uppercut in the 11th round. Jones, his nose bleeding, fell straight back to the bat. He tried to make it to his feet, but looked like a poor man’s Trevor Berbick against Mike Tyson as he tried to get up but kept falling until referee Tony Weeks called it off at 2 minutes, 52 seconds. As awful as the fight was, you have to give credit to Bailey, who was down 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93. He had only one way to win and he did it, claiming his second world title a decade after losing his first one. He held a junior welterweight belt from 1999, to 2000 (and also held an interim belt in 2002). Jones’ road back could be a long one. His fights have been very boring of late. Combined that with this monster knockout loss and he will be hard-pressed to find his way onto HBO or Showtime any time soon. He really needs to go back to the drawing board.|
|Guillermo Rigondeaux TKO5 Teon Kennedy|
Retains a junior featherweight title
Records: Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 KOs); Kennedy (17-2-2, 7 KOs)
|Rafael’s remarks: This was a mismatch on paper and indeed turned out to be a big one paper as well as Rigondeaux, 31, annihilated Kennedy, 25, of Philadelphia, as expected. Even though Rigondeaux, an all-time great amateur and two-time Cuban Olympic champion who defected and now lives in Miami, only was in his 10th professional bout, his amateur experience and ridiculous skill set make him an elite 122-pounder who might be favored against anybody in the division, including Nonito Donaire. Rigondeaux, a southpaw, is a major league talent. Kennedy is more Triple A and, boy, did it show. He had zero answer for Rigondeaux’s laser-like left hand, which did most of the damage in this five-knockdown demolition. In his first defense since winning a title in January by knocking out Rico Ramos in the sixth round, Rigondeaux, floored Kennedy in the first round, twice in the second round, again in the fourth round and one more time in the fifth round, finally forcing referee Russell Mora to end the bout at 1 minute, 11 seconds. Kennedy, now 0-2-1 in his past three fights, isn’t likely to get another opportunity at a world title. Rigondeaux helped himself with this performance. He had been quite cautious in some previous fights and, therefore, not TV-friendly. But he was more aggressive against Kennedy and let his hands go, resulting in the knockdown-filled fight. That should only help as Top Rank looks to get him on HBO or Showtime in the future.|
|Jesse Hart TKO1 Manuel Eastman|
Records: Hart (1-0, 1 KO); Eastman (0-2)
|Rafael’s remarks: The 22-year-old Hart is the son of 1970s Philadelphia middleweight contender Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, who fought a who’s who in his day. Jesse, of Philadelphia, made his pro debut after a standout amateur career in which he went 85-11 fighting at 165 and 178 pounds. In 2011, he won the National Golden Gloves at 165 pounds and the USA National Tournament at 178 pounds, although he missed a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team when he lost the 165-pound final on a double-tiebreaker. So he signed with Top Rank and blew away Eastman, 20, of Albuquerque, N.M. in just 33 seconds. That’s typical of a pro debut for a prospect, but what was good to see was how Hart went about his business. He was aggressive but not wild and threw quality straight punches. Hart used both hands as he backed Eastman into the corner while he was teeing off. Eastman was out on his feet after being drilled with a combination and referee Joe Cortez stepped in to stop the bout. It was an exciting performance of what hopefully will be many more to come for Hart, whose wife is expecting their first child in August. Top Rank is the best when it comes to developing prospects and will keep Hart busy. He is already scheduled to fight again July 7 and Aug. 18, both in Atlantic City, N.J. Hart is already a good talker with an outgoing personality, so if it turns out that he can also fight, he has a chance to go places.|
Friday at Montreal
|David Lemieux KO2 Jaudiel Zepeda|
Records: Lemieux (26-2, 25 KOs); Zepeda (12-6-1, 9 KOs)
|Rafael’s remarks: Montreal’s Lemieux, 23, said going into the fight that his career was on the line in this bout. That is because by the end of 2010, Lemieux was a red-hot prospect. He was igniting fan, TV network and media interest like nobody else. Then came the disaster of 2011, when he was destroying Marco Antonio Rubio before being stunningly stopped in the seventh round. Lemieux changed trainers but lost his next fight too, a shocking majority decision to faded former junior middleweight titlist (and Montreal rival) Joachim Alcine. With the tag of “can’t-miss kid” long gone, Lemieux got back to work against Zepeda, who gone the eight-round distance with credible Canadian super middleweight Renan St-Juste in his previous fight 11 months ago. Lemieux looked good dismantling Zepeda. He won the first round and then cleaned up in the second round. He dropped Zepeda with a clean right hand, although he got up at nine. Instead of going head hunting and trying to blast Zepeda out, Lemieux stayed patient and did not try to do too much. He kept his hands up, stayed in control and looked for his spots. He landed some good shots upstairs but put Zepeda away with a wicked left hook to the body. Zepeda went down to one knee and took referee Michael Griffin’s full count at 1 minute, 47 seconds. Good comeback win for Lemieux, who needs to stay active and continue to mature as a fighter. Zepeda, 29, a Mexico native living in California, lost his third fight in a row and for the fourth time in his last six bouts.|