A couple of days to digest the controversial (to put it mildly) decision that gave Timothy Bradley the WBO Welterweight championship over Manny Pacquiao Saturday night have done nothing to lessen the stench that emanates from the sport.
From Las Vegas around the world, observers of the bout consider the judges’ scorecards a travesty of the highest order, a mindless decision that shows boxing always can extend how far rock bottom reaches.
Already looked at with suspicion, Saturday night only heightened the distrust of boxing’s controlling power. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single person that does not believe either the fight was fixed or that the judges were too old to make a competent assessment of the action right in front of their eyes. Either way, it is not good.
Pacquiao dominated the fight early, using his speed to deliver a bevy of heavy left hands to Bradley’s head. Pacquiao landed nearly 40 percent of power shots he threw — 81 in total more than Bradley.
Bradley looked like less of a punching bag during the middle rounds, and began to move in attempts to counter Pacquiao’s power. Although he was able to avoid some of the abuse he was taking during the first rounds, Bradley was never able to hurt Pacquiao and showed little power in any of his punches.
Pacquiao, who had not lost in eight years, was confused about the outcome, and rightfully so.
“I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough,” he said. “I’ve been watching his fight tapes. There were no surprises. He never hurt me with his punches. Most of them hit my arms. I don’t know what happened.”
Here’s what happened: Vegas happened. Boxing happened.
ESPN.com scored the bout 119-109 for Pacquiao, as did HBO’s unofficial judge Harold Lederman. Unfortunately, the only scorecards that counted Saturday were those of judges Jerry Roth, C.J. Ross, and Duane Ford. Roth scored the bout 115-113 for Pacquiao, while Ross and Ford both gave the decision to Bradley by the same score. Roth and Ford were judges at the Sugar Ray Leonard- Tommy Hearns fight in 1981. That’s how long they have been doing it. Ford is 74. Ross is 71. Really? Seriously? Judging prize fights?
Here’s what Ford said: “I thought Bradley gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson. I thought a lot of the rounds were close. Pacquiao missed a lot of punches and I thought he was throwing wildly. . . This isn’t American Idol. If I judge for the people, I shouldn’t be a judge. I went in with a clear mind and judged each round.”
An ESPN Boxing writer called it one of the worst decisions in history, while Top Rank promoter Bob Arum went a little further, saying, “I’ve never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight.”
Yeah, right. Arum is as much of the problem as anyone. He’s considered unscrupulous by many and he did not help himself when he said, “I’ll make a lot of money off the rematch, but this was outrageous.”
Boxing analyst Teddy Atlas broke it down on ESPN: “I’m not sure if its accurate that Pacquiao was about to leave one of the kingpins of the sport, Bob Arum. His contract was running out. But I think it was. And when that happens, sometimes funny things happen. But the bottom line is, if you’re an honest man, if you’re a competent person that knows what he’s watching, Pacquiao won that fight. Only one man won that fight. And, you know, he doesn’t get the decision. It’s an injustice to the sport, injustice to the fighters, injustice to the fanbase. It’s one of the fallacies. It’s one of the problems with the sport of boxing right now is that the wrong guy wins sometimes.”
The rematch date was set prior to the fix, uh, fight – November 10. Bradley had posters about the rematch printed before the fight. Interesting, right?
Where does this leave Floyd Mayweather? Well, in jail – literally and figuratively. He does not get released until the end of summer, and the fight everyone has desired – against Pacquiao – depends on Arum and what happens in the rematch.
But by then, will anyone really care?