Just in case you missed it, which surely is a possibility, a boxing match took place this weekend featuring Timothy Bradley Jr., the man who beat Manny Pacquiao, who is the man many believed could beat Floyd Mayweather.
Bradley dominated the fight, but the judges ruled it a split draw.
It is a feat that the sport still exists, what with the lack of dynamic talent, engaging personalities and with the usual controversy that engineers thoughts of corruption and fight-fixing.
Bradley is not an exciting fighter, but he controlled the match Saturday against Diego Chaves. Was not close. But the judges were all over the place. One had Bradley winning it 115-113. Another had it even at 114-144. And still another, Julie Lederman, scored it a 116-112 victory for Chaves.
When the announcement came, people booed. Loudly. The unruly reaction was about that decision for sure, but it also represented how they feel about the sport.
Once a centerpiece of the athletic world, boxing has diminished into an afterthought. Black kids who were young athletes seeking a sport to engage—and even pursue a professional career—have turned away from the sport. There is no longer much honor in being a champion prize fighter in African-American communities. There hardly are any boxers with enough cache to command their attention.
It’s one reason Mayweather is so big in the Black community. He’s a special talent, but he also is relatable to urban youth (and not in all honorable ways, either). But Mayweather is alone in being an identifiable figure in the game that can save it from itself or inspire kids to take it up.
If Mayweather were to finally fight Pacquaio, boxing would be back in the front of people’s minds—at least for that night. And if it does happen, by some unforeseeable twist of good fortune, both men will be beyond their prime. Because the boxing public has waited so long for that match—too long, in fact—if they meet in the next year it would be anticlimactic to many, not worth watching to some.
Nights like what Bradley experienced do not help.
Bob Arum, the longtime promoter, said: “I don’t understand anymore. Julie Lederman [of New York] should not be allowed to judge in this state anymore. That was the worst decision. I had it 8-4 for Bradley. I could see it 7-5. OK, maybe even 114-114. But her scorecard for Chaves was an absolute disgrace.”
Ironic that Bradley was on the robbed end of a decision. He became champion with his decision over Pacquiao, but it was widely disputed. Most observers judged that Bradley got beat handily. But boxing being boxing…
Pacquiao dominated the rematch with a unanimous decision. But too often nights like this weekend happen, and the sport suffers from the madness more than the boxer.