Manny Pacquiao connecting with a right to the chin of Timothy Bradley. (Getty Images)
Whenever “Fighter of the Decade” and Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao fights, the crime rate in the Philippines is almost zero.
The Philippine National Police reported hardly any crimes were committed as millions of Filipinos crowded into theaters. basketball stadiums, entertainment centers, restaurants, bars and in their homes to watch Pacquiao defend his WBO welterweight title against undefeated junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
It was different in Las Vegas as two of the three judges assigned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission — CJ Ross and Duane Ford gifted Bradley with a 115-113 scorecard while the third judge Jerry Roth had Pacquiao winning 115-113. It was a robbery that the whole world witnessed.
Ringside observers, millions watching around the world including boxing promoters, trainers, fighters, showbiz personalities and the regular fight fans were not merely shocked by the decision but visibly outraged because the fight was not even close.
In the eyes of most qualified media analysts Pacquiao won, at the very least, eight of the twelve rounds and was so comfortably ahead going into the tenth round that he perhaps made the mistake of coasting and not taking any unnecessary risks.
Freddie Roach said in his corner, at the end of round ten, “you let that round go” but although Pacquiao tried to rekindle the fire within him and pursued Bradley, the undefeated 28 year old simply refused to engage, content to throw occasional flurries that caught Pacquiao on his gloves, forearms or elbows.
When Pacquiao was being interviewed after his controversial majority decision in his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, fights fans drowned out the interview with a chorus of boos.
This time around it was several decibels higher, went on much longer and demonstrated as Bradley was being interviewed.
It was never a case of Filipinos or Filipino-Americans booing. It was the crowd that came to watch a fair fight and were angered by a decision that reduced Las Vegas’ reputation as the boxing capital of the world to rubble and left the fairness of American boxing judges in serious doubt.
Often fight fans and the media look to the unofficial CompuBox stats to guide them or in many cases as the yardstick by which they could reinforce their own decisions, one way or another. They did so in the last Pacquiao-Marquez fight.
This time around the stats were not even comparable as Pacquiao was way ahead both in terms of punches thrown and landed and power punches thrown and connected making it impossible for the judges or the NSAC to even attempt to justify their scorecards, including Roth who scored the fight in favor of Pacquiao.
In power punches, several of which rocked Bradley, Pacquiao connected with 190 of 493 while Bradley landed just 108 of 390.
The stats reinforced the view that Pacquiao dominated Bradley, hurt him quite a few times but was himself never hurt at all.
The most respected boxing writers and sites in the world had Pacquiao a comfortable winner. Yahoo Sports, the Associated Press and renowned boxing writer Gareth Davies of the London Daily Telegraph all had Pacquiao the winner 117-111.
ESPN’s Dan Rafael and former boxing judge and HBO Sports resident judge Harold Lederman had Pacquiao the winner by an even bigger 119-109 margin.
TV commentator Teddy Atlas said it plainly “boxing is a corrupt sport.”
The social networks bristled with angry comments, insinuations of a “fix” and a prediction that boxing is nearing the end of its lifespan not because of the lack of skilled fighters and exciting fights but judges whose dubious decisions have given the sport and Las Vegas in particular, a black eye.
One can understand if Filipinos were angered by the decision but the condemnation was worldwide and cut across all segments of society.
World Boxing Council president Don Jose Sulaiman who watched the fight with the WBC board of governors in Mexico City told us “during the 67 years of my life in boxing I have never seen such a theft as the one perpetrated against Manny Pacquiao. I call it the theft of the century and I am embarrassed for the whole sport of boxing.”
Sulaiman who is steeped in the sport said “I saw Manny win nine rounds clearly while the three that I saw him lose could have been even, I am ashamed, profoundly ashamed. I just cannot understand it. It is a matter of deep concern.”
Oscar De La Hoya who was pulverized by Pacquiao and quit on his stool at the end of the 7th round said with a tinge of sarcasm, “Bradley should have given the belt and announced victory to Pacquiao right after the decision.”
Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield who was at ringside could only be seen shaking his head in disbelief.
Late night show host Jimmy Kimmel who has hosted Pacquiao prior to his last six fights remarked, “Paula Abdul would have done a better job judging.”
While there was a flood of messages through social media networks lambasting the judges and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Pacquiao remained his usual gracious and humble self as he set a new standard of decency for a loser saying “I respect the decision but I believe 100 percent that I won the fight. The fans in their heart know who won the fight. He hit me with a couple of jabs, but I don’t even remember him hitting me a solid punch in my face and — amazing what the result is.”
Pacquiao displayed a tinge of disappointment over Bradley’s tactics of refusing to engage and fighting a defensive fight when he said “I watched his fights, he was an aggressive fighter. But tonight he kept on running and running. I thought he was going toe-to- toe.”
Bradley who said right after the decision was announced “Manny’s a beast. He’s got fast hands, he hurt me a couple of times in the fight” said he would give Pacquiao a rematch as he deserved it after having given him a chance of a lifetime.
Bradley earned $5 million plus a share of the pay per view revenues once the numbers come in while Pacquiao earned a guaranteed $6 million plus a reported additional $20 million spread over 90 days.
Bradley didn’t wish to engage in a protracted discussion about the decision, preferring to point to the judges. He said “There’s three judges out there and that’s the way they judged it, so I mean, what do you want me to do? You know what I mean? That’s the way they judged it. My corner felt we were winning the fight. I was controlling the action. But like I said, there was three judges out there. Two of them felt I won the fight and that’s all I can say on that.”
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum who stands to make a lot of money in a rematch which Bradley had previously predicted would take place on November 10, was incensed and referred to the judges as “three blind mice.”
He said “it was a ridiculous decision. You guys all know who won this fight. So let’s be honest about the situation. Hopefully we’ll revisit it in November….I hope boxing recovers, because this isn’t arguing about a close decision. This is something that’s an absurdity, that’s ridiculous, and everybody that’s involved in boxing should feel ashamed.”
Fox Sports Scott Sawitz stated “One thing is abundantly clear about all this. There needs to be an investigation into all involved immediately.” Amidst a slew of allegations of a “fix” Sawitz said Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer needs to launch more than a cursory investigation into all of this” after TV commentator Teddy Atlas spoke about possible corruption.
Pacquiao hurt Bradley with his left on several occasions during the fight and it was only the superb condition of Bradley and his ability to grab and hold when in trouble that saved him from being knocked down.
A short left straight in the opening round gave Bradley an indication of what he was facing and another left straight plus a right-left combination by Pacquiao in the following round saw Bradley backing off.
Pacquiao clearly hurt Bradley in round three with another powerful left and in round four was warned by referee Robert Byrd for a low blow even as Pacquiao nailed Bradley and hurt and wobbled him towards the end.
Pacquiao comfortably took rounds five and six and when Bradley refused to engage and instead back-pedaled Pacquiao urged him to pick up the action saying “come on boy.”
A furious exchange in round nine plus Bradley’s best round in ten when Pacquiao eased up saw trainer Roach give that “you let that round go” remark. If at all, it was the only round that the Congressman from Sarangani province let slip away.
Pacquiao told us he is fine despite the inexplicable decision while his charming wife Jinkee who tried desperately to hold back the tears gave her husband a loving embrace as he entered their car to leave the scene of the high crime where he as well as the sport of boxing were clearly the victims.