Tim Bradley: Bradley shoulders no blame for the actions of the judges who handed him a ridiculous split decision over Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night in Las Vegas. He fought gamely and had his moments, at least in the final four rounds. And his performance was remarkable if we’re to believe that he injured both of his feet in the fight. All in all, he has no reason to be ashamed. However, the bottom line is this: He was badly outclassed and in no way deserved to win the decision. I had Pacquiao winning 118-110 and 48 of 51 other boxing writers who took part in a poll (some at the MGM and some watching from home) conducted by journalist Ryan Maquinana had Pacquiao winning – most by a large margin. Does this mean Bradley isn’t a good fighter? Of course not. It just means he’s not as good as Pacquiao. Bradley will probably have a chance to prove me wrong in a rematch late this year. I’d be more shocked if he succeeds than I was when the scoring was announced on Saturday night.
Manny Pacquiao: One of the two biggest stars in the sport didn’t deserve this. Pacquiao, looking sharp, did his job. Judges talk of ring generalship, controlling the action. Pacquiao was in charge for the vast majority of the 36 minutes of action. And, according to CompuBox statistics, Pacquiao outlanded Bradley by a large margin – 253-159. The power-punching numbers were even more telling: 190-108 in favor of Pacquiao, almost a 2-1 margin. Was Pacquiao inactive at points in the fight? Yes. Were the final four rounds closer than the previous eight? Absolutely. That’s not really relevant, though. Pacquiao did more than enough to win at the very least eight of the 12 rounds if we strain to be generous. Afterward, he should’ve been celebrating another in a long line of decisive victories that have made him one of the best fighters ever. Instead, that was stolen from him by judges who evidently had no business working the fight. Pacquiao will be back. But this one will always sting.
Pacquiao-Bradley: Boxing writers have been known to screw up scoring as badly as the worst judge in the world. However, when 48 of 51 of them score a fight for one fighter, you can bet the house that fighter was the winner. Honestly, I’m not sure what the other three were thinking. Then there’s the CompuBox numbers, which supported what we all saw with our eyes: Pacquiao landed many more and harder punches. Bradley landed only 13 punches per round, a paltry sum. Thus, we are left to wonder about the scorecards of Duane Ford, Jerry Roth and C.J. Ross. All three scored the fight 115-113, Ford and Ross for Bradley and Roth for Pacquiao. Ford and Ross had Pacquiao winning four of the first six rounds. That means they had Bradley winning five of the last six. Five of six? Are you kidding me? Bradley did better in the closing rounds but not that much better. There have been many bad decisions in the history of boxing. However, when we couple the scoring with the magnitude of the fight on Saturday, none are worse than this one.
POSSIBILE EXPLANATION I
Aggressor rewarded: Simple incompetence is one possible explanation for what occurred on Saturday. There’s a lot of that going around lately. However, the fact all three judges had it close is an indication that there were other factors. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated pointed out correctly that Nevada has a tradition of rewarding aggression. And if CompuBox numbers are accurate – Bradley threw more punches than Pacquiao (839-751) – then one could argue that Bradley was more aggressive (or at least more active) than Pacquiao. That’s not a big disparity, though. And a basic tenet of judging, even in Nevada, is that simple aggression isn’t good enough; a fighter must use effective aggression to win rounds. My eyes told me that Pacquiao dominated in that department. The numbers back me up.
Payback: Many believe that Pacquiao has been on the desirable end of bad decisions, particularly in his three fights against Juan Manuel Marquez. That includes their third meeting in November, which Pacquiao won by a controversial majority decision. Could the judges have inadvertently leaned too far in Bradley’s direction in an effort to be fair? “Maybe they were making up for the Marquez fight,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer. This scenario reminds me of the Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad fight. De La Hoya also had received decisions that some believed were generous before he was cheated against Trinidad. I always wondered whether the judges in that fight, determined not to favor De La Hoya, leaned too far in the other direction and came up with the wrong scores as a result.
Corruption: Some observers seem to be suggesting that promoter Bob Arum somehow rigged the decision, perhaps because he doesn’t want Pacquiao to fight Mayweather. I don’t believe that for a second. I might sometimes question the wisdom of Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, in terms of selecting judges but I believe he has integrity. I don’t believe corrupt judges would make it to the ring under his watch. No, I think this is a matter of incompetent judges. That said, I would welcome the investigation into the scoring that Arum is demanding. God knows something needs to be done about this never-ending judging nightmare.
Pacquiao wins rematch: Pacquiao and Bradley will most likely meet again on Nov. 10, a date which Top Rank has reserved for a big promotion. And, of course, Pacquiao will dominate an overmatched Bradley again. This time, however, the judges won’t dare to cheat Pacquiao and he’ll regain his welterweight title. That won’t fix what happened on Saturday night; the stain on boxing and Nevada is indelible. And we’ll cringe whenever we see Bradley wearing the belt that was stolen from Pacquiao, which will remind us of the injustice. However, once Pacquiao wins the rematch and things are once again in their proper order, the pain of a horrible night in boxing will become part of the past and people will begin to ask again: “Will Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather ever fight each other?”
Pacquiao, to The Associated Press: “That will make me become a warrior in the next few months because in the rematch my feeling is I don’t want to go the whole 12 rounds.”
Photos / Naoki Fukuda
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at email@example.com