HBO’s unofficial ringside boxing scorer, Harold Lederman, has what he believes to be a simple solution to ridding the sport of controversies in the wake of Tim Bradley’s disputed split-decision victory that dethroned Manny Pacquiao as WBO welterweight titleholder.
Bradley-Pacquiao took place on June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“I would like to see Nevada and the rest of the commission to just use the three-best judges that they can possibly find, regardless of where they live, or no matter what sanctioning body they work for, to judge the Danny Garcia-Amir Khan fight, which is July 14 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas,” said Lederman, 72.
“That way, you can possibly avoid any controversy whatsoever, because that looks like it’s going to be a really, really tough fight going in. It’s going to be a huge night of boxing, because whenever Amir Khan fights, the whole world is watching. We don’t want to see anybody get robbed. We want to get a good decision. We don’t want Amir to get robbed or for Danny to get robbed.”
Lederman’s assertion comes on the same day that boxing became a bipartisan cause in the nation’s capital, as two United States senators began their push for legislation to establish oversight of professional boxing in response to Bradley-Pacquiao.
The politicians are Republican John McCain of Arizona and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who introduced legislation Monday that would create the U.S. Boxing Commission.
A native of Nevada and one-time amateur boxer, Reid was once a member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and, at times, served as a boxing judge. Pacquiao once attended a rally in support of Reid’s successful re-election two weeks prior to defeating Antonio Margarito for the WBC’s junior middleweight belt in November of 2010.
While McCain said that the result of Pacquiao-Bradley only fueled what he called “the legitimate distrust boxing fans have for the integrity of the sport,” Reid has publicly supported a request by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promotes both Pacquiao and Bradley, that Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto investigate the results of the bout.
In addition, WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarce has announced that his organization will review the results of Bradley-Pacquiao. Simiarly, Nevada State Athletic Commission director, Keith Kizer, told RingTV.com that he will review the video with the three judges.
Contrary to widespread speculation, Lederman does not believe that nefarious activity played a role in the Bradley-Pacquiao result.
“Realistically, they may have blown the call, but I don’t think that anything untoward went on,” said Lederman. “I don’t think that there was any shenanigans or that anybody got paid off or anything illegal went on. I just think that they called it the way that they supposedly saw it.”
Lederman saw the fight overwhelmingly at 119-109 (or 11-rounds-to-one) for Pacquiao. Meanwhile, official judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross each scored the fight for Bradley, 115-113, while Jerry Roth had it by the same score for Pacquiao.
Pacquaio out-landed Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds, with the overall count in his favor 253-to-159. He also scored with more total jabs (63-51) and power punches (190-108).
“My guess is that they were impressed by Bradley’s workrate for three minutes out of every round. He was at least trying to land punches and throwing them, but the power wasn’t there. Plus, a lot of his shots were being blocked by Manny, who, I thought, displayed very good defense,” said Lederman.
“Manny Pacquiao keeps his hands in tight and his elbows in tight and his hands up high, so he tended to pick off a lot of the stuff that Bradley was throwing at him. So you can’t give Bradley credit for the shots that Manny was blocking, but I think that the judges were probably looking at the Bradley workrate and saying that he was landing more punches.”
During his pre- and post-fight commentary on the judges, Lederman called Ford a “solid” official. Lederman labeled Ross — a veteran of just 20-title fights — “mediocre” and “shaky,” and considered Roth to be suspect but “usually very solid.”
A veteran of 154 title fights, Roth scored Pacquiao’s second of three fights with four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez in favor of Marquez, 115-112. Pacquiao won that fight by a disputed split-decision and subsequently won a disputed majority decision over Marquez in November after having previously battled through a draw with Marquez.
A veteran of 149 fights, Ford teaches courses to judges in Nevada and scored Pacquiao-Marquez II in favor of Pacquiao, 115-112. Ford also scored for Bradley, 97-93, during his 10th-round technical decision victory over Devon Alexander. Going back decades, Ford has been known as a reliable, competent judge.
Ford scored the controversial draw between Marvin Hagler and Vito Antuorfermo for Hagler. Most fans believed Hagler deserved to win the 1980 middleweight title bout.
Ford and Roth also disagreed on Jermain Taylor’s split-decision victory that dethroned Bernard Hopkins as IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO beltholder in July of 2005, ending Hopkins’ reign as undisputed middleweight champion.
Ford had it for Taylor, 115-113, and Roth, for Hopkins, 116-112.
Given that Khan was dethroned as IBF and WBA beltholder by disputed split-decision against Lamont Peterson in December in Washington, D.C., Lederma said that it is not too late to execute his gameplan before Garcia-Khan?
“Not at all. My opinion is the way to change this thing and to make some real improvement is for the Nevada Commission to say, ‘from now on, in a high-profile fight, we’re going to use the best judges we can find,’” said Lederman.
“If they want to make the sport better, than they should do this sooner rather than later, and the time to that is for the next big fight that they have in Las Vegas. So the time to do that is right now.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org