But an investigation by the Nevada attorney general Catherine Cortez Matso determined on Tuesday that there was no smoking gun.
“After conducting an initial investigation, there do not appear to be any facts or evidence to indicate that a criminal violation occurred,” wrote Cortez Matso, who took action in response to a request by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promotes both Pacquiao and Bradley.
“As of this date, no one has presented any facts or evidence to indicate a crime has been committed by anyone involved in the Bradley/Pacquiao fight.”
Meanwhile, Arum told Yahoo!Sports “I have no reaction to it,” while Dunkin said, “I expected this.”
“Nothing did happen, no funny business at all, and I’m not surprised that’s what [Cortez Masto] found,” Dunkin told Yahoo!Sports. “I’m happy they cleared it up, and for all the paranoid people who don’t understand and who don’t know what they’re talking about, now they can calm down.”
Bradley (29-0, 12 knockouts) defeated Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) by scores of 115-113 on the cards of official judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, dethroning him as welterweight titleholder on June 9 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Jerry Roth had it 115-113 for Pacquiao, and an informal poll of 51 writers favored Pacquiao over Bradley, 48-3.
In the wake of Bradley’s victory, Arum requested in a letter dated June 11 that Cortez Matso investigate the results.
“There have been numerous allegations on blogs and from boxing authorities that perhaps Top Rank, as well as myself, had something personal to gain by what has been described as an extremely poor decision by boxing officials in Nevada,” Arum wrote.
“As you know, Mr. Bradley was awarded a split-decision over Mr. Pacquiao despite the fact that there was near unanimous scoring by boxing writers at ringside that had Pacquiao winning in a lopsided decision.”
Although none of the judges were interviewed during Cortez Matso’s investigation, referee Robert Byrd was. According to Cortez Matso’s letter, Byrd stated that “the only thing that was unusual was that Pacquiao was late to the pre-bout rules meeting between the referee and the fighters.”
Pacquiao “was stretching and using the treadmill during the scheduled time,” Byrd told Cortez Matso in the letter, “which resulted in him being late for the meeting and this delayed the start time.”
Although Cortez Matso wrote the matter “is closed,” Arum expressed outrage that none of the judges were interviewed.
“They spent a lot of time interviewing the referee who had nothing to do with judging the fight, and I didn’t see any interviews with the three judges who scored it? Wouldn’t you do that if you were looking into it?” said Arum.
“Anybody who reads that letter is going to say, ‘Hey wait a second. The three people who, in effect, caused this, why weren’t they interviewed?’ Obviously, it would have been far more thorough had they interviewed the judges. They probably would have come to the same conclusion [that there was no evidence of a crime], but at least they would have talked to the people at the center of the issue.”
Arum’s initial request, though, was more focused on absolving the sport and his promotional company.
“I am not asking you to in any way investigate the determination by the judges from Nevada,” his letter said, “nor am I asking you to give any consideration to seeking a change in the final outcome. Instead, I would ask that you consider an investigation that would set the record straight on boxing in Nevada for the entire world to see.”
“Nevada is still the premier site for boxing events in the world, and an investigation of the process and more specifically the role of the promoters, including my company, would allow me and my company to defend its reputation against malicious accusations that are damaging not only to us as a reputable promoter but to the sport itself.”
Arum asked Cortez Matso to do the following:
— Determine how officials are picked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to show that there is an impartial selection of those who work the fights.
— Investigate the charges of any rumored betting improprieties, although I do not believe that to be the case.
— Point to the fact that there are no malfeasance among the Nevada officials and the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
— Speak to the legitimacy and efficacy of the athletic governing body in Nevada so that the world sees that this state continues to be among the world leaders in governing boxing.
— Thoroughly examine and vet all executives and decision makers in our company, Top Rank
— And any other pertinent facts that you would deem appropriate.
“Displeasure with the subjective decisions of sporting officials is not a sufficient basis for this office to initiate a criminal investigation. Unless evidence beyond mere displeasure if forthcoming, this matter will be considered closed,” wrote Cortez Matso.
“While there may be strong disagreement with the decision, the exercise of professional judgment by individuals officiating at a sporting event is not by itself a criminal violation.”
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer said he cooperated with the investigation, adding that “the attorney general did a good job.”
“The attorney general asked questions and I provided the answers, and I also provided the information which was requested,” said Kizer.
“I really felt that there was no need for an investigation in the first place, but I’m glad that the attorney general did a good job investigating the allegations from Top Rank.”
Kizer also informed RingTV.com that he has concluded a review of the video with Ford, Ross and Roth.
“I sat down with the three judges individually and we watched each of the specific rounds of the fight that that particular judge gave to Bradley,” said Kizer.
“We were very satisfied with their performances that night, and we were very satisfied with their review of the tapes with us last week. We feel that they did a good job that night and we were satisfied with their review.”
In addition, Kizer said that Nevada chairman, Skip Avasino, “spoke to the judges individually” and is expected to address their conversations in a report during a 9 a.m. meeting of the commission on July 9.
Cortez Matso’s ruling contradicted one on June 20 by a five-member panel of judges convened by WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, which unanimously scored in favor of Pacquiao after watching video of the fight.
Valcarcel informed RingTV.com that his panel all had the matchup for Pacauiao, by scores of 117-111, 117-111, 118-110, 116-112, and115-113. From ringside, Valcarcel said he scored the fight for Pacquiao eight rounds to four.
Valcarcel said that his organization’s rules do not allow for the bout being overturned, but that “the only thing that we can do is authorize a rematch.”
The Bradley-Pacquiao contract already had contained a clause calling for a rematch on Nov. 10, although Pacquiao may be considering a fourth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez or else a rematch with three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto for that date.
Valcarcel said he would leave the scenario regarding a rematch to Arum, Marquez’s Mexican-based co-promoter, Fernando Beltran, who often works with Top Rank, and Dunkin.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com