Grand Theft Title: Bradley Dethrones Pacquiao in One of the Most Decried Decisions in the History of Boxing
STUDIO MMA, VENICE, CA — Michael Buffer stepped to the center of the ring and announced the judges’ scores. The first one came from Jerry Roth, who tallied it 115-113 in favor of Manny Pacquaio [54-4-2, 38 KOs]. A collective gasp could be heard, not because Pacquiao didn’t deserve the decision, but because it was so absurd that the score was so close. HBO’s Harold Lederman scored the fight 119-109 in favor of Pacquiao. ESPN’s Dan Rafael scored it 119-109 for Pacquiao. And the Associated Press scored it 117-111 in favor of Pacquiao. So, certainly Roth’s 115-113 score was an outlier.
Think again. Buffer announced the other two judges’ scores: Duane Ford and C.J. Ross both had it 115-113, just like Roth. The only difference is that they favored Timothy Bradley, Jr, giving him the split decision — a decision that will go down as one of the most unfair, inexplicable, potentially corrupt results in the history of championship boxing.
Though many questioned Pacquiao’s motivation and preparation for this fight with the undefeated Bradley [29-0, 12 KOs], the Filipino legend came out strong, repeatedly rocking the younger man with straight lefts and handily outstriking him throughout the 12-round bout. Consider the Compubox data:
- Total Punches Landed:
- Pacquiao: 253 of 751 (34 percent)
- Bradley: 159 of 839 (19 percent)
- Total Power Punches Landed
- Pacquiao: 190 of 493 (38.5 percent)
- Bradley: 109 of 390 (27.7 percent)
Furthermore, according to Compubox statistics, Pacquiao out-punched Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds. Ladies and gentleman, it was lopsided.
Then how did Bradley walk away with the welterweight belt? Conspiracy theories abound. Of course, there is always the chance that the judges were utterly incompetent. For many, such an explanation is hard to believe. Even laypersons watching the fight could tell that Pacquiao had successfully and profoundly defended his title.
Most observers are following the money trail. The outcome of this fight results in an automatic rematch in November of this year. The man who stands to rake it in? Promotoer Bob Arum of Top Rank, who has contracts with both Pacquiao and Bradley. With Floyd Mayweather in the clink, there seems to be reasonable motivation for Arum to want to milk the Pacquiao-Bradley rivalry for everything it’s worth. Did he have something to do with the controversial outcome? There’s no evidence for it, and we’ll likely never know. Yet, Arum was quick to vociferously criticize the outcome:
Can you believe that? I had it 10-2! After I got into the ring after the fight, I went over to Bradley and said ‘You did very well.’ He said, ‘I tried hard, but I couldn’t beat the guy.’ This is crazy. You talk about killing boxing? All three scorecards you throw out… Something like this is so outlandish, it’s a death knell for the sport. This is f—— nuts. I have both guys, and I’ll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it’s ridiculous. You have these old f—- who don’t know what the hell they’re looking at. It’s incompetence. Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight.
Harsh and seemingly genuine sentiments from the mogul.
So, if it wasn’t Arum, then who would have the money and motive to rig the outcome? One other name comes to mind: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. The world has been clamoring for a Pacquiao-Mayweather superfight. However, Mayweather has put up roadblocks. First, he demanded random blood testing before the fight, suggesting that Pacquiao — a scrawny 145-pounder — is on steroids. Pacquiao initially resisted, citing a dubious belief that drawing blood weakens him. But last year he then agreed to full random blood testing. Additionally, Mayweather is demanding the lion’s share of the revenues from the match-up, whereas the celebrated Filipino statesman is calling for an even split with a bonus to the winner. Mayweather explained to Bob Costas:
I’m not giving up the split. I’m not. I can’t afford to. No I’m not. I gave this sport my whole life. I’ve been dominating this sport. I have record breaking numbers that I have done. He (Pacquiao) has no record breaking numbers… With or without Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather is okay. Floyd Mayweather fight for Floyd Mayweather. At the end of the day Floyd Mayweather has to be happy.
Now that Pacquiao has suffered defeat, it seems that Mayweather will be able to dictate the terms of their hopefully inevitable fight. And with an anticipated purse topping $200 million, such leverage could mean an additional $20 to $60 million in Mayweather’s pocket. Did Mayweather have something to do with the controversial outcome of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight? Again, there’s no evidence for it, and we’ll likely never know.
So, is there anything that can be done to right the apparent injustice that occurred on Saturday night in Las Vegas? It’s not looking good for the Pacquiao camp. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has already announced that the judges will not face any discipline or review. Said, Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the NSAC:
I had Manny ahead, but that’s fine… All I can say is I think every judge should strive to get better… Every fighter who loses a close fight like that wants to look at the judges.
A “close fight,” Keith? Really? Way to take a stand!
The UFC’s Dana White is showing the NSAC no love in this matter. Immediately after the fight, White tweeted the following:
Nevada state athletic commission at its finest!!! You’ve [got] to be fucking kidding me!! that is disgusting Nevada state athletic commission!!