In a city known for rendering horrible boxing decisions, Las Vegas reached a new low when three veteran judges erroneously awarded the WBO welterweight title to Timothy Bradley by split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao. One has to wonder if they had a clear and unobstructed view of the fight or perhaps they fell asleep and missed rounds 1 through 12 before they regained consciousness.
Clearly Pacquiao won the fight. Perhaps this will be the fight that spurs boxing to improve the caliber of its judges. Of course, as every veteran fight fan will tell you, after they stop laughing, that will never happen. The fans that filled the MGM Grand to capacity to watch the fight were simply aghast at the decision.
I watched the fight at the International Boxing Hall of Fame with a group of all-time great fighters who thought that Pacquiao overwhelmingly defeated Tim Bradley to retain his title.
Pacquiao landed over 100 more punches than Bradley and was the aggressor throughout the fight. Will boxing survive this controversial decision? Of course it will. It always does. Why boxing shot itself in the foot yet again by putting an undeserved loss on the record of its biggest cash cow and the clear winner of the fight is anyone’s guess. Maybe those in charge thought it was time for a change.
One thing is certain, which is that by awarding the fight to Bradley, boxing officials emphatically put the last nail in the coffin of a possible Mayweather-Pacquiao super fight. As fleeting as it was that such a fight would even happen in the first place, the egregious decision in favor of Bradley has forever closed the door on the one bout all fight fans have wanted to see for a very long time.
Pacquiao dominated every round with effective aggressiveness, which is what judges are supposed to be looking for. Even a hardcore Bradley fan would have been hard pressed to find a single round which could rightfully be scored for Timothy Bradley.
The thing to remember about this controversial outcome is that Bradley is not at fault here. He is not the culprit of this situation. He deserves credit for boxing his heart out, and constantly engaging Pacquiao throughout the fight. Yes Bradley used his speed of foot to avoid some of Pacquiao’s attacks but those moments were few and far between. Bradley faced Pacquiao head on, exactly as he had promised to do before the fight.
The time-honored tradition in boxing is that to take a champion’s title, you have to beat him to a pulp in every round to demonstrate that you are clearly the superior fighter in the bout. That did not happen, as everyone who saw the fight, minus the judges, is well aware of. Pacquiao made the fight by coming forward, constantly pressing Bradley, backing him up and landing powerful hooks and body shots on the junior-welterweight world champion.
It was obvious in the early rounds that Bradley was attempting to turn Pacquiao by constantly circling him so as to never allow him enough time to plant his feet in order to get some leverage on his power shots.
Bradley’s game plan was flawed from the beginning because Pacquiao throws punches from all angles and rarely if ever plants his feet to punch. Pacquiao successfully cut off the ring on Bradley, forcing him to fight back when cornered, rather than cover up. Bradley seemed unable to keep Pacquiao off of him. Bradley doesn’t possess enough power to make Pacquiao to respect him.
One good question that needs answering is where has Manny’s power gone in his last few fights? Prior to the fight, Bradley dared Pacquiao to “Bring it.” Well Pacquiao convincingly brought it to Bradley in every round.
Pacquiao forced the action, threw more punches and threw more effective punches, which is what counts in boxing. Pacquiao managed to catch most of Bradley’s shots on his gloves. Bradley was able to sneak some jabs through Pacquiao’s high guard but not much more.
Pacquiao’s defense was superb in this fight. He looked to be the Pacquiao of old, minus the knockout power, dominating and out muscling Bradley in every exchange. In fact, HBO commentator and former ring judge Harold Lederman, gave Pacquiao 11 rounds while scoring only the 10th round for Bradley. The audience in attendance agreed with Lederman and roundly booed the split decision victory for Tim Bradley when it was announced.
The best way for home viewers to watch boxing is with the sound off as they are then unable to be influenced by network broadcasters. Even with no sound, it seemed implausible that after the final bell, Bradley’s hand would be raised in triumph.
The fans in attendance and those watching from home and in bars immensely enjoyed the fight until the decision was announced. Such incompetent decisions put a bad taste in the mouths of all fans as the perfect emotional resolution to the bout would have been a Pacquiao victory.
After the decision was announced, ESPN analyst and former trainer of Mike Tyson, Teddy Atlas, attacked the decision of the judges, stating that, “Once again, the criminals and low-lifes that control boxing were allowed to ruin the reputation of a great sport and fighter by underhanded means.”
Atlas also called for a national body to control all of boxing in the United States. He said judges needed to be routinely graded on their performances and routinely tested to see if their judging skills are always up to par.
Atlas carries a lot of influence within the sport and he s hoping to get more prominent boxing figures to agree with him in order to exert enough pressure for boxing to remedy it’s many problems sooner rather than later; starting with improving the quality of it’s judges and referees.
Atlas also said that boxing desperately needs a mechanism in place to overrule bad decisions in order to be fair to the fighters and the fans. The Compubox numbers had Pacquiao landing over 100 punches more than Bradley. This begs the question of how boxing insiders and fans saw the bout overwhelmingly in favor of Pacquiao while supposedly professional judges scored the fight in a completely different manner.
Once again, a great night of entertaining boxing reached an unsatisfactory conclusion due to deliberate human error. Judges obviously can only score the fight in front of them using the criteria they are given to do so. Yet, such an unjust decision has clear and far-reaching negative ramifications for the sport of boxing.
Clearly, many fans will now think twice before forking over the cost of the next exorbitantly priced PPV fight. Boxing officials are quickly gaining the reputation of wrestling referees. They are there but never taken seriously.
Both fighters were very courteous towards each other after the decision was announced. Pacquiao said he thought he won while at the same time congratulating Bradley on his victory. Bradley shocked his own team by saying he would have to watch the fight in order to determine whether or not he genuinely won the fight. In the end, Bradley goes home with the title, Pacquiao goes home with more money, and fight fans leave disappointed with the outcome of another good fight. All in all, it was typical night in the world of professional boxing.