The controversy stemming from Saturday’s Manny Pacquiao/Timothy Bradley disaster continues unabated. Promoter Bob Arum has refused to create a rematch between the two fighters unless an investigation is launched into the judging (and presumably the judges themselves) of the welterweight title fight.
Then-champion Pacquiao lost a very questionable decision to Bradley despite outlanding the challenger 253 – 159, according to Compubox statistics. Everyone at ringside who wasn’t a Nevada State Athletic Commission judge had Pacquiao winning easily over the injured, but very game, Bradley.
Even Pacquiao’s corner, people you would think know a hell of a lot about boxing, were telling him to be careful in the final rounds because he was winning so big. Bradley is also rumored to have told Arum before the decision was announced that he couldn’t quite beat Pacquiao even though he had tried.
The NSAC, however, will not be the one conducting the investigation, apparently. The commission seems comfortable with the job done by its judges and won’t pursue the matter any further. This despite one NSAC official saying he “had Manny ahead, but that’s fine” and that “all judges should strive to get better.”
Clearly that’s a shot across the bow of the three judges for the fight, especially Duane Ford and C.J. Ross, the two who had Bradley winning 115-113. But that’s about as publicly as the NSAC will probably rebuke any of its personnel involved with a controversial fight.
However, the coup de grace from the fight comes from Duane Ford, one of the aforementioned judges who scored the fight for Bradley:
“In pro boxing, you look for damage, and if the punches are equal and the damage is equal, you are looking for effective aggression, and that does not necessarily mean the guy going forward…Effective aggression can be a guy going back. And then you look at ring generalship, and that’s all about control.”
While he was speaking in general terms, much of his criteria for judging clearly does not hold up. For example, the punches were not close to even in the fight, leaning heavily toward Pacquiao in both punches landed and power punches landed.
The damage was also not equal even according to Ford himself, who earlier in the Yahoo! article admitted that Bradley’s body punches in later rounds-which swayed him to give late rounds to Bradley-only hurt the champion in terms of “piling up points,” not in real damage. Meanwhile, Pacquiao inflicted damage to Bradley consistently over virtually the entire fight.
So while Ford says he gave “an honest opinion,” only two things are possible here. The first is that Duane Ford and C.J. Ross are simply terrible judges who were finally exposed. If they saw something so wildly different than even other boxing experts who are definitely equally experienced, then something in the judges’ criteria is terribly, terribly wrong.
The second is a conspiracy, to which Bob Arum was alluding to. Directly after the decision was announced, ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas said the following:
“Unfortunately, the scorers of fights are incompetent. Sometimes they’re more than incompetent. Sometimes they’re corrupt. (Boxing) doesn’t have a national commission, like other sports do. Doesn’t have a police body, like other sports have. And therefore you get this kind of situation. I’m not sure if it’s accurate that Pacquiao was about to leave one of the kingpins of the sport, Bob Arum. His contract was running out. But I think it was. And when that happens, sometimes funny things happen. But the bottom line is, if you’re an honest man, if you’re a competent person that knows what he’s watching, Pacquiao won that fight. Only one man won that fight. And, you know, he doesn’t get the decision. It’s an injustice to the sport, injustice to the fighters, injustice to the fanbase. It’s one of the fallacies. It’s one of the problems with the sport of boxing right now is that the wrong guy wins sometimes.”
So maybe Arum calling for an investigation is just a shell game since Atlas seems to think it was Arum who may have led the conspiracy. While that may not be likely, this whole mess does put the entire sport of boxing in a position that no sport ever wants to be in: one in which the sport’s integrity and ability to provide objective, unbiased results is in question.
This is why baseball came down so hard on Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, and why football hammered Paul Hornung. Accusations of conspiracy kill sports every time. Hopefully boxing is able to prove its innocence. Otherwise, it deserves its fate.