SAN DIEGO, June 10, 2012 – The boxing world hopes it will wake up on Sunday to learn that Saturday night’s fight between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao was only a bad dream.
But even if we keep our head under the covers, the bad dream is all too real. In a decision no agrees with or understands except the two judges who rendered it, Timothy Bradley is the new welterweight champion after “winning” a 12-round decision against eight-time weight class champion and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
The way the fight unfolded was bizarre right from the start. The undercard fight between Jorge Arce and Jesus Rojas ended in a quick no decision after Rojas struck Arce in the side of the head after a low blow was ruled. Arce could not continue.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao was watching Game 7 of the NBA playoffs between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. The fight would not start until the game was over. He apparently took his time, got on a treadmill to warm up, and kept Bradley and the fans in the arena and around the world waiting for nearly an hour. The fight didn’t get started until well after midnight on the East Coast.
From the moment the fight started, Bradley was outclassed. Pacquiao’s power and speed was on display. He was landing straight lefts with relative ease. Even when Bradley managed to land a punch, he could not begin to match Pacquiao’s power.
As the fight went on, Pacquiao seemed to be taking rounds with ease. He began to take it easy the first few minutes of each round, revving up in the final minute or so to take it to Bradley. Because of this, many observers believed Bradley win a few rounds, perhaps as many as three, near the end of the fight. But there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Pacquiao was the clear winner.
Until the judges’ scorecards were read. Jerry Roth scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao. Upon hearing the score, it was hard to imagine how Roth could have scored it so close. Then the next two scores were read. Duane Ford and C.J. Ross also scored it 115 to 113… for the winner, the new welterweight champion: Timothy Bradley.
Let’s hope for their sake Ford and Ross are now in the Witness Protection Program.
I have watched boxing for over three decades and there has never been as shocking a result from the judges as there was in this fight. Now we all know how it feels to take a body shot out of nowhere that knocks the wind out of you and drops you in your tracks, that’s how stunning this result was.
The words shocking and stunning kept being repeated. They were soon replaced with absurd, outrageous, ridiculous, incomprehensible, and several other choices that cannot be published here.
Bradley remains undefeated at 29-0. Pacquiao is now 54-3-2, though it hardly matters.
At the post fight news conference, Bradley was brought in using a wheelchair. He said he hurt his ankle in the second round, describing hearing a “pop” in the top of his foot, but persevering through the pain. He would be taken to a hospital after the bout; the results were not known at press time.
Bradley said he was still shocked. He said he was aware of the boos from the crowd at the end of the night, and said he and Pacquiao “definitely need to do this again in November. Let’s make it more decisive for everybody.”
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said of the judges, “I think they had their eyes closed… Something wasn’t right, because what everyone else saw and what they saw were two different things.”
Pacquiao was gracious in defeat, but politely insisted he won the fight. He said he didn’t even listen to the announcement because he knew he had won. He said he wants the rematch to come. “That makes me become a warrior three times as much. In the rematch I want to finish the whole program.”
The oversized ticket Bradley had at the news conference to a November 10 rematch seems it might be the real deal. This puts off any thought of a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, which was probably the case anyway due to Mayweather serving a jail sentence this summer with his earliest possible release date being in early August.
There was plenty of buzz about the potential for a Bradley victory, including by commentator and trainer Emanuel Steward and also by this columnist. But the two of us along with the rest of the boxing news media, professional boxers who watched the fight, organizers, and fans are aghast at the results. No one saw it the way the two judges saw it.
The stats support the outrage. According to Compubox stats, Pacquiao landed 253 of 751 punches thrown, a 34% connection rate. Bradley threw more punches and landed fewer, 159 or 839 for a 19% connect rate. Did the judges somehow count off number of punches thrown and think it constituted a win for Bradley? Pacquiao landed 190 power punches to 108 for Bradley, a tighter percentage of 39% to 28% landed.
Bob Arum of Top Rank said he had never been so ashamed. Arum told boxing writers, “If I were doing your job, I would call and ask for all three judges to be brought before the press to be questioned. Maybe they saw something none of us saw. The worldwide outcry about this decision will not be good for boxing.” Arum says people who have no connection to the sport can’t help but be turned off, and he is right.
The Oliver Stone conspiracy theories are multiplying fast and furious, but I am more prone to believing that two judges saw something different due to being ill-equipped and ill-trained. They have no replay technology, no punching stats, and no way to confirm any faulty observations. It is high time boxing bring on some of the tools of the trade used in other sports. Even figure skating, long criticized for its political decision-making, now uses instant replay and a more objective point scoring system. Why is boxing so behind the times?
In the undercards, along with the Arce and Rojas no decision, underdog Randall Bailey scored an eleventh round knockout out of nowhere to beat Mike Jones and win the vacant IBF welterweight title. Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux defended his WBA bantamweight belt against Teon Kennedy with ease, with a fourth round knockout. But except for the fighters these will all be forgotten against the drama of the main event.
I love this sport. I love its personalities, its stories, and the dedication it requires. I admire how boxers train and their work ethic. To get into the ring takes strength, guts, and determination. But to see an outcome like this between Bradley and Pacquiao is so painful it hurts. It is an embarrassment for the entire sport. Serious positive changes must emerge from this nightmare situation to save the sport of boxing for the future.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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