SAN DIEGO, June 13, 2012 – In the aftermath of one of the most hotly disputed decisions in recent boxing history, World Boxing Organization president Francisco Valcarcel announced on the WBO’s website it would take a second look at the split decision victory for Timothy Bradley over Manny Pacquiao on Saturday, June 9.
The website statement said the championship committee will meet with “five recognized international judges to evaluate the video of the match and agree to what emerges.” The committee will then issue a recommendation according to its rules.
Valcarcel also made clear the WBO considers the judges involved “honest and competent” and it is not questioning their ability. The WBO appears to be the only group on the planet that isn’t second-guessing the call by C.J. Ross and Duane Ford to award the decision to Bradley. Ford and Ross have said they stand by their scoring, which each favored Bradley by a score of 115-113.
U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) endorsed the idea of an investigation by the state attorney general’s office, backing up his longtime friend and political supporter Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing. Arum has been spitting nails over Saturday’s decision, and sent a letter to state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to look into the matter.
If you’re wondering why Reid cares and is getting involved, he is a former boxer himself and a former member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission who has judged bouts. He also recognizes the tremendous economic contribution boxing makes to Nevada’s economy. If promoters were to avoid staging fights in Nevada because of slipshod judging, it could create a huge loss of income and tax revenue.
“Remember, this fight involved hundreds of millions of dollars,” Reid said. “As I said, I am confident there was nothing untoward. I think people just make bad decisions in a lot of things they do, including judging fights… These things happen.”
Reid said such an investigation could “clear the air” over the shocking split decision. “I feel confident there has been nothing untoward, but if an investigation makes everyone feel better, do the investigation,” Reid, the Senate majority leader, told reporters when asked about the fight at his weekly news briefing.
“This is a bad decision, but bad decisions have happened in fighting forever,” Reid continued. “So I hope there is nothing untoward on this, and that’s why I think the attorney general looking into it doesn’t bother me at all.”
As an elected Congressman from the Philippines, Pacquiao interrupted training for his fight with Antonio Margarito in 2010 to appear at a campaign rally on October 29 for Reid in Las Vegas just a few days before the November election. Reid was in a tough fight of his own for re-election. When Pacquiao addressed the crowd, he said “I came here to support Harry Reid on his candidacy. “We are not only to vote but we are supposed to convince our friends and relatives to vote for Harry Reid, thank you very much.”
The senator expressed his admiration for Pacquiao in return and stated “What makes Manny Pacquiao really tough is, I believe, because he fights for those who can’t fight for themselves. That’s why Manny is chosen into public service in his home country where he is a member of Congress.”
Reid has supported the Filipino community in Nevada for many years. He sponsored laws for the benefit of Filipino World War II veterans. Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee visited Reid in Washington D.C. last year. And now Reid can do his fellow Congresssman a solid by speaking up.
The conspiracy theories continue to proliferate. Stories about fixes, payoffs to the judges, changes in the betting lines just before the bout, game playing by Arum and Top Rank and various other types of funny business all have their supporters. I continue to believe the two judges were ill equipped and ill-trained, nothing more.
An investigation no matter how well intentioned is going to solve much of anything. But for the sake of the sport and to soothe raw nerves, it’s not a bad idea. I doubt any corruption or secret plan will be uncovered. I don’t believe one existed.
So how can these circumstances of simple bad judging be prevented in the future? Open scorecards, instant replay, access to punching stats, enlarging the judging panel from three to five or even seven, and a more objective scoring system are all excellent ideas. Even sports like figure skating and gymnastics that were criticized for decades about overly political decisions have now cleaned up their act. They use many of these judging techniques on a routine basis. In comparison boxing is lingering in the last century.
I do not believe the Pacquiao-Bradley outcome signals the death of boxing, far from it. It’s not on life support either. Look at the amount of energy this fight has generated. There hasn’t been this much talk about a single bout in boxing since the days of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell.
The Pacquiao-Bradley fight has gotten even the most casual fans fired up. There is a lot to like about the passion fans are showing, even if it’s an angry or outraged passion. Boxing is bigger than just one fight, even if it does involve one of the most beloved and admired individuals in the sport.
The one person who seems to be taking it better than anyone is Manny Pacquiao himself. As he said at the news conference following the decision, “I hope you’re not dismayed or discouraged. It’s a fight and I lost. I can still fight… I will fight again.”
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. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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