Pacquiao vs. Bradley: Scorecard Controversy Hints at Deeper Problems in Boxing

Adam Hirshfield@ahirshfieldFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 09:  (R-L) Trainer Freddie Roach gives Manny Pacquiao instruction between rounds during his bout against Timothy Bradley at MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The bottom line is that 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 he doesn't get the decision.

It's an injustice to the sport, an injustice to the fighters, an injustice to the fan base and it's one of the fallacies…one of the problems with the sport of boxing right now that the wrong guy wins sometimes.
- ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas, on SportsCenter

When you have a well-known trainer and television personality saying things that suggest the fix is in, you clearly have a problem with your sport.

Boxing hit a new low Saturday night as judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford of the Nevada State Athletic Commission robbed a deserving Manny Pacquiao of a win against Timothy Bradley.

I am not here to discuss the merits of the match. Yes, Bradley fought well at times, and this is nothing against the purportedly still-undefeated fighter. But, ultimately, Saturday night was not about that. 

Saturday night's tilt at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas seemed like a typical Manny Pacquiao fight: Pacman didn't wow or overpower his opponent, but he methodically beat him, winning round after round in fairly compelling fashion.

I didn't see a single scorecard during the fight that put it in Bradley's favor. Not one. And this is the Internet, where anyone with a computer has their own scorecard and a medium with which to vomit it out. 

And everyone had Manny winning comfortably.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 09:  (R-L) Manny Pacquiao lands a right to the head of Timothy Bradley during their WBO welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on June 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

"I had the fight 11 rounds to one in favor of Pacquiao," ESPN boxing expert Dan Rafael said on SportsCenter. "Maybe you can make it 10 to 2 or I'll even give you 9 to 3….Harold Lederman on HBO had it 11 to 1." 

Jim Lampley, who called the fight for HBO, came over to me at ringside after the fight, looked at me, and said in 30-something years of calling fights, [this was] the single worst decision he's ever seen. That's a big, big statement….That was absolutely horrible.

According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, "[promoter Bob] Arum says Bradley's manager [author's emphasis] had it 8-4 for Pacquiao." 

In short, Timothy Bradley did not win this fight. 

He lost the fight. 

He was the loser. 

He finished second in a two-person match. 

He didn't win. 

He. Didn't. Win. The. Fight.

But, according to Ross and Ford and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, he did.

When asked what he would say to the judges if he got a chance, according again to Mannix, Arum said, "I have the best eye doctor in the world. If they get on a plane to L.A., I would pay for their visit."

Fine, say the judges were blind. Human error.

Say it's a fix. 

Say Arum himself was involved and wanted to stick it to his own fighter for probably leaving town when his contract runs out. 

Say whatever you want. But don't tell me Bradley won this fight.

But that's what the judges and their commission are trying to do: pass this con job off as a decision. And that's just wrong.

And that's what's wrong with boxing: that this can be decided by judges, some of whom are quite clearly—and, to a degree, acceptably—corrupt.

Don't believe it? OK, how is it that boxing people—not just cynics (like me) on the outside looking in—are immediately jumping to the "Fix!" conclusion? Doesn't that suggest there's something inherently wrong with the sport itself?

That's precisely the point: Any time you can have human judges solely and completely responsible for deciding the result of an athletic competition, the competition ceases at that point to be either athletic or a legitimate competition.

It becomes pro wrestling. 

And something tells me even Vince McMahon would have had Pacquiao winning Saturday night (albeit wearing a cape, with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan at his side and with Jinkee on camera in the green room in a revealing catsuit).

After the match, Pacquiao was his usual humble self.

"I did my best," he told reporters. "I guess my best wasn't good enough."

It was, Manny. 

The problem was that the sport of boxing wasn't good enough to recognize it.

Boxing got it wrong. And in the end, the wrong guy won.


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