By Paul Albano: First, this wasnít a controversial decision. I just looked up the word Ďcontroversyí and the dictionary seems pretty insistent on the notion that a controversy involves some form of disagreement. Well, thereís no disagreement here. Pacquiao and Bradley fought. Pacquiao won said fight.
And it wasnít close. Should Manny have pressed harder to get rid of Bradley, and take the fight out of the judgesí increasingly grossly incompetent hands? Sure, I suppose so. Just as we should all read more classic novels and eat less sugar and stop removing the ĎDo Not Removeí tags from our futons and mattresses. And does Bradley deserve some credit? Why yes, yes he does. Bradley got beaten up for twelve rounds and he didnít quit. No sir. He just continued to get beaten up. So a doff of the cap to Mr. Bradleyóheís a gentleman amongst men, and he gets beaten up with grace and dignity..
As for the judges, many are writing off Duane Ford and C.J. Rossís scorecards as a bad night. And why not? We all have bad nights. Why, just the other night I watched a lion eat a gazelle on some nature show, and wouldnít you know it, I ended up scoring the fight for the gazelle (it showed heart, and ultimately I thought it won enough of the quiet rounds). So maybe thatís what happened to the Pacquiao-Bradley judges. Maybe Duane Ford (who, like C.J. Ross, scored it 115-113 for Bradley), a licensed judge in nearly every state that hosts meaningful fights, a veteran of over one hundred world title bouts, ex-head of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and current Vice President of the International Professional Ring Officials Associations (an organization that oversees training of U.S. sanctioned boxing judges) had one of those bad nights. The kind of bad night where you find yourself in Vegas, ringside, judging a major PPV fightóand scoring it in favor of the guy who got hit twice as often, while landing at a much lower connect percentage, with unmistakably less power.
So yeah, maybe thatís what happened, the megastar, big money fighter lost a tough luck decision in a contest he dominated (which would make sense, because itís not like boxing has a reputation for favoring megastar, big money fighters or anything). Or maybe something far more sinister happened. That thing that no one likes to talk or think about in boxing, or really, in any sport. Maybe the fight was fixed. Like actually fixed. For real. As fans, we have a strange relation to a rigged event. We make frequent accusations that a referee or a judge, or perhaps even an athlete, arenít on the up and up, especially if theyíre contributing to an outcome we donít like, but we seem very reluctant to actually believe thatís the case. Even if the evidence screams otherwise. Which makes sense, because the base component of sportís appeal is that the outcome of the game or match isnít predetermined. And if thatís lost, the whole enterprise is lost.
Now far be it from me to accuse anyone in particular of fixing such the Pacquiao-Bradley fight, but well, Bob Arum sure does have a creepy smile. And his hair totally isnít that weird shade of brown naturally. And oh yeah, Arum stands to make millions from a rematch (especially if the rumors that Pacquiao was leaving Top Rank, Arumís promotional company, are true). Iíll stop here, because I have no more facts beyond the fight and the judging, though I suspect this angle will get more legs in the coming weeks and months.
But in close, crossover stars like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are supposed to be the guys that return boxing to at least a portion of its former glory. Mayweather did his part last month in an entertaining but clear victory over future hall of famer Miguel Cotto, and Pacquiao did his part Saturday night dominating a fringe top 10ish pound for pounder. Yet boxing probably didnít gain many fans in the past two months, and in fact based on the early returns from Twitter, has likely hemorrhaged many that it had. Which is a shame. Itís a great sport filled with great athletes, and the most fun of all the sciences. Now all it has to do is fix nearly everything about itself except the in-ring product.