Somehow, despite a controversy that threatened to turn a good night into something bad, the judges at ringside Saturday night got it right.
It was completely by accident that they got it right – a bungling of rules and numbers – but in the fight game, you take the good whenever you can get it. Besides, mistakes are all right when they lean in your favor.
All the great things that featherweights Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao showed us in their title fight in Las Vegas, appeared to be on the verge of being overshadowed by another night of horrible, inconsistent judging. One judge had Marquez up by six points and the other had Pacquiao winning by five points.
That’s not a close fight, it’s a walk in the park. But which guy was doing the walking?
Just when it looked its ugliest, judge Burt Clements pitched in and called it a draw, which seemed fair, even though he made a mistake.
Unfortunately, Clements scored the first round 10-7 for Pacquiao when just about everyone else saw it as a 10-6 round. Burt said later he didn’t know you could score a round 10-6.
Yeah, he should have known the rules. But you can’t really blame him for his confusion. Most of the time when a guy gets knocked down three times in one round like Marquez did, you don’t even bother with a scorecard. You tear it up and go home early.
But give Clements credit. He was a man about it and apologized later for his mistake, acknowledging that a 10-6 round would have given Pacquiao the win and the title.
Instead, with a draw, maybe now we’ll get a rematch.
Still, it’s hard to understand how three experienced judges could watch the same fight and see it three different ways. Where do they find these guys, Officials-Are-Us?
The next time you wonder why boxing is a dying game, just turn on a big fight and wait for the decision. And remember who is promoting the fight.
That’s because a good dose of credibility hasn’t been seen near a prize ring since they first decided to use gloves.
Of course, the draw is why Marquez and Pacquiao should do it again. Have to do it again. Should be required to do it again. If either fighter had won, they would have probably moved on. Great matchups in the fight game are as rare as great judges or honest promoters. When you find a couple guys who mix it up, you should keep them around for awhile, make it mandatory that they fight each other at least three times within an 18-month span, or until one of them knocks the other one out.
Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti did it. Ali and Frazier. Holyfield and Riddick Bowe.
These matchups are priceless and have done more to revive boxing than the 15-round title fight.
Or is that gone, too?