The fighters managed a smile afterwards..but the fans still fume, and head for the exits. Too many think the sport is riddled with corruption. (Chris Farina-Top Rank photo)
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat to avoid further disappointment. Nobody is going to do anything about it.
Of all the sad things you can say about what happened at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night that is the surest and the saddest of all. Nobody is going to investigate a robbery conducted in front of over 14,000 eyewitnesses. Nobody is going to make it right. Nobody is even going to try.
Manny Pacquiao has been the recipient of a gift decision or two during his career, including in my opinion the draw and two razor-thin wins Las Vegas judges awarded him over the years against Juan Manuel Marquez. Frankly, I don’t believe he won any of those fights nor more than about a third of the 36 rounds fought between them.
Having said that, those decisions were at the worst only petty theft. They were at least in the first two cases, debatable. What was done to Pacquiao by Duane Ford and CJ Ross however was grand larceny at the Grand.
Ford and Ross were the two judges who committed robbery using a lead pencil, ruling that Timothy Bradley had defeated Pacquiao 115-113 when most observers, including prize fighters like George Foreman, Roy Jones, Jr., Evander Holyfield and even Floyd Mayweather’s father, saw a one-sided win for Pacquiao.
Ford tried to defend his score the following day in the Las Vegas Review-Journal by claiming Bradley had “given Pacquiao a boxing lesson.’’ Then in the next breath he admitted most of the rounds were close. The lesson in that is the 74-year-old Ford has seen his better days…and apparently not much of that fight.
There are two ways to look at the split decision win those judges gave Bradley. You can simply shrug your shoulders, holler about unproven corruptness and buy the next pay per view when it comes along or you can do what discerning shoppers do.
When the product turns bad you stop buying. That is what fight fans need to do until this matter is thoroughly investigated. Not that that will change anything but at least the people allegedly in charge will be on notice that someone is watching because Saturday night no one was – including the three judges at ringside.
The fault does not lie with Bradley or Pacquiao. Both fought bravely and well. They entertained, took risks and rewarded the fans with their efforts. But the result demeaned those efforts, the sport and the fans who pay everyone – including those judges and Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith “I Know Nothhhing’’ Kizer.
In less than 24 hours Kizer admitted he thought Pacquiao won but in the next breath said the officials’ work would not be reviewed. The chairman of the commission said it would not “second guess’’ the officials.
Then what are they there for? They don’t do an adequate job on medical exams, especially in the area of performance enhancing drugs. If they catch anyone it’s always after the fact until Dr. Margaret Goodman started actually using tests that might catch someone before hand and almost immediately forced the cancellation of two straight big-money fights as a result of positive tests for PEDs.
They allow endless mismatches as well. Hell, in California Antonio Margarito was allowed to slip two bricks in his gloves without anyone but Shane Mosley’s trainer noticing. So what are the regulators doing in the locker room? Having a Coke?
Now, worst of all, Kizer concedes they won’t even regulate the work of their own officials. So what does Kizer get paid for? Watching?
When an arena of over 14,000 people, nearly the entire Internet world, most professional fighters and commentators and almost the entire boxing press corps agree Pacquiao won somewhere between eight and 10 of the 12 rounds and CompuBox stats argue loudly against the decision how do you come out and say you’re not even going to look at it?
Because it’s boxing which despite the presence of guys like Kizer is the most under regulated business this side of Wall Street’s investment banks and hedge funds.
In sports, one understands how a referee or umpire can miss a call from time to time. But how do you miss an entire fight? Ford even got the 11th round wrong, which he gave to Pacquiao. That was the round after which Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach was so angry at him for taking it off he ordered him to go for a knockout in the 12th. And Ford thought he won it? Even the two blind mice in the other judging chairs disagreed on that one.
As for Ford’s statement that “Bradley gave him a boxing lesson’’ one needed only to listen to Tim Bradley to know otherwise. After his hand had been raised he said he’d have to go home and watch a tape to see “if I won the fight or not.’’
Usually if you give someone “a boxing lesson’’ you know it. Bradley didn’t but Ford did. If Ford thought he saw someone giving Manny Pacquiao a boxing lesson he must have been watching tape of Pacquiao-Marquez III on an iPad rather than the fight.
“You can hear the boos in the crowd,’’ poor Bradley (29-0, 12 KO) said. “Everybody feels I lost the fight. This is boxing. Nov. 19th we can do the rematch.
“It was a good, competitive fight. Every round was pretty close. Pacquiao won the early rounds. Later rounds I controlled with my jab. Moving.’’
According to CompuBox statistics, Bradley landed 12 fewer jabs than Pacquiao (63-51), which meant he averaged 4 ½ jabs per round. He had a connection rate of only 11 per cent because he missed or had blocked nearly all of the pawing, range finder type jabs he threw, none of which came with any sting behind them. They were not offensive in any way except to someone like Larry Holmes or Foreman, whose jabs were lethal weapons. Bradley’s wasn’t even a tracer because seldom did anything come in behind it.
If you throw 449 jabs and miss 398 of them how did that help you control anything? It didn’t. But Keith Kizer sees no problem and Duane Ford says he saw a “boxing lesson.’’ I say we saw another travesty in a sport that long ago cornered the market on them.
Truth be told, even the guy who got it right got it wrong. Roth had the correct winner but that’s all he had right in scoring the bout 115-113 for Pacquiao after giving Bradley the final three rounds. I saw Pacquiao winning 117-111 and felt I’d been exceedingly kind.
HBO’s unofficial scorer Harold Lederman, a former judge of world championship fights himself so unlike everyone else who Ford dismissed as unknowing would seem to have at least a reasonable understanding of Ford’s job, awarded only one round to Bradley, scoring the fight 119-109. So a former professional judge differed with Kizer’s judges by HALF A FIGHT yet he says there’s no need to review it.
That says as much about what’s wrong with boxing as the rest of the sport’s shenanigans. If this were the NFL or major league baseball, league officials would already have reviewed the controversial events and announced publicly what they’d found. If there was wrong doing or human error, they would say so.
Boxing officials? They just shrink back into the cave from which they sprung knowing nobody is going to do anything because, frankly, other than the fighters and a few loyalists, nobody really cares any more.
Boxing is looked upon by most sports fans today the way you look at your kooky uncle: occasionally interesting but seldom to be taken seriously which is how they get away with what happened Saturday night.
What really gave this outcome a stench that left the Twitter world atwitter was that in the weeks leading up to the fight Bradley openly kept talking of a Nov. 10 rematch already been arranged. He had posters made up and a phony ticket to that fight but later insisted it was all just hype.
Surely it was but if boxing regulators think the larger public believes that they are fooling themselves more than Duane Ford was when he said Pacquiao got a boxing lesson.
“When I came into the ring [after the fight], I said to Tim, 'You did very well,' and he said 'I tried hard and I couldn't beat the guy,’’ claimed Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters. “Something like this is so outlandish, it's a death knell for the sport. This is f—— nuts. I have both guys, and I'll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it's ridiculous.
“You have these old f—- who don't know what the hell they're looking at. It's incompetence. Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight.
“You all know who won. I hope boxing recovers because this isn’t arguing about a close decision. This is an absurdity. Everybody involved in boxing should be ashamed. Let’s be honest about the situation.”
Why start now?
The placid Pacquiao urged observers “not to be dismayed or be discouraged at the result. I respect the decision but 100 per cent I believe I won the fight. In your heart you know who won but the best attitude is respect and professionalism.’’
No, the best attitude is to not buy any more fights until something forceful is done about this kind of theft. The decision may not be the worst in my memory but it’s the worst I can remember without spending a week thinking about it. Certainly it was worse than both the Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez and Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield decisions because at least they were draws so no title changed hands. In this case, the loser got the title and the winner got the shaft.
By Sunday Arum was claiming he would not stage the rematch despite the fact he is contractually obligated to do so if Pacquiao insists upon it until a full investigation into how the judges came to their decision is held. Earlier he hinted if the fight does go off it will likely be taken to Texas instead of back to Nevada, which means the city and the state will lose millions in revenue.
If that happens, maybe then somebody in state government will finally take a look at regulators who are unwilling to regulate their own business and unable to see blind incompetence when it’s staring them – and millions of witnesses – in the face.