In what I can honestly say was the worst scoring I have ever seen in my time as a boxing analyst, Timothy Bradley was awarded a split-decision victory over Manny Pacquiao Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
It was a fight that most observers—including this one—thought Pacquiao dominated from start to finish. Yet in the end, Bradley won a close split decision and took the WBO welterweight title from Pacquiao.
You will probably hear a lot about the decision in the coming days, but whatever people say, rest assured it was an absolute travesty. I scored the fight 117-111 for Pacquiao and thought I might have been too generous by giving Bradley three rounds.
Judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, while Jerry Roth had it 115-113 for Pacquiao. I have no idea how Roth even scored it that close, let alone the two other judges. I can guarantee that those three judges will not be working a main event for the Nevada State Athletic Commission again any time soon.
According to Compubox statistics, Pacquiao landed 253 of 751 punches, a connect rate of 34 percent. Meanwhile, Bradley landed 159 of 839, or 19 percent. In fact, Compubox had Pacquiao landing more punches than Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds of the fight. Pacquiao also landed 190 of 493 power shots (38.5 percent), while Bradley landed 109 of 390 (27.7 percent).
Those numbers show the depth of Pacquiao's domination, when you consider that each of his punches were far more powerful. The Associated Press, Yahoo! Sports and the Daily Telegraph's Gareth A. Davies all had Pacquiao winning 117-111, while Dan Rafael from ESPN and HBO's Harold Lederman scored it 119-109 for Pac-Man.
From the start of the night Pacquiao strafed Bradley with vicious straight left hands, and his accuracy and power were stunning. The 28-year-old Bradley kept moving forward but rarely landed much, and when he did it was clear his punches didn't bother the Filipino southpaw. In fact, by the fifth round, Pacquiao clearly had no respect for Bradley's punches.
Pacquiao never put Bradley on the canvas, but hurt him repeatedly and dominated the action.
SportsCenter anchor Linda Cohn:
That is horrible. Unreal. Ridiculous. Stupid. Bogus. Etc.That fight wasn't close and I was pulling for Bradley.— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) June 10, 2012
I dont even know what to say.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) June 10, 2012
I'd nearly finished a tweet about how I still believe Pacman would beat Mayweather when the most bogus verdict in boxing history came down.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 10, 2012
And this gem from Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports:
Blame here has to fall on Pacquaio's strategy of punching Bradley more often and harder— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) June 10, 2012
I don't even know where to start breaking this down. Pacquiao came out and executed his game plan. No, he didn't knock Bradley out, but he won almost every round and clearly was the aggressor throughout the fight.
Both fighters were classy in victory and defeat, but when asked on a couple occasions post-fight by Max Kellerman if he thought he had won the fight, Bradley stated he would have to go back and watch the tape. That's pretty telling.
Bradley is an outstanding fighter, but he was completely outclassed from start to finish and couldn't handle Pacquiao's speed, accuracy or power. He was able to answer back at times, but Pacquiao was never bothered or troubled by Bradley and his lack of power. I simply don't understand if the judges were even watching the same fight.
Now we get the aftermath, and probably a November rematch which shouldn't upset Top Rank boss Bob Arum too much. Incidentally, after the fight Arum claimed he had scored the fight 10 rounds to two for Pacquiao.
Bradley improved to 29-0 with the win, while Pacquiao fell to 54-4-2. It was Pacquiao's first loss in seven years, his last coming by way of decision to Erik Morales March 2005 in what was one of the best fights of the decade.
Saturday night's fight was not a classic. In fact, I wouldn't be interested in seeing a rematch considering how lopsided the first was. Desert Storm is a good fighter, but Pac-Man is a great fighter and showed how much better he was.
The decision is just another in a long line of examples that shows why boxing is waning in popularity. It was highway robbery.
Timothy Bradley is a good guy and fought a courageous fight, but he didn't come close to gaining victory. The ruling from the judges was absolutely wrong and will not be forgotten for a long, long time.
Boxing is a sport that I love and follow closely because there are few athletic endeavors that ask more of their participants than prize fighting. But such controversies will only serve to further drive fans from the sport.
Something has to be done and someone needs to be held accountable when judges completely drop the ball. It happens far too often, and that leads me to believe the judging criteria isn't clear enough to the people with the most control over them.
Saturday night's outcome could cost fans the chance to finally see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao get into a ring together in what would arguably be the biggest fight in boxing history. That means we all lose because the judges simply had a bad night and were completely out of their element.
Boxing needs to find a fix for this problem, or there will be no end to such egregious indiscretions and fans will continue to abandon the sport.