Pacquiao vs. Bradley: Will the Boxing Public Buy a Rematch?
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As the dust begins to settle on one of the worst, if not the worst decisions in the history of boxing, the sports attention now moves to, what next? Manny Pacquiao, as is customary for the defending champion, had a rematch clause built into his contract.
But the obvious question now is will the boxing public accept the need for a rematch? (Especially after a sham of a boxing decision was perpetrated on them last night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.)
A date (November 10) has already been reserved, and an obviously stunned Manny Pacquiao seemed to want the fight at the post-fight presser, but is there really a point?
Tim Bradley is a nice man and a tough, tough fighter.
He stood in there for 12 rounds with a guy considered at worst, the second-best fighter in the world. Despite injuries to both legs, he never stopped moving forward. He deserves a ton of credit for heart and determination.
That said, Tim Bradley also got outclassed, outfought, beat to the punch and dominated by Manny Pacquiao in every facet of the fight.
Every time that Manny Pacquiao connected, he moved Tim Bradley. He hurt him several times. Tim Bradley is a nice guy, but he didn't land one significant shot in 36 minutes of action. Not one. Zero.
But in the eyes of two of the three judges, Tim Bradley inexplicably did enough to win seven rounds and the WBO Welterweight Championship.
If the WBO has any integrity as a sanctioning body they will retain Pacquiao as their champion as the WBC did with Bernard Hopkins when his controversial loss to Chad Dawson was changed to a no contest.
Now, whenever these things happen, controversial decisions, a common justification is that the fight looks different at ringside than on television. That is certainly true. Watching it live gives a very different impression from sitting on your couch with beer, chips and your 10 best buddies.
But that justification is blown up when you look at the press row scoring. Of 48 members of the media, from various outlets—in attendance and scoring the fight—Manny Pacquiao was favored by 47 of them. (On most by margins anywhere from 6-10 points.)
This fight simply was not close in any way, shape or form.
And nobody thought it was close except for two judges who were either watching a different fight, were blinded by all the flashing lights on the strip or just have no clue how to score prize-fighting.
Such was the outrage from virtually the entire sports community that people, including Pacquiao trainer and Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, immediately began calling for an investigation. But Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times reported that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has already stamped out that fire.
"Every fighter who loses a close fight looks at the judges," said Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer. "I think every judge should strive to get better."
He indicated that neither CJ Ross nor Duane Ford will likely be subject to review or discipline for their scoring.
There are a couple of problems with both this approach and with its impact on any possible rematch.
First and foremost this was not a close fight (but we've covered that ground already). Second, it completely dismisses the near-record levels of outrage that spanned the entire sports media and even notable athletes from other sports.
Voices as diverse as Baltimore Ravens star running back Ray Rice and New York Rangers forward Brad Richards took to Twitter after the fight to shell the ruling. Current and former fighters, such as Lennox Lewis and Amir Khan, also hit Twitter decrying the verdict.
Legendary trainer Teddy Atlas questioned the honesty and integrity of the judges in a televised ESPN phone interview. He even danced around the topic of outright corruption and fixing of the fight.
Dan Rafael of ESPN, who picked Bradley to win the fight and scored it 119-109 for Pacquiao, said that HBO commentator Jim Lampley came to him after the fight and described it as the worst scoring he's seen in 30-plus years of doing fights.
What Kizer and the NSAC don't realize is that this is not simply the standard controversy that usually surrounds high-profile close fights. This is outrage by a boxing public that feels that they were the pawn in some sick joke. People who paid upwards of $60 plus for this fight feel, correctly, that they got jobbed.
After the fight, a good friend of mine who is also an avid wrestling fan called me up. He told me that he has no problem shelling out $40 a PPV for the WWE cause he expects the results to be pre-determined. He then proceeded to laugh at me and all like me who still drop hard-earned cash to support the sport we love.
This isn't the WWE.
This is supposed to be a sport not "sports entertainment." There is supposed to be oversight. And if we can read anything into Keith Kizer's comments, it's that he just doesn't care. His callous and generic comments just don't capture the level of outrage. It shows he either doesn't get it or if he does, then he doesn't care.
And if the people running the show, who allow these types of shady decisions to stand don't care, then why should the boxing public be duped into shelling out their money to support a rematch?
A rematch that is totally unnecessary, that nobody should care about and in which we might get treated to more of the same.
Tim Bradley is a nice young man. But Manny Pacquiao beat him decisively Saturday night. He beat him in every way that matters. This wasn't a close fight necessitating a rematch.
It was a blowout. A one-sided clear cut victory.
After what the sport of boxing peddled on its fans this Saturday night, discussion of a rematch is an insult to our intelligence.
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