Judges shock Pacquiao
Bradley surprised by victory, says Arum
LAS VEGAS—Manny Pacquiao didn’t lose his crown in the ring. It was stolen from him by the judges and handed over to Timothy Bradley Jr.
The big crowd and the journalists at ringside had Pacquiao the clear winner, but in a bizarre twist, two of the three judges saw otherwise and made Bradley the new World Boxing Organization welterweight champion by a split decision.
Judge Jerry Roth had Pacquiao ahead, 115-113, on the first scorecard, but judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford overturned the result by similar 113-115 scores that earned boos and shouts of insults from the 14,206 fans at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Major networks and websites like Yahoo, CNN, BBC, USA Today and HBO had Pacquiao, who suffered his first loss in 16 fights dating back to 2005, as the winner.
The Associated Press scored it for Pacquiao, 117-111. Writing about the fight, veteran AP boxing writer Tim Dahlberg said that while Bradley had promised to deliver a shock in the fight, “the biggest shock came from the judges’ scorecards.”
Arum, who handles both fighters, did not take the decision sitting down. He had it 10 rounds for Pacquiao. The Filipino’s chief trainer Freddie Roach also scored it 10-2 for his fighter.
An 80-year-old boxing Hall of Famer, Arum called the judges the “three blind mice,” noting that even Roth’s score did not reflect the real outcome of the fight.
“Can you believe that? Unbelievable,” Arum said. “I went over to Bradley before the decision [was announced] and he said, ‘I tried hard but I couldn’t beat the guy.’”
“Unfathomable” and “incomprehensible” were just some of the words Arum used to describe the obvious ring ripoff in this gambling city.
November 10 rematch
Arum said there would be a rematch on November 10 at the same venue.
The Sarangani congressman gave three rounds to his opponent. The Philippine Daily Inquirer saw it the same way for the eight-division world champion and Fighter of the Decade.
Though stunned by the outcome of the bout he dominated three-fourths of the way, Pacquiao remained composed. He said he was sure he won convincingly.
After the fight, Pacquiao climbed and stood on the ropes of a ring corner and acknowledged the throng who commiserated with him.
Knockout next time
The Filipino hero’s record dropped to 54-4-2 with 38 knockouts. Bradley stretched his unbeaten run to 29 wins.
Looking ahead to a second fight, Pacquiao said he would be a warrior gunning for a knockout the next time and leave no room for officials to interfere with the outcome.
From the opening bell, Pacquiao showed he was the faster, stronger fighter.
He staggered Bradley several times but was unable to dispose of the durable 28-year-old who thrived on a vegetarian diet in the course of his three-month training.
In a wheelchair
Bradley acknowledged Pacquiao’s speed and power during the postfight conference, where he appeared in a wheelchair, but said he fought well and the judges awarded him a fair decision.
Incredibly, Bradley claimed he twisted his ankle as early as the second round and then also hurt the other after stepping on Pacquiao’s foot.
Bradley said he told his chief trainer, Joel Diaz, about his predicament, but decided to endure the pain and fight to the end.
According to Diaz, Bradley will be brought to hospital for X-ray and other tests for his swollen feet.
Choice of referees
Arum also lashed out at the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the choice of referees and its failure to send a representative to answer the queries of reporters.
Though Pacquiao and Roach smirked at Team Bradley’s antics during a press conference in Los Angeles, when the latter brought giant replicas of a fight ticket—announcing the rematch—and even fake press credentials, the stunt, which according to Bradley was his idea, turned out to be prophetic—at least to the judges.
The new champion appeared like a loser in the postfight conference, however. Security personnel pushed his wheelchair on the way in and out of the conference.
Pacquiao appeared to slow down in the ninth round as Bradley gained ground with jabs. The American then had his best moment early in the next round when he tagged Pacquiao with body shots.
With Pacquiao well ahead up to the eighth round, fight pundits said it would have been impossible for Bradley to snatch victory without knocking out Pacquiao. He never came close to it.
Realizing that his victory was highly suspect, Bradley said he would fight Pacquiao again and try to get a more convincing result.
Roach said Pacquiao should not have relaxed a bit in the decisive 11th round.
The final punch statistics reflected Pacquiao’s superiority as he landed more punches—253 to Bradley’s 159—and connected with the more telling power punches, 190-108.
For the first time in a long while, however, Pacquiao was outmatched in punches thrown. He threw just 751 to Bradley’s 839.
Pacquiao’s shock defeat spoiled the pride and joy felt by Filipinos inside the arena after Jessica Sanchez, the Filipino-Mexican American Idol runner-up, rendered a powerful but soulful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, drawing thunderous applause.
Another US-based Filipino, 14-year-old Kirby Asunto, sang the Philippine national anthem.
It was Pacquiao’s first defeat since he lost to Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005, ending a run of 15 consecutive wins by the Filipino, who had won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions.
“I’ve never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight,” Arum said. “This is a fight that respected people scored 11-1, 10-2 for Pacquiao. They said that Bradley was trying hard but that this was a mismatch.”
“I did my best,” Pacquiao, 33, said at ringside. “I accept what the result is. I respect the judges, I cannot blame them. It is a part of the game. I give thanks to the Lord. I did my best but my best wasn’t good enough.”
Asked if he thought he had won the fight, Pacquiao replied: “Absolutely yes,” and the crowd—who included former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson—erupted with cheers.
“Desert Storm” Bradley entered the fight a 4-1 underdog.
Pacquiao tried to turn the fight into a brawl, using his power to hurt Bradley in the early rounds. But Bradley changed tactics in the middle rounds and used his boxing skills to win apparently enough rounds—in the judges’ eyes—to take the narrow decision.
“I thought I won the fight,” Bradley said. “I didn’t think he was as good as everyone says he was. I didn’t feel his power.”
But the official statistics showed how much more punishing Pacquiao’s blows had been. The CompuBox statistics showed Pacquiao landing more punches in 10 of the 12 rounds.
Bradley seemed hurt in the fourth and fifth rounds, but Pacquiao had trouble landing big punches after that. Still, he seemed in control of the fight everywhere but on the judge’s scorecards.
‘He never hurt me’
Bradley said he hurt his ankle in the second round and that his trainer Diaz said he could either quit or try to take the fight to Pacquiao.
“I got my second wind in the sixth round,” Bradley said. “I worked the angles, sticking and moving.”
Pacquiao said he studied Bradley on tape before the fight and wasn’t surprised by anything he did. He said he thought he was in control of the fight and was shocked when the decision went against him.
“He never hurt me with his punches, most of them landed on my arms,” he said.
‘He’s a beast’
He tried to brawl with Bradley and seemed to hurt him in both the fourth and fifth rounds. But Bradley started moving and counter punching, though he never seemed to land any shots that hurt Pacquiao.
Pacquiao had vowed to look impressive against Bradley after struggling in his last outing with Juan Manuel Marquez, a fight many thought he lost. And he did early, landing good long left hands while beating Bradley to the punch on most exchanges.
“He hurt me a couple of times with his left,” Bradley said. “He’s a beast.”
Roach told Pacquiao after the 10th round that he had control of the fight, and urged him to fight hard the final two rounds.
“You have six minutes to go, son,” Roach said. “It’s your fight.”
But it wasn’t Pacquiao’s fight, with Bradley getting credit for winning some of the close middle and later rounds. After the 11th round Bradley went back to his corner and Diaz told him he needed to win the final round.
“I listened to my corner,” Bradley said. “I got to give him a rematch now.”
Of the return fight, Arum said: “I’ll make a lot of money off the rematch, but this was outrageous.”
It was the biggest fight of Bradley’s career and it came with a minimum $5 million payday. The rematch will be even richer, though Pacquiao’s loss could damage any plans for a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Mayweather did not see the fight because he is serving a sentence on a domestic abuse charge at a jail a few miles from the MGM Grand. With reports from AP, AFP and Reuters