Rarely do I step to the keyboard to express feelings of anger or to spew opinions based on conjecture. Today is different. Relax, I will not make hyperbolic statements like boxing as we know it has changed forever or that professional sports has swan-dived off of the precipice of integrity into the chasm of the wretched and irrevocable bog of shame. No that would be too drastic and cause you to immediately shrug off my assessments as trivial. Instead, I will simply offer the observations of a man who witnessed one of the best fighters of the last decade being robbed of his dignity, pride, and his title in the full view of millions of sets of eyes. That is except for the two sets of eyes that judged the split decision victory against Manny Pacquàio in favor of Timothy Bradley. Still too drastic? Then you didn’t see the fight.
Manny Pacquàio is without a doubt a curious character. He has had a questionable at best run as a congressman in his home of the Philippines, terrible tax-paying citizen, and has some pretty archaic views on social hot button issues. But none of those things are the reason why we know Manny Pacquàio’s name. We know his name because he is a furious and dedicated pain specialist that until June 9, 2012 hadn’t known the taste of defeat for seven years.
Timothy Bradley – A 28-year-old undefeated boxer from Cathedral City, California that until a week ago was not a part of the sports world’s vernacular and certainly was nowhere near part of the sports almanac lexicon. Prior to that June night we all believed Timothy Bradley was a nonfactor in Pacquàio’s career. We should have been right. Bradley made his career beating people of little to no significance. Well, that was until last Saturday night.
Bob Arum – the fight’s promoter was quoted saying to SI’s Chris Mannix in reference to the ridiculous decision, “I have the best eye doctor in the world. If they get on a plane to LA, I would pay for their visit.” The chances of Bradley besting Pacquàio at the end of a fight that Manny had clearly dominated would be as likely as one of those wildebeests on National Geographic being declared the victor while the lioness is still digesting its entrails. Bradley made jaws drop from their former position on the floor all the way down to the basement when after the fight he said, “I thought I won the fight…I didn’t think he was as good as everyone says he was. I didn’t feel his power.” Somewhere out on the Serengeti there is a lion with a terrible case of indigestion.
Money and Numbers – Someone in Sin City made millions off of the most unlikely champion in recent memory. The city has had its fair share of questionable and dare we say immoral indiscretions. According to ringside punching statistics, Pacquàio’s glove connected with Bradley 253 times to Bradley’s 159 times. And Compubox tallied Pacquàio landing more punches in 10 of 12 rounds. Now in modern mathematical circles it is generally upheld that 10 is greater than two. The Associated Press’ scorecard had Pacquàio winning 117-111. Our friend Bob Arum from Exhibit B weighed in by saying, “I’ll make a lot of money off [of] the rematch, but this was outrageous.”
The Witnesses – At the announcement of one of boxing’s most controversial decisions the crowd at the MGM Grand Arena erupted in boos in almost the same deafening pitch as we at home did. We were vocally upset not because of our deep admiration of Manny Pacquàio, but because we were all witness to a crime much like the fans of the 1919 World Series. A crime that appeared as if the powers that be decided to make marionettes of the stars of the evening for the purpose of financial gain. Or perhaps I am being too cynical on the matter. Did I ever once consider the possibility of simple human error? Maybe that thing right in front of your face that looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck is actually a very determined Grizzly that is mastering the art of international espionage. But probably not. It’s probably just a plain old duck sitting right in front of your face.
Pacquàio won the fight, Bradley got the belt. Simple as that.