When something becomes more infamous than it is famous, you know you have a problem. That is how most would describe the current state of boxing post Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. Twitter, Facebook, websites, forums and chat rooms were on fire after the Pacquiao-Bradley debacle. The kind of mayhem associated with the outcry can best be described by Kieran Mulvaney when he tweeted “total insanity. I’m surprised the internet didn’t break.”
It didn’t take long to get the usual conspiracy theorist spewing their usual outlandish anomalies on the subject of the scorecards. Perhaps the mentality that surprised me the most was that of my own; the more I heard the more it started to make sense. I heard from many fans last night with thoughts on the fight and its outcome; most felt the same though there were few variances between thought processes. Thaboxingvoice’s own Nestor Gibbs did a guest spot on Ropeadoperadio’s post-fight show (I decided to listen in) and the callers were so emphatic and passionate about their difficulties with the main event outcome.
Personally, I felt Pacquiao fought a tremendous fight and outclassed Bradley for much of the contest. It seemed as if round after round Pacquiao would turn up the heat at, or around, the last minute and effectively landed hard left hands that were hurting Bradley. The judges, however, didn’t see it the same way. Duane Ford and C.J. Ross both scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, while Jerry Roth scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Pacquiao. Scoring discrepancies aside, I feel that the taste left in the mouth of every fan of boxing, both hardcore and casual, is the kind not easily forgotten (nor forgiven).
The only rounds I could manage to give Bradley (and believe me I tried) were 10 and 11; those 2 rounds were won by Bradley on the Roth and Ross scorecards while Ford awarded Bradley the 10th and Pacquiao the 11th. Pacquiao was under much scrutiny leading up to the fight due mostly in part to his last outing against Juan Manuel Marquez where Pacquiao looked more like a declining boxer and less like his dominant self. Needless to say, the microscope was very apparent in the Bradley fight. Pacquiao passed the test though, using incredible footwork, taking impressive angles and using a combination of power and hand speed. What seemed to separate the two fighters was the ability to put it all together; Pacquiao did things against Bradley that no other fighter on the planet could mirror and every time Bradley turned up the heat it was matched by Pacquiao with meaningful exchanges.
I’ve yet to run across a lucid, articulated argument for the justification of the Bradley decision victory. In fact, the reasoning for defending the Bradley win has been vague and inconsistent. Max Kellerman could only speculate about the judges’ scorecards, alluding to the possibility that a fight can look different depending on your position in the arena. Michael Woods tweeted “beauty and boxing scores are in the eye of the beholder.” My problem with this type of reasoning is that a fight as clear as this one should look the same to a professional judge regardless of their front row seat compared to that of a bird’s eye view. As for the correlation between beauty and judges’ scorecards, it’s true that opinion and human error is part of the game. However, when you have a fight like this the “beauty” is evident. Argue all you want about Hilary Swank, but this fight was Megan Fox decisive.
So what’s next? That seemed to be the most debated topic of the night. Many believe there is no coming back for boxing; the feeling is boxing’s credibility (or whatever was left) was completely shattered. I agree there has been irreparable damage done, but to the extent of boxing’s ultimate demise is questionable to say the least. Boxing has survived moments like these before (Chavez-Taylor was the most popular example given) but I doubt that there has ever been circumstances involving such great potential like Mayweather-Pacquiao riding in the balance. Regardless, something was done in the aftermath of Pacquiao-Bradley that is in fact irreversible.
It is no secret that boxing has its problems, the closer you follow the sport the more obvious it becomes. However, the depth of that understanding can only be fully recognized by those who make it a point to keep up with the long standing inconsistencies. Fans know how outrageous the Williams-Lara outcome was and fans only need to think back 4 months to find the last terrible scorecard which robbed Gabriel Campillo of a victory over Tavoris Cloud. The issue at hand is as blatant as those injustices were; they were only obvious to those who watched the fights.
The discrepancies that transpired on Saturday night happened in front of a much larger crowd. It’s like a couple everyone believes to be in a healthy relationship and only argues in front of their kids; well on this night they did it in front of all their guests at one of the biggest parties of the year. The secret is out and boxing’s fallacies are now much more understood by a larger commercial crowd.
All night boxing fans alike vowed to not buy the proposed Pacquiao-Bradley rematch and some even said they’d never watch the sport again. There is no way I would “never” watch another fight again, but I do understand and somewhat support the petition to not buy Pacquiao-Bradley 2 if it indeed comes to fruition. The fact is the fight wasn’t all that competitive and Bradley doesn’t possess the type of level in talent to nullify Pacquiao’s overwhelming abilities and furthermore I doubt he can reach that level in 5 months’ time (Pacquiao’s next date is attentively scheduled for November 10th).
Now, the majority of casual fans are more aware of the problems boxing faces on a consistent basis. They will be less inclined to buy into boxing as a legitimate sporting organization because it seems less governed and more than ever fans without real knowledge of the sport will become vigilant when fights with intrigue present themselves.
It’s not like I’m saying there is a good time to rob a fighter, because there isn’t, but if there ever was a moment where boxing should have been on its best behavior it would have been Saturday night. Forget the fact Mayweather-Pacquiao lost its luster, forget that Pacquiao was on his last leg with Arum’s Top Rank promotion, forget the professional wrestling correlation with the decision and forget for a moment that Bradley keeps the money in house; what was at stake Saturday was boxing’s integrity on a much larger platform.
It was a bad night for boxing and its fans. Perhaps the subtleties of its lies finally caught up with the sport? It doesn’t matter, however, because essentially we figured out that the intricacies of a foundation based on a tendency to remain flawed will always be its own worst enemy.