Tim Bradley must be a psychic. A few weeks ago at his public workout when he had what looked to be a media credential badge featuring himself and Manny Pacquiao II, the rematch on November 10th, 2012; we all figured it was a great PR ploy and if nothing else it, showed how confident Bradley was in defeating Pacquiao. Fast-forward to last Saturday night, in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in what was already a bizarre night and event, Tim Bradley won a very controversial decision over the pound for pound king and superstar out of the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao. The decision will likely lead to a Pacquiao-Bradley II fight on that very same date that was on the badge Bradley displayed that day at his open workout.
In most eyes, the decision was not even close. Most people at ringside had Pacquiao defeating Bradley by a wide margin and I scored it the fight 116-112 for Pacquiao. Most people are even hard pressed to give Bradley more than the three rounds let alone the seven he won on the scorecards of Duane Ford and CJ Ross, giving him the split decision victory. The third judge Jerry Roth had the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao, with most people not agreeing it was even that close. Roth also gave Bradley all 3 of the championship rounds to Bradley, making what was a wide but competitive fight, scored closer than what it really should have been. Most fans worldwide were left with the feeling of the dreaded F word in boxing, “Fix”.
While we’ve all heard the conspiracy theories as to why the decision turned out the way it did, you can’t help but wonder if something fishy did not take place. For starters at the end of the fight, Bob Arum was quoted as saying Tim Bradley told him he lost the fight. Tim looked dejected after some rounds and some could have been his injury but it seemed to most of the public that Tim knew he was losing the rounds when he walked back to the corner.
Watching the telecast and going into the corner of Tim Bradley in between rounds, especially in the 12th round, Joel Diaz, Bradley’s trainer was giving instructions, but wasn’t telling Tim he had to knock Pacquiao out to win the fight. He just kept saying, “stay up champ and we got this”. Maybe Diaz truthfully believed Bradley was winning the fight, and didn’t have to advise Tim to go for the knockout to win the fight. However, the viewing public certainly felt differently.
When Bradley’s name was announced as the winner, we were all shocked. It seemed like Pacquiao wasn’t as shocked as us. Maybe his demeanor is different than ours, but it certainly seemed like the decision didn’t infuriate the champion. While he respected the decision, Manny was quoted as not agreeing with the decision. But wouldn’t it make people rest easier if he was more outraged with the decision?
Once the aftermath took place, Bob Arum could be physically seen hugging and smiling with Tim Bradley after the victory. However, at the press conference, Arum was singing a different tune. He felt that Pacquiao won the fight and went on a rant against the age of the judges. The quote that was weary to me was Arum saying, “I’ll make a lot of money off the rematch, but this was outrageous!” Maybe if Arum didn’t mention the money aspect, this quote wouldn’t have raised more eyebrows. Now Arum and Top Rank want an inquiry done by the Nevada Attorney General. Is it Arum saving face or does he truly want something done to help clean up the sport?
Rumors were running ramped that Tim Bradley will likely get an 8 figure payday for a rematch with Manny Pacquiao. That isn’t too shabby for a man unknown to the casual fan and has yet sellout a fight as the A side in his own backyard. Maybe the whole plot was to make Tim Bradley a well known name to the casual eye with the fiasco that was. After the dust settles, the smoke clears, and the initial outrage is long and forgotten, if there is a Pacquiao-Bradley II, will you watch? My money says that if Manny Pacquiao comes out and states that he wants redemption, the legion of Pacquiao fans will get behind the fight. Unless Pacquiao wins by brutal knockout, won’t there by a push for a trilogy bout between the two and isn’t that more money for everyone involved? It’s just a thought.
Whatever occurred behind the scenes and however horrible this decision was, it wreaked negativity on boxing, at its grandest stage. It caused for much of the mainstream media to chime in on a sport that would not regularly get any air time otherwise. The saying goes that any press is good press even if it’s bad press may apply to this situation. But where was this outrage for Brandon Rios-Richard Abril? Where was this outrage for Tavoris Cloud-Gabriel Campillo? That’s right, that same media probably didn’t watch those fights but will chime in and call the sport dead after this debacle.
Boxing at best in this country is a niche sport. It couldn’t be any more evident than with this event and how it flowed because of the “monumental” game seven in the NBA, between the Heat and Celtics. I kept being reminded throughout the telecast that the main event will not go on until this Heat-Celtics game finishes. I was even told to believe that Manny Pacquiao loves his Celtics so much that he wasn’t going to fight until the game was over? Really!? Then as soon as the bizarre occurrences in the co-feature between Arce-Rojas took place, Manny Pacquiao could not be found. The Celtics-Heat game was winding down while Pacquiao was stretching his calves somewhere in the arena. Of course, there was a huge delay because of that, and it added to the bizarre night that was already transpiring. Pacquiao pissed folks off with his delay, but imagine Muhammad Ali being told that he’s not fighting until another event was finished. That’s just how much precedent boxing gets in this country and because of decisions that occur like last Saturday (fixed or not), and the fact that nothing is done about it, will continue the trend of negativity. Therefore, these occurences will continue to keep boxing as a niche sport in this country, and it will only get national attention when something negative happens on a major pay-per-view fight.