Probe Judges – Arum
By NICK GIONGCO
LAS VEGAS — Saying the split decision that gave Timothy Bradley the win over Manny Pacquiao last Saturday was the “worst I have ever seen in my 47 years in boxing,” promoter Bob Arum will ask the Attorney General of Nevada to investigate the fight’s three judges and the Nevada State Commission.
The decision handed the Filipino boxing icon his first loss after 15 straight victories.
Controversy has hounded the decision, with millions of Pacquiao fans expressing outrage and disgust and the social media overheating with reports that the fight was fixed.
Two of the judges, CJ Ross, and Duane Ford, each scored it 115-113 for Bradley and the third, Jerry Roth, had it 115-113 for Pacquiao.
Arum said even Roth’s scoring was incomprehensible.
The Top Rank chief told the Manila Bulletin on Sunday Pacquiao had such a dominating showing that Arum didn’t even think of checking the judges’ score sheets.
“It’s my practice to look at the scores each fight but last night, I never even bothered because I thought that Manny had won,” said the 80-year-old Arum, a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.
“This has been the worst decision I have ever seen in my 47 years in boxing,” he said.
Nobody from among who covered the fight on press row had Bradley winning and when Michael Buffer made the announcement, everyone was shocked and boos reverberated in the 16,800-seat MGM Grand Arena.
“There have been controversial decisions before but those were close fights, not like this one,” said Arum.
A Nov. 10 rematch looms but Arum insists that Manny Pacquiao remains the top dog despite his controversial defeat to Bradley.
“It’s not like Bradley’s replacing Pacquiao,” Arum said, referring to Pacquiao’s lofty billing if the rematch comes through.
Arum said the 33-year-old Pacquiao is still going to command a hefty price tag in the rematch although Bradley should get more than the $5 million he earned in his title-winning effort.
A rematch clause was included in the contract that the two fighters signed and Pacquiao has made it clear that he is going to exercise the option to get back at the 28-year-old Bradley.
Even some senators who watched the fight in Manila on Sunday could not believe Bradley won.
Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, a known sports lover and supporter of Filipino athletes, said he was shocked at the split decision.
“I too strongly disagreed with the judges’ decision,” Escudero said in a text message.
He said to avoid a repeat of such controversy, next time Pacquiao should not let the judges decide by knocking out whoever is his opponent.
Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III said he was dismayed by the judges’ decision. “They may fool us most of the time but they cannot fool us all the time,” Sotto said in a text message.
He said that since Saturday afternoon, his friends in Las Vegas noticed that some Las Vegas bookies were dropping the odds on in fight to almost even money, when just two weeks before the odds heavily favored Pacquiao.
“That means they smell something fishy,” Sotto said.
Shock, then anger and disappointment washed over Cebuanos who watched the fight.
But Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese, said while he was saddened by Pacquiao’s defeat, it was clear that Bradley controlled the fight during the last six rounds.
Dakay, who watched the fight televised live at the City Sports Club, said while most people believed that Pacquiao was cheated, the public should respect and accept the judges’ decision.
In Barangay Labangon, Cebu City, barangay captain Victor Buendia said the 1,000 people who watched the fight in their sports center booed when the ring announcer declared Bradley as the winner.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who watched the fight at the Cebu International Parklane Hotel, said Pacquiao lost because Bradley was strong enough not to get knocked down.
Cebu City Police Office director Melvin Ramon Buenafe described the fight as a good one and a “tough decision for the judges.”
“Bradley is a strong fighter but Pacman is wise and very calculating. (He was) very choosy in his punches and counterpunches,” Buenafe said.
In Cotabato City, the loss of Pacquiao proved too much for 60-year-old Bienvenido Perez.
Perez died of cardiac arrest after hearing the ring announcer declare the decision.
Henry Macion, a village chairman, said Perez was a big fan of the Sarangani congressman and had watched Pacquiao’s last 15 fights.
“He could not accept that his idol lost in a fight clearly he won,” Macion said of Perez who had heart ailments.
“As the ring announcer announced the results, Perez stood up and yelled his idol was cheated, chanting “luto” (rigged),” Macion recalled.
Blog sites went on overdrive with conspiracy theories that the bout was tainted with corruption.
“If one of the ideas of a sport is competition to determine a winner, how is it that a fight where there is universal agreement that Pacquiao deserved the decision end with the judges seeing it the opposite? And one potential answer to that question for viewers feeds into one of the stigmas that rendered boxing a niche sport: That unseen forces manipulate what actually happens in the ring, and that it’s all just a charade,” Tim Starks wrote in The Queensberry Rules blog.
Teddy Atlas, boxing analyst for ESPN, said Pacquiao’s camp can protest the decision, “maybe they get a rematch and there’s another payday for everybody. And you know what? That speaks to the corruption. The sanctioning organizations get another sanctioning fee, they get paid for putting on another fight again. The criminals get rewarded, once again, for the incompetence and the corruption of the sport.” (With reports from Rolly T. Carandang, Mars Mosqueda and PNA)
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