Desert Robbery: Tim Bradley shocks Manny Pacquiao in controversial decision

June 10, 2012 in Boxing, Sport by pacejmiller

I told you it was gonna be a weird fight. Everything about it felt a little “off”, from Manny Pacquiao’s religious awakening, his well-publicized calf problems and the drama with conditioning coach Trevor Ariza to him weighing a career-high 147 points. From those predicting a Timothy Bradley upset (including himself, with a mock Bradley-Pacquiao II poster and ticket) to the delay over the Heat-Celtics game 7 and Pacquiao’s bizarre stalling just prior to the bout (warming up his calves on a treadmill). The night just had a surreal feel to it.

And those concerns were proven right. Despite dominating the fight – and when I say “dominate” I mean it in every sense of the word – Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao somehow lost a split decision to Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley at the MGM tonight. Inexplicable. 115-113 three times, twice to the winner.

This was not a “close fight that could have gone either way”, like the first two fights between Pacquiao and his arch rival and Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez. It was not a “close fight that one guy ought to have won”, like what some have said about Pacquiao-Marquez III (with Marquez being the rightful victor). It wasn’t even a case of one guy taking his foot off the pedal with the fight seemingly in hand, only to allow the other guy to sneak home a victory, ala Oscar de la Hoya vs Felix Trinidad. This was, frankly, a flat out robbery, the worst of its kind.

Not one of the experts covering the fight gave the bout to Bradley. In fact, I can’t see a single scorecard (apart from the three official ones), that gave Bradley more than four rounds (which would mean a 116-112 Pacquiao decision). Many gave Bradley ONE round, which made it a 119-109 virtual shutout. Personally, I had it 118-110 after giving Bradley two rounds, and one of those might have been a pity round. Put it this way: even Bradley’s own manager reportedly had it 8-4 in Pacquiao’s favour. Heck, even Floyd Mayweather’s dad, Floyd Sr, said Pacquiao won and there was clearly “a gap” between the two fighters.

Whichever way you look at it, this has to be one of the most outrageous decisions in boxing history, and one that is almost certainly dirty. Even the worst incompetence could not have produced this kind of result.

Bradley was the busier fighter of the two, but Pacquiao was by far the more effective. It’s hard to remember a single clean punch from Bradley, and certainly not one that troubled Pacquiao. On the other hand, Pacquiao landed several crisp shots throughout the fight (though to be fair, most of them early on), and some of them forcing Bradley to bend his knees and wobble back.

CompuBox stats are said to be misleading, but not when they are this wide. Pacquiao landed 253 punches at 34% to Bradley’s 159 at 19%. He landed 63 jabs to Bradley’s 51. He landed 190 power punches at 38.5% to Bradley’s 108 at 27.7%. And he landed more punches than Bradley in 10 of the 12 rounds.

There will now be a rematch in November as per the option clause in the contract. Is anyone else suspicious? Bob Arum, the promoter for both men and very possibly Satan in disguise, acted outraged by the decision. Apparently, he had it 10-2 in Pacquiao’s favour. He added, before the decision was announced, that Bradley told him, “I tried hard and I couldn’t beat the guy.”

Interestingly, Arum also  said, “I have both guys, and I’ll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it’s ridiculous.” Mmm…does anyone smell fish? The popular conspiracy theory making the rounds on the internet now is that Arum rigged the fight to make more money from the rematch, and so that Pacquiao could continue delaying his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr – maybe even kill any possibility of the megabout happening altogether. Another theory is that Pacquiao’s contract with Arum’s Top Rank is nearing its expiration date and his cash cow has not signed an extension, suggesting he might jump ship to rival promoter Golden Boy. (For those of you who don’t remember, Pacquiao stirred up controversy last time when he allegedly signed with both promoters, only to have a judge later rule that he belonged to Top Rank, with Golden Boy taking a small percentage of earnings.) Could this be Arum’s way of trying to hold on to Pacquiao for a little longer or to punish him for not signing an extension?

Some might say it is karma for Pacquiao’s decision over Marquez in their third fight, but at least that fight was close. This was just another black eye on the already-battered sport of boxing.