LINDER'S LOOK AT BRADLEY-PACQUIAO
By Doveed Linder
When the bout between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao was first announced, I was thrilled to death. Outside of Pacquiao-Mayweather, this was the best fight that could be made in boxing. The week before the fight, I should have been feeling that magical glow that comes when two great fighters face each other. It was there for Pacquiao’s fights with Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto, but for some reason, it wasn’t there for the Bradley fight. Manny Pacquiao is one of my favorite fighters of recent times, but the fact is that I’ve become a little bored watching him the last couple of years. It must be how John Wayne’s fans felt toward the end of his career. He had already made, “Red River”, “The Searchers”, and “Rio Bravo”. When he came out with “Rio Lobo”, essentially a rehash of the same movies he'd been making over and over by this point in his career, it felt like it was just an afterthought. It didn’t top what he had already done. Even if Pacquiao had been awarded the decision against Bradley last night, the impact of that victory would not have compared to some of his other accomplishments.
At this time, many people in the boxing world are outraged by the fact that Bradley won a split decision. The popular opinion is that Pacquiao won, and that it wasn’t even close. Without keeping score, I was left with the impression that Pacquiao won somewhere around nine rounds to three. The first thing a person thinks with an unpopular decision is that there must be some kind of political corruption behind it. A good example is the first fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, which took place in March of 1999. Everybody thought Lewis won, but the judges scored it a draw. I discussed that fight with Harold Lederman earlier this year, and he gave me a complete breakdown of the judge’s scores, and why they scored the fight the way they did. While two of the judges may have been off, it wasn’t necessarily “hometown cooking”. That conversation gave me a whole new perspective on, not just that fight, but all fights where I don’t agree with the scoring.
Scoring fights is a touchy subject, and I think fans tend to get emotionally charged when they don’t agree with the judges (sometimes this emotional response is perfectly justified). I do believe there are politically motivated decisions, but I don’t think that was necessarily the case with Pacquiao-Bradley. At one point during the fight, I turned to the guy next to me and said that the score wasn’t close, but that some of the rounds were. It will be interesting to hear what Duane Ford and C.J. Ross have to say about the fight (both Ford and Ross scored it 115-113 for Bradley). In 2003, Duane Ford scored the Shane Mosley-Oscar De La Hoya rematch 115-113 for Mosley. I didn’t agree with that particular score, nor did the majority of the boxing public, but after speaking with Ford last year, I was left with the impression that he gave an honest account of what he saw. I also believe Ford gave an honest account of what he saw in the Pacquiao-Bradley fight, though I disagree with his point of view.
When the Pacquiao-Bradley fight was over, I took for granted that Pacquiao was going to get the decision. Even when I was under the assumption that he won, I believed that it was time for him to retire. From what I saw, the fire just isn’t there anymore. He wasn’t as active and energetic as he has been in the past, and he looked sluggish. He’s had a great career, but it’s time for guys like Andre Ward, Chad Dawson, and Timothy Bradley to step into the spotlight. Below is an excerpt of the interview I did with Harold Lederman, regarding Lewis-Holyfield I. It’s an interesting take on one of the most controversial decisions of recent times.
HAROLD LEDERMAN: “I thought Lennox clearly won the fight, but there are a couple of things you can point to. Eugenia Williams, who scored it for Holyfield, claimed that she was looking at Lennox Lewis’s back the whole time. In other words, if you’re sitting in a stationary position and a guy is on the other side of the ring and he’s got his opponent against the ropes, it’s hard to see the punches because all you’re looking at is one guy’s back. She maintained that she was blocked in a lot of instances and that’s understandable. Larry O’Connell had a very interesting score. He was the British judge. After five rounds, he said that he had it four rounds to one for Lennox Lewis. Now, first of all, you’re not supposed to keep track of your own score. In other words, if you’re a judge, you’re supposed to score a round, hand in your card, and forget how you scored the previous round. You’re not supposed to keep track of your own score. Okay? Larry O’Connell, obviously, in my mind, wasn’t doing that. He knew that he had Lennox Lewis winning it four rounds to one after five rounds. Being that Larry O’Connell and Lennox Lewis are both British, I’m guessing that he thought to himself that he didn’t want to show favoritism, so I think he deliberately evened it out.
In round six, he gave it to Evander Holyfield! Evander certainly didn’t win round six! He didn’t even come CLOSE to winning round six! In round seven, he scored it even, which was another round that Lennox clearly won. You follow? Larry knew how he had the fight scored early on and he was looking to keep it close and that was obvious. Somewhere along the line, I think he lost track of his scoring and accidentally scored it even, because he was afraid of giving Lennox Lewis too big of a lead. When the decision was announced and O’Connell’s score was announced a draw, the first thing he said was that he thought he had Lennox winning the fight. Now, if you’re not keeping track of the scoring, which you’re not supposed to do, how the hell did you know that you had Lennox winning?! Stanley Christodoulou scored it 116-113 for Lennox Lewis, Eugenia Williams had it 115-113 for Evander Holyfield, and Larry O’Connell, as I mentioned, had it even at 115-115. I’ve studied those scorecards and I listened to every word that all of the judges said. I don’t think it was a horrendous robbery.”