BRADLEY-PACQUIAO: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
By John McCormick
Boxing was on the big stage Saturday night when Manny Pacquiao stepped into the ring with Timothy Bradley. Between the pre-fight delays, Pacquiao's offensive genius, Bradley's heart, and the horrible judging, the pay-per-view card featured all of what is good and bad about boxing in one package. Let's examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of Bradley's victory, or should we say official victory over Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao's spiritual conversion led many to believe that he was not the same killer that brought death by a thousand left hands to Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto within a twelve-month time period. Those critics were wrong. Pacquiao looked extremely sharp from the first round until the final bell. On the other hand, Timothy Bradley was impressive as well. Bradley withstood some hard, flush shots from Pacquiao while continuing to fight back. Bradley didn't curl up into a defensive shell like Joshua Clottey or put on his track shoes like Shane Mosley; he fought back, and fought to win, to the best of his ability. Both men were questioned heading into the fight: Pacquiao for his focus and Bradley for his chin; both men proved the critics wrong and should be proud, regardless of the outcome.
Although Bradley had a few brief moments of success (and when I say brief, I am being generous), he was unable to make Pacquiao uncomfortable for any reasonable amount of time. It was clear Pacquiao didn't respect Bradley's punching power. In addition, Bradley barely attempted to counter punch. There were times when Pacquiao would throw a combination, Bradley would block, and then fire off a combination immediately. Those were the only moments that brought Bradley success and should've been the game plan to begin with. Instead, Bradley, who couldn't punch his way out of a time clock at the end of a workday, decided to stand and trade with one of boxing's most lethal punchers. He should consider himself lucky he didn't end up on the wrong end of a highlight reel knockout for that. Regardless of Bradley's poor game plan, he showed the world that he has a great chin.
Do I really need to restate the frightful ending of this fight? I favored Bradley heading into this fight but I will take no credit for predicting he would win a close decision. I was kind enough to give Bradley two rounds and therefore scored it 118-110 for Pacquiao. Surprisingly, one of boxing's worst judges, Jerry Roth scored the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao in a rare moment of lucidity, although even that score favored Bradley too much. Judges CJ Ross and Duane Ford overruled Roth by scoring it 115-113 for Bradley.
A closer look at the scorecards showed Roth gave Pacquiao rounds 1,3,4,5,6,8 and 9, while giving Bradley rounds 2, 7 and the final three. Ross scored the middle rounds evenly between Pacquiao and Bradley while Ford gave Bradley five of the last six. All three had Bradley winning the last three rounds.
I am fully aware that watching a fight live can be a completely different experience than watching it on television. You don't get to hear the opinions of the broadcasting team and you can get a clearer picture of who is controlling the fight if you are sitting close enough. However, there can be no case made that Bradley deserved a decision. Pacquiao won the fight clearly and the judges, plus whoever else had anything to do with the scores, should be brought up on charges of robbery in the first degree. I predicted before the bout that promoter Bob Arum would cash Pacquiao out in favor of the young Bradley, but I thought Bradley would've earned the liquidation by winning legitimately. He didn't.
Arum had this bout set up to keep Pacquiao away from the fight people really wanted to see, Pacquiao against Floyd Mayweather. If Pacquiao lost, the interest in Mayweather-Pacquiao would be greatly diminished, Arum would have a new star in Bradley and Arum could keep things in house by promoting Bradley-Pacquiao II.
But the way things played out, Arum's logic may backfire on him. Although Bradley has an official win over Pacquiao on his record, the scoring was so horrible that there will forever be an unofficial asterisk next to it in the minds of all boxing fans. Pacquiao put on a dominant performance and a fight with Mayweather should be in more demand now than ever. Pacquiao should wipe the smile off his face that he wore after his loss was announced, and see who is really to blame. Then he should leave Arum for good. In my opinion, Arum doesn't have Pacquiao's best interest at heart and was looking to cash out on him before it was too late.
It's true Arum was complaining about the judges after the fight and claiming that they didn't know how to score a boxing match but anybody with a tidbit of common sense could see through the promoter's academy award performance. Arum wanted Bradley to win and now he gets to double up on his money in the November rematch. Pacquiao should bite the bullet, refuse the rematch, leave Top Rank, make the Mayweather fight happen, and leave Arum watching resentfully from the sidelines as his two former fighters make astronomical amounts of money without his participation.
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