Some three weeks have already passed since the fight night last June 9, but the controversy over the shocking loss of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to American Timothy Bradley continues to be a hot topic of discussions.
Boxing fans and boxing experts alike are still engaged in spirited talks on the question of who really won the match.
In a post-fight survey conducted here in the US and participated in by boxing fans, Pacquiao was picked almost unanimously as the winner in the controversial bout.
The survey was conducted last June 19 by Jim Lampley, host of HBO’s talk show entitled “The Fight Game.” It was held after a replay of the fight was shown on HBO TV. Ninety-one percent of those who responded to the survey gave their nod to the Filipino boxer, and only seven percent agreed with the two judges who saw Bradley as the winner. Two percent of the respondents said it was a draw.
Duane Ford of San Diego, California, one of the two judges who awarded the fight to Bradley, was interviewed via Skype by Lampley. He defended his decision, saying that while Pacquiao won the early rounds, Bradley dominated the last five rounds. He said that because Pacquiao is considered a “world hero,” many boxing fans have perceptual bias in his favor.
In the same show, Lampley replayed Round 7 of the fight and asked the viewers to judge who won the round. Lampley said that all the three judges scored Round 7 in favor of Bradley. In the round, there was a torrid exchange of punches between the two fighters, but it was clear that Pacquiao delivered the more telling blows.
Max Kellerman, a boxing commentator of ESPN, was also interviewed by Lampley. Before the fight, Kellerman predicted that Bradley was going to be victorious. In the interview, Kellerman said that he had watched a replay of the fight and scored seven rounds in favor of Pacquiao, stressing that there was no way Bradley could have won the match.
US Senators John McCain and Harry Reid, who were both boxers in their younger days, have joined the discussion. They said a commission should be created to look into controversies such as the one hounding the Pacquiao-Bradley fight.
McCain talked at a Senate session during which he proposed the creation of a special commission that would oversee the staging of boxing matches and enforce federal laws governing boxing. This would protect the integrity of the sport, he said.
Senator McCain also said, “Clearly, the conspiracy theories and speculation surrounding the fight are given life because there are so many questions surrounding the integrity of the sport and how it is managed in multiple jurisdictions.” He quoted sportswriter Jimmy Cannon who had described boxing as “the red-light district of sports.”
Some Filipino boxing fans aired suspicion that promoter Bob Arum could be a part of a grand conspiracy, saying that he and other people would cash in from a rematch. But Arum, who seemed to be aware of such suspicion, appeared indignant over the controversial decision.
In an interview shortly after the fight, Arum said, “I’ve never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight.” He asked that an investigation of the fight be conducted by Nevada officials.
He sounded as if he, too, did not like the outcome of the fight. Was he just feigning indignation? It is recalled that immediately after Bradley was proclaimed the winner, Arum was seen on TV as among the first to congratulate the winner.
Filipino boxing fans here in Michigan supported Arum’s call for an investigation. They said they had paid hard-earned money to watch the fight on pay-per-view TV and they deserved to know the truth.
If the investigation establishes that there was conspiracy, they vowed they would boycott Pacquiao’s fights in the future. They collectively felt that the fans are being fooled by the schemers in Las Vegas.
Among the Filipinos in Michigan who are vocal about their suspicion of conspiracy are Joe Roallos, Roman Ibaretta, Lyle Villahermosa, Jeff Llanzana, Edwin Minas, Omel Panis, Gary Penaflorida and Jojo de Venecia.
On hindsight, they blamed Pacquiao himself for his controversial loss. They said that Pacquiao appeared overconfident and was just coasting along in the last few rounds. They also noted that he no longer had the “fire in his eyes” or intensity which they noticed in his previous fights. At some instances, he even looked as if he is bored.
Does Pacquiao have enough of boxing? Perhaps, it’s time for him to hang his gloves.