What happens in Vegas … is scrutinized in every sorry, sordid detail all over the globe.
Me and a couple of buddies paid $55.95 for HBO’s pay-per-view fight Saturday night. What we witnessed – like the rest of you with a clear conscience and decent vision – was Manny Pacquiao dominating Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao won almost all of the 12 rounds, nine at the very least. He buckled Bradley early on with powerful lefts. While Bradley flailed valiantly, the majority of his punches merely glanced off Pacquiao’s well-positioned arms.
It was a blowout. A complete victory. A unanimous decision.
When Bradley’s hand was raised as the winner at the MGM, boxing officially flat-lined. If you take boxing seriously ever again, shame on you. It has less credibility these days than WWE.
Despite sitting ringside for Pacquiao’s ass-whipping, two judges – Duane Ford and C.J. Ross – scored the fight for Bradley.
Said legendary boxing promoter Bob Arum, “I’ve never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight. … Something like this is so outlandish, it’s a death knell for the sport. This is fucking nuts. … Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight.”
The Associated Press scored an easy win for Pacquiao. Same for HBO. Same for ESPN. And Compubox’s fight stats showed Pacquiao landing 94 more punches, including more in all but two of the rounds.
So how the hell did 74-year-old boxing judge Ford form this opinion?
“I thought Bradley gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
There are only two explanations: Incompetence. Or Corruption.
A lot of illegal things are accepted – even encouraged – in Vegas. Including, apparently, robbery.
With Pacquiao a solid betting favorite of almost 4.5-1 Saturday afternoon, suddenly big, late money began showing up at Vegas sportsbooks. So much so that by the time the fight started the odds were down to 3.9-1. A betting site in Ireland today claimed the fight “dirty” and awarded refunds to all bettors who wagered on Pacquiao. This result will do nothing to stop the notion that boxing is indeed “fixed,” with judges on the take.
Not even Bradley, who showed up for his post-fight press conference in a wheelchair, sounded convinced of his new welterweight belt.
“It was a good fight,” he told reporters. “Every round was pretty close. Pacquiao won the early rounds, I won the later rounds with my jab. I have to go home and see the tape to see who won.”
Sports is littered with horrible decisions:
Barry Switzer ran “Load Left” on consecutive plays in Philly. “No, Danny No!” White audibled out of a Tom Landry play call against the Redskins. Leon Lett showboated prematurely, and later attempted to cover a blocked field goal. Robin Ventura charged Nolan Ryan. Mark Cuban let Steve Nash leave. The Mets’ Johan Santana was recently credited with a no-hitter despite giving up a double. And, once upon a time, the City of Seattle sold the Sonics to Oklahoma City.
Boxing has long been absurd. From Fan Man to Tyson biting Holyfield’s ear to Floyd Mayweather challenging HBO’s Larry Merchant, it’s more ridiculous soap opera than legit sport. And, in the wake of last weekend’s travesty, the Nevada State Athletic Commission says there will be no reviews of the fight or discipline of the judges who rendered the preposterous decision.
So congrats, boxing. Your newest champion is a guy who was outpunched, who never bothered his opponent and who is sheepish about his own victory.
While boxing’s integrity has finally tapped out, there is one man smiling at the mess: Dana White, UFC President.
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