Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley finally squared off last night after HBO's Hard Knocks for Boxing previewed the fight for us all. From the sound of it, the split decision was a monumental screw job for the Pacquiao camp.
ESPN's Dan Rafael said he didn't expect the verdict to turn out this way.
"Timothy Bradley did not win this fight," he said. "It's one of the most outrageous decisions [in boxing]."
He said that even his colleagues at ringside agreed with him.
"Jim Lampley who calls the fight for HBO said this is the single worst decision he's ever seen. That's a big, big statement," said Rafael.
Sports Illustrated's Bryan Armen Graham labeled Bradley's win as an "injustice."
That's just one quote, directly copied and pasted. that's not, like, a bunch of random quotes pulled from separate articles. One article. One machine gun firing off the various ways this was a complete botch.
Here, have some more.
Promoter Bob Arum fumed, the crowd at the MGM Grand arena booed, and Pacquiao seemed stunned when the decision was announced. Arum said there would be a November rematch, though he blasted the way the decision went down.
"I've never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight," said Arum, who handles both fighters.
Arum had more to say: "I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, 'I tried hard but I couldn't beat the guy.'"
Here's the thing, though. Doesn't this always happen? There are leagues of you all much more well-versed in boxing than I, but to this casual observer of boxing it seems like this is par for the course. After every fight you can find someone, somewhere saying they had it scored differently, or flinging accusations of foul play. Maybe matches are rigged. Maybe all those whispers are more in line with the crazies who think the NBA is rigged. I couldn't tell you, but I can tell you it is a major deterrent to my potential enjoyment of the sport. It's one thing for crazy conspiracy theorists to question outcomes, but when pundits and fans alike do it on the regular, there's a problem.
The difference this time is that it happened to one of boxing's biggest stars, so the outrage is more widespread. I did not watch the fight but it sounds like every single Tom, Dick and Harry thought this was a fucked up decision. And yet Arum—the guy who promotes both boxers—and Bradley could not wait to talk rematch in November.
"There are three judges out there. What do you want me to do?" Bradley said, when asked whether he felt he deserved the victory, before alluding the [sic] the return bout. "We definitely have to do it again."
And they will, of course. And they'll make a shitload of money. And the same people crying foul now will watch it all over again. "For redemption," like the spouse who can't leave, no matter how abusive the relationship.