In a gesture where magnanimity is solidly outpointed by hollowness—unless the purpose is to drum up drama for a rematch—the WBO has announced it will re-score last weekend’s controversial fight, which saw Jeff Horn upset Manny Pacquiao, but that it cannot and will not reverse the decision.
The Australian Horn, a huge underdog, won on all cards to take the welterweight world title from Pacquiao in Brisbane, in a fight that most observers believe Pacquiao deserved. (I apologize: That omniscient, “most observers believe” formulation is some Timesian piffle. I watched the fight; Pacquiao won handily.) Even worse than the unanimous decision was the one judge’s card that had it 117-111 for Horn, which seems mathematically improbable coming in a fight that had a round like this one:
On Monday, the Philippines Games and Amusements Board sent a letter to the WBO asking for “a thorough review by the WBO for possible miscalls of the referee where some deductions were not made and of the judges in their judging that have caused varying opinions on their objectivity.”
On Thursday, Francisco Valcárce, president of the WBO, replied. From that public letter:
I would be very grateful if the Philippines Games and Amusements Board (GAB) can provide any evidence indicating fraud or violation of Law. Please forward it immediately to the Australian National Boxing Federation and to the WBO so that we may proceed accordingly.
Although this is the situation, as I previously publicly stated, we will appoint five (5) anonymous competent Judges from different countries to watch the bout without sound distraction. Then, we will tabulate the results to ascertain clearly which rounds each fighter won using an average scale based on 60, 80 and 100 per cent. This means that 3 of the 5 officials have to agree to determine which fighter won the round.
The purpose of this review is to be able to give the fans certainty of who was the winner of the bout, even though we do not have the power to reverse the decision of the Judges based on discretion[...]
This is thrillingly pointless. If (a big if!) this new judging is on the up-and-up, all that’s going to happen is the WBO saying oops, Pacquiao should have won, but still didn’t.
Pacquiao, in a statement released through his senate office, said:
“On my part, I had already accepted the decision but as a leader and, at the same time, fighter I have the moral obligation to uphold sportsmanship, truth and fairness in the eyes of the public.
“I love boxing and I don’t wanna see it dying because of unfair decision and officiating.”
Horn, being feted in a ticker-tape parade in Brisbane, said he doesn’t believe those were Pacquiao’s actual words, but that “maybe it is his team around him.” Horn said that Pacquiao “seemed very humble in the way that he lost and thought the decision was correct.”
So what next? That’s up to Pacquiao. The 38-year-old has a rematch clause in his contract, but he’s reportedly considering retirement. Trainer Freddie Roach sounds like he’s got an opinion on that.
“I’m gonna have a long talk with him about that. Because I think maybe being a senator, being a fighter, both is maybe too much,” said Roach.