Pacquiao vs. Bradley Post-Fight
"[A]fter everything he's done for boxing, Manny Pacquiao is the last person who should have been cheated like this. He deserved better." - Bryan Armen Graham, Sports Illustrated
Before I get into my own thoughts on what happened, I'd like to provide context and color by sharing quotes and scores from folks close to the sport.
I strongly suggest that everyone look at this website: http://fightscorecollector.blogspot.com/. This guy has collected scores on the fight from across the boxing universe. His results are below.
Total Scores Collected.........265
Total Scores for Pacquiao...248
Total Scores for Bradley......10
Total Scores for Draw...........7
That should honestly be the end of the discussion right there. But I'll go further.
A subset of scores from the most reputable, unbiased boxing folks is below. Their scores illustrate that they saw the same blowout that I did.
Doug Fischer (Ring Magazine) - 117-111 Pacquiao
Harold Lederman (HBO) - 119-109 Pacquiao
Steve Kim (Maxboxing) - 117-111 Pacquiao
Dan Rafael (ESPN) - 119-109 Pacquiao [Rafael picked Bradley to win by the way.]
Kevin Iole (Yahoo Sports) - 117-111 Pacquiao
Michael Rosenthal (Ring Magazine) - 118-111 Pacquiao
Side note: There are those who say that the HBO broadcast team may have biased the public's viewing of the fight. Nonsense. Print and online reporters in the press section at ringside scored the fight overwhelmingly for Pacquiao (by some accounts something like 47-1). Those guys obviously weren't watching the broadcast as the ring was right in front of them.
Some additional scoring color from those who aren't exactly the biggest Pacquiao fans follows...
Sports Illustrated quoted Floyd Mayweather, Sr. (YES the father of Pacquiao's rival for pound-for-pound supremacy) as saying, “This one belonged to Pacquiao. I’m calling it like it is... whoever these judges was, they need to find a new job.”
50 Cent (YES Mayweather, Jr.'s best friend) was quoted by the Vancouver Sun as saying, "Man boxing is a mess right now [whatever you do] do not watch the rematch its fixed." (Thus implying he thought Pacquiao won.)
Via Twitter Oscar de la Hoya (who has been bitter against Manny since they fought) said, "Bradley should have given the belt and announce victory to [Pacquiao] right after the decision."
Teddy Atlas, a known Pacquiao skeptic was quoted by the Examiner as saying, "But the bottom line is, if you're an honest man, and knows what he's watching, Pacquiao won that fight...only one man won that fight."
Roger Mayweather (probably the biggest Pacquiao hater on the planet) said via Twitter: "Everybody mad that Manny got robbed which I agree." "Can't lie I hate Manny but he did beat the [expletive] out of Bradley." "Bradley you a dumb [expletive] if you give Manny a rematch, run with that W." [Note that I fixed punctuation, etc.]
Even Bradley didn't think he won the bout. According to Bob Arum, immediately after the bout when Arum went over to hug/console him, Bradley said, "'I tried hard, and I couldn't beat the guy." In the post-fight interview with Max Kellerman, Bradley also says, "I have to go home and see the tape to see who won." Make no mistake--no new champion who believes he won a fight reacts like this. He would have been jumping up and down yelling "I told you so!" etc. Look at Bradley's own reaction when he upset Junior Witter in England! THAT'S how a new champion reacts.
A lot of folks are bringing up the Marquez fight, mentioning karma, etc. But let's get one thing straight. We are NOT discussing the merits of awarding the victory of a close bout to one fighter or another. This bout was not close. I am fine with those who think Pacquiao was beaten by Marquez. I'm happy to debate the results of close fights any time. But what happened this past Saturday is something totally different.
For those wondering, this type of bad boxing decision is common for fighters who were previously considered to be given a "gift" decision in a prior fight. Look at De La Hoya vs. Pernell Whittaker and then the De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad bout. Judges in general will tend to be much tougher (read: score against) on the fighter who supposedly benefited from a gift previously in his career.
From my live viewing of the fight, I thought that even the 115-113 card FOR Manny was preposterous. This was not a 7 rounds to 5 kind of bout. I saw it as a 10-2 MAYBE a 9-3 if you were feeling generous. If you feel like being a contrarian, fine, it was an 8-4 bout. This wasn't a 7-5!
As always when there is a controversial score to be debated, it is most instructive to review once again how boxing is scored.
The four scoring criteria and how I thought about them regarding this bout are as follows.
Clean Punching - Look at the CompuBox statistics below. Period. But if you want more evidence of who won this category, ask yourself who was getting wobbled by punches. [Side note: My personal observation of Pacquiao's body language in reaction to getting hit by Bradley: "I've been hit flush by COTTO before; what are these bug bites?"] THIS IS NOT AMATEUR BOXING. Just because a punch lands doesn't mean it had an effect and should be scored as such. Damage is what counts.
In case you are too lazy to take a close look at the table, the key takeaways are:
1) Overall Manny outlanded Bradley in all categories: Total Punches, Jabs, and Power Punches
2) Overall Manny landed at a higher percentage in all categories: Total Punches, Jabs, and Power Punches
3) In 10 out of 12 rounds Manny landed more Total Punches
4) In 11 out of 12 rounds Manny landed at a higher percentage in Total Punches
5) In 7 out of 12 rounds Manny landed more Jabs
6) In 11 out of 12 rounds Manny landed at a higher percentage in Jabs
7) In 11 out of 12 rounds Manny landed more Power Punches
8) In 11 out of 12 rounds Manny landed at a higher percentage in Power Punches
That should also be another end to the discussion. But I'll go still further.
Effective Aggression - Essentially, who is initiating the action, especially landing clean punches without taking much punishment in return. Bradley was backing up. A LOT. And this backing up was not supported by effective counterpunching. In many rounds, he can't even qualify for the "aggression" part of this criteria, much less effective.
Ring Generalship - Again, the way to think about this is who is controlling the space of the ring and pace of the fight. In other words, who is fighting "their fight". Let's get serious, Bradley is NOT a counterpuncher. He is a lead puncher. So why is he backing up instead of moving forward? Because MANNY was controlling the action. I believe it was Dan Rafael via Twitter who said, "I saw Bradley's backing up as deference to Manny's power."
Defense - Ridiculous to give this category to Bradley. Manny landed 39% of his punches and was landing his left hand with regularity. If there is one thing you should be able to defend against, it should be your opponent's money punch.
As a reminder, per boxing tradition, it is thought that the challenger needs to TAKE the belt from the champion. Close rounds (and I didn't think there were more than 2) go to the champion.
I've also been getting a lot of questions from folks who watched the PPV about whether the fight looked different live. The answer is, if anything, seeing the bout live made it seem even more like a blowout. You were able to hear the thuds from Manny's punches from the crowd. There were no sounds from Bradley's punches. He was doing minimal (read: zero) damage. Again, refer above to Clean Punching.
Despite my and the public's outrage over the results of this particular bout, there is a larger issue at stake. The past year has seen too many bizarre decisions in boxing and a number of other strange happenings. These types of situations (ESPECIALLY in high profile events which are also watched by the casual boxing fan) are destroying the sport and make it look like a joke to the casual fans that our sport so dearly needs to convert to loyal fans. Boxing's powers-that-be need to think long and hard about how confusing results like these are for casual fans. Most of them were watching the HBO telecast. To see Harold Lederman's card read 119-109 and then see Manny lose a split decision makes everyone in the sport look bad and has an extremely detrimental impact on boxing's credibility.
Many boxing pundits declared this to be the death of boxing while others marked it as the inflection point towards the sport's final extinction. Let's hope it will actually be a call-to-arms and that this instead provides the desperately needed impetus towards progress.