Let me first come out and say I didn’t purchase or watch the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. All I know is most people who did felt Pacquiao was the clear winner. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated was there, and here was the first of his three quick thoughts on the fight:
This was a bad decision. Pacquiao won the fight on my card, HBO’s card and virtually everyone else’s card…except judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, who are the only two that matter. Despite Pacquiao outlanding Bradley (253-159), out power punching the junior welterweight champ (190-108) and outperforming him in 10 of 12 rounds, a pair of judges handed Bradley the WBO welterweight title. It was a bizarre and unpopular decision, one that (again) makes you wonder about the competence of judges in boxing. Bradley was active, but too many of his shots were gobbled up in Pacquiao’s gloves. Bradley didn’t embarrass himself, but he didn’t win this fight, either. Said Bob Arum, “Nothing in my career has stunned me as much as this decision.”
There were tweets from angry Pacquiao fans, celebrities proclaiming how boxing is ruined, plenty of conspiracy theories, and pictures of Bradley afterward in a wheelchair. But boxing is not dead. On the contrary. The controversy, the story, the utter newsworthiness of this decision was so much more significant than anything that would’ve come out of what everyone expected: a unanimous decision for Pacquiao.
Was the fix in? Maybe, although Pacquiao/Bradley is hardly the only highly questionable decision in boxing history. Was boxing already teetering on the edge of relevance? Absolutely, boxing has mattered so little for so long to most people that everyone forgot how corrupt the sports has always been. That’s why the volume of coverage, outrage and tweetage about boxing seen on Saturday night, no matter how negative, is a welcome sight to those who control and profit from the sport.
Just because boxing is on the fringes these days doesn’t put it in the same category as a rogue politician. A politician can get caught doing something heinous enough to effectively destroy his or her chances of winning another election for public office. Other than widespread death among its participants, there isn’t a scandal that will make everyone turn away from boxing for good … and the number of deaths caused by boxing would have to hit double figures in a span of less than a year for bans to start and fans to flee.
The Pacquiao vs. Bradley rematch has already been set for November, and let’s just see then if the amount of PPV buys are lower or higher than they were for Saturday night’s fight. A fight that I, a bigger boxing fan than the average person, had no desire to purchase. A fight that, after it’s conclusion, started virtual riots on social media and got everyone talking about boxing more than at any time since Mike Tyson pretended not to be afraid of Lennox Lewis.
Everyone wanted Pacquiao to fight Floyd Mayweather, but Mayweather is in prison and “Pacquiao has lost something off his fastball,” according to Mannix. While good fighters exist, dream matchups are wanting and the boxing money machine must keep running, at least according to people like Bob Arum.
Remember the days when Don King was the face and hair of boxing corruption? Sure he’s 80, but so is Arum. Anyway…
The Mayweather opportunity won’t be readily available for at least the next year, if not forever. So a convenient way to guarantee that Pacquiao’s fight against Bradley would lead to bigger paydays, before Pacquiao’s window closes completely, was to make Pacquiao vs. Bradley it’s own little PPV empire.
Will the world make good on its promise to squash boxing, or will they tune in to see just how angry and violent and vengeful Pacquiao can be in November? If the fix indeed was in, Arum and many others may be betting on the latter.