The sport of boxing is in critical condition the morning after its biggest star, Manny Pacquiao, was robbed by the judges in his fight against Timothy Bradley.
Two judges scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, while one scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao. If you ask any boxing writer who was at ringside, Pacuquiao won the fight easily. ESPN's Dan Rafael thought Pacquiao "looked dominant" and had him winning 119-109. He called the fight, "one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history -- one of the worst, really." HBO's Harold Lederman, their unofficial ringside judge, had it 119-109 for Pacquiao. As the Wall Street Journal's Gordon Marino points out, Pacquiao "connected with 253 punches to the winner's 159, and he brought home 82 more power shots than Bradley... according to punch-count system Compubox, Pacquiao outlanded Bradley in all but two frames of the contest."
Naturally, Twitter was abuzz with reactions after the fight. The Wall Street Journal's Jason Gay tweeted, "Bad decision. But Manny put it on auto-pilot in closing rounds, allowed Bradley to make a case. (Waves shopping bags) Big mistake. Huge." Yahoo Sports' Dan Wentzel thought Pacquiao's strategy was off and tweeted, "Blame here has to fall on Pacquaio's strategy of punching Bradley more often and harder." Jay Kornegay, who works for the Las Vegas Superbook, tweeted, "I know it won't happen but I feel this should be the last boxing match we'll ever book." At different times, #RIPBoxing and Vince McMahon, the owner of the pre-determined outcome professional wrestling behemoth WWE, were trending on Twitter.
Grantland's Bill Simmons sort-of jokingly implied larger forces might have been at work, tweeting, "Never been more stunned by a boxing decision. So disgusted right now. Now we know why the odds dropped all week." He followed that up with the much more direct, "Does everyone who watched tonight's fight have to appear as witnesses at the trial for the people who fixed it? How does this work?"
Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, was irate after the decision. He said he spoke to Bradley's manager, and even he had the fight scored in Pacquiao's favor. Then, he went on this rant:
"Something like this is so outlandish, it's a death knell for the sport. This is f------ nuts. I have both guys, and I'll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it's ridiculous. You have these old f---- who don't know what the hell they're looking at. It's incompetence. Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight."
It's hard to tell if Arum was actually angry with the decision or if he's just try to sell the rematch. In the thought-to-be-unlikely event Pacquiao lost, a November 10th rematch was written into the contract for last night's fight. And as Arum says, he stands to make a truck full of money promoting the Manny Pacquiao revenge tour. It's the fight he'd rather promote anyway, instead of the megafight between Manny and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Arum would have to split the profits of that fight with Mayweather Promotions. If we had to wager a guess right now, the rematch is going to play out like the second fight between Roy Jones Jr. and Montell Griffin.
Whether the decision will kill the sport of boxing remains to be seen. It's certainly on life support, though. Pacquiao and Mayweather are the sports two biggest attractions, and the potential fight between them was expected to bring in revenue somewhere in the nine figure ballpark. Will that still happen now? Maybe not. For one, Floyd's currently in jail, and the fight will lose its platinum sheen if Pacquiao manages to lose (again) in November.