Manny Pacquiao, right, and Timothy Bradley during their WBO world welterweight title fight Saturday, June 9, 2012, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo)
Boxing fans around the world were shocked as African-American pro boxer Timothy Bradley defeated Pilipino superstar Manny Pacquiao June 9 for the WBO Welterweight title by way of a split decision from the judges.
Analysts and fight fans were surprised that the 28-year-old California native was credited with winning the fight on even one judge’s card, let alone winning over two judges to claim perhaps the most controversial recent decision.
Bradley (29-0 career record) was completely dominated by Manny Pacquiao, from the first round to the 12th, and the ringside punching statistics reflected it. Manny effectively landed 253 punches, nearly 100 more punches than Bradley landed in the fight. HBO analyst Howard Lederman judged that Pacquaio had won 11 of 12 rounds, and most of the fans watching around the world agreed.
After the fight, Pacquiao and his corner began to celebrate what they believed would be the 16th consecutive win for one of the most dominating figures in the history of the sport.
Then two judges, Duane Ford and C.J Ross, left the world stunned when they decided in favor of Bradley, 115-113. The only person not surprised by the decision was Bradley, who told the world before the fight that he would take Manny’s title.
“I thought I won the fight,” said Bradley, who was so confident heading into the fight that he printed out fake tickets to what would be a Bradley vs. Pacquiao rematch scheduled for Nov. 10. “I didn’t think [Manny] was as good as everyone says he was. I didn’t feel his power.”
Top Rank boxing promoter Bob Arum, who represents both Manny and Bradley, disagreed with Bradley.
“Can you believe that? Unbelievable,” Arum said. “I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, ‘I tried hard but I couldn’t beat the guy. ‘I’ve never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight.”
Disappointed or not, Arum confirmed that there will be a rematch on Nov. 10, just as Bradley hinted.
“I’ll make a lot of money off the rematch, but this was outrageous,” Arum said.
Though Manny may have been “cheated” by the refs, he showed little outrage against the decision, keeping his calm with reporters.
“I did my best,” Pacquiao said. “I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”
But the fans watching weren’t buying it.
“Where is Ashton Kutcher, this has got to be Punked,” tweeted NBA player Ronnie Brewer, referring to the popular TV show which plays practical jokes on celebrities. NFL star quarterback Aaron Rodgers agreed.
“That is horrible. Unreal. Ridiculous. Stupid. Bogus. Etc,” Rodgers tweeted. “That fight wasn’t close and I was pulling for Bradley.”