Thoughts on Saturday nights controversial fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley and the fallout from it.
On Saturday night Manny Pacquiao lost his first fight since 2005 when he was upset by Timothy Bradley in a controversial split decision. Thanks to social media everyone in the world had an opinion about the fight and the decision. Most opinions were, “Boxing is dead,” “Boxing is fixed,” “I’ll never watch Boxing again,” and “The UFC is getting all my money now.”
Sure. And I’m going to stop listening to Taylor Swift’s music because she makes a bad song two.
We’ve all overreacted to things in sports. We’ve all “given up” on a sport, a team, or a player after something bad has happened or a terrible performance. The difference is that a few years ago when we “gave up” on a sport, we usually kept it to ourselves. Nowadays, thanks to twitter, the whole world can see when you’re angry, and the whole world can see when your anger subsides and you end up looking like an idiot. Twitter exploded on Saturday night as the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley decision came down and took over every trending topic on the list. People put way more stock into trending topics then they should, but when something takes over all ten spots, it’s pretty safe to say that people are talking about it. Well people were talking about Saturday nights fight and none of it was positive.
Bad decisions in boxing are nothing new. Hell, people were crying outrage just seven months ago when Pacquiao won a decision against Juan Manuel Marquez. That fight was actually close though, unlike this one, where most thought Pacquiao easily took eight of the twelve rounds. Of course when Pacquiao won that fight, the outrage was limited because he was the big ticket and nine times out of ten, the big ticket gets the decision. That’s what made this decision all the more baffling. Pacquiao was unquestionably the money fighter, he unquestionably won the fight, and yet he didn’t get the nod.
Was the fix in? I doubt it. It’s fun to throw around conspiracy theories, but I can’t believe that anyone would be that stupid. With Floyd Mayweather vs. Pacquiao likely off the table for November, Bob Arum needed a big fight. A rematch between Bradley and Pacquiao would be a big fight, but it could only happen if Bradley won. Well, Bradley won and now Arum possibly has his big rematch on November 10th. Of course the rematch is up to Pacquiao. If he feels Arum screwed him on the decision, he could easily screw Arum in the rematch. Everyone with two working eyes saw that Pacquiao won the fight. He doesn’t need to justify his rightful victory by taking a rematch and beating Bradley again. He can fight someone else, still draw a huge number, and move past Bradley for the time being. Maybe Arum lucks out and Bradley becomes a bigger draw from this fight, but unless he has the right opponent, I wouldn’t bank on Bradley bringing in a ton of cash as a PPV headliner.
Have people really given up on boxing? Of course not. Maybe they’ve given up on it for a couple of weeks but when Mayweather gets out of jail and steps back into the ring or Pacquiao settles on his next opponent, at least one million people are going to purchase the PPV. And lets just say that Mayweather vs. Pacquiao actually happens later this year, the same people who claimed that “boxing is dead” and “I will never watch again,” will order the PPV a week before the event and plan their entire Saturday around the fight. People have been claiming the death of boxing for years now and yet Mayweather and Pacquiao are still the two biggest PPV draws in combat sports. If the Pacquiao vs. Bradley rematch happens, this controversy could actually lead to the second fight doing bigger business than the first fight.
The funniest thing people are bringing up following the fight is this notion that UFC/MMA is taking over because of this decision. Unless these judges were paid off, they were acting under their own power as employees of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. I guess those people don’t realize that UFC runs multiple events, including major title fights like the upcoming bout between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, in Las Vegas. Again, unless this was fixed, it’s not out of the question that the judges screw up a big MMA fight in Vegas because all combat sports judges appear to be incompetent. It’s not like MMA judging has been perfect over the years or anything. And If people have really given up on boxing and are now turning their attention to the UFC, I guess that means UFC 147 later this month will do huge business even though it’s arguably the worst card in company history.
The award for “worst offender of overreacting to the decision” goes to none other than UFC President Dana White, who took to twitter (where else?) to bash the NSAC by saying, “Nevada state athletic commission at its finest!!! Youve for to be fucking kidding me!! that is disgusting Nevada state athletic commission!! Worst athletic commission in the country!!!!!!!!!!!!” You know Dana means business when he’s throwing out exclamation marks like they’re condoms at a porn convention. You know the saddest part of Dana’s 140 character tirade? He actually has the power to change the commission and how they do things. He could stop running events in Vegas, thus giving “the worst athletic commission in the country” no power over what happens during UFC events. But that’s not going to happen. And you know why? Because right now he can use the NSAC as a scapegoat when things go wrong. Terrible refereeing? Blame the commission for assigning the ref. Terrible judging? Blame the commission for hiring the judges. Terrible suspension? Blame the commission for being idiots. Dana always brings up how the UFC is, “regulated by the government and the state athletic commissions” and then he turns around and bashes those same commissions when they screw up.
You know whose not at fault here? Timothy Bradley, who was boo’d out of the building when the decision was announced. Fans always aim their hate at the face of the situation, which is usually the guy who benefits from terrible judging. Bradley had nothing to do with how his hand was raised. He fought his fight and was rewarded because two of the three people with power thought he fought a winning fight. Bradley was honest in his post-fight interview. He was genuinely shocked that he won the fight and had no problem giving Pacquiao a rematch (even though it’s ultimately Manny’s call). People wanted him to give the belt back or acknowledge that Manny won the fight, but what would have changed had he done that? It still goes down as a victory for him and he’d still be recognized as the champion. Maybe it would earn him some fans, but it would also show self-doubt. If he felt that he fought well enough to win and two judges thought he won, why should he disagree? To please some fans who claim that they’ll never watch boxing again? Those fans can’t be pleased anyway.
The biggest winner from this past Saturday night was Floyd Mayweather, who probably watched the fight on a 70 inch TV in jail. Negotiations between the Mayweather camp and the Pacquiao camp were already at a stalemate thanks to Mayweather’s unwillingness to budge on PPV points and purse split, feeling that he’s the bigger draw of the two. Now Floyd has even more ammunition. Even though the interest in a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight shouldn’t be killed as no one believes that Manny truly lost, officially Manny has lost. Officially, he’s no longer on a 15-fight win streak. Officially, he’s no longer the WBO welterweight champion. Why should Mayweather fight a guy who just officially lost? And if he does take the fight, why shouldn’t he get more money? He’s undefeated, he’s the champion, he’s the draw. Again, any rational fan knows that Manny is still an elite fighter and one of the two best fighters in the world, but when it comes to money, Mayweather is anything but rational.
It’s no secret that boxing has gone through tough times over the years and Saturday nights decision is another black eye for the sport, but the sport isn’t dead. Will things get better? Not unless the athletic commissions change. It’s no secret that they pretty much suck. Judges and referees wield too much power to be as clueless and incompetent as they are. There’s no review process and these judges and refs are rarely held accountable for their mistakes. The same problems have plagued the athletic commission for years now and yet nothing ever gets done. Why start now?
The sport is dead. No need to try and save it.