Boxing the real loser in Pacquiao-Bradley fight

Patrick Newell

I grew up loving the sport of boxing. Yes, there really was a time when meaningful fights were broadcasted on network television, and I was glued to my dad’s recliner the day or night of the big fights. I remember NBC with its afternoon fights and Marv Albert calling the action; Howard Cosell and Alex Wallau on ABC: and Tim Ryan along with Gil Clancy on CBS. All three networks made boxing an integral part of their sports programming. In the last 20 years, if you want to watch one of your boxing heroes, you need to shell out at least $40 for a pay-per-view. The marketing of mixed martial arts and its prevalent television presence has not helped boxing at all, and outrageously bad decisions like the one in Las Vegas Saturday night add another black mark. I eagerly awaited the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley matchup, and the fight didn’t start until after midnight on the East Coast. Pacquiao, a huge Boston Celtics fan, made a request for the fight to begin after the completion of the Heat-Celtics basketball game. Perhaps it was a bad omen for Pacquiao when his Celtics dropped the decisive game seven matchup.
Just to review quickly, Pacquiao is regarded among the best – if not the best – pound-for-pound boxers today. He was facing a young, hungry, and unbeaten Bradley, who was moving up a weight class to challenge for Pacquiao’s welterweight title. I watched every round with an attentive eye, and to my viewing, it was an easy decision to make. It was obvious to anyone watching that Pacquiao landed more punches, harder punches, and stalked a retreating Bradley throughout the fight. At no point did Bradley ride any substantial momentum, and at any point, one felt Pacquiao was one crisp combination away from ending the bout. Boxing punch statistics revealed that Pacquiao outlanded Bradley in 10 of 12 rounds, and by nearly 100 total punches. Some of those punches were set-up jabs, but the power shots landed also favored Pacquiao by a substantial margin.
What were two of the three judges looking at who gave Bradley seven out of 12 rounds? There are several criteria judges looking at when scoring a round: Aggression, ring generalship, and above all, clean punches landed lead that list. Pacquiao was the aggressor throughout the fight, he controlled the center of the ring, and as we mentioned, he landed the harder, more effective punches.
The second half of the fight, it was pointed out that Pacquiao coasted through the first 1 1/2 to two minutes of most rounds before flurrying hard over the last 60 to 90 seconds. During that time, Bradley would stick out a range-finding, pawing jab, his most utilized punch of the fight. It was a punch that rarely landed, and the final boxing statistics showed that Bradley landed less than 20 percent of his overall punches.
Watching the fight with Aida (my 100 percent Filipino partner), we stood up and stretched out after the final bell satisfied by another dominant performance by the pride of the Philippines. When the judges’ scores were read, we were both in shock. “How can this be? How can this happen?” Aida asked. I had no answer for her. I have seen some poor decisions over the years, but this was likely the worst since Roy Jones’ loss in the 1988 Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea. Jones battered and beat up Korea’s own finalist for three blowout rounds, but was robbed of a decision.
Boxing already alienates its dwindling yet ardent supporters by forcing them to pay out big bucks to watch their favorite fighters. When those fighters (Pacquiao) are treated unjustly by the judging professionals, it casts further doubt on the future of the sport.
The only positive that came out of this robbery was Pacquiao’s classy acceptance of the loss and his graciousness toward Bradley. “Whatever we think of the result, we have to respect the decision,” Pacquiao said in his post-fight comments. “That’s boxing.”
That’s not the boxing I knew as a kid. Bradley comes away the winner and a new title strap to wear around his waist, but boxing is the real loser.