By Steve Silverman
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New York, NY (WFAN) – Boxing is not always the “sweet science.”
Sometimes the stench associated with the sport is foul and base and undeniable.
Such was the case last night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when Manny Pacquiao asserted himself in his WBO welterweight championship bout with Tim Bradley but found himself on the wrong end of a split decision.
Pacquiao was a 4-1 favorite and he won 10 of the 12 rounds on my scorecard. You can make a case that Bradley did well enough in two other rounds to possibly win them. But even under those circumstances, Pacquiao won 8 of 12 rounds.
But in this fight, all the judges got it wrong. That includes Jerry Roth, who scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao. But compared to judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, Roth is an absolute seer. Ross and Ford scored it 115-113 for Bradley. None of the scoring decisions made any sense, but allowing Bradley to take the decision is a putrid and painful call.
Predictions in sports always have a good chance of going wrong. I predicted prior to the fight that Pacquiao would dominate because he was simply a much better fighter. His instincts, hand speed, foot speed and ability to throw dangerous punches in combinations made him a champion and the challenger did not measure up in any of those areas.
Bradley was clearly an impressive physical specimen who trained hard and has been improving throughout his career. But when it came to all around boxing ability, he simply did not belong in the same category as Pacquiao. Bradley is not any kind of knockout artist despite his muscular frame because he does not throw punches in combinations.
I’ve been wrong plenty of times in the past, but this was not one of them. Pacquiao used his well-honed skills to dominate his opponent. He did not knock out Bradley or even knock him down. That’s probably indicative that Pacquiao is not the fighter he once was and his skills are eroding. But you wouldn’t know it from his performance against Bradley. His quicker hands and more well-developed instincts allowed him to beat Bradley to the punch time after time.
The crowd let Bradley know what it thought of the decision. It booed loudly and lustily every time Bradley tried to answer a post-fight question from HBO analyst Max Kellerman. Bradley acknowledged that Pacquiao hurt him on several occasions, but somehow managed to say that he thought he won the fight.
It’s doubtful that Bradley really believes that. He was tough and aggressive early in the fight, even if he was eating more leather than he was delivering. However, sometime around the midpoint of the 12 rounds, Bradley stopped being aggressive. It seemed that he was more interested in staying on his feet than he was in beating his opponent.
That often happens in boxing when a fighter knows that the other guy is the better fighter. He gets hit with more punches, he can’t move as quickly and he gets frustrated by the shock of getting pounded with punches. The mission becomes one of survival.
Somehow, the judges hired to score last night’s fight saw Bradley’s early aggressiveness and survival ability as winning points in the fight. They should not be allowed to work anymore boxing matches of substance.
From this corner, the smell of the decision is nasty. Any allegation of corruption needs to be accompanied by evidence. That takes an official investigation. One of those needs to be started.
Boxing long ago lost its place as a dominant sport. Events like last night only serve to bury it further.