In the moments after Timothy Bradley escaped with the WBO welterweight title against Manny Pacquiao with a highly controversial split-decision win, we were left stammering with words that would encapsulate how we felt about the most egregious decision we’ve seen in boxing.
A day later, we’re nowhere near as close as to figuring out exactly what the hell happened.
We’d like to believe that the world’s collective eyesight hasn’t gone to the dumps in the last 24 hours because what we saw – and what everybody else saw – was Pacquiao completely dominated Bradley in their title fight. This wasn’t the vintage Pacquiao by any means. He wasn’t walking through punches, he wasn’t unleashing a fury of jabs, hooks, uppercuts that would come from all sorts of angles. Heck, he didn’t even seem that interested in knocking Desert Storm out for a loop.
But it was still PacMan at his “B” game, something few people in this world can even come close to matching, including apparently, Timothy Bradley. CompuBox stats showed PacMan outlanding Bradley in punches by a whopping 253-159 advantage. As far as power punches are concerned, same story at 190-109. And then there’s the biggest punching discrepancy of them all: Manny out-hit Timmy in 10 of the 12 rounds.
10 of the 12!
We understand that controversy has become the lifeblood of boxing. Other than Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr, there isn’t a household name in the sport anymore. So in order to stay relevant in the face of the UFC’s rising popularity, boxing relies on decisions like this to get people to start talking about the sport again. It’s a move straight out of Vince McMahon’s playbook.
Come to think of it, that result had some WWE feel to it. The only thing missing was the lights going out, the bells going off and the Undertaker arriving to challenge Bradley to a Hell in a Cell match in a month’s time.
That’s how absurd Bradley’s win over Pacquiao was, is, and will continue to be for years to come.
There was once a point in time when heavyweight fighters were considered as one of the most popular athletes in the world. When all the big-name heavyweights started to fade, welterweights like Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran took over. But those days are long over, a bygone era that we can only look back on fondly through grainy YouTube clips.
These days, boxing is lost in a drunken stupor of attention-seeking desperation, staggered against the ropes in a fight it started and unable to keep its head together to get even the most obvious decisions right.
Is the outcome of the Bradley-Pacquiao fight a death knell for the sport, as some people have said it would be? We don’t think so.
Controversy does create cash – we get that. But at what point can you distinguish controversy from outright idiocy? Inexplicably, it happened in plain sight over the weekend. And in doing so, it might have set the sport back to a point where it’s in real danger of becoming irrelevant in the eyes of a lot of people.