Ex-champs floored by Pacquiao decision

Manny Pacquiao (left) fights Timothy Bradley during their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM...

Manny Pacquiao (left) fights Timothy Bradley during their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., June 9, 2012. (STEVE MARCUS/Reuters)

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:59 PM ET

EDMONTON - Duane Ford and C.J. Ross proved you don’t have to wield a white cane to be considered legally blind. And Jerry Roth showed the world why he’s just one more myopic call from joining them.

Those are the three stooges who “judged” last Saturday’s WBO welterweight title bout in Las Vegas, awarding a split decision to American challenger Timothy Bradley over eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines.

In a travesty of justice worthy of a Canadian criminal court, Ford and Ross handed the bout to Bradley by scores of 115-113, while Roth favoured Pacquiao by the same margin.

I had the pleasure of joining five retired world champions to watch HBO’s telecast of the bout at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., and to a man their reaction was one of shock and disgust. The combined records of Jesse James Leija, Micky Ward, Marlon Starling, John (The Beast) Mugabi and Aaron Pryor add up to 209-34-2, with a half-dozen world titles from super featherweight to welterweight, so these guys know what they’re talking about.

“I feel embarrassed for my profession,” said Leija. “Five minutes after the fight ended, I already had a dozen texts from people asking me how this could happen. Was it fixed? Are the judges just stupid, or what? It’s absolute bullshit … but as a fighter, I’m sorry to say I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. But what do you do? When I go back home to Texas, everybody’s gonna be asking me about it, but I don’t have an answer.”

Ward echoed those sentiments.

“Some people will just shrug it off and say ‘Oh, this is just another black eye for boxing,’ but it’s worse than that,” he said. “I have never seen more brutal judging. There’s no way in hell that Bradley won more than two rounds; all you have to do is listen to his interview with Max Kellerman afterwards. Bradley was stunned … he didn’t even know how to respond. He knows that Pacquiao beat the crap out of him. You could hardly hear him speak above all the booing. When you have one of the best fighters in history getting robbed in front of the whole world, it just dumps the sport further into the toilet.”

Starling and Mugabi, two of the most feared champions of the 1980s, both agreed that Pacquiao completely dominated and won at least 10 of the 12 rounds.

“Take anybody off the street, a guy who’s never watched a fight before, and show him the tape with the sound turned off,” said Starling. “Then ask him who won. I guarantee he picks PacMan.”

Mugabi agreed, adding: “The only good thing is that Manny showed so much class. He is the man. He accepted the decision like a man and he will be champion again, but I know he’s hurting inside. It was a terrible injustice.”

Pryor, who twice KO’d the immortal Alexis Arguello in defence of his WBA junior welterweight crown, had the final word. “In his heart, a fighter always knows when he lost,” he said. “What he says don’t mean shit, because you can see it in his eyes. I saw it in Bradley’s eyes.”

That said, don’t be fooled by promoter Bob Arum’s formal request to the Nevada Attorney General’s office for a full inquiry into the scoring — at least until Arum comes clean about his promotional contract with Pacquiao, which is due to expire later this year.

Pacquiao hinted before the bout that he was considering striking out on his own, which would mean the end of a multi-million dollar gravy train for Arum’s Top Rank Inc.

Was PacMan set up by his own promoter, thereby guaranteeing a lucrative rematch?

“The public has a right to know. The fighters have a right to know,” Arum told Reuters on Monday. “The only way to restore fans’ confidence in boxing is by letting an independent body investigate every detail of the fight, no matter how big or small. Sunshine never hurt anyone.”

He’s right. But sunshine also makes the weeds grow thicker.

murray.greig@sunmedia.ca


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