Manny Pacquiao’s run of big wins ended Saturday night, but absolutely no one truly believes Timothy Bradley won a split decision Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view. Usually, a bunk decision goes to the A-side of a fight, but Bradley, the B-side, ripped off Pacquiao in a fight where the most I can imagine anyone scoring this fight is four rounds for Bradley to eight for Pacquiao. Two judges had it seven to five for Bradley. Insanity.
This was a deeply disturbing decision that is the kind of thing that people makes think boxing is fixed. Watching Top Rank’s Bob Arum celebrate with Bradley in the corner, you can’t help but wonder whether he hoped that the American boxer would defeat a seemingly fading Pacquiao. You simply don’t see fight results like this with the big PPV attraction going down, especially when the boxing universe saw it as an obvious Pacquiao win. (And, P.S., Pacquiao’s previous close decision victories over Juan Manuel Marquez don’t excuse this as some kind of karma. Those were close fights. This was not.)
That’s not to say that Pacquiao won this as easily as HBO’s unofficial scorer Harold Lederman had it, 10-2. I had it 9-3. But after the first three rounds, Pacquiao controlled this one almost entirely outside of the 8th. There were a couple close rounds. But how someone could find seven rounds to give to Bradley — and Bradley’s body language suggested he didn’t think he won — is astounding.
Bradley had some moments early, and in that one late round, where he was more accurate. But throughout the entire fight, Pacquiao landed the far harder shots, with his straight left dialed in and his power far, far superior. Whatever happened to his foot early in the fight, it may or may not have explained Bradley’s inability to get out of the way of that left cross. But the left cross landed a million times, and this shouldn’t have gone down this way. I thought Pacquiao could’ve done more, but he did more than enough to win it.
This is a historic decision, because the world at large saw Pacquiao — arguably the best fighter in the world — winning it, and the underdog instead took it. It rarely goes that way. We will, presumably, do a rematch. But tonight, boxing disgraced itself. A rematch shouldn’t at all be required. Pacquiao clearly won this fight, and we’ll be talking about this one for a long, long time.