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'Robbery verdict' mars Pacquiao-Bradley bout


In a sport that is often marred by poor performances by judging panels, Saturday night's  (Sunday, PHL time) tallies for the Manny Pacquiao versus Timothy Bradley WBO welterweight title fight may have set the bar at an all-time low. After twelve rounds of what seemed to be a one-sided drubbing for Pacquiao, all three judges turned in the inexplicably close tallies of 115-113. Two of the judges, the inexperienced CJ Ross and veteran Duane Ford, scored the bout for the still unbeaten Bradley (29-0, 12 knockouts) of Palm Springs, California. Pacquiao, on the other hand, now 54-4-2 (38 KOs), of Sarangani, Philippines, suffered his first defeat since his first bout with Erik Morales back in 2005. The fight began competitively enough as Bradley, 28, worked to establish his left jab in the opening stanza. Yet by the end of the first round, the southpaw Pacquiao, 33, found a consistent rhythm to land his left cross. Bradley continued to look for counterpunch opportunities to Pacquiao's body, but Pacquiao became more and more accurate with his left hand as the rounds progressed. A left cross to the chin in the fourth round caused Bradley to wobble visibly in the fourth round, which led to, as we later found out, Bradley twisting his ankle violently. Bradley sustained the beating in the round but survived. Pacquiao came close to stopping Bradley once again in the sixth round as he backed Bradley up to the ropes with powerful crosses and body shots, but by the second half of the fight, the Filipino ring icon appeared to coast and allow the rounds to play out. Bradley showed heart by fighting back in spurts, but his lack of power failed to get Pacquiao's respect. Pacquiao-Bradley now joins the ignominious list of Paul Williams versus Erislandy Lara and Brandon Rios versu Richard Abril for questionable judging in the past year. Following the Williams-Lara bout, which was awarded to Williams in a highly questionable verdict, all three judges were suspended indefinitely by the New Jersey boxing commission. Rios versus Abril, which like Pacquiao-Bradley was promoted by Top Rank, was contested for the vacant WBA lightweight title. Abril appeared to win a clear decision and the WBA made the unprecedented decision to allow him to keep the interim title despite the official verdict. The questionable verdict now leaves the prospects of a Pacquiao versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. in greater doubt, at least for the time being. A Pacquiao-Bradley rematch, which is being tentatively set up for November 10, will take place in Nevada, Texas or Florida, according to Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, though Pacquiao has expressed his desire to have still in Las Vegas. "100 percent I believe that I won the fight," said Pacquiao at the post-fight press conference. "[But] the decision has already been done, so you have to give credit to [Bradley]." Speaking with HBO commentator Max Kellerman in the ring immediately after the fight, Bradley sounded unsure if he deserved the decision, adding that he would have to rewatch the fight on tape again to see how it went. By the time he arrived at the press conference in a wheelchair, Bradley had changed his tone. "I thought I won the fight," said Bradley. "I didn't think he was as good as everyone says he is." Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who is the promoter for both fighters, was equally upset. "I just think it's incomprehensible," said Arum, even though he didn't seem keen on pursuing a protest of the decision. Arum also dismissed suggestions that the decision was the product of corruption. "I don't think anything was happening here except these people don't know how to score. They really don't," said Arum. Teddy Atlas, a famed boxing trainer turned ESPN2 boxing commentator and boxing reformist, wasn't so sure if the judges were innocent. "Boxing is a corrupt sport," said Atlas bluntly, while reporting on location for ESPN. "Sometimes the judges are incompetent, sometimes they're more than incompetent, they're corrupt." The outrage spilled over from the ring and into the Twitter-sphere, where the topic #RIPBoxing was trending worldwide. Former editor of Ring Magazine Nigel Collins tweeted, "It was perhaps the worse decision I've ever seen," while former boxing superstar turned top promoter Oscar de la Hoya said "Bradley should have given the belt... to [Pacquiao] right after the decision." Ironically, the person who tried to quell the outrage most was the man who had the greatest reason to be livid. "Don't be discouraged about boxing," said Pacquiao. Too late, Manny. - HS, GMA News Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at ryan@ryansongalia.com. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.
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