Corruption Hidden in Plain Sight
Manny Pacquiao won this fight, decisively. Manny knows it. Bradley knows it. Bob Arum knows it. The world knows it….
“Bottom line is this: If you’re an honest man and a competent person—Pacquiao won that fight. This is an injustice to the sport.”—Teddy Atlas
While Manny Pacquiao may have discovered a higher relationship with God both prior and during his fight with Timothy Bradley, he also discovered the demon within the sweet science—which was laughing at the boxing world as it reared its ugly head yet again in dramatic fashion at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
As Timothy Bradley sat down in a wheelchair following his fight with Pacquiao—handicapped from an ankle and foot injury—boxing hit the canvas in devastating fashion—handicapped by corruption of the highest order. We’ve seen this type of fraudulent judging before, but not in a fight that was so one-sided and on this type of scale—and not with the entire sports world watching.
Let me be clear. This was not an instance of judicial incompetence from the three men masquerading as judges who took part in this debacle. They didn’t simply get it wrong with reasonably foreseeable analytical error. They got it wrong on purpose. This was a criminal display of unabashed corruption. Yes, the fight was fixed. Further, despite the shameless attempt by the criminals involved in this conspiracy to immediately pump up a “rematch” between Pacquiao and Bradley for November 10th, there is no need for a rematch. Manny Pacquiao won this fight, decisively. Manny knows it. Bradley knows it. Bob Arum knows it. The world knows it.
Lost in the shuffle was the fact that this was actually a fan-friendly fight, rich with vintage Pacquiao whirlwind patterned offensive assaults and thudding power punching. Bradley made a good showing for himself, relatively speaking, but simply was not in the same class as Pacquiao—who won the overwhelming majority of the fight with superior craft, speed, and power. Pacquiao won Saturday night, the decision should be overturned, and those judges involved should never be able to officiate a boxing match ever again. As writers, fans, and insiders who work within the sport, we should absolutely shun the notion of a rematch to this fight, lest we find ourselves voluntarily feeding the beast and enabling its devouring domination over our beloved sweet science.
As the 12th round was winding down Saturday night, I was preparing my post-fight commentary along with the rest of the sports world. The consensus amongst experts and insiders was that Manny looked dynamic, and put forth a commandingly impressive display of pugilism that momentarily made many of us forget just how ordinary he looked against Marquez in his last outing. The war drum for Pacquiao-Mayweather was to sound off again in resounding fashion, and after such a dominant performance against a tough, undefeated fighter in Bradley, it seemed more than ever that the time was right to make the Fight of the Century.
With Michael Buffer’s announcement of the atrocious snake-bitten scorecards, reality and perception were artificially altered as this manufactured corruption changed the immediate future of boxing. Before we could even digest the magnitude of what had taken place, Max Kellerman was interviewing Bradley who said, “We can have a rematch on November 10th.” By then, Top Rank had printed up a giant-sized ticket, which read “Pacquiao-Bradley 2, November 10th,” which was on display at the post-fight press conference. That’s right, no Pacquiao-Mayweather. Instead, the architects of this conspiracy will capitalize off a rematch that shouldn’t be allowed to happen, and as Teddy Atlas so aptly stated, “The criminals get rewarded for the corruption, yet again.”
Just as nobody is safe from the far-reaching hands of corruption in the sport, nobody should be safe from a thorough investigation as to what really happened Saturday night. No longer can we just sit back and trivialize the corruption, scared to speak the truth because we don’t want to ruin our relationships with those who grant the credentials and allow us to have a voice in the sport. Enough is enough. An investigation—perhaps even a federal investigation—should be explored and initiated. Nothing should be taken at face value, and the corruption has reached a boiling point such that energies should be organized to finally develop a wholly neutral organizational restructuring of the sport to where we can have meaningful regulation and governance. Even the staunchest anti-government libertarian could not condone the anarchistic Wild West manner in which our sport presently functions. There is no governance; there is only money, bribery, and backroom deals. And a lot of ego.
Enter conspiracy theory.
Rumors are swirling amongst insiders, catalyzed by a statement by ESPN’s Teddy Atlas, that Pacquiao has been preparing to leave Top Rank and Bob Arum, the promotional outfit that has represented him throughout his meteoric rise to the sport’s upper echelon. Some even say that Arum orchestrated this debacle in response to the prospect of Pacquiao leaving in an effort to tighten his considerable stranglehold over the sport. Interestingly, Cotto recently ended his professional relationship with Arum and Top Rank, electing to take the independent route by developing his own promotional outfit. Many say that Cotto’s decision resulted from a myriad of reasons, including reported dissatisfaction with how quickly Arum sought to reinstitute Antonio Margarito into the sport after he was caught cheating with loaded gloves after the Greek Tragedy that was Cotto-Margarito I.
After Saturday night, Arum referred to the judges as the “three blind mice” and called the controversial split-decision a “death knell” for the sport. Interestingly, he was also immediately pumping the rematch, legitimizing this sham with his highly suspicious maneuvering to make a “rematch” before this fight was barely over. Those who follow the sport know that in the aftermath of a Pacquiao fight, the longstanding tradition has been to never talk about who the next opponent might be. Yet Saturday night, the next opponent was announced before anyone could blink or think. This was by design.
Many in the sport believe that Pacquiao-Mayweather will never be made as long as Arum is in charge of Pacquiao’s career. Because of the ugly breakup between Mayweather and Arum years ago, a shameful ego jousting has taken place between the fighter and promoter that has fueled real hatred between the two camps. Arum’s hate seems to swirl with more fervor than ever, as he has recently proven himself to be incompetent, simply unwilling to negotiate responsibly and in good faith as it pertains to a potential Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight. Pacquiao wants the fight, as does Mayweather. The fans are starving for it, and it could catapult boxing back to its rightful place of eminence as the most fascinating sport on earth. That is, unless corruption has its way. And guess what? Corruption is having its way.
Whether it’s because of bad blood, hate, or ego, Arum has used every excuse in the book during the past couple years to become the singular largest obstacle to making the fight happen. As the fraudulent Pacquiao-Bradley rematch was announced during the post-fight press conference, this yet again prevents Mayweather and Pacquiao from engaging in the epic boxing rivalry that everyone is waiting for. Perhaps that’s precisely what Arum wants. His hatred may run so deep that he can’t even be involved in allowing Mayweather the opportunity to cash in and have the chance to create history by performing against Pacquiao in a fight of this magnitude. Forcing a rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley would further defer our mega-fight dream and force Mayweather to fight somebody not named Pacquiao. Was it also a coincidence that Marquez was at the post-fight presser talking about a fourth fight with Pacquiao in Mexico? Now, not only do we have a November rematch with Bradley in the works, but seemingly after that we’ve got a fourth Pacquiao-Marquez installment brewing—all before Mayweather’s name was even uttered during the post-fight pageantry.
From the beginning of the HBO broadcast, strange things began occurring. Pacquiao was reportedly delaying the onset of the fight. Some say it was because he was running on a treadmill to keep his calves loose so that they would not cramp up as they did in previous fights. Others offered the explanation that Pacquiao was watching Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Celtics—as was the rest of the sports world—and as a basketball fan couldn’t tear himself away from the game. Now, with this conspiracy on our hands, we must investigate further and leave no stone unturned to find out what really was going on during this pre-fight “delay.” As the championship rounds materialized, Bradley’s corner urgently told him that he had to “make history” because he needed a KO to win the fight. After the decision was announced, Kellerman interviewed Bradley, who had a perplexed/shell-shocked expression on his face, as though he couldn’t believe he was awarded the victory. Then came the peculiar, “We will have a rematch November 10th.” Was he briefed on this date before the fight? Was he told to plug it before this travesty in order to bolster the necessity for a rematch to occupy the consciousness of the boxing world? Was this pre-meditated in any way? These are questions requiring answers.
Again, enough is enough. The rematch should not take place as there’s no substantive purpose for it other than to further line the pockets of those who orchestrated this madness. It’s now up to those of us in boxing who deeply care about the sport to show some backbone by refusing to authenticate this rematch. This means no coverage, no PPV buys, and no enabling articles from writers who seem bent on minimizing the seriousness of the issue at hand so as to avoid any uncomfortable situation with the powers that be. However, the powers that be are killing our sport and have no regard for its health, and they are getting away with it while laughing all the way to the bank. It’s time to both challenge and confront them by catalyzing an infrastructural change in how our sport is organized and governed. Starting now.