Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley finally have a their big rematch come Saturday, April 12th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas as they look to assauge their wounded pride from their fateful encounter almost two years before. Then n’er do well boxing gods, ring officials, and fans conspired against both of them in one of the biggest controversies of the new millennium.
Unfortunately, big boxing controversies are becoming a dime a dozen these days to be quickly buried under a never ending avalanche of new controversies, yet some of us still remember. Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum called for an investigation of himself to wash away the stench as the WBO reviewed the fight and concluded that Pacquiao had won a wide decision, not that it mattered one whit to the Nevada honchos who run Vegas boxing events.
This time around there is a new commish and new director in Nevada courtesy of yet another controversy over the scoring of the Saul Alvarez/Floyd Mayweather fight that didn’t even affect the final result for the fighters. Their “new and improved” mantra is that they will no longer be “rubber stamping” fights as they admitted to in the past.
Golly gee, and who to thank now?
Whatever. We know leopards don’t change their spots and boxing remains the only pro sport I can think of where the outcome is so uncertain and irregular than nobody in authority can make a good case as to who deserves to win in many of the matches because the rules are so poorly enforced and subjectively written. Just fill in some blabber with a jigger of opinion and a shot of balderdash before staggering on to the next round of controversial fights.
Boxing as currently scored has about 90% useless padded points added that make the results read like a typical basketball shootout of 100+ goals being scored, yet is actually ass backward one spare point at the time penalty oriented that defines the loser rather than the winner. Sometimes scores are even recalculated after the announced results PO some Big Shot who pulls rank.
Add on all the even rounds that boxing ignores by insisting judges pick the loser of every round no matter how poor the fighters looked or how mightily contested the round was, and it doesn’t matter how many think a fighter may have won or not. Boxing can fill in the result to fit their hidden agenda any time they want just like contract terms of the ring conditions such as ring size, surface, gloves, rehydration limits, ect are almost always hidden from the public view like a pea in a 3 shell monte game.
In that respect, I must applaud the WBC requirements for open scoring where ongoing scores are revealed in the 4th and 8th rounds of championship fights before final results are announced. That recently helped keep the hometown judging of Tony Thompson vs Odlanier Solis on a leash as compared to previously announced results of an undercard split decision where the scores were never revealed at all. The scoring and the judges may still be questionable as in the recent Danny Garcia/Mauricio Herrera controversy, but at least the fighters and fans have a sense of transparency that they never had before.
That’s a better start than incomprehensible half point nonsense or placing judges on pretentious pedestals looking down their noses on the fighters that boxing has been making noises about implementing. Yeah, right, and how about let’s put the ref in a clown suit and the judges in black robes and powdered wigs too while the promoter grinds his organ for their monkey dances?
Of course Bradley was rightly miffed at the official snub of his hard fought victory and grabbed all his marbles to go home to nurse his injuries while pondering the misanthropic death threats against him for the rest of the year and into the new year. He was finally coaxed out by Top Rank into fighting Ruslan Provodnikov and then baited by Freddie Roach into fighting toe to toe with the vicious punching Siberian Bear, almost a fatal mistake since Bradley got rung up hard and often, barely scraping himself off the canvas in the first and 12th rounds to hear the final bell for yet another disputed though exciting win. That fight was chosen as Ring Fight of the Year and led to the match against Juan Manuel Marquez, a weepingly dreary fight as Bradley put his defense on the back foot to make the 40 year old plodding counterpuncher trail him around the ring trying to force the action. The close split decision resulted in yet another dispute where Marquez claimed to have been robbed, his own personal mantra these days since nobody has yet been able to knock him out, not that knockouts have any more credibility than scoring these days either, but I regress.
All the while Manny Pacquiao was taking a well earned rest at home after a long boxing career and new congressional duties have left him in a precarious state, a state of recovery after being KTFO by Marquez in their fourth installment of what will be known as the greatest modern boxing series of the millennium for many long decades me thinks. Top Rank honcho Bob Arum has been trying to build up their frenzied 5th fight by making noises about staging it in the biggest Mexican bullring in the country with more than 100,000 spectators. There’s also the fallback to trusty MGM Grand or the vast Cowboy Stadium as capable of staging such a lucrative spectacle so as to lure the reluctant Marquez back into the breech of boxing history.
The unvarnished truth going into this upcoming bout is that both the 30 year old Bradley and 35 year old Pacquiao have been damaged and are not the same fighters as before. Bradley is no longer that awkward, leg driven irrepressible energizer bunny and Pacquiao is no longer the invincible Pacman gobbling up all who stand before him, but they can still both fight if need be and fight hard they surely will for the respect and acclaim both have lost through no fault of their own. Their first fight was an intense conflict of physical styles and test of mental wills with matching speed for at least the first 9 rounds, but then they ran out of steam. They ended up posing their way to the final bell before relying upon the unreliable crap shoot of judging.
Bradley reportedly fractured his left foot and sprained his right foot in that fight before being brought into the post fight presser in a wheelchair. He has since moved to a more traditional upright defensive style to cover for those leg injuries. After finally returning to the ring at end of 2013, Pacquiao scored a lopsided win over Brandon Rios in Macao, but he was definitely a bit gun shy and chose to box mostly. Bradley doesn’t hit as hard as Rios and Marquez and has his own chin issues with no best use of his legs as backup this time around, so I expect more overall offensive action as Pacquiao should be able to press him to force a fight instead of having to chase him around.
This may well be the best bout by the official rankings as can be made this year and could end up a shootout given the contrasting strengths and vulnerabilities of the fighters. Major props for the combatants in putting aside wounded pride and getting the rematch made. There were mixed announcements as to whether the drug testing was to be by the competing VADA or USADA cartels, but you can be certain results are all funneled through the NSAC.
Can “boxing” can keep it’s sticky fingers from lousing up the results again? We’re watching and we don’t forget.