(The Root) — Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis offered the perfect summary of Saturday night's controversial welterweight match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.
"Pac won the fight. Bradley won the decision. Aurum won another payday. Boxing lost its integrity and the fans lost confidence," Lewis tweeted.
Bradley indeed was declared the winner in a 12-round split decision. But the two judges who had him ahead were arguably the only people who felt that way. Most everyone else — from other boxers to media to fans — believed that Pacquiao won the fight handily.
"The decision will go down as one of the worst, most bogus calls in the whole history of boxing," wrote ESPN's Dan Rafael. "It was a disgrace. Shameful. Pathetic. We are not talking about a fight that was really close with several tight rounds that could have gone either way, so reasonable people can have a different opinion. No, we're talking about a fight that Pacquiao dominated."
"Jim Lampley, who calls the fight for HBO, said this is the single worst decision he's ever seen," Rafael told ABS-CBNnews.com. "That's a big, big statement."
Boxing has endured its share of curious decisions and suspected crooked fights. Bradley's victory sparked a number of conspiracy theories centered on promoter Bob Arum, with further speculation about Pacquiao and even the jailed Floyd Mayweather. A popular belief was that Arum — who promotes both fighters — arranged the outcome to ensure big interest (and big profits) in a rematch.
Arum called for a probe, which seems like a joke in itself. "I want to investigate whether there was any undue influence, whether the [Nevada Athletic Commission] gave any particular instruction and how they came to this conclusion," Arum told Yahoo Sports, changing his tune from the post-fight news conference, when he insisted the result was due to incompetence, not chicanery. "But the whole sport is in an uproar," he said. "People are going crazy."
Lost in all the commotion was Bradley's gumption in going the distance. He attended the post-fight news conference in a wheelchair and left for the hospital afterward. His manager, Cameron Dunkin, said that Bradley fractured his left foot during the second round and sprained his right ankle later in the fight.
"I thought it was very close and could've gone either way," Dunkin told USA Today. "And Tim got his hand raised. I certainly don't think it was a travesty, a horrible, worst decision I've ever seen. I saw Tim this morning. He doesn't have a scratch on him, he didn't have a bloody nose, cut lip, fat lip, swollen eye. If you get hit by Manny Pacquiao too many times, believe me, you're going to bust up. He looked fresh as can be. Not one mark on him."
Duane Ford, one of the two judges who favored Bradley in the fight, defended his scorecard Sunday. "I thought Bradley gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I thought a lot of the rounds were close. Pacquiao missed a lot of punches, and I thought he was throwing wildly."
Even though his victory has brought a lot of grief, Bradley might as well enjoy it. The record book says he won, and that's really all that matters.
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