Bradley-Pacquiao decision leaves boxing reeling
By Bob Velin, USA TODAY
LAS VEGAS – The outrage over the split-decision upset victory for Timothy Bradley against champion Manny Pacquiao reached a fever pitch Sunday, with many in the boxing world seeking reform in the judging system and promoter Bob Arum calling for an outside investigation.
Arum says "The conspiracy theory is that somehow I arranged this to create a rematch, which would give me another big fight until Floyd (Mayweather, who is serving an 87-day jail sentence) is ready to fight."
Arum said he was getting so much heat for this that, "On Monday, we're asking the attorney general of Nevada to conduct an investigation of everybody, to see what the facts are here.
"This is such an incredible situation, something I've never seen in 47 years in boxing, that it requires an investigation. And you can't rely on the (Nevada Athletic Commission) to conduct an investigation, because they'll whitewash it."
The commission's chief executive, Keith Kizer, did not return a phone message Sunday.
Bradley's trainer, Cameron Dunkin, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday: "I thought it was very close and could've gone either way. 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. (Bradley) said, 'I don't judge the fights, I just fight the fights.' I can't believe that (Arum has) gone crazy in this, but he has."
But Arum isn't the only one calling for reform. HBO's Harold Lederman and promoter Lou DiBella also seek change.
Lederman scored it 119-109 for Pacquiao. Lederman said there was no excuse for how judges are picked for Las Vegas fights.
"They've had controversies in Nevada, and it's about time they start bringing in judges from outside for high-profile fights," he told USA TODAY Sports by phone Sunday. "I could have given them 10 judges who would have scored that fight correctly. The Nevada commission, which is the final authority, needs to bring in the three best people they can get from anywhere."
DiBella said it was as likely now to see an indefensible decision as it was to see a fair one.
DiBella has railed on the politics of the sport for years — The ranking organizations that are involved with judging, he says, and the judges belong to ranking organizations.
"The promoters, we pay the judges and the referees. So if we want to put a guy in a much nicer hotel, and buy him a nice dinner, or let him fly his wife in, there's no real safeguards against it. There's no checks and balances on the judges.
"Everyone's so used to a bad decision in boxing, the next day there's a rematch declared and everyone forgets about it."
Arum represents both fighters. He was so angry shortly after the fight, he told reporters that the sport was killing itself.
By Sunday, he had moved beyond anger to despair.
"I'm never going to get over last night," he said. "Look, this was preposterous. And when things are preposterous and involve more than one person, something may very well be wrong.
"I said to Kizer, 'Keith, how could you allow this to happen?' He just shrugged his shoulders."
Arum says he's seen one judge turn in a bad scorecard on occasion, "but three judges screwing up their scorecards is very suspicious."
Bill Caplan, a Hall of Fame publicist who was George Foreman's longtime aide and now works for Golden Boy Promotions, said, "In all the fights I've ever worked and been to, and watched on TV — for major fights, it's the worst decision I've ever seen.
"I have nothing at stake except the reputation of boxing, and that's what makes me so outraged, because it really hurt our sport."
Bradley, who showed up at the postfight press conference in a wheelchair because of what was confirmed Sunday as a fractured foot and a badly swollen ankle, said, "My corner felt like I was winning the fight, I was controlling the action. Manny fought in spurts, regardless of the punch stats. He missed a lot of shots, and a lot of shots everyone thought he was hitting me with. And he wasn't touching me. Look at my face. I'm still pretty clean."
Former boxing trainer John Russell watched the fight on pay-per-view. He was incensed.
"I thought it was one of the worst decisions I've ever seen in my life. . . . I think Bradley won one round but I will give him the benefit of the doubt and give him two. It was that bad.
"You could take anybody in the world who didn't know a damn thing about boxing - never saw a fight in their life - and if you asked them to judge this fight, no one could have said that Pacquiao didn't win."
Even Roger Mayweather, the uncle and trainer of Floyd Mayweather, questioned the decision, in a tweet: "Can't lie i hate Manny but he did beat the (expletive) out of Bradley. But like i said it's no one to blame but Bob Arum."
Arum knows he's a natural scapegoat but swears he had no ulterior motive or any part in the decision. And he's worried about the sport in which he's spent his life.
"When the guys at the (Las Vegas) sportsbooks are talking about not betting on boxing anymore, I take that very, very seriously," he says.
DiBella said he thought Pacquiao did not look very good against Bradley, and gives him no chance to beat Mayweather. "But he won. There was no possible argument in my mind who won that fight."
DiBella said nothing surprises him in the sport anymore.
"Some people are tweeting that Dana White must be laughing and this is a great day for UFC," he said. "No, this is boxing hurting itself. The way boxing's been self-destructive for a long time. It's very clear it's not going to get fixed from the inside.
"It's a cesspool, bro."