Pacquiao wins fight, Bradley gets decision
Controversial split decision upset mars boxing in Vegas
Ringside by Andreas Hale & Anthony Springer Jr.
Photos by Chris Cozzone
The odds were against Timothy Bradley. The 14,206 fans in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas were against Timothy Bradley. Most boxing pundits and a vast majority of those who purchased the pay per view were against Timothy Bradley. But you know who wasn’t against “Desert Storm” on June 9th, 2012?
In what will be considered one of the most controversial decisions in a sport that is certainly in no need for anymore controversy, Timothy Bradley inexplicably upended Manny Pacquiao and claimed the Filipino’s WBO welterweight title with a split decision victory that has turned the boxing world upside down and inside out.
For those that gave Bradley a sliver of hope, the undefeated fighter from Palm Springs promised to shock the world. Little did we know, the shock had little to do with Bradley and a lot to do with some erroneous judging. As if what everyone saw in the ring with their naked eyes wasn’t reason enough to believe that Pacquiao won handily, the punch stat numbers also proved to be alarming as Pacquiao out landed Bradley by nearly 100 punches (253 - 159). But somehow, someway, Bradley managed to win with scores of 115-113 on both CJ Ross and Duane Ford’s scorecards while Jerry Roth saw it 115-113 in favor of Pacquiao.
It was Pacquiao’s first loss in seven years since dropping a decision to Erik Morales. After that loss, Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) has gone on a legendary run, claiming several world titles in higher weight classes en route to become the sport’s first eight-division world champion. But if there was ever a fight he was in doubt of winning, it was any of this three bouts with Juan Manuel Marquez -- more specifically, last November’s bout that Pacquiao squeaked out a decision victory. So maybe the Boxing Gods were seeking retribution. It’s the only way to explain a fight that the Pac Man appeared to be winning handily before Michael Buffer shocked the world with the decision.
"I did my best," Pacquiao said. "I guess my best wasn't good enough."
Bradley, although very game, struggled early with Pacquiao’s blitzkrieg attack. Pacquiao found a home for his straight left on the dome of Bradley in the early moments of the fight and perhaps may have inserted a homing device as it never lost sight of its target. When Pacquiao struck, he struck hard and fast with a dynamic display of punching accuracy and power. Although Bradley tried to engage, he found himself on the wrong end of several combinations that wobbled the Californian in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. When Bradley was able to land behind his pumping jab, he surely wasn’t pleased when he saw Pacquiao flashing a smile his way before volleying a relentless tirade of punches off of Bradley’s head. The fifth round saw yet another straight left crack Bradley and send him into the corner where Pacquiao followed him and engaged with a wild exchange that had Bradley swinging out of desperation to keep the Filipino off of him.
"Manny hurt me a few times in the fight with his left," Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) said as the 14,000+ at the MGM tried their best to drown him out with boos. “He’s a beast... He's a strong puncher, he rocked me a couple times. I withstood it and fought hard to the end.”
Bradley not only had to deal with the dizzying display of punches from Pacquiao, he also had to deal with a sprained ankle that he allegedly suffered in the fourth round. The ankle sprain, along with the number of knuckle sandwiches he ingested, changed his strategy mid-fight. Rather than follow Pacquiao and continue to be strafed, Bradley carefully picked his shots and lessened the amount of openings for Pacquiao to stick his fists through. While the crowd saw it as Bradley running, apparently the judges saw it as a means of rallying as the second half of the scorecards inexplicably went to Bradley. Duane Ford and CJ Ross gave five of the last six rounds to Bradley while Jerry Roth handed Bradley four of the last six rounds.
It was almost a surreal experience when the final bell sounded and Michael Buffer began reading the scorecards. A relatively unscathed Pacquiao smiled in his corner while Bradley seemed resigned to defeat. He even made mention of it to Bob Arum.
"Can you believe that? Unbelievable," Arum said as if his head was about to explode. "I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, `I tried hard but I couldn't beat the guy.’"
But when the 115-113 scorecard for Bradley was read, everyone one at the MGM knew that something was amiss. Most saw it in favor of Pacquiao by a wide margin, FightNews scored it 116-112 for Pacquiao, and that was thought to be a generous scorecard.
Apparently it was not.
When Buffer announced the winner and new world champion, time stood still as fight fans, journalists and both fighters tried to digest what they had just heard. In the moments that usually follow a Pacquiao fight, immediate talk about a showdown between Pacquiao and Mayweather is on the tip of everyone’s tongues.
This time, the only thing on the tip of everyone’s tongue was “travesty.”
So much for that Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown. The only thing that Pacquiao can concern himself with now is a rematch slated for November 10th. It is perhaps the only way to rectify what we saw on Saturday night that may go down in boxing history as one of the most bizarre decisions in the sport’s checkered past. -- Andreas Hale
Unfortunate end mars Arce-Rojas bout
It had all the makings of a show-stopping fight.
In the co-main event featherweight attraction, the bout was stopped in the second after doctor’s ruled Jorge Arce (60-6-2, 1NC) ineligible to continue after an inadvertent head butt and left hook shot by Jesus Rojas.
Arce struck first, dropping Rojas (18-1-1, 1 NC) in the opening minute of the bout with a left hook. The pair went toe-to-toe for the next two minutes.
The crowd cheered loudly for the men, but the scheduled ten rounder would come to an unexpected end.
A clash of the heads on the first exchange sent Arce reeling. As he retreated, Rojas tagged him with a left hook.
Because the fight ended with an unintentional foul, a no contest was declared at nine seconds in the second frame.
“We have to do this again,” a visibly disappointed Arce said via translator.
“This is unfortunate,” lamented Rojas. -- Anthony Springer Jr.
Bailey crushes Jones in the 11th
At Thursday’s pre-fight press conference, Randall Bailey promised that his bout with undefeated rising star Mike Jones would be a “war.”
It wasn’t a war, but the bout ended with an explosion as “The Knockout King” finished “Machine Gun” with a knockout at 2:52 in the eleventh frame.
The first ten rounds offered little excitement as the two men did their version of the waltz around the ring. Jones was getting the better of the majority of the exchanges. The sustained lull in action brought out boos from the MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd in addition to random chants of “boring” and “do something.”
Bailey responded to the call.
Late in the tenth, Jones was flattened with a powerful straight right hand.
It was a sign of things to come.
Clearly down on the scorecards and with his trainers frustrated with his performance, Bailey lived up to his moniker, blasting Jones with a right uppercut that ended the fight.
“He was tough, he was a big dude,” an emotional Bailey said after the bout.
Jones may be regretting the decision to go with the smaller, eight ounce gloves. -- Anthony Springer Jr.
Rigondeaux demolishes Kennedy
2000 and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux continued rolling as a professional as he defended his WBA world super bantamweight title with an utter annihilation of Teon Kennedy that ended with a 5th round TKO. Five knockdowns in five rounds while only allowing your opponent to land 13 of 179 punches (7%) will get you a victory 99.9% of the time. For Rigondeaux, who was at one time called “boring” by Nonito Donaire, it was an impressive performance that surely will see his stock continue to rise.
The highly decorated Cuban defector (10-0, 8 KOs) had a straight left that couldn’t miss and repeatedly bounced it off of Kennedy’s head in the first round before depositing him on the canvas. He continued to pick his shots carefully in the second while strafing the Philly fighter with sharp combinations en route to scoring two more knockdowns. The action slowed a bit in the third but the fourth round saw Kennedy dumped with yet another straight left hand. With Kennedy (17-2-2) still making an attempt to be a competitive, Rigondeaux decided that enough was enough and cut loose one more blistering straight left that sent Kennedy to the mat for the fifth and final time. Russell Mora saw enough and rather than allow Kennedy to walk into another left hand he called the fight off at the 1:15 mark. -- Andreas Hale
Hilario falls short against Sanchez
When one employs Ali’s “rope-a-dope” strategy, it’s always wise to make sure the opponent punches himself out. Wilton Hilario’s efforts to block punches with his face and body were not enough to tire out Ernie Sanchez, who earned a unanimous decision win to close out the undercard. Sanchez took the fight straight to HIlario, pinning the Minnesota fighter against the cage with heavy leather. The sequence played out in every round and despite Hilario not sustaining much damage, punch volume matters. The judges scored the bout 78-74, 78-74, 79-73. - Anthony Springer Jr.
Zewski takes out Grimaldo
In a scheduled 8 round welterweight action, Mikael Zewski remained undefeated with a 3rd round knockout of John Ryan Grimaldo. Zewski (15-0, 11 KOs) was sharp from the outset as he picked his shots carefully and cut loose in the third round with a left uppercut. Grimaldo (8-2) attempted to remain upright but the battering from Zewski forced him to take a knee while referee Joe Cortez made the 10 count. Time of stoppage was :59. -- Andreas Hale
Ruiz dominates Larson
Andrew Ruiz ran a clinic on Las Vegas boxer Taylor Larson, coasting to a decision win in four-round junior welterweight action. Larson walked right into a right hand in the opening round for the bout’s only knockdown. He never recovered. He was picked apart over the course of the remaining three as Ruiz landed right hands at will. The judges scored the bout 39-36, 40-35, 39-36. - Anthony Springer Jr.
Hart excels in debut
Jesse Hart, son of Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, made his professional debut a successful one with a swift :33 TKO annihilation of Manuel Eastman in a scheduled 4 round middleweight bout. Hart roared out of his corner and ransacked Eastman (0-2) with power shots until referee Joe Cortez rushed in for the save. -- Andreas Hale
Etcetera - Jessica Sanchez, ring girls