Manny no stranger to bum verdicts
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2017 - 4:00pm

Sen. Manny Pacquiao recently sent out a tweet of exasperation in the wake of the split draw that was announced at the end of the Gennady Golovkin-Saul Alvarez fight in Las Vegas last Saturday. While the decision was acceptable considering the close contest, what wasn’t acceptable was judge Adalaide Byrd’s score of 118-110 for the Mexican. Byrd’s insane count was the subject of scorn all over the boxing world and took away the media spotlight from the high-level of competition that both fighters delivered.

“Did they bring these judges over from Australia?” was Pacquiao’s tweet, referring to his loss to Jeff Horn by a unanimous verdict in Brisbane last July. In that bout, Horn’s dirty tricks were tolerated by referee Mark Nelson and the judges swept the Australian to the WBO welterweight throne. Judge Waleska Roldan saw it 117-111 while judges Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan 115-113, all for Horn.

There was widespread disagreement on how the judges scored it for Horn. Claran Gallagher, writing for the London-based weekly Boxing News, said: “The wide 117-111 card handed in by Roldan was hard to fathom but the scores of 115-113 from Flores and Cerdan for the Aussie appeared more credible … this reporter scored the bout for Pacquiao 116-112, preferring the Filipino’s cleaner work.” Boxing News editor Matt Christie said: “I watched the contest twice. The first time, while listening to the BoxNation commentary, I agreed the Australian had probably done enough to take the verdict; then after a few hours’ sleep, I did so again but without any sound, and scored the contest 115-113 in Pacquiao’s favor. What hadn’t changed was my opinion that it was very hard to score.”

The Ring Magazine’s Michael Rosenthal called the scoring of the Battle of Brisbane “disturbing.” He said: “I’m still scratching my head over the Pacquiao-Horn scorecards – especially one – and those who believe Horn deserved the decision. It seemed obvious to me that Pacquiao landed more and generally better punches than Horn which is still the most important factor when scoring a fight. Horn was the more aggressive fighter but it wasn’t ‘effective aggression,’ another key criterion in scoring. He landed an extremely small percentage of his punches, compared to Pacquiao, at least to my eye. That’s why I scored it 116-112 for Pacquiao. I don’t have respect for Roldan, the judge who scored the fight 117-111, nine rounds to three, in favor of the Aussie. I haven’t added anyone for some time to my Poor Judgment Club, dedicated to those who turn in unfathomable scorecards but she definitely belongs. The 115-113 scores of the other two judges were bad enough. Roldan’s score was so ludicrous that it damaged the sport.”

But Rosenthal didn’t take it against Horn. “Although most people thought Pacquiao deserved the nod, Horn won,” he said. “The former schoolteacher was given almost no chance of beating the Filipino star yet, at the very least, made it a competitive fight. He employed precisely the correct strategy to give Pacquiao trouble; he roughed him up from beginning to end. The Aussie deserves credit for all of the above even if you disagree with the scorecards. He earned our respect.”

Even ring legend Bernard Hopkins couldn’t believe Horn beat Pacquiao. He said: “How does a guy like Horn, who probably didn’t win four rounds, win a unanimous decision in a 12-round fight? First, he’s fighting in his home country, Australia, even though two of the judges were American and one was from Argentina. I do know one person who is happy – Horn’s promoter.

“People asked me if I saw the Pacquiao fight and they said, ‘Well, you know, Bernard, that’s boxing.’ What? A guy getting screwed over is boxing? There are still people out there who think the mob, like guys from the 1930s and 1950s, are influencing judging and big fights. There’s too much money involved and too much at stake today for that to happen. Boxing needs to take a hard look at its judging system. The sport needs to step into the modern times.”

British welterweight champion Bradley Skeete, quoted in Boxing News, said the decision for Horn was unfair. “I had Pacquiao two rounds up,” he said. “It was close but I can see why the judges favored Horn, he was the aggressor but he wasn’t really landing. Pacquiao was more precise.” Former English title challenger Leon McKenzie, also quoted by Boxing News, said: “I think Pacquiao did win it but I can see why it went the other way. I don’t think it was a massive outrage. It was a closer fight than what people are saying.”

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