One of boxing’s major sanctioning bodies will review Timothy Bradley’s controversial split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao, the first step toward what promoter Bob Arum hopes will be “clarity” in the judging of the fight.
WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said in a statement Wednesday that the WBO’s championship committee will review video of the fight with five “recognized international judges” and make a recommendation. He said the WBO does not doubt the ability of the scoring judges.
Most reporters seated ringside and the vast majority of fans inside the MGM Grand arena on Saturday night thought Pacquiao had easily defended his welterweight title against Bradley.
The first surprise came when ring announcer Michael Buffer announced that there was a split decision, and the biggest surprise came in the reading of the scores. Jerry Roth had it 115-113 for Pacquiao, while judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross had it for Bradley by the same score.
The Associated Press scored the fight 117-111 for Pacquiao.
“The public saw the fight and they’re outraged, and we need clarity here,” Arum told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We need those responsible to investigate, to see what happened, how the judges could be so off.
“Was there any funny business going on? Or no funny business? Did they have a conversation with each other?” Arum asked. “We need to get clarity. The public is demanding it.”
Arum’s powerful promotional company, Top Rank, has staged thousands of fights over more than four decades, including some of the most significant in the history of the sport.
He said that the scoring of Saturday night’s fight was among the worst he’s ever seen.
“It puts boxing in a very horrible light,” he said. “I’m looking for the sport to do damage control, and the only way it does damage control is if you do a full and complete investigation.”
Arum submitted a formal request to the Nevada Attorney General’s office on Monday asking for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the fight. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the senior senator from Nevada, also has asked for an investigation.
Jennifer Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Attorney General’s office, said in an email to the AP that Arum’s complaint is currently under review.
“We are treating the complaint like any other complaint our office receives,” Lopez said. “We do not confirm or deny if we have an ongoing criminal investigation.”
The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s executive director, Keith Kizer, said this week that he has no plans to review the fight, even though he acknowledged having Pacquiao ahead.
Commission chairman Skip Avansino told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he was content with the scoring, while Ford defended his scorecard in an interview with the newspaper.
“I thought Bradley gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson,” Ford said. “I thought a lot of the rounds were close. Pacquiao missed a lot of punches and I thought he was throwing wildly.”
Arum believes the decision — along with the Nevada commission’s reluctance to conduct its own investigation — could provide the impetus for a federal commission to provide oversight for the sport, which has long battled the perception that it is rife with corruption.
“If the commission here in Nevada will be in intransigent, and won’t cooperate, we have to have a federal commission,” Arum said. “We have to examine who these are on the commission, how they got there, how they operate. Something is broke.”
Stats compiled by Compubox showed Pacquiao landing 253 punches to 159 for Bradley, and having a 190-108 edge in power punches. Pacquiao landed at 38.5 percent to 27.7 percent for Bradley.
The decision ended Pacquiao’s 15-fight winning streak, but also sets up a potential rematch later this year. There has been talk that it could happen in November.
Perhaps by then, Arum will have the clarity he is seeking from their first fight.
“Any other sport — football, baseball — the commissioner’s office would investigate,” he said. “I’m not saying hang anybody, but let’s get clarity here. Let’s get a complete report as to what happened. They could say, ‘Hey, all three judges had a bad night.’ That’s possible, too. I’m not leaping to conclusions. I want to know as well as anybody else.”
Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas contributed to this report.