You don't need conspiracy theories to explain what happened to Manny Pacquiao last night, so shut the fuck up about it already

Not this again.

I knew as soon as I heard the first score. Rule #1 when it comers to bogus Boxing decisions: When that first score is janky, the others are likely to be as well. Of course, scoring this fight 115-113 goes way past janky altogether and into the realm of either incompetent or corrupt, depending on your view.

Still, my first reaction wasn’t shock or disgust or indignation. It was more like “Great. Can’t wait to hear the conspiracy theories”.

You knew they were coming, and in abundance. Now, I wouldnt exactly call myself “anti-conspiracy theory”, or anything. More like “pro-common sense”. Admittedly, it’s a thin line. Most people scream conspiracy in lieu of any reasonable explanation, or because things didn’t go their way. Me, I’m harder to move. If you are gonna holler “fix!” everytime things come out sideways, the least you can do is have something resembling a solid argument in support of your claim.

Let be clear on one thing: Manny Pacquaio won that fight. No two ways about it. Personally, I had three rounds for Bradley, and I considered myself on the generous end of the spectrum.

That said, the only thing that burns my ass more than shitty judging is lazy, half-assed cries if injustice. I’ve heard every conspiracy theory the internet can hold in 12 hours or so, all with varying degrees of merit. Here is the only one worth addressing.

“The Fight Was fixed to ensure a money-making rematch”

Sounds reasonable on the surface. If this were the make-believe world of Pro Wrestling, this is in fact the exact way you build a money maker. Have the superior fighter be robbed out of his rightful victory, thus enraging the public enough to want to see their hero get revenge in the rematch, then triumph yet again in the third and final installment of the series. Three fights, three big paydays, justice for our hero!

Problem is, this scenario falls apart in two places. If you follow this sport close enough (and lord knows, I do), you’d know that the elaborate game of hide-and-seek that Manny and Floyd Mayweather have been doing over the least several years is due in large part to the fact that both men can continue making millions of dollars fighting “easy touches” (boxing speak for safe opponents) while public clamor builds for their inevitable showdown. Each of their last several fights has done one million pay-per-vew buys, at the very least, and Mayweather’s fight last month against Miguel Cotto did over 1.6 million.

"Calling all cars: Be on the lookout for a man in Boxing shorts, carrying a stolen title belt. He's armed, but not totally dangerous"

Truth of it is, Manny’s people decided to fight Bradley only because, despite Bradley’s perfect record, he lacks the power to defeat Manny via knockout, and was thusly viewed as a safe opponent whose credentials merely gave him the appearance of being dangerous. Ironically enough, alot of the talk heading into this fight was that Bradley would have to win soundly to actually get the benefit of a judges decision against Pacquiao, one of Boxing’s golden geese. The main reason, no matter what they say publicly, that Mayweather and Pacquiao have both avoided each other is that a loss for either would likely deminish their drawing power moving forward. I’ve always believed they would meet eventually, but only when one or both was ready to make that last, biggest paycheck and ride off into the sunset. After all, why kill the Golden Guys when it’s still laying the eggs?

In light of all this, the very idea that Pacquaio and promoter Bob Arum would conspire to lose on purpose to generate interest in a rematch is beyond absurd. If you know anything of Arum, or of the pride and fighting spirit not to mention staggering wealth of a man like Manny, you already know that.

The other problem with this is the idea that anyone would want to see that fight after last night’s result, as if there is any doubt as to who won. Again, Manny can draw a minimum of 1,000,000 pay-per-view fighters against any halfway decent boxer, so there’s just no way this kind of plot would make any sense, business-wise. The fact that Arum is already scoffing at the notion of a rematch only further reinforces the impossibility of this crackpot nonsense.

 Yeah, there were other theories out there like, “this decision was a make-up call for Manny Pacquiao’s unjust decision victory of Juan Manuel Marquez in his previous fight”, or “the fight was fixed by the gamblers”, but those are hardly worth any serious rebuttal. My personal favorite was ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas’ assertion that Arum is aware that Manny is getting ready to leave him for another promoter so he put the fix in. It’s almost as ridiculous as cries you hear from casual fans of, “oh, Boxing did it again”, as if there were actually some evil overlord named “Boxing” who sits at his desk petting a large cat, (Something like this) while pulling the strings from afar, all shrouded in mystery and whatnot. Again, these kinds of notions are nothing more than the poorly though-out cries of the aggrieved.

Despite all the elaborate fantasies and wishes to the contrary, the actual truth of what happened last night is probably alot less sexy. Having seen plenty of Boxing matches in my lifetime, I’ve seen more than my fair share of incompetent judging and inexplicable decisions. To my mind, that might just be all that happened here. I can say this much: In the realm of bad Boxing judgments, it is not uncommon for a fighter who threw more punches in the course of a fight to be the recipient of an unjust victory, and the fact of the matter is, Bradley threw more punches in eight of the twelves rounds (#1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11 and 12) of the fight, and a total of 88 more over the course of the bout.

Have a look at the official judges scorecards for yourself.

Of the two judges that had the fight for Bradley, six of the seven of the rounds Judge Duane Byrd scored for Bradley were rounds where he threw more shots, and Judge C.J. Ross did so in five of the seven. Sometimes, the busier fighter can fool the Judge into thinking his actually winning the fight, simply because he carried the action.

One more time, to be clear, I’m not saying they are even remotely off the hook here. All I’m saying is that I can see a plausible explanation for why they did what they did. Cretainly more plausible than any plot involving Manny Pacquiao agreeing to lose on purpose or some gangsters bribing judges like this where an old-time movie or some shit.

Look, I’m not pretending to know for certain what happened here. All I’m doing is looking for a reasonable explantion instead of grasping at straws. That’s what thoughtful, intelligent people do, after all. Do I have all the answers here? Am I even pretending to know them? Fuck no.

What I do have is enough common sense and logic within me to not dismiss this as an outright conspiracy or some nefarious, diabolical plot. Until, or unless something dastardly comes out in the wash, we might not ever truly know what we witnessed, and I’m certainly not going to waste anymore guessing.

And another thing. All the talk of this being a death-knell for the sport is noting but more buffoonery. Sure, they might have a hard time selling the rematch, but if there is one thing that I know for certain, it’s that as long as someone is willing to put two men in a ring to beat on each other, there will be people willing to pay to see it. That’s not  just a fact, it’s an intrinsic truth about the very nature of man. That shit is fool-proof, recession-proof and yes, scandal-proof. Trust me, it just is.

As boring as it might be to say this, sometimes it just boils down to stupidity. In the absence of anything more concrete, it’s an explanation I’ll live with.It’s certainly not the first, nor will it be the last time somebody gets it wrong.

For now, that’s enough for me.

-John Hathwell


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