MANILA, Philippines - The World Boxing Organization (WBO) ruled Wednesday that Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao should have won his controversial bout against American fighter Timothy Bradley and recommended a rematch.
Bradley won a split decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 9 that prompted disbelief from the sporting world and had many calling the outcome corrupt.
The WBO met with five international judges to evaluate video of the match and they unanimously scored the fight in favor of Pacquiao, though they do not have the power to overturn the initial ruling and the result will stand.
Pacquiao has indicated that he would prefer a rematch to Bradley forfeiting the belt, according to Bob Arum, the promoter for both fighters.
Pacquiao said he will not accept the WBO welterweight crown from Bradley if the American gives it back to him after the five WBO judges who re-scored the controversial fight had the Filipino winning by a mile.
“Kung ibigay naman nina (Bradley), hindi ko naman tatanggapin. Baka isipin ng tao inaagaw ko ang belt (If they give it back I won’t accept it. People might think I’m grabbing it),” the Filipino ring icon said in a radio interview yesterday.
Bradley, the underdog, took the title away from Pacquiao via a controversial split decision after two of the three judges had him winning, 115-113. The third judge had Pacquiao winning by a similar score.
The results of the WBO re-scoring cannot reverse the decision.
The names of the five WBO judges, who did an individual re-scoring of the fight a few days ago, were withheld. But they all scored the bout for Pacquiao, 117-111, 117-111, 118-110, 116-112, and 115-113, contrary to what the two judges saw at the MGM.
It’s just impossible for these five WBO judges to get it wrong all at the same time.
The STAR spoke with Arum yesterday morning, and the ageless boxing promoter who helped put up the 1975 “Thrilla in Manila” said he’s not surprised at all.
“It doesn’t surprise me because most people scored it for Pacquiao. One thing is sure, though. Unless they find any criminal wrongdoing, they are not going to change the verdict,” said Arum over the phone.
There was an outrage right after the decision was announced, from the thousands who watched the fight live at the MGM Grand, to the millions from around the world. Even those who used to criticize Pacquiao felt he deserved the win.
Floyd Mayweather Sr., who can say all the bad things about Pacquiao, and Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez, as well as boxing’s golden boy, Oscar de la Hoya, said the 33-year-old congressman from Sarangani won the fight.
Pacquiao said instead of Bradley giving the belt back to him, the WBO could declare the title vacant, and order a rematch to be held on Nov. 10. Pacquiao said that’s the way he prefers to take the title back.
“Kung ibibigay ni Bradley, ibakante na lang ang belt, wala nang champion diyan, kasi parang inaagaw rin (If Bradley will give it up, just declare it vacant, with no champion, since it would seem like to he grabbed it),” said Pacquiao, who was in Vigan yesterday, visiting his friend, Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson.
Two days after the fight, Pacquiao said that if a rematch is held, “There will be no need for judges.”
Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel, the president of WBO, stressed even before the judges did the re-scoring, it was not meant to reverse the decision or to ask Bradley to surrender the belt.
The farthest the WBO can do is to call for an immediate rematch.
While his promoter, team members, family, friends and supporters raised a howl over the verdict, Pacquiao said after the fight that he respects the decision. He asked everyone to move on, and just look forward to the possible rematch.
Pacquiao also welcomed calls for an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the judging of the fight. He said an investigation should help boxing save its image and regain the trust of its fans following the unpopular decision.
Pacquiao said he was not surprised that the five WBO judges scored the fight in his favor.
“Hindi na ako nagulat dahil alam na natin sa puso natin kung sino ang nanalo (I was not surprised because we all know in our hearts who won the fight),” Pacquiao told radio station dzBB just as news about the results of the WBO re-scoring broke out.
“Pasalamat tayo nagkaroon ng ganyang desisyon. Mahalaga ang dangal natin at totoong nangyari ay lumabas din. Huwag sila mag-alala, makukuha rin natin ‘yan (Let’s all be thankful of this decision. Our pride is important. The truth is out. Don’t worry, we will get it back),” Pacquiao also said.
During the post-fight interview at the MGM Grand, Bradley came in and left on a wheelchair, saying he sprained his left ankle and hurt his right foot. He said he thought the judges were fair, and that he deserved the victory.
Pacquiao looked calm and collected after the loss, giving Bradley the credit and hardly criticizing the judges who scored it for Bradley.
But Pacquiao has said more than a couple of times he wants a rematch, and it’s up to his promoter.
The last couple of days, however, it appeared that Bradley is no longer his priority, and that Pacquiao is leaning more towards a fourth match with Marquez.
He said he could fight his Mexican nemesis in Mexico City. How the latest developments will change his stance remains to be seen.
The Associated Press quoted Pacquiao as saying, “My supporters shouldn’t worry. We’re going to get that title.”
Arum has written the Attorney General’s Office in Nevada calling for an investigation on the scoring.
Filipino election lawyer Romulo Macalintal has also filed a letter of complaint before the Attorney General in Nevada.
“In the complaint, I have summarized the various scorings made by world renowned sportswriters, columnists and sports agencies showing how Pacquiao won convincingly over Bradley. Wikipedia has recorded 51 such writers and agencies for Pacquiao with only three for Bradley,” said Macalintal.
“We wait for the results of the Attorney General’s investigation. Then we’ll see,” said Arum.
No grudge against judges
Pacquiao said he harbors no grudge against the two judges – CJ Ross and Duane Ford – who favored Bradley.
He said he is leaving the matter to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
He said he was ready for a rematch “so that the people could see that I really won.”
The matter, however, was up to his promoter.
Pacquiao’s close friends in the House of Representatives welcomed the WBO decision and challenged Bradley “to surrender the belt which belongs to him.”
“The decision of the World Boxing Organization is a vindication of Manny’s performance where the whole world believed that he won over Bradley. It should put to an end to the debate on who really won the fight,” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said.
“The WBO decision should prompt the Nevada Boxing Commission to ban the judge who voted against Pacquiao. Bradley should be man enough to surrender the belt which belongs to him,” he said.
Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Ted Haresco said the WBO decision not only confirmed what most knew as “the truth that Pacquiao won,” but also bolstered suspicions that the judging during the bout was tainted.
“Anyway, the rematch would be soon and this sordid episode would be over and Pacquiao again would prove to be not only our country’s boxing hero but the world’s as well,” Haresco said.
Meanwhile, the Army leadership said the ruling of the WBO declaring reserved Lt. Col. Pacquiao as the real winner in his bout with Bradley only reinforces the Filipino and the worldwide belief that Pacman’won the fight.
“Army chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista has extended his congratulations to Pacman for being declared the real winner in the said tiff by the WBO,” said Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc. - By Abac Cordero