Boxing's Final Hit? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Boxing's Final Hit?


It seemed unreal. Were we back in 1997, in Montreal?

Yep, it was real. But instead of Canada, the scene of the crime was now Las Vegas. Instead of the World Wrestling Federation's Montreal Screwjob, a purportedly fixed fight that changed everything about the way the WWF did business, this was boxing. It was supposed to be a legitimate match-up.

Saturday night's big welterweight fight between Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao started as a boxing match but ended more like a WWF swerve. It was a strange night to begin with: Pacquiao was late getting ready. (Was he watching the Celtics play the Heat, or was he really on a treadmill, as he claimed?)

When the fight finally got going, Pacquiao wasted little time showing Bradley he was the superior boxer. Pacquiao got in 253 punches to Bradley's 159, according to the website CompuBox. Pacquiao also landed more power punches than Bradley, 190 to 108.

But you really didn't need the stats from CompuBox to deduce who was winning the bout; it was plain to see.

Late in the fight, Pacquiao seemed to coast, but the decision appeared well within his grasp. The final bell rang, and it was time for the judges' scorecards. And that's where everything went to pot. Two of the judges scored the fight 115-113 for Bradley, and the third judge scored the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao.

Somehow, as the whole world watched Pacquiao win the fight, two out of the three men ringside were apparently watching something entirely different. All that was missing was WWF owner Vince McMahon making sure the judges scored the fight for Bradley and telling Pacquiao that Vince didn't screw Manny, that Manny screwed Manny.

Just like that 1997 night in Montreal, the crowd was stunned. No one was sure what they saw and heard had actually happened. But (even before the fighters left the ring) chatter was increasing about the rematch, already was scheduled for Nov. 10 of this year.

Top-ranked promoter Bob Arum might have tried to pull his best McMahon impression by having Pacquiao lose this fight to build an even bigger Pay Per View pot for the next fight. Rumors flew all night long that a lot of late bets came in right before the books closed for Bradley to win the fight.

Boxing may have taken its final credibility hit. Whereas people might know the WWF (now WWE) for fixed endings, boxing claims to offer fair fights.

In a sport with phantom punches, whispers of mob control, multiple titles and a lack of interest in viewership and participation, this fight might have been the death knell.

One thing is for sure: to paraphrase McMahon, boxing screwed boxing.

Follow Bryan Flynn at, Facebook and @jfpsports.

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