Stevie Wonder told us of the power of three words, and last night in Australia we saw the strength of their power.
Unfortunately for Manny Pacquiao and every other person who stayed up to watch him fight Jeff Horn from “down under”, the three words “and the new” almost incited a national incident.
Fans were stunned, literally jumping up out of their seats in pure shock and anger when Michael Buffer read the decision. Twitter literally exploded in response to his three words and went ballistic when the scores in the “unanimous decision” were revealed. And from Bristol, Connecticut, we were given almost a solid hour of Stephen A. Smith ranting about the decision in both extended post-fight coverage and the SportsCenter which immediately followed.
Stephen A. Smith about the #PacquaioHorn decision. https://t.co/E5JiaXpXEl
While Stephen A. was 100% correct in obliterating the judges, their horrendous scores and ridiculous decision, it was Manny Pacquiao and fans of boxing which suffered the most.
Pacquiao was robbed, again, by three words and boxing fans were forced, once again, to defend an amazing sport which suffers from a plague of criminal judgment. How many times have we seen fights wrongfully determined by judges who were obviously watching something else when scoring a fight?
From Roy Jones’ 1988 Olympic Final against Park Si-Hun to Pacquiao’s first fight against Timothy Bradley in 2012, and a multitude of other verdicts in between, fans of the art of pugilism have been dogged by scandalous decisions.
It’s truly unfortunate that we have no protection or recourse against these types of fights because they truly ruin the essence of boxing, a sport which is one of the most skillful and artful ones in existence.
Long has boxing suffered from allegations of payoffs and promotional legalities which have hampered the sport and the careers of fighters while frustrating the fans who love to watch it and ruin it for potential fans who might take it. Although last night’s fight was not a typical Pacquiao PPV event, it still felt like robberies were abound all night.
We were robbed of our time in waiting for the fight to begin, robbed in the length of time it took for the fighters to take that long walk from the dressing room to the actual ring and robbed in the decision which was ultimately rendered.
In all fairness, the fight was relatively exciting, particularly in watching the heart demonstrated by the young Jeff Horn. Even after a brutal ninth round in which Pacquiao seriously hurt Horn to the point where the referee told his corner he was going to stop the fight, and only agreed to let him continue after vehement protests from his corner to let him continue, Horn came out swinging and actually won the next round.
But despite his refusal to quit, Horn’s effort and heart did not win him the fight and nor should they. You don’t win on effort or dramatic performance. You win by landing punches, which is what Pacquiao did and which is why the unanimous decision rendered in the fight was an absolute travesty.
I mean, c’mon now. #PacquaioHorn
Pacquiao was humble and gracious in the post-fight interviews after losing his WBO belt, but it was a position that he should never have been subjected to.
Horn landed a meager 15% of his punches thrown. 15%!
Pacquiao landed twice as many punches, three times as many jabs and almost twice as many power punches, yet he still lost.
Was it hometown favoritism for the Australian Horn? One would have to assume so, even though the judges were from the U.S. and Argentina. But despite their nationalities, it’s absolutely baffling, and almost criminal, to see their scores.
Outside of the Horn camp and his fans, there is not a fair person in the world who thought Horn won that fight. Tim Bradley was correct. Not in saying they were in Australia, but in saying that he thought the fight was closer than others thought it was. As a fighter, he understood homefield advantage and how brief displays of valor can improperly sway both fans and judges. Although he agreed that Pacquiao won the fight, he was correct in his assessment that it felt close simply because of Horn’s gutsy performance.
It’s an absolute shame that boxing has to suffer from these moments because they are not the norm in the sport. But when they occur, they overshadow both the greatness of the sport and the many great fights that fans have watched before it. It gives detractors fuel to rail against it and it brings up the ridiculous and unfair comparisons to MMA, especially the UFC, once again.
This is something which needs to stop. They are both great sports that demand great skill but they’re very different, as we’ll see in August when Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor step into the ring.
Analysts were wondering what was next for the 38-year-old Pacquiao. He’s lost a step and some of the great knockout power he once possessed, but he still has the power to attract a crowd. He has some gas left in the tank and already stated last night that he wants to take advantage of the rematch clause against Horn, so he’ll be ok. But if that fight was a measuring stick for the welterweight ranks, Horn will be in a lot of trouble against any of the other fighters in the division’s top 10.
So what’s the future of the sport after this unjust decision?
Boxing is doing just fine and will continue the resurgence it has created and experienced over the last year. Boxing powers have recognized the importance of putting on great fights between great fighters as opposed to flooding the field with a plethora of mediocre fights.
But boxing does need to look towards more centralization and accountability so that nights like Pacquiao vs Horn can be prevented.