HBO's replay on Saturday night of the June 9 WBO welterweight championship fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley only stirred up feelings of anger, disappointment and embarrassment over the horrific scoring that has put the sport of boxing on trial in the court of public opinion. The explanation of scores provided by judge Duane Ford on the program "The Fight Game with Jim Lampley" which aired later in the evening should serve as the prosecution's Exhibits A through D.
Exhibit A – Ford, along with judge C.J. Ross, scored the bout 115-113 for Bradley (7-5 in rounds). During his guest appearance with Lampley on Saturday night's second installment of 'The Fight Game', Ford described the fight as "very close" and pointed to the other two judges scorecards to substantiate that assertion (the third judge, Jerry Roth, scored the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao).
The fight was far from close. Pacquiao outlanded Bradley in 10 of 12 rounds, landing 253 (34%) of his total punches compared to Bradley's 159 (19%). The Filipino champion was the effective aggressor and drove back Bradley several times with his straight left hand. Pacquiao also exhibited excellent defense, blocking most of Bradley's slow and flat jabs. This is consistent with the CompuBox figures that show Bradley only landed 51 of 449 jabs (11%).
Ford had previously told the Las Vegas Review Journal that Bradley gave Pacquiao a "boxing lesson". If this was remotely true, the fight would not have been as close as Ford himself claimed it to be. Furthermore, the complete and utter absence of an effective jab makes this assessment all the more ludicrous.
Exhibit B - Ford went on to tell Lampley that he believed Pacquiao won the first six rounds.
“What I personally saw that night is that the first six rounds, clearly Pacquiao was the winner. It was an exciting six rounds,” stated Ford during the interview with Lampley.
Not only is this mathematically impossible since Ford only gave Pacquiao a total of five rounds, but it directly contradicts his scoring of the first half of the fight. The official scorecards reflect that Ford gave Bradley Rounds 1 and 5.
Round 5 was one in which Pacquiao landed 22 punches (34%) compared to 8 for Bradley (12%). It was Bradley's least effective round of the entire fight and it was a round with the second largest punch disparity between the two fighters. Bradley was moving backwards by the end of that round, flailing and stumbling in with his head as he tried to gain his footing to establish some kind of an effective assault. It is beyond comprehension how both Ford and Ross scored that round for Bradley.
Exhibit C – In what is perhaps the most troubling component of Ford's defense is his comments surrounding Round 4, one in which Pacquiao caught Bradley with a short left hand that left the challenger bobbing, dodging and twisting his way to survival.
“What I saw in the fourth round is that Pacquiao clearly won that. He hurt Bradley. But the Manny Pacquiao that I judged in the past would have finished him. He let him off the hook. “
There is absolutely no relevance to this point whatsoever with respect to the scoring of this particular fight. Past performance is no guarantee of future results in the stock market and it is no different in boxing where each round must be judged on its own independent merits. Letting your opponent "off the hook" in and of itself is not a judging criteria.
Putting aside this ridiculous argument for a moment, it should be noted that Bradley was not in serious danger of being knocked out in Round 4. He was hurt and clearly lost the round, but he should be credited for using his athleticism to avoid any further damage at that point. This should not be held against Pacquiao and he should not be penalized for it in subsequent rounds. Is this why Ford gave Round 5 to Bradley?
Exhibit D - Ford's final point was that Pacquiao tired in the later rounds and missed punches, while Bradley scored to the body.
Bradley did not launch any kind of consistent, effective body attack a la Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or Canelo Alvarez. Since he could not land anything to the head with the majority of shots being blocked by Pacquiao's gloves, Bradley only could land to the body. However, those shots were few and far between with little to no impact.
Round 7 was another highly questionable round to score for Bradley since it had the largest punch disparity between fighters (27 landed for Pacquiao vs. 11 for Bradley). Several punches were blocked by Pacquiao and the champion's harder blows drove back the challenger. However, all three judges scored it for Bradley.
The justification provided by Ford does more damage than good for this situation. At a minimum, he is guilty of poor judgment both during the fight and in his explanation to the public.
Unfortunately, the judge, jury and executioner are one in the same in boxing and are not in the business of serving justice.
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