Why I Thought Pacquiao Won…and Four Points on the Controversy

By Jason Peck: You could tell Pacquiao lost by the look on his face after and during the fight…by the pre-fight build-up…by the fact that an 8-1 underdog gave a competitive match…by the fact that THIS was the invincible Manny Pacquiao, who hadn’t been challenged in 3 years…by the audience reaction…by the instant replays…by the supreme look of confidence on the face of Marquez when they rang the final bell.

But I just mentioned 7 things that boxing judges cannot consider when scoring a fight. Yet those 7 things undoubtedly played a major role in influencing popular opinion – most patrons at the sports bar where I watched the fight openly judged based on the above seven, and called foul as a result. I’ve seen closer fights that this, but rarely one with so much hateful diatribe against those who scored for the winner.

I still scored a close fight for Pacquiao. I can understand scores for Marquez, but Marquez supporters have had their say already. I’d like to have mine.

Marquez boxed beautifully. He successfully used counter-punching and neutralized the bulk of Pacquiao’s shots. He used good movement to duck and block many more, and when they went toe-to-toe – usually Pacquiao’s comfort zone – I saw a lot of those punches smothered or similarly negated.

My problem was that Marquez didn’t so much dictate the fight as he merely responded to Pacquiao, and not once did he move forward. That’s counter-punching technique, and he did it damned good. But Pacquiao was still out landing him with shots that hurt. For Marquez to win on my card, he had to move beyond being responsive, and take command of the fight. That’s why to me he mostly negated Pacquiao. He didn’t beat him.

It was tempting to give Marquez extra points. This was a guy with his best days supposedly behind him, fighting in a weight class where he shouldn’t have been competitive against a guy who should have knocked him out easily.

But you can’t score it with your prejudices and perceptions dictating your scores. This is not Pacquiao vs. Marquez. This is The Guy in the Blue Shorts vs. The Guy in the Black Shorts.

I still had the fight as a razor-thin 116-112, probably the closest Pacquiao will come to decisive victory. Before you act like I alone favor Pacquiao, I hasten to add that many authorities called it for him too, including: Harold Lederman, Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Michael Woods of ESPN, Doug Fischer of Ring Magazine and Dan Rafael.

With that in mind, 4 points:

1). This decision was NOT, as Tim Smith of the New York Daily News claimed, the “worst in recent memory.”

Legions of outraged will call Pacquiao-Marquez 3 one of the worst decisions ever – and then add that they scored it 115-113 for Marquez. That’s NOT a robbery. That’s not one of the WORST EVER. That’s one round away from a draw and 2 rounds away from the decision that has them frothing at the mouth.

It doesn’t touch legendary bad decisions like Joel Casamayor vs. Jose Armando Santa Cruz, the first match between Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis, Pernell Whitaker vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Sturm vs. Matt Macklin, Paul Williams vs. Erislandy Lara or any half-dozen title fights of Sven Ottke – all of which occurred within very recent memory indeed. Both Pacquiao and Marquez came to fight and fought competitive rounds.

Either your emotions got the best of you…or you haven’t followed boxing long enough to know any better. Stop with the “worst ever” “blatant disgrace” and “outright robbery” bile. It’s embarrassing.

I especially took offense to insults and baseless allegations levied against the always-classy Harold Lederman. To hear his detractors tell it, Harold Lederman scored the fight for Pacquiao because of HBO corruption or a lack of boxing know-how.

With more than 40 years of experience, Lederman has scored more fights than his detractors have seen. He actually scores the fight round-by-round like a judge is supposed to – many armchair judges can’t say the same. Furthermore, I could argue he’s better than a judge. At the beginning of each round, Lederman fully explains why he scored the fight as such.

Claims of corruption are sickening. In the 20-plus years of working for HBO, Lederman has often scored fights against the fighter with an HBO contract. Most notably, he scored the far-more-questionable Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Sturm bout in favor of Sturm – potentially threatening the forthcoming fight between De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins.

Don’t throw insults like that against so respected unless you’re ready to back them up.

2). How much was this fight about Floyd Mayweather? It may sound stupid, but it does warrant some consideration. Marquez supporters claim that HBO gave the fight to Pacquiao in order to keep the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight alive. So even they inadvertently admit that Floyd factors in a fight he never fought.

For years, Bob Arum built Pacquiao as the one fighter who could finally finish the much-hated Mayweather in the greatest fight of them all. After struggling with Marquez, it seems doubtful that Pacquiao would walk through Mayweather.

How much of the backlash against Pacquiao stems from disappointment? How much comes from the fact that his reputation as Mayweather’s foil…has been foiled?

3). This should be a constructive moment for boxing fans. A fight this close really comes down to competing philosophies over what constitutes “ring generalship.” I gave my reasons above, and I’ve seen the valid points in debating them with other boxing fans.

By contrast comments such as “Fuckin Pactard nation lose [sic] again” and “Dude, Pakeeow [sic] beats Gayweather [sic] retires as best ever. Peace!” do not further that dialogue. Is this the Sweet Science or what?

4). It was still a great fight. Want to talk about a bad one? The UFC heavyweight title fight was broadcast that night on Fox, and played in the same bar where I watched Pacquiao-Marquez two hours later. It ended 64 seconds in when Junior Dos Santos connected with a right to the temple.

So much for the exciting sport that’s destined to bury boxing. So successful was standing and punching for Dos Santos that Dana White might make a sport of it.

Article posted on 20.11.2011

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