Is the Boxing Apocalypse Upon Us?

By Michael Montero: Maybe the Mayans got it right, only they werenít talking about the world itself. Perhaps historians misinterpreted the ancient scrolls prophesying the end of days. Possibly, conceivably, imaginably Ė it just may be Ė the storied Mayan prophecies were warning of a boxing apocalypse in the year 2012.

Boxing has always loved to shoot itself in the foot, but this year it seems the sport is trying to flat out commit suicide. Recently two important fights were cancelled due to failed drug tests as Americans Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto tested positive for PEDs. Just last week, the face of the sport in America reported to jail in order to serve out a punishment he was dealt for assaulting the mother of his children. And in year already overloaded with horrible decisions in the eyes of boxingís diehard fans, this latest robbery Saturday night was in front of the mainstream for all to see. Casual fans were watching. Fans of other sports were watching. Even boxing haters were watching. The critics were on standby begging for the chance to justify the reasons they no longer follow the sport like they once had. Well, ask and you shall receive. The instant that the words ďand the newĒ hit Michael Bufferís microphone, the sport of boxing Ė already on life support Ė flat-lined.

Somebody call the doctor. We canít get a pulse.

Manny Pacquiao didnít just outbox Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Saturday night, he outclassed him. Round after round it was evident that the future hall of famer is just on another level. Thatís not to take anything away from Bradley, who fought through adversity with grit and determination. Itís simply to say that while Bradley is very good, Pacquiao is great. And although it wasnít Mannyís best performance, it was proficient and decisive. Pacman threw more and connected more, landing the harder shots throughout. HBO scored it 119-109 in his favor, as did ESPN. Yahoo Sports scored it 117-111. Sports Illustrated was the most charitable to Bradley, but even they had it 116-112 for Pacquiao. Are you seeing a pattern here?

This wasnít your typical robbery, it was worse. How so you ask? Perhaps my own personal story can clarify.

This writer viewed HBOís pay per view card in the company of a very attractive young lady who was watching her first big match. I spent most of the evening answering questions, explaining the ins and outs of the sport, detailing technique and describing all time great fights. She was a quick study, and before long was very intrigued with the sweet science. By the time Randall Bailey connected with a gorgeous uppercut on Mike Jonesí chin to score a highlight reel knockout on the undercard, I was sitting next to a newly made fan. She had witnessed the magic of professional boxing that can instantly turn any casual sports fan into a diehard pugilistic addict. I had made a convert (and a pretty damn hot one too). Yet only an hour or so later, after witnessing the stupidity of professional boxing, we had lost said convert. When the first score was announced, 115-113 for Pacquiao, my date turned to me and asked, ďhow can it be that close?Ē As I struggled to find an answer, the second score was read; 115-113 Bradley. She questioned, ďDid the announcer guy screw up and say the wrong name or something?Ē I couldnít find the words, but only stare at the flat screen in horror as I awaited the inevitable. The final score was given, Michael Buffer uttered the words ďand the newĒ. Suddenly this normally shy, reserved, polite young woman I knew literally jumped out of her chair and screamed ďwhat the f*ck just happened? This is bullsh*t!Ē

Night ruined.

In the span of mere hours boxing had produced a fan, played the fan like a fool, and subsequently created a boxing hater. Just like that. And Iím no psychic, but something tells me that this particular experience wasnít unique. Again I ask, are you seeing a pattern here?

Many are screaming conspiracy theories. Itís corruption. The fix was in. All the typical reaction after a horrid decision like this. Only corruption doesnít make much sense in this case. Manny Pacquiao is the global face of the sport Ė heís The Beatles crossed with Elvis Pressley and Michael Jordan. Why would the powers that be rob the main man, especially with a hundred million dollar match with Floyd Mayweather looming on the horizon? Itís more probable that this travesty had just as much to do with bias and incompetence as corruption. And in an event this important, featuring a crossover star in a time where there are very few of those in boxing, these things simply cannot be tolerated. The theory going around right now is that Manny annoyed the judges by delaying the main event and they vented their frustrations on the scorecard. Pacquiao is a Boston Celtics fan and didnít start warming up until after he watched game seven of the NBA eastern conference finals between the Celtics and the Miami Heat, which ran a little late. Could it be that the senior citizens nominated to judge the main event let their annoyance turn into bias, ultimately skewing their judgment and producing an incompetent scorecard? I know it sounds unreasonable and insulting to your intelligence, but this is boxing after all.

In the days since the Pacquiao-Bradley robbery Iíve been doing damage control. I pleaded with my friends that the judges get it right the vast majority of the time. I explained that the best fights arenít these mainstream events, but the regular network matches that us diehard fans watch every week. I listed great fights for them to check out on YouTube. I talked about Arturo Gatti. I explained that the titles donít mean anything anyway; even though Bradley has the WBO welterweight title, we all know Pacquiao is the better fighter. I said the same things Iíve said time and time again to friends that have written off the sport, trying to convert them back. But itís not working anymore. Itís done.

These are sad, sad times for our beloved sport. Mistakes will happen in life, and they occur in all sports. The difference is that other sports correct their mistakes. And if youíve been a boxing fan long enough, you know that this wrong wonít be righted. Not only will this decision stand, but the judges wonít be reprimanded at all. The Nevada State Athletic Commission will take no action. Bob Arum and his Top Rank promotional company will continue to put on events in Vegas and probably even use those same judges again at some point. Nothing will change, except there will probably be less people watching next time and even worse, less people caring.

Sure Iím being a little melodramatic. Sure Iím being emotional. And yeah sure Iím a little bitter that Iím the only boxing fan who didnít get screwed Saturday night. But this one hurt folks, this one hurt bad. Make no mistake; the sport took a huge blow on this one.

Nope, this wasnít your typical robbery. Boxing was already on life support, now Duane Ford and CJ Ross may have very well pulled the plug.

Sad, sad times.

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Article posted on 12.06.2012

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