Sunday, June 10, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer, Case Keefer and Taylor Bern usher in fight week by discussing everything surrounding Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley on their weekly "Waking up with the Sun" radio program. Has Pacquiao lost something? Does Bradley have a chance? And the obligatory question — Will Pacquiao ever fight Floyd Mayweather? Catch Las Vegas Sun sports talk Monday mornings at 8 on 91.5 KUNV.
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When Manny Pacquiao walked to the podium to greet reporters Saturday night, he entered the packed ballroom at the MGM Grand to what many feel was a dead-accurate description by his promoter.
“Please welcome the fighter you all saw winning the fight. Well, except for the three blind mice,” said Bob Arum, the outspoken CEO of Top Rank Promotions.
Pacquiao was defeated for the first time in more than seven years Saturday, shockingly dropping a split decision to Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the WBO welterweight title bout. For many, Pacquiao comfortably won the fight — HBO Sports, which provided the pay-per-view, awarded 11 of the 12 rounds to Pacquiao. Others also scored in lopsided fashion for Pacquiao. (The Sun had it 116-112).
But that wasn’t the case when the fight went to the scorecards of the “three blind mice.” C.J. Ross and Duane Ford had it 115-113 in favor of Bradley, and Jerry Roth scored in 115-113 for Pacquiao in giving Bradley an upset for the ages.
“I respect the decision, but 100 percent believe I won the fight,” Pacquiao said. “We have to respect my opponent also and give him credit.”
While Pacquiao remained polite and professional throughout the press conference, his handlers — especially Arum — weren’t as reserved. Arum went as far as asking reporters to contact the Nevada State Athletic Commission with hopes of being able to question the judges.
“So bizarre, so bizarre,” Arum said.
The statistics from the fight support the theory that Pacquiao was the clear-cut winner. In 10 of 12 rounds, Pacquiao landed more punches. Also, Pacquiao landed 34 percent of his 751 punches, while Bradley landed just 19 percent of his 839 punches. Pacquiao landed 190 power punches and Bradley landed 108.
“Almost every round I hurt him and (I know) he felt it,” Pacquiao said.
Bradley won in the later rounds.
Despite severely injuring his left ankle in the second round — a setback that limited him to a wheelchair and sent him to the hospital after the fight — Bradley regained his stamina in the mid-to-late rounds and rallied late on the scorecards. He won five of the final six rounds on the scorecards of Ross and Ford, taking advantage of Pacquiao not going for the knockout.
The general consensus in boxing scoring never changes: It’s hard for any challenger to win a decision in a back-and-forth fight because judges typically give the close rounds to the more notable fighter. Pacquiao, who hadn’t lost in seven years and is called one of the best boxers of this generation, certainly would have received the benefit of the doubt using that theory.
Then again, maybe not.
From many of the 14,206 fans booing uncontrollably in the arena to others posting on boxing website message boards and Twitter, the outrage over the decision is widespread. It even was the main topic on ESPN Radio on Saturday night, trumping coverage of the Miami Heat earning a spot in the NBA Finals.
Arum, who said the result made him ashamed for boxing, worries the flawed decision will further turn away fans in a sport with a scoring system always at the center of controversy. Tonight, that scoring system reared its ugly head in another black eye for the struggling sport. A handful of rounds were apparently closer than what most observers witnessed.
"Fans from other sports, fans who like athletic competition but who have no connection to the sport, will be turned off," Arum said.
Even though the fight clearly favored Pacquiao, some may argue he’s at fault for not finishing strong.
Bradley says he got his strength back in the sixth round, and by the end of the fight, felt he had a chance to win on points. “My corner told me if I won the last round, I would win the fight,” Bradley said.
And, on all three judges’ scorecards, he did just that to secure the win.
“I thought we clearly won the fight. I didn’t see many close rounds,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer.
Bradley made headlines earlier in the week at a pre-fight press conference when he confidently held up an oversized ticket for a Nov. 10 fight against Pacquiao, which would only happen if Bradley won to trigger a rematch clause in the contract. Looks like he was right in an upset for the ages — Bradley closed as a +380 betting underdog, meaning gamblers made $380 for every $100 bet on Bradley.
No rematch has officially been set, but it’s almost guaranteed to happen. “This will make me become a warrior in the rematch,” Pacquiao said. “My thinking is I won’t want to finish the whole 12 rounds.”
A date won’t be determined until Bradley’s left foot is recovered, which means a November fight could be unlikely. Pacquiao said he wants the rematch to happen in Las Vegas — not Texas or Florida, other options that were briefly floated.
“I prefer to fight here in Las Vegas. I like Las Vegas,” he said.
And, when he does fight, the legend will do so on unfamiliar grounds — as the challenger, trying to breaking a losing streak after a dominating stretch of 15 consecutive wins.
Following a majority of Pacquiao’s fight the past years, the talk has been about a potential mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Saturday night that abruptly changed, and the sport of boxing is likely not better for it.
“I didn’t listen to the announcement (from the judges) because I thought I won (with) all three judges,” Pacquiao said.