Jun. 9, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Manny Pacquiao (right) punches Timothy Bradley Jr during a welterweight championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
It was a decision worthy of controversy. Confirmation for those with hesitancy, or a final straw to tap out. No. We're not talking about the Miami Heat's game seven win over the Boston Celtic to advance to the NBA Finals (who wants LeBron in the finals, right?). It was the shocking, and extraordinarily controversial decision giving Timothy Bradley the win over favored Manny Pacquiao Saturday night. Bob Arum, who is the founder and CEO to Top Rank (professional boxing promotion company in Las Vegas), didn't believe that corruption was involved (the initial thought on people's immediate minds), but is furious regarding the decision anyway.
"This is nuts," Arum said. "People don't know what they're watching anymore. I'm going to make a lot of money (with a rematch). But who is going to take this sport seriously?
Two judges, CJ Ross and Duanne Ford scored 115-113 in favor of Bradley, despite Pacquiao landing more jabs and power punches. Jerry Roth scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao. ESPN Boxing analyst Teddy Atlas immediately called corruption minutes after the decision was announced. Dan Rafael writes that this "will surely go down as one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history -- one of the worst, really". Bryan Armen Graham with Sports Illustrated writes previous controversies "doesn't make the stunning outcome of Saturday's welterweight title fight -- one of the most dumbfounding decisions in recent history -- any easier to make peace with."
The decision was met with horror, then shock, then anger by the mostly pro-Pacquiao crowd of 14,206 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Said promoter Bob Arum: "I went over to Bradley before the decision and he said, 'I tried hard but I couldn't beat the guy.'"
On the other hand Kevin Iole with Yahoo! Sports believes that the controversy will help sell the sport.
This rematch will be bigger than Saturday's bout by a wide margin. Bradley will become a star; he's already a charismatic guy who performed well when he finally got his chance on the big stage. And Pacquiao's legion of fans will rally to his support, believing he was wronged and demanding justice in a second fight.
I highly doubt that this the attention that boxing wants. Controversy and corruption were the keys that locked the door, preventing many from investing their time and money into the sport, which paved the path for Mixed Martial Arts in the first place.
Will it mean the rematch mean more Pay Per View purchases? Perhaps. But anyone who watched the fight believes that the wrong boxer won, and after the controversial decision from Saturday night, how can those same people trust boxing enough to purchase the rematch? The hardcore fans will always be there; true with every sport. It's the middle-of-the-road crowd, standing outside with a peaked interest looking in that boxing needs. And when you incorporate a word like corruption -- whether it's true or not -- those same people will have a hard time trusting boxing enough to invest into the sport.
+ New England Patriots' tight end Rob Gronkowski signed a six-year extension worth $54 million on Friday, prompting our own Anthony Cosenza to speculate that Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham could eventually have a similar reward. Based on some of the comments, I think the point was misunderstood.
What Cosenza is pointing out is that the talent ceiling for Gresham is much like Gronkowski, if not higher and if Gresham achieves his ceiling and translates that into production on the field, Gresham could rank as one of the top tight ends in the NFL. It's all conjectured based on Gresham putting together a breakout season. If it doesn't happen then the point is moot.
+ Bobbie Williams, through Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, issue a final goodbye to Bengals fans soon after he reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens.
+ Our own Mike Fightmaster argues that the Cincinnati Bengals are simply making the right decisions now.