Grant Rants

Archive for June 11th, 2012

When boxing makes golf look good

- June 11th, 2012

Greetings heathens, zealots, web denizens, and the rest of you!

There really isn’t a reason for me to write this entry. It’s been said hundreds of times since Saturday night. It will be said hundreds of times more. Still, it’s bugs me. Like a pebble in your shoe you cannot seem to get rid of it. It’s always there.

compubox

Compubox box punch stats from Pacquiao vs. Bradley shows how one sided the fight was.

Manny Pacquiao got robbed. Hosed. Shafted. When two of the three judges in Vegas awarded the welterweight title bout he fought against American Tim Bradley everyone at the bar I was watching at booed. And I don’t mean a wee gasp or a “oh that sucks” sort of thing. I mean boos. As though if we collectively voiced our outrage loud enough, the judges might hear us and change their decision.

I don’t know anyone who knows a thing about boxing that agreed Bradley won the fight. He was brave. He has an iron chin. He fought as well as he could. But he was just out classed. According to Compubox, Pacman landed more punches – including more jabs and more power punches – and pretty well controlled the entire bout. His connect percent on power punches was an insane 39%. I gave Bradley two rounds out of 12, giving Pacquaio the win 118 to 110. HBO and ESPN gave Bradley only one round. At best, some in the boxing press gave Bradley three rounds. (The only notable exception is Norm Frauenhiem from the New York Times who, it appears, watched Rocky 2 instead of Pacquaio-Bradley, and cast Pacman in the role of Apollo Creed.)

A nice round by round break-down can be found here.

It’s infuriating and another poke in the eye for a sport that often suffers from a credibility issue. This wasn’t a close fight like November’s bout between Pacquiao and Marquez – a razor close event that was given to Pacquiao but could have easily been awarded to Marquez. This was a blow-out given to the guy who wasn’t in any position to win it. It is a bit a like watching a Stanley Cup final, watching a team win in four straight games and then watch the trophy handed to the losing squad anyway.

I’m frustrated. I love boxing. It is, to my mind, the greatest sport on the planet. It’s not something like golf – an emotionally stunted game for those who like to rob cows of perfectly good pasture land. Boxing is raw, passionate, powerful stuff. It demands more of the will and the heart than maybe any other athletic endeavour. At it’s best, it’s inspiring. But it’s often handicapped by judging that, like Saturday night in Vegas, makes Olympic figure skating judging look totally above board.

Pacquaio vs. Bradley should have been inspiring. It was the best one-sided bout I have seen in a long time. Although he was losing round after round, Bradley had no quit in him. He kept trying even though he had injured both of his ankles (apparently from being staggered back when hit with bombs from Pacman.) But the judges’ decision tainted the entire thing. At least the outcome of a golf game, unspeakably dull though it be, cannot be decided like this.WEN_bradley_and_pacquiao_fight_10_wenn3936286

There is talk about a mandatory rematch in November and it’s seems very unlikely the decision of the three blind mice at ringside will be overturned by the commission. But given how one-side the fight actually was, it’s hard to see how there would be much interest in seeing a rematch, beyond seeing Pacquiao get his belt back. There are more titles issued by more governing bodies out there now than there are boxers. That Pacman is not holding one of them matters little. There are other welterweights who might provide a better fight for him, to say nothing of a potential superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. once he gets out of prison.

There is a subjectiveness to judging boxing to be sure. It’s an unavoidable part of the sport. Judging is as much a craft as anything else. But that normally comes into play during close, hotly contested fights where a judge’s preferred style of combat will likely determine how he or she calls the bout. But this sort of nonsense, when the result was simply not a question, does little to a help a sport that is often not on the public radar.

Boxing deserves better.