By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – The boxing organization that awarded Manny Pacquiao a ring for excellence in boxing is ordering a probe into his controversial loss to Timothy Bradley on June 9.
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) “with five recognized international judges (will) evaluate the video of the match.”
“The Championship Committee will make its recommendation according to the rules,” said WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcárcel.
Last Saturday, Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) and Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) fought for Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title. The bout ended in a split decision in favor of Bradley.
The three judges gave identical scores of 115-113. Duane Ford and C.J. Ross for Bradley and Jerry Roth for Pacquiao. The decision has ignited a firestorm of protest from the media and among boxing fans.
However, in ordering the review, Valcárcel has a caveat.
“I want to clarify that in no way this says that we are doubting the capacity of these judges, which we consider as honest and competent judges,” he said.
Two days before the Bradley-Pacquiao fight, Valcárcel honored Pacquiao with the WBO ring of excellence, given to only one other boxer, Oscar de la Hoya.
The WBO probe is the latest in what could be a series of investigations into the controversial bout. The Nevada Athletic Commission will conduct its own inquiry and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has also asked the Nevada State Attorney General to look into the fight.
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, whom Pacquiao campaigned for in his 2010re-election bid, has also welcomed an investigation.
Overturning the split verdict, however, is considered unlikely unless the investigation will show there was corruption, or that the judges benefited from their decision.
If simply incompetence is proven, the judges – at least the two who picked Bradley the winner – could be suspended, but the decision stands, and Bradley will keep his welterweight title.
Jeers greeted the announcement of the split decision at the MGM Grand, and the furor has not died down, particularly in the media, where the general feeling was Pacquiao was robbed.
In a poll conducted by journalist Ryan Maquinana, 48 of 51 boxing writers, some at the MGM and some watching from home, had Pacquiao the clear winner.
The Las Vegas Orient Express scored 117-111 for the Filipino ring icon.
Arum, who promotes both Pacquiao and Bradley, said he will not work for a rematch until after the investigations are completed.
But many consider this a simple public relations tactic, and a return bout will be held as originally scheduled for Nov 10, most likely also at the MGM Grand.
Like in the first bout in which his coach, Freddie Roach, promised a knock-out, Pacquiao has this vow:
“That will make me become a warrior in the next few months because in the rematch my feeling is I don’t want to go the whole 12 rounds.”