Pacquiao’s first defeat in 16 championship fights over seven years, during which the Filipino has become an international idol, stunned the 16,000 crowd at the MGM Grand Arena. Veteran promoter Bob Arum — who handles both protagonists – labelled the judges’ decision as “outrageous” and “one of the worst” he had ever seen, while former heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis said it was “another stain on boxing”, and branded the scoring “unbelievable and disgraceful”.
“It was worse than my controversial draw with Evander Holyfield in 1999,” he said.
Amir Khan, Pacquiao’s stablemate, called the decision “a robbery”, and likened it to his loss to Lamont Peterson in Washington DC in December. Arum added: “I’ve never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight. I’m going to make a lot of money on the rematch, but this was outrageous.”
The biggest fight of Bradley’s career earned him $5million (£3.2m). Pacquiao was guaranteed $20m (£12.9m). Bradley moved to 29 fights unbeaten. Pacquiao lost for the fourth time in his 60th bout.
It was confirmed that a second encounter is expected to take place between Pacquiao and Bradley on Nov 10 in either Nevada, Texas, or California.
Cynics might suggest that the rematch clause offers promoter Arum another opportunity to build Bradley, and keep the gravy train rolling for Pacquiao.
The downside is that the result might have consigned the potential Pacquiao contest with Floyd Mayweather Jnr to dust. Pacquiao’s bargaining stakes have plummeted.
Mayweather Jnr, the world’s richest boxer, will have watched the contest from a television room in Clark County jail, where he is serving just under three months for an admission and plea bargain over domestic violence.
In the Philippines, where Pacquiao is a senator, and carries the epithet ‘The National Fist’, there was a nationwide expression of injustice. President Benigno Aquino III sought to console the public: “Manny remains our champion and the nation’s national fist. Our support for him has not wavered.”
Bradley attended the post-fight pressconference in a wheelchair, claiming he had broken a foot. That added to a bizarre event. Pacquiao-Bradley was a fight with a strange pattern, and an even stranger result.
Pacquiao landed the heavier shots – the more notable with his left-hand – in the early rounds, his hand speed creating serious problems for the American challenger. Then, after taking the middle rounds, Pacquiao was outboxed in the final quarter as Bradley discovered a second wind, and displayed a great heart for the fight.
Yet controversy followed when judges Duane Ford and CJ Ross awarded the fight 115-113 to Bradley. Pacquiao landed 253 punches to 159 for Bradley. Compubox statistics revealed Pacquiao landing more punches in 10 of the 12 rounds. The third ringside judge, Jerry Roth, scored it 115-113 for Pacquiao. “I thought 100 per cent that I won, and I did my best,” Pacquiao said.