By Ivan Goldman
Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, said the decision for Tim Bradley over Manny Pacquiao was so awful that it’s a “death knell” for boxing. But in the same sentence he pointed out that he’ll make a ton of money in the rematch.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
Boxing’s death knell, according to prognosticators, is always around the next corner, but we never seem to get there. In baseball, they still refer to the Black Sox scandal of 1919 that almost killed the sport. But boxing endures Black Sox scandals every year, sometimes two or three in a single calendar month, and always comes back. Insane decisions are part of the sport, an uncherished tradition, like a creepy uncle who makes an ass out of himself at family gatherings.
Sometimes the most difficult job at one of these events is having to announce the scores to the crowd. Imagine being Michael Buffer Saturday night. Could you say that with a straight face? My hat is off to him.
Generally speaking, when you go to the scorecards and one fighter hit harder and more frequently than his opponent, that’s the fighter who should win, which is what Bradley expected. Just before the decision was announced he explained to Arum that no matter how hard he tried, “I couldn’t beat the guy.” Well, Tim, you didn’t have to. Not with Duane Ford and C.J. Ross on the job.
The incompetent or corrupt judges at the core of these joke decisions generally slink off afterward and hunker down with their fat paychecks until they crawl out of the mud to do it again. Because after all, they’re connected. How do you think they got the assignment? Remember Eugenia Williams? The New Jersey judge who scored their first fight for Evander Holyfield over Lennox Lewis, making it a draw? They had to do that one over again too. She scored a round for Holyfield in which he barely made it back to his corner. They even held a hearing to look into it. But the score stood.
After one of these outrages, the rematch is almost always scored on the up and up, which makes you wonder why they didn’t get it right in the first place. Pacquiao is no stranger to these atrocities. His first bout against Juan Manuel Marquez ended in a split draw because one of the judges, Burt A. Clements, gave Pacquiao credit for two knockdowns in round one instead of the three that took place. Clements was so far out to sea that he actually told the truth later, for which he deserved some credit. He explained he’d been unaware it was possible to score a 10-6 round, so he made it 10-7, making one knockdown disappear off his score sheet. This was tantamount to a baseball umpire getting confused about how many runners crossed the plate in a single inning or a football official awarding the game to the wrong team because he scored one point instead of two for a safety. Only in boxing.
Clements, by the way, who lists his address as Reno, Nevada, worked as recently as June 2. These guys don’t go away. Even when senility hits, what’s the difference? Who’d notice?
“There must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief.” So begins the puzzling, immensely compelling Bob Dylan song All Along the Watchtower that just about everybody likes and few can explain. But with jokers and thieves sharing the same stanza, what’s the puzzle? It’s got to be about boxing. “No reason to get excited, the thief he kindly spoke.” After all, they’ll do it again November 10. And Eugenia Williams is still paid to score fights. You can’t embarrass these people.
If you want to hear a good joke, ask someone from an athletic commission how you get to be an official. You will hear an avalanche of words, but no real answer. All the state and tribal commissions form a hideous, incorrigible net. Dipping their beaks into it are the alphabet buzzards, who have a big say in assigning judges and referees for virtually all the biggest spectacles. They actually collect “dues” from officials to help guide their decisions. No one oversees this tangled mess. It’s the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a stinking, Australian-sized clump of plastic bags and other indestructible refuse that sits in the ocean like a giant finger, daring us to do anything about it.
Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE