When Manny Pacquiao lost to Timothy Bradley on the eve of June 9, accusations of match-rigging popped up almost instantly.
Given boxing’s somewhat shady history, you couldn’t blame folks for being skeptical.
After all, how do you explain a guy handily pounding his opponent into the canvas for most of a fight, quite clearly winning at least eight rounds, and still coming away with a defeat on his record? How do you justify a renowned, all-time great boxer out-punching the other guy for 10 out of 12 rounds, landing more hits on a higher percentage and connecting on a greater total of power punches – only to have that same all-time great be robbed of clear-cut victory?
It certainly wasn’t surprising that some people assumed the fix was in on June 9. Really, it was sort of surprising that more people didn’t think so.
The general consensus among the dubious public was that this was all planned out by folks at the top. Because Floyd Mayweather Jr. refused to fight Pacquiao, the Filipino champion’s team (consisting of Bob Arum and his cronies) needed to set up a big match for November. By rigging a Bradley win, they ensure a highly-publicized, much-discussed showdown that guarantees all involved a big pay day.
That was the most prominent conspiracy theory floating around on the morning of June 10 and in subsequent days.
The problem with that theory, however, was that Arum -- the presumed match-fixer -- didn’t want actually want a re-match. He adamantly came out in the moments after that horrific split decision was announced and made it clear that he did not want a part deux. Whereas Pacquiao and Bradley said that they were open to the prospect of a second fight, Arum seemingly sided with the fans – he wouldn’t set it up.
That didn’t ultimately kill the conspiracy theories, but it did temper them a bit.
Well, a couple of days ago, the WBO reviewed June 9’s travesty and came to the conclusion that Pacquiao should have won that night. Shortly afterward, the Filipino champion made it clear via his public statements that he wanted to set up a re-match.
Arum’s response? Well, as reported by Yahoo! Sports:
"Obviously, he's the boss, he's the fighter, and to the extent possible, I'll do what he says," Arum said. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have his loyalty. I have to talk to him, though, and make certain he understands all the ramifications and if he is aware of what the public's perception is. I would have to have, if I were going to do a rematch, an investigation, which is ongoing with the attorney general's office, to clarify the situation.
"If it was simply the incompetence of the judges and a simple mistake, period, which is what you and I suspect, and they determine there is no wrongdoing, that's easy to remedy. All we do is have a rematch with different judges. Absent that, given all this suspicion, no matter how unwarranted, it would be hard to do a rematch. Half of these websites are saying that the promoter is the one who did this and that I talked to these judges. I had nothing whatsoever to do with picking them and never talked to them."
Let the flip-flopping begin…
What happened to the guy who said on the night of the fight that there wouldn’t be a re-match? What happened to the man who adamantly said in the days following that he would prefer not to see a sequel to a match he thought Pacquiao won easily?
As ironic as this may be, the credibility of boxing actually rests in Arum’s hands right now. When he came out and rejected the prospect of a second Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight, he deflated a lot of conspiracy theories and corruption charges. In a weird way, he also endeared himself to a lot of fans who weren’t familiar with his somewhat shady history, because his opinion on the bout reflected their own.
Now, however, it looks like Arum is moving towards agreeing to a re-match. Sure, he’s putting up a fake fight, but it’s clear where this is going.
The writing is on the wall.
It’s not too late for him to turn around, though. Again, Arum is key to boxing’s credibility right now.
For once, it’d be great to see him do something to benefit the sport and not just his bottom line.
(Kudos Yahoo! Sports)