Let’s be clear–2017 has been an awesome year for boxing. But it only takes one sour decision to really fuck up the mood.
Boxing always seems to find a way to wet the bed when the whole world is watching.
On Saturday, July 1, 2017, eight-division world champion and aging legend, Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2 38 KOs), took on undefeated Australian native, Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs). For the better part of the scheduled 12 rounds, Pacquiao battered the former Aussie teacher, leaving the record crowd of 50,000 plus at Suncorp Stadium with little to cheer for.
Leading up to the fight–and throughout the ESPN broadcast as well–we repeatedly heard terms like “real-life Rocky” and “tough guy” to describe Horn, who seemed to earn extra points for simply surviving with Pacquiao.
— WBO (@WorldBoxingOrg) July 2, 2017
As soon as the fight ended, social media networks like Twitter and Instagram blew up as fight fans (both celebrity ones and regular Joe’s like yours truly) voiced their displeasure with the judges’ decision–particularly one CJ Ross-esque score of 117-111 for Horn.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 2, 2017
— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) July 2, 2017
As one of the few admins for RBRBoxing‘s social media networks, I began seeing a theme trickling into the comment sections. Tons of people were livid, but there were those who were actually arguing that the decision was just and that Horn was correctly named the winner.
In essence, people were saying that because Pacquiao looked older and slower–and because Horn was tough–that Horn should have won.
That simply doesn’t make any sense. You don’t get extra points for showing up and you certainly don’t get the benefit of the doubt for exceeding expectations.
Don’t get me wrong, Pacquiao did indeed look 38 years old, and hell, he should probably retire, but he also defeated Horn quite handily.
Pacquiao dominated the punch stats–overall and more importantly, round by round.
— Crystina Poncher (@CrystinaPoncher) July 2, 2017
Manny Pacquiao out landed Jeff Horn in 11 of the 12 rounds. Pacquiao out landed Horn, 182-92. #PacquiaoHorn
— CompuBox (@CompuBox) July 2, 2017
So what the hell happened? Teddy Atlas gave his two cents after the fight, and it wasn’t pretty.
“It’s only one of two things, it’s either incompetence or corruption. When you see 117-111, I don’t think anyone could be that incompetent. I’m sorry. If you know the sport, you watch the sport, you can’t be that incompetent. You see who’s landing clean, who’s just throwing, who’s not landing clean, who almost got knocked out, you can’t be that incompetent. So what else could it be? Corruption. Nothing else. I’m sorry. I love this sport, it’s the greatest sport in the world. It was a great day, a great night back where you guys are. It was great for the fans out there to get it on free TV, brought back to free TV where boxing belongs. It was great! It was great theater. There’s no theater like boxing. Nothing. But the decision stunk.”
Atlas is a straight shooter, evidenced by the fact that he told Horn in the post-fight interview that he thought Pacquiao won, but is corruption really to blame here?
Maybe it is, because it’s hard to imagine that three nincompoops could have actually messed up that bad.
And if Pacquiao vs. Horn 2 does end up happening and lands on pay-per-view, it’ll give more credence to the fact that this whole thing was a setup from the beginning.
Alejandro "Alex" Burgos is a former Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Round By Round Boxing. He is a professional blogger, SEO Consultant and Marketing Director at Capital Practice Consulting in Washington, DC.