"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Monday, July 3, 2017

Manny Pacquiao - Robbed By Father Time And The Judges

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There are very few happy endings in boxing yet this well known fact never dissuades any great champion from trying to end his career favorably and with some semblance of dignity. This past Saturday, July 1st 2017, the opening bout of Manny Pacquiao's retirement tour was curtailed by unassuming Australian Jeff Horn. Of course the argument could be made that it was judges Waleska RoldanChris Flores, and Ramon Cerdan and not the tenacious Horn whom were responsible for derailing Pacquiao's 401(k) tour but more on that later.

Photo: forbes.com
Heading into the fight it was believed by most that Horn was a carefully selected opponent for the aging Pacquiao, i.e. someone to make the Filipino Senator look good. As it turns out Jeff Horn had his own plans and wasn't content in simply collecting a paycheck. From the opening bell the Aussie was aggressive and forced Pacquiao onto his back foot. Horn was rough on the inside as well. Horn landed elbows, forearms, and the occasional headbutt; the latter of which opened up big cuts on Pacquiao's head. The large amounts of activity from Horn as well as the blood running down Pacquiao's face made for a dramatic fight. In the 9th round however Pacquiao hurt and nearly stopped his unyielding and persistent opponent. During the rest period between rounds 9 and 10, Horn's corner desperately begged the referee to give them one more round. A reluctant Mark Nelson responded with "you better show me something" and allowed the fight to continue. Following this stern warning Horn recovered in the 10th and ultimately battled Pacquiao to the 12th and final bell.

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Boxing judges are supposed to award achievement rather than activity but on this night the blood, the high work rate of Horn, and the pro-Horn crowd that "oo'd and awe'd" anytime he took a breath, clearly had an impact on the judges. Pacquiao may have been the more economical of the two fighters but he was also the more accurate with his offense and his punches did far more damage than did Horn's. Pacquiao was the ring general and was in control of the fight from the opening to the closing bell. As is often the case in boxing, when an underdog performs better than expected, judges will award that fighter rounds simply because they weren't dominated. Doing better than expected in any round or even an entire fight however doesn't mean you won the bout nor any specific round but unfortunately this was the case Saturday night. My score card read 116-112 for Manny Pacquiao but the judges awarded Jeff Horn a unanimous decision and scores were as follows:

Chris Flores: 113-115
Waleska Roldan: 111-117
Ramon Cerdan: 113-115

Photo: psycholawlogy.com
No one with two functional eyeballs nor any honest persons can make the case for Horn winning this fight. While it was a competitive and dramatic fight, judges be damned, it was a clear victory for Pacquiao. All 3 scores are more than questionable and suspicious but it is judge Roldan's score of 111-117 that takes incompetence to an absurd level. How this judge saw fit to award Jeff Horn 9 rounds of the fight is beyond this writer, most boxing media, and fans. There are those crying corruption but to those doing so I ask you this; where's the money in a Jeff Horn win? He's not a star and he's certainly not a draw outside of Brisbane. The scoring in this fight doesn't have corruption written on it. Instead it has incompetence scribbled all over it. The aforementioned three judges should be suspended, investigated, asked to justify their scoring, and even be re-trained by the WBO. Top Rank too should be pushing for some type of disciplinary action. Boxing judges are rarely held accountable for their work and as a result of their inability to properly score a fight and a complete lack of culpability, we get decisions like the one we got in this fight.

The Real Take Away

One may talk at great length about the scoring in this fight or even Jeff Horn's perspicaciousness as both are worthy talking points. What everyone should be addressing first however is just how faded and dull Manny looked on Saturday night in Argentina...oops, Australia. In this fight Manny Pacquiao looked and fought like an old fighter that could no longer pull the trigger. Ok sure, he stopped taking risks after the vicious knockout he suffered against Marquez but against Jeff Horn, Manny Pacquiao looked like he had lost more than just a step. He appeared sluggish at times and flat. It appeared to this scribe as though Manny could see what needed to be done both offensively and defensively but could no long get his body and his brain to sync up. Even in winning the fight Pacquiao looked bad. Watching the fight yours truly felt as though Horn was just one big punch away from retiring Pacquiao permanently...even though Manny was in control. That's how fragile Pacquiao looked on Saturday night. If he continues his career as a professional prize fighter he's one....maybe two fights away from having his "McBride moment". It's not always about whether you win or lose in boxing but rather how you look in both victory and defeat.

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Pacquiao's career is likely to limp forward with a rematch against Horn later in the year and whether he wins that fight or not the smart money says he'll continue for at least a fight or two more as he closes in on his 40th birthday. It also says that Manny Pacquiao is finished at the highest levels of the sport as Horn wouldn't have lasted 4 rounds against a prime Pacquiao. There's talk of trainer Freddie Roach having a very serious discussion with his long time charge about retiring but how many times have boxing aficionados seen this scenario play out? In four months time Freddie Roach will be telling the media that Pacquiao looks ferocious in preparation for the Horn rematch and that it's Manny's best camp in years.

The last time the boxing world saw a peak Pacquiao he was concussing and knocking Ricky Hatton silly but 2009 is a long time removed from 2017...as is Pacquiao from his best. Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest and most memorable fighters of all time but his time and era have unofficially come to a close. I've never enjoyed or taken any pleasure in watching powerhouses of the sport slowly fade and eventually fall off the cliff. That said, his mind hasn't been in the game for years and now Pacquiao's body is following suit. We saw on Saturday why Pacquiao is fighting the Jeff Horn's of the world rather than the Spence's or Crawford's. It's time to go Manny.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on TwitterFacebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.


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