Boxing’s great injustice

2011-11-19 17:29

Sunday morning (SA time) was a sad day for boxing when decisions such as the one returned in the Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez fight were accepted without much outcry.

A few murmurs of discontent were registered mainly from Mexico when outright condemnation of the judges’ bias was in order from all who truly love the game.

I’m a big Pacquiao fan and have followed in awe as he rose from the demolition of our very own Lehlohonolo “Hands of Stone” Ledwaba in 2001 to winning the IBF Junior Featherweight title to dominating eight weight divisions. His hand speed, ring craft and work rate, made him almost invincible in my eyes.

I wanted him to beat Marquez to put to rest the Marquez camp’s claims that they were robbed in the previous two fights – one that ended in a draw and another in a split decision for Pacquiao.

I longed for the “Pacman” to knock out the geriatric Marquez and set up the much-awaited clash with Floyd Mayweather off a knockout victory.

What transpired on Sunday was more controversy that did the sweet science of boxing no favours. Marquez, in my humble opinion and that of most of the 16 000-strong fans at the MGM Grand Garden, fought the perfect fight against Pacquiao.

He was first to the punch, seemed stronger and ­­counterpunched perfectly, winning most of the toe-to-toe encounters in the fight and won the fight in my scorecard.

It seemed that no matter what Marquez did against Pacquiao, the judges would rule otherwise.

Even Pacquiao seemed surprised when he was announced the winner by a majority decision with one judge having scored it a draw (114-114). Even Freddie Roach’s (Pacquiao’s trainer) insistence that though the fight was close his man won, was rubbish.

Marquez was more impressive over the 12 rounds although Pacquiao came out strong in the last three rounds.

It seemed that Marquez would have to knock Pacquiao out to get a draw. As for the two judges who gave the fight to Pacquiao (116-112) and (115-113), they should hang their heads in shame.

Judge Towbridge whose card had it 116-114 for Pacquiao, was no stranger to the Pacquiao camp, having officiated in four previous Pacquiao fights – vs Barrera II; vs Morales III; vs Mosley and vs Hatton – and once for Marquez vs Juan Diaz in which he scored 118-110 for Marquez.

Those at the MGM Grand booed and drowned out the post-fight interviews.

While he made in excess of $5 million (about R40 million), it was not difficult to understand why Marquez was contemplating retirement.

At 38, he must have dug even deeper preparing for the trilogy fight with Pacquiao. He stopped his long-time habit of drinking his own urine to “gain strength”.

 He roped in a new strength and conditioning coach in Angel Hernandez and seemed to have bulked up to better compete with Pacquiao.

Marquez’s new training regime seemed to have worked to his advantage – not only was he stronger to the punch but he also avoided knockdowns in this fight unlike in the past two encounters where he was dropped a few times.

What this fight does for the stature of the “Pacman” in boxing remains to be seen, but it is clear that boxing needs to clean up its act if it is to regain its popularity.

While Pacquiao is still rated the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, on his last performance, many more fighters must fancy their chances against him.

The much-awaited fight of the century between him and Mayweather may be further delayed by the fourth instalment of Pacquiao vs Marquez, should Marquez opt out of his pending retirement.

»Mokoena is a managing member of Aludar Sports. He has an MSc in sports management from Worcester University in the UK

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