FOR most of the country’s boxing authorities, the decision by the Nevada Attorney General upholding the controversial split decision win by Timothy Bradley over Manny Pacquiao was no longer a surprise.
Fight promoter Moy Lainez and Games and Amusements Board’s Dr. Nasser Cruz both believed one of the biggest robberies in the history of prizefighting won’t be reversed in favor of Pacquiao for the simple reason that boxing is a subjective sport.
For them, the decision has already been made even before an investigation was started.
“Parang sinampal nila ang sarili nila kapag ginawa nila `yun,” said Lainez, one of the very first people, together with the late Rod Nazario and Lito Mondejar, to help Pacquiao chart his career when he was starting as a pro. “It’s like admitting hindi marurunong `yung mga judges. Kaya paninindigan na nila yan.”
“Expected na `yan. Mahirap na kasing kontrahin `yun scores ng mga judges,” added Cruz, head of GAB’s boxing division.
Their remarks came in the wake of the formal letter sent by Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada attorney general, to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum pointing out that “there do not appear to be any facts or evidence to indicate that a criminal violation occurred,” in the June 9 (June 10, Manila time) welterweight title fight held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
While it was a majority consensus that the 33-year-old Filipino won the match hands down, the judges saw it otherwise. CJ Ross and Duane Ford had it 115-113 for Bradley, while Jerry Roth saw the fight for Pacquiao by the same 115-113 score.
In light of the controversy, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wrote Masto a formal request asking for “a full and complete inquiry” surrounding the circumstances of the fight scoring.
But after receiving the official communique from the attorney general, the veteran promoter appeared far from satisfied. Arum was obviously displeased that not one among the three judges was interviewed during the course of the hearing.
“I have no reaction to it,” Arum said as quoted by Yahoo! Sports. "They spent a lot of time interviewing the referee (Robert Byrd) who had nothing to do with judging the fight, and I didn't see any interviews with the three judges who scored it? Wouldn't you do that if you were looking into it?”
But Lainez, who also acts as analyst for a popular weekly boxing primetime show on television, said it is but natural for the state of Nevada to protect its own people.
“Natural, kakampihan nila `yung kanilang mga judges,” he stressed. “And besides, you can’t question `yung kanilang judgment, e kung `yun nga ang nakita nila. Kahit na ba binubugbog ni Manny si Bradley, kung ang tingin naman (ng mga judges) nila tumatama lang sa gloves, wala rin.”
GAB commissioner Aqil Tamano said the probable lack of evidence to pin down the judges may have prompted the attorney general not to conduct further criminal investigation.
“For the decision to be overturned, there must be a showing of fraud. So I guess they lacked evidence,” he said in a text message.
Tamano’s belief is exactly in line with the reasons cited by Masto in the letter to Arum.
“Displeasure with the subjective decisions of sporting officials is not a sufficient basis for this office to initiate a criminal investigation,” Cortez Masto wrote. “Unless evidence beyond mere displeasure is forthcoming, this matter will be considered closed. While there may be strong disagreement with the decision, the exercise of professional judgment by individuals officiating at a sporting event is not by itself a criminal violation.
Former two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa also thought that nothing would come out of the inquiry, although he still had the slimmest of hope that somehow, justice will be done for the former champion, a close friend.
“Mahirap (baligtarin) pero umaasa pa rin tayo,” he said. “Alam naman ng lahat kung sino nanalo sa laban, e.”