- - Sunday, July 2, 2017


Of all the fights to have shown the world for free Saturday, why did it have to wind up being another indictment of boxing’s dysfunction.

The Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn welterweight title bout should have been boxing’s gift to the world, a non-pay-per-view Pacquiao title fight, shown live on ESPN.

Instead, what we got was another reason to dismiss boxing as a sideshow, as Horn — a national hero in Australia — was awarded a controversial win over Pacquiao in a bout that sent social media into a frenzy with cries of fix and corruption.

If people are upset about this fight, I can’t wait to see the outrage when people spend rididiculous amounts of money to watch the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor farce next month.

To be honest, as far as robberies go, this one was low-level. Two judges scored the fight 115-113, while a third had it 117-111 — all in favor of Horn.

As far as hometown decisions go, this wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen. I had Pacquiao winning the fight by a close decision — 115-113 — but if you had the same score for Horn, as two judges did, it wasn’t a problem for me.

Apparently it wasn’t a problem for Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, who told reporters, “I thought it was a close fight. It could have done either way. There’s an argument for the fight being 7-5 Manny, the 11th round was sort of close. I thought Manny gave away early rounds. Could it have been 7-5 for Manny? Yeah, but you can’t argue with the results.”

Now you have to consider that when Arum speaks like this, he has some sort of agenda in mind. He may have accidentally stumbled onto the truth in the process, but either he is sending a message to Pacquaio — he went on to say that the fighter’s duties as a senator in the Phillipines has taken away from his preparation in the ring — or maybe Arum is ready to get out of the Pacquiao business.

Whatever Arum’s agenda is, he is right in that it was closer than the cries of outrage would have you believe, despite the overwhelming punch statistic numbers in favor of Pacquiao — he supposedly landed 182 of 573 punches thrown, compared to 92 of 625 for Horn. But this isn’t Olympic boxing, where you pile up points for punches. There is effective punching, aggression and other factors that are taken into consideration.

Here’s what is not debatable — Pacquiao is pretty much done as a top-level boxer. He struggled keeping a journeyman like Horn off him the whole fight.

You go to Australia to fight an Australian fighter, and most people in the business of boxing will tell you not to leave it in the hands of the judges.

Manny Pacquiao is no longer able to take matters in his own hands, though. He hasn’t knocked anyone out in eight years, and I never bought into the Pacquiao persona anyway. I always thought his rise — and his power — as a welterweight was a myth, the product of some careful matchmaking and perhaps other assistance.

Pacquiao beat Oscar De La Hoya a year after Mayweather beat De La Hoya, and it turned out to be the 36-year-old De La Hoya’s last fight. Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton in two rounds two years after Mayweather stopped Hatton in 10 rounds. Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto in 12 rounds, but Cotto was clearly still suffering the effects of the beating he took from Antonio Margarito, who reportedly used plaster hand wraps.

He became a knockout sensation against vulnerable opponents, while his punching power seemed to increase while going from a flyweight (108 pounds) at the start of his career to now fighting at 147 pounds. As a general rule, punching power doesn’t increase when you move up in weight to face heavier opponents.

Pacquiao has been slowly exposed over the past six years. He won a controversial decision over his rival, Juan Marquez, in 2011 in a fight that many believe Marquez won. Then he lost a controversial decision to Tim Bradley in 2012, a fight that many observers believe Pacquiao had won.

Then came the stunning sixth-round knockout loss to Marquez in their fourth fight.

Pacquiao would avenge his loss to Bradley by winning a unanimous decision in their 2014 rematch, and then came his lackluster performance in his loss to Floyd Mayweather two years ago.

After that fight, ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas — who you can count among the outraged over Horn’s win over Pacquiao — suggested that Pacquiao had somehow lost his punching power and even looked different physically. Maybe that’s why ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas said before the Mayweather fight, “Manny’s not the puncher that he was six years ago,” Atlas said. “He’s not even as big physically. You figure out why. I don’t know. There’s a distinct difference in the Manny of six years ago and the Manny now.”

Maybe that is why there is so much outrage. The Manny Pacquiao the world fell in love with no longer exists.

Maybe he never did.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.



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