By Alex P. Vidal
LOS ANGELES, California – I was seated on the second row facing Bob Arum during the post-fight press conference June 9 night at the Media Center in MGM Grand in Las Vegas when the Jewish-American promoter exhorted the press to challenge Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, to bring all the three judges in the presidential table and let them explain their scorecards.
“Where’s somebody from the commission? Why don’t they come up (here) and explain their decision?” the 79-year-old Arum yelled.
The three judges — Duane Ford, CJ Ross, and Jerry Roth — have been selected by a panel of five Nevada Athletic Commission commissioners, Arum explained.
“It was ridiculous,” Arum thundered. “That’s the only word to describe it.”
He volunteered to pay for the air fare of the judges “to see my eye doctor in Los Angeles.”
Arum said, “The outcry worldwide about the decision will not be good for the sport of boxing.” But he agreed that newly crowned WBO welterweight boss Timothy Ray Bradley Jr. “should be congratulated because the title went to a good guy.”
The CEO of Top Rank, promoter of the WBO welterweight championship bout between dethroned champion Manny Pacquiao and Bradley Jr., however, described the three judges as “all honest.”
“I know them personally and these guys are honest,” he declared.
The rematch clause did not influence the judges’ scorecards, he swore, saying it could only be valid in the event of a Bradley victory.
But we beg to disagree that “the judges most likely had no idea that a rematch clause was included in the contract.”
Arum also said the rematch could only take place if Pacquiao would agree to it.
Several weeks before the fight, it was already reported several times that there was a rematch clause in the Pacquiao-Bradley contract with no less than Arum himself was quoted in news items as the source. “I don’t know why the scoring was the way it was, but it was certainly not based on any consideration of a rematch,” Arum insisted.
The fact that there was a rematch clause on the contract, boxing fans will always suspect there were shady deals when the Pacquiao-Bradley match was being cooked.
By lambasting the decision but at the same time absolving the Nevada judges, Arum is confusing the public. He could have directly invited Kizer to represent the judges in the post-fight press conference instead of running berserk all by his lonesome self during the press conference as if he was the most aggrieved party in the highway robbery.
Several hours later, Arum was reported as saying he would call the Attorney-General in Nevada to investigate the imbroglio that marred Bradley’s coronation as new WBO 147-lb champion. Arum has virtually blamed the judges for the fiasco and, in effect, washing his hands. His holier-than-thou antics and Pontius Pilate-like speech suggest that he is not blameless in the entire hullabaloo. As the most influential person in the world of professional boxing, he knows many things that most boxing fans don’t. Backdoor operators and shrewd negotiators always come out clean when the goings get tough. Subalterns or the pawns in chess are always the first casualties.
It appears now that the judges who gave the fight to Bradley have become the veritable sacrificial lambs as they are being crucified and called names “for doing their job” so that the real perpetrators are shielded from public wrath.
No boxing judges in recent memory have been asked to explain their score sheets in public however controversial was the outcome of the championship fight they’d officiated. The judges’ verdict is always final and could not be reversed.
There was no trip to the guillotine for Nevada judges Jose Juan Guerra and Dave Moretti when they scored in favor of Sugar Ray Leonard, 118-115 and 115-113 respectively, for a split decision that awarded him Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s WBC middleweight belt on April 6, 1987 at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. In that highly controversial bout, boxing fans believed only judge Lou Filippo, who scored 115-113 for the defending champion Hagler, was not part of conspiracy to rob Hagler.