Manny Pacquiao came into this weekend’s fight against Jeff Horn, a relative unknown from Australia, as a massive favorite to retain his welterweight title. According to nearly everyone watching, Pacquiao won the fight – and did so convincingly. Among the minority who thought Horn won, however, were the three judges, who handed the hometown hero a unanimous decision.
“Pacquiao had rocked Horn, bloodied him and nearly stopped him in a violently one-sided ninth round,” writes ESPN boxing guru Dan Raphael. “But then the judges’ scorecards were read, and Pacquiao was the victim of a hugely controversial decision.”
When referee Mark Nelson went to Horn’s corner after that ninth round, it appeared as if the fight may be over.
“I’m here to protect you,” Nelson told Horn, and the Aussie’s cornermen practically had to beg Nelson not to call it a night. Fine, Nelson relented, but “you’ve got to show me something this round.”
Horn fought on, valiantly, and deserves kudos for showing all kinds of heart and guts. Heart and guts, however, don’t equal a win. There are no participation trophies in prize fighting, as ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas implies later in this article.
Two judges – Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan – scored the fight 115-113 in favor of Horn. Judge Waleska Roldan had it 117-111, prompting wonderment of what the hell Roldan was actually watching. In fact, ESPN.com scored the fight the completely opposite way, 117-111 for Pacquiao, and Atlas had it 116-111 for Pacquiao.
Pacquiao was bleeding from the top of his head because the fighters butted heads on at least two occasions, but based on this tweeted photo, Horn got the worst of it throughout the night.
— Gabriel Britanico (@_gabrielvincent) July 2, 2017
Here’s Atlas, ringside after the fight, lamenting the decision.
— Nowshad Khaleque (@NowshadKhaleque) July 2, 2017
Even according to a more objective metric – punch stats – Pacquiao won the fight by a wide margin.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 2, 2017
Class act that he is, Pacquiao was gracious in defeat.
“I am professional. I respect the judges. He survived that (ninth) round,” Pacman said.
Such is boxing. This kind of thing happens in the sport more often than any of us would like.
It does give hope to underdogs, though. Fight hard, get to a decision, and you never know what will happen.
Somewhere Conor McGregor is paying attention.