Judging Controversy Dogs New Welterweight Champ

Jun 11, 2012
Originally published on June 11, 2012 7:10 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


The world of boxing has a new welterweight champion - and a serious controversy on its hands.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: To the winner, by split decision, and new WBO Welterweight Champion of the World - the Desert Storm, Timothy Bradley!

CORNISH: Timothy Bradley won the World Boxing Organization title, beating superstar Manny Pacquiao. The match went 12 rounds with no knockouts. Pacquiao hasn't lost in seven years, and is a hero in his home country of the Philippines. Here's where the controversy comes in. Ringside statistics show the former champ landed more punches than Bradley - a lot more.


JIM LAMPLEY: I - I have - I have no comment. I'm totally confused.

EMANUEL STEWARD: I'm as confused as anyone could possibly be.

CORNISH: That was HBO's Jim Lampley and Emanuel Steward, echoing the sentiments of many who watched the fight. So what happened? To figure it out, we turn to Kevin Iole. He's a sports columnist for Yahoo Sports. He was at the fight. And Kevin, to start, the match had three ringside judges. Two of the three thought Bradley won. So how did they make this call?

KEVIN IOLE: I was very surprised by the scoring. I think all the reporters at ringside had Manny Pacquiao winning. The way that the fights are scored, is round by round. And they somehow thought, in the second half of the fight, that Bradley was landing more punches. And they gave him the scoring edge over Pacquiao in each of those rounds in the second half of the fight.

CORNISH: Now, the punching statistics are taken by - I guess it's something called CompuBox, which showed that Pacquiao landed 253 punches versus Bradley's 159. But quickly, exactly how does CompuBox work? I mean, how technical is it?

IOLE: I was actually sitting next to the CompuBox person, so I can tell you exactly. There's two guys. And the first CompuBox person had Pacquiao. The other one had Bradley. And they count total punches, and then they count connected punches. And they have a little box that they punch buttons into. And they are just watching as the fight goes. So it is not always the most accurate gauge, but it just gives you a general sense of what went on in a particular fight.

CORNISH: And of course, that's not what decides the fight in the end. Right? It's the judges, and it's more or less subjective.

IOLE: Right. The judges don't have access to those. And everything in boxing, judging is subjective. In pro boxing, you score the power of the punches as well as the volume of the punches. So in some rounds, you could have one fighter who lands far less. He gets more credit because his punches were harder and doing more damage. And when that happens, the judge will tend to favor that particular person, even if he landed fewer punches than his opponent.

CORNISH: The boxing promoter for both fighters, Bob Arum, called this decision the death knell for boxing. I don't know if he's overreacting, but what's next for these two fighters?

IOLE: Well, I think what's going to happen is, we're going to have to first see if there is an investigation. Bob Arum demanded an investigation by the attorney general of the state of Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto. And he's doing that to clear his name because a lot of people were blaming him, and saying he somehow rigged the fight. And I doubt there will be an investigation.

Once we get past that, I believe the rematch will occur. Bradley himself actually came to the post-fight press conference in a wheelchair because he injured both of his feet during the fight. So Bradley may be out a while, and may not be able to make that November date. But as soon as he's healthy enough to fight, I think we'll see Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley II.

CORNISH: Kevin Iole is a sports columnist for Yahoo Sports. Kevin, thank you.

IOLE: Thank you so much, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.