…and in this corner, “The Masked Avenger”

So full disclaimers are in order here. I did not shill out the $69.95 (I know it was listed for $59.95 but I would never spend that kind of money to watch something like that and not see it in HD) to watch the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley fight. I quit buying boxing pay-per-view’s back in 1998 when I paid for the Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks fight. 91 seconds and $50 poorer my night was over. I vowed never again to buy a boxing PPV.

In fact I’m not even a huge boxing fan. I’ve covered some local Indiana fighters in the past working for various magazines and even had a picture of a double knock-down with both fighters landing their blows at the exact same time. But boxing just hasn’t held my interest enough to pay the kind of money they want for the PPV’s. I just as soon spend the exact same money and watch professional wrestling where at least I know I will see a 3 hour show.

That’s what last night’s Bradley/Pacquiao fight turned in to. A show. One that promoter Bob Arum hopes you will tune in to again in November.

The stunning split-decision that handed Bradley Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title belt was so incredulously bad that boxing experts and sport enthusiasts took to Twitter to voice their total shock-and-awe of what just took place.

Arum, who handles both fighters, put on his best Vince McMahon face and vociferously denounced how poor the judging was as well as the decision. Yet in his very next breath said, “I’ll make a lot of money off the rematch, but this was outrageous.”

Uh-huh. You’ll make a lot of money. This is the whole point of the matter. The only fight people were likely willing to shell out dollars to watch was Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. With Mayweather in jail and the circus surrounding a potential Pacquiao/Mayweather fight still ongoing, there are simply no other bouts that would catch the public’s eye.

So the ending of the Bradley/Pacquiao fight reads like a pro wrestling script. Favorite loses to underdog. Feels cheated. Gets shot at regaining belt. Kick’s underdog’s ass from here to the moon. Set’s up rubber match to decide it once and for all. Win’s again. Get’s head bashed in by guy waiting in the tunnel who hasn’t been able to come out in a while due to extenuating circumstances.

Whether or not Bob Arum pulled this off himself to set up a huge payday or some higher-to-be decided that boxing needed a shot in the arm to return to the public’s eye is irrelevant. If they were shooting for an angle to seemingly make boxing relevant again, they shot themselves in the foot. Fans simply walked away shaking their heads or screaming outright “boxing is dead!” With the fast gaining popularity of MMA, boxing was on its last legs as a true sport. Notice I didn’t say respectable. Boxing hasn’t been respectable in years and this did nothing to disprove that notion.

If it was Arum shooting for the big payday, well he could still get that. As much as the boxing experts started clambering last night for the public to “boycott” the likely rematch, people will likely tune in hoping to see Pacquiao bash Bradley’s head in. Don’t be too surprised however if Bradley retains the belt. Pacquiao, who should have won a unanimous decision last night, still hasn’t looked the greatest in his last two fights. He struggled a bit against Manuel Marquez and while dominating early last night faded as the fight progressed with Bradley winning the final few rounds on even the expert’s scorecards.

If it was just a bad night for two of the three judges, then get the rematch and any other fights out of Vegas. If boxers can lose their licenses due to poor performance, then judges should too.

The damage to the “sport” may now be irreversible. Go to any of the major “sports news” related websites and you will find a whole section on MMA with boxing being relegated to the “other sports” menu. Fans need a reason to watch boxing, but don’t want to see something scripted out to make sure they see the next bout. That’s what last night felt like for those in attendance and the experts who make a living watching the sport.

But I might shell out the money if the rematch was a steel cage match loser leave town. We’d probably see Mayweather Sr. come running down the aisle if Pacquiao is behind to pull out the save.

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