A few days before the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn titular confrontation, handlers of the then Filipino reigning and defending welterweight titlist were quoted as saying the Australian challenger didn’t do his homework well in reference to Horn not training against superior sparring partners in the United States in preparation for the 12-round fight held last Sunday before a massive 51,052 crowd at the cavernous Suncorp Arena in Brisbane.
After the smoke of battle had extinguished, however, it turned out they were the ones remised in their job to prepare the eight-division champion as they should have. Why, they even belittled the now new world welterweight champion’s sparring mate Czar Amonpon. They. too, ignored Horn trainer Glenn Rushton’s warning the camp was preparing a 10-point plan on how to beat the 147-pound belt owner.
Pacquiao’s team failed to realize that that 10-point ploy included the ell-worn attack-clinch-hold-headlock strategy Horn exploited to the hilt from the opening round on to the last with the full permission of referee Mark Nelson. Horn even added his own version of the arsenal strangling Pacquiao in the neck whenever chance arose and headbutting.
All throughout the training camp held in Manila and General Santos City, Freddie Roach and company concentrated on how Pacquiao will chase Horn, who they expected to do a Floyd Mayweather ploy – run as soon as he felt the title defender’s power punches, which, of course, didn’t happen as Horn found the Rushton strategy very effective in catching his opponent’s game plan off balance.
But come to think of it, why, in the first place, was the fighting Philippine senator had to go to Australia to defend his title? As the crown-holder, isn’t it his right to choose the place where he should defend it? As champion, he should have also given the priority to choose who the third man should be in the ring along him and his challenger. And the judges, too. Was our own Pacman given those rights? Me thinks somebody has to answer those questions.
The fight was similar to Pacquiao’s first of three encounters with then undefeated Timothy Bradley in 2012 that also ended in controversy forcing the World Boxing Organization to initiated an inquiry by creating a five-man panel which found the outcome anomalous and shameful. It did not reverse though Bradley’s win as he remained champion until dethroned by the Filipino himselftwo year later.
Will boxing’s regulatory body again conduct similar probe owing to the equally unfavourable reaction from media and fans alike world-wide? In a survey conducted by media outfit among press people who covered the fight, 55 out of 67 interviewed expressed belief, rightfully so, that Pacquiao should have won. Only seven voted for Horn. Four saw the fight ending in draw. Two believed Pacquiao was robbed of victory.
Sports editors, writers and broadcasters deplored the Four Blind Mice – referee Nelson, and judges Waleska Roldan of New York, Chris Flores of Arizona and Ramon Cerdan of Agentina forms handling the job assigned to them. They blamed Nelson of Minnesota, a veteran of refereeing 80 world title fights, for not even warning Horn for elbowing, headocking, and headbutting repeatedly all throughout the 12-round showdwn.
While a few accepted Flores’ Cerdan’s identical 115-113 decision favoring Horn as reasonable, many believed Roldan’s 117-111 verdict was, to say the least, ridiculous if not completely anomalous. Roldan only gave Pacquiao three rounds while the other two had the Filipino icon leading in five rounds.
By EDDIE G. ALINEA