Yes, Manny Pacquiao won a clear decision over Tim Bradley last Saturday, whether you believe the experts or the vox populi. No, it’s never good when a sport’s Result Generation System is broke. That’s how I feel about the latest megafight, if you care.
Yet blest be we, the unpaid sporting pundit class, for we have no obligation to inveigh against unpopular outcomes before the sun next rises, nor must we trod the same old ground on Friday that pattering feet turned to stone by Monday morn. Since the ostensible mandate here at The Promoter is a celebration of boxing and all its foibles, let us talk of who emerged from Saturday’s mess smelling of fresh baked goods and dandelion wine.
Boxing did pretty well for itself on Saturday: Pacquiao-Bradley was no classic, but it was a well-contested fight of high quality. Everlasting arguments have been generated from more dramatic fights (Chavez-Taylor comes to mind), and again, judges are often bad at their jobs, and yet no one was booing when I left my watching spot before the scores were announced.
That watching-spot was a suburban Philly Hooters, and the crowd was “mixed,” to use a demographic euphemism. The kids across the table shoveled down a 50-wing pile (no more than 20 they were, with that sort of digestion sans beer) and talked about how they’d not missed “any fights” except for the last Mayweather fight, and their banter made me think that they’d probably watch the next Mayweather and(ha-ha)/or Pacquiao fight from a similar spot, possessed of similar analytical background. These are the casual fans that diehards so often talk about gaining or alienating, and really, if the big fighters are there, they’re there. The storylines, the press: they don’t follow. Boxing just needs to turn up one or two new fighters to beat the two stars of the moment, and it can roll along at its current mainstream level in America of 2-4 Big Fights for another five years. Stasis isn’t great, but it’s not death; a new Mexican-American star (remember that dude De La Hoya?) could break some non-heavyweight PPV records easy.
So the scores sucked; if you’re a dialectician with a Marxist bent this can only mean that the sport’s structural issues are that much closer to resolving themselves through collapse. The contradictions are brought before the public at-large; the clamor for change gets louder; the oldheads who somehow still maintain a grip on power (i.e. one Bob Arum) make behind-scenes strides towards real reform even as they continue to amuse us with talk out of all available 78 sides-of-mouth. Or so the long delusioned can hope.
That Manny Pacquiao is not shot and Tim Bradley is a game fighter (how could he ever go down, with that head of marble?) speaks well for the both of them, and whatever happens in the unknown Future, they have not covered themselves in shame this time out. Whether Bradley is able to handle the irrational scorn heaped on a fighter who gets an undeserving victory remains to be seen. He’ll always have respect from the Serious fight crowd, though, for what that’s worth.
So there you are: the two main event fighters and the sport won on Saturday. Why do we even have judges?
Photo credit AFP