Former 8 division world champion, Manny Pacquiao, returned to the ring Sunday morning in Brisbane, Australia and defended his WBO welterweight title against highly rated contender, Jeff Horn. Most figured the fight to be nothing more than a tune-up for Pacquiao and a chance to end his 12 fight knockout-less streak, something that was backed up by the long odds that Jeff Horn faced in the bout.
As things turned out, Jeff Horn was not only better than most people thought, but he gave Manny Pacquiao a real fight, one that had competitive rounds and one that you could argue that Jeff Horn maybe took four rounds in. What can not be argued is that Jeff Horn won the fight. Somehow after 12 rounds of boxing and the fight nearly getting stopped following round 9 in which Horn took a beating, he was awarded a unanimous decision win.
The official judge’s scorecards were 115-113 by both Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan and 117-111 by Waleska Roldan 117-111. While the scores by Flores and Cerdan were questionable, nothing compares to the score by Roldan, in which she gave 9 rounds to Jeff Horn in what could easily be described as one of the worst scorecards in the history of the sport. All that said, Manny Pacquiao was robbed. He went over to Horn’s country of Australia, he fought very hard and while he is no longer the same fighter now at age 38 as he was in the past, he deserved to win the fight.
Following this defeat, some fans and media are drawing comparisons to previous robberies, arguing which is worse, some suggesting that Pacquiao vs. Bradley was scored worse or that this fight’s scoring was not as bad as Williams vs. Lara. These statements are made without really reviewing the fights or the stats involved. The final punch stats for Pacquiao-Horn saw Manny landing 182 out of 573 at 32%, while Horn landed just 92 shots out of 625 at only 15%.
The power punches were also in Pacquiao’s advantage with him scoring 123 out of 380 at 32% to just 73 out of 428 at 17% by Horn. Not to mention that none of the judges had a 10-8 round nine for Pacquiao, which other fights like Pacquiao-De La Hoya and Hopkins-Kovalev had rounds scored that way without a knockdown. The fight was clearly in Pacquiao’s favor and when you compare it to other robberies, it stacks up just as bad as some of the worse decisions we have seen.
The fight between Pacquiao vs. Horn was shown on live on ESPN in prime time and while it showcased everything that can be great for the sport of boxing and the fighters themselves showed their heart and desire in the ring, it also showed one of the sport’s biggest flaws. In the sport of boxing, unlike many other sports, the result can be decided not by the fighters in the ring, but by judges outside of it and they can change what fans remember a fight for.
In the end, there will most likely be a rematch and Manny Pacquiao will have the chance to right the wrong that he was dealt this past Sunday and while fans might have had their experience soured by the result, nothing can change that it was actually a good fight. Manny Pacquiao was expected to dominate and he was forced to go the distance by a tough fighter in Jeff Horn and while Horn himself got the biggest gift of his life, he gave himself a chance at that, by having the best performance of his career.
No matter how the fight is remembered and how fans react to the decision, one thing is clear, and that is that Manny Pacquiao has found himself again on the wrong side of a highly controversial decision and boxing at some point needs to stop giving itself a black eye and fix this continuing issue of good fights having the results spoiled by bad judging.