Pacquiao vs Bradley – Judges at Fault?

by Fran on June 14, 2012

Manny Pacquiao Vs Timothy Bradley
9th June 2012
WBO Welterweight Title
MGM Grand, Las Vegas

 

On Saturday night, I was tired.  I had spent the day driving to my home in Liverpool from the wonderful Scottish wilderness.  It's maybe a 450 mile drive and it took about 7 hours after setting off at 7.00am.  By 11.00pm my head was nodding like a drunk.  I needed to make a decision as to whether to stay up and watch Manny Pacquiao have a mix up with Tim Bradley, or retire to my bed and get catatonic.  An added complication was that Sunday was my son's birthday, so being grouchy all day through lack of sleep could have proven hazardous to my health; my wife would have killed me!

Truth be told I had not previously watched any performances by the American, I had no idea what kind of boxing match we would have with Pacquiao vs Bradley.  My main question really was "Will this be competitive?"  In order to answer this question, I watched a couple of Bradley fights; his recent matches against Joel Casamayor and Devon Alexander.

After watching Bradley in his previous outings, I decided that he didn't really have the tools to take on and defeat Manny Pacquiao.  His defense was not as strong as it needed to be and I didn't think he had the feet that would be needed to defeat the Filipino Maestro.  So, I toddled off to bed firmly of the opinion that it would be a fairly standard outing for Pacquiao and that he would win a convincing points decision.

Upon waking, well, the boxing world appeared to have been turned on it's head.  The headlines were big and bold and were firmly declaring that a great injustice had been done in the Nevada desert that night.  What had happened?  Was this the most infamous robbery since Jesse James held up the Glendale train?  There was only one way to find out, and that was to undertake a MyBoxingCoach review of the fight, complete with some technical observations and an opinion on exactly what might have caused such a furore around the scoring of the judges.  It was a very interesting process to go through and I hope that the resulting post reflects my little journey.

Round 1

Bradley takes the centre if this ring from the outset, popping out crisp jabs.  He is willing to push out of range occasionally, looking to make Pacquiao fall short with his punches.  Pacquiao has a nice high guard, almost a permanently held double-arm block, and he circles slightly diagonally back to his left.  This is his standard approach and was covered in depth in the Manny Pacquiao Boxing Style Analysis article.  The one thing I noticed early on was Pacquiao slightly over-balancing when throwing his back hand.  This is probably just part of finding his range early on.  Pacquiao finished the round strongly but Bradley's work rate is high.  I couldn't separate the fighters on this, an even opening round.

P 10 - B 10

Round 2

In round 1, Bradley's left hand was carried quite low.  At the start of this round we can see that he's brought it up and is fighting from a more compact position.  Pacquiao continues to circle slightly left and away from Bradley's back hand; a classic way for a southpaw to draw the orthodox lead.  Still fighting at long-range, with Pacquiao's defence solid.  He really catches much of Bradley's work on his arms and responds with much more accurate punches.  Bradley is the busier of the two, but Pacquiao's precise, accurate and ultimately more successful work distinguishes him in this round, but it is a close one.

P 10 - B 9

Round 3

It's developing into quite a tentative boxing match.  Both combatants poised at the edge of range looking to draw the lead of the opponent and counter.  Pacquiao's strong one-two is beginning to stand out.  The simple things done well is a hall mark of the Pacquiao approach.  The meaningful punches are coming from Manny.  He begins to control the long range exchanges and his impressive defence continues to block much of the work of the American.  Pac decides to advance more, looking to push Bradley back.  After Bradley lands his first solid shot of the fight, Pacquiao almost instantly fires back with 6 or 8 punches with at least a couple landing cleanly.  Clear round for Pacquiao.

P 10 - B 9

Round 4

Quite messy for the first minute or so, but Pacquiao's punching rate then increases.  For a period he matches Bradley's punch rate but continues to be more accurate.  We also see much more short range work and a flurry of Pacquiao punches catches Bradley.  Difficult to identify which single shot did the damage but it was likely to have been a back hand short range hook), but Bradley was definitely hurt and remained so for the remaining 30 seconds of the round.  One of the technical highlights of the fight here as Pacquiao uses the pivot to constantly keep the wounded but advancing Bradley in the strike zone.  A quite clear round for the Filipino.

P 10 - B 9

Round 5

A relaxed start by Pacquiao (maybe too relaxed), with Bradley taking the centre of the ring and popping out the jab.  Bradley remains the busier of the two, fighting with lots of flurries, whilst Pacquiao decides to go for the more basic approach of the one-two.  A very close round, and whilst Pacquiao landed a couple of heavy shots late on, I feel that Bradley did just enough to nick it.

P 9 - B 10

Round 6

Bradley lands his first solid jab of the fight.  Much of the time his jab is simply being used as a range finder, with any double jabs being quite tame, lacking 'bite'.  For the first minute, Pacquiao does very little.  Bradley on the other hand is busy; he's throwing punches.  For the final minute or so Pacquiao becomes more active and at one point has Bradley pinned in the corner looking to land big hooks and uppercuts in a concerted period of pressure.  A fine right uppercut landing from Bradley, showing the inherent weakness of the double-arm block if it is not combined with slipping; you are open to uppercuts!  Another close round with the nod going to Pacquiao for his more accurate work.

P 10 - B 9

Round 7

Bradley lands his first body shot here, a double jab to the head followed by a straight back hand to the body.  A neat little combination.  A minute into the round and Manny is more attacking.  He uses the lay back at the edge of range and looks to land his whipping long range lead hand hook.  The over-commitment on Pacquiao's back hand remains, but some flawed Bradley defensive work (bending forward at the waist) allows Pacquiao again to combined side steps, pivots and diagonal movement to really hammer home solid punches.  That is a part of his game that I really like, quite similar to Roberto Duran's fighting style work as a lightweight.  Good stuff.  Again the quality of Manny's work puts him head and shoulders above Bradley here.  A clear Pacquiao round.

P 10 - B 9

Round 8

Interesting to note the constant clockwise circling that the fighters are using, with the southpaw/orthodox conundrum in play perfectly.  Bradley is stepping off much more now, backing away and allowing Pacquiao to dictate the pace.  Another technical highlight here.  Pacquiao uses the lead hand block followed instantly by a straight back hand counter punch.  Really neat and instinctive, a southpaw staple.  Manny keeps the pressure on Bradley, good sharp work, and he continues to punish the lazy (or tired) jab coming in from Bradley.  Bradley is now in full scale retreat, possibly tiring.  Pac advances remorselessly and his back hand is very effective.  A clear winner for Pacquiao.

P 10 - B 9

Round 9

More lazy jabbing from Bradley and overall he's becoming more disorganized in his retreat, no doubt as a result of fatigue.  Bradley really takes a lot of shots, with Pacquiao continuing to land some strong, sharp shots.  Hats off to Bradley, he really is fighting as hard as he can but Pacquiao is just hammering him at long range.  Bradley seems to become one-dimensional in this round, struggling to have any serious effect on Pacquiao.  Another clear Pacquiao round.

P 10 - B 9

Round 10

Busy start from Bradley as he looks to make an impact in this round.  Unfortunately he lands a couple of solid back hands but fails to follow these shots up.  Instead he dances away and again Manny steps up to press the fight.  If you are going to fight on your back foot, then you must simply land more punches than your advancing opponent.  You have no right winning a world title whilst backing off and not throwing shots.  At the half-way point in the round it's quite an even affair.  But after this Bradley gets back down to business and lands shots on the Filipino and Pac simply doesn't respond as he had done previously.  Whilst a close round, Bradley just edges it for me.

P 9 - B 10

Round 11

Very even round this one.  Bradley using his jab to much better effect early on and generally does quite well here with his single/double shot approach.  Towards the end of the round Manny comes alive.  He feints a lot and uses amazing angles to fire home decent straight shots.  Too close to call here, even for me.

P 10 - B 10

Round 12

Final round and both fighters really go for it.  Pac becoming a little more reckless and Bradley's punch success rate has increased.  In fact, he makes Pacquiao looks quite ordinary here.  He lands the cleaner shots whilst allowing Manny to advance.  He really fights well on the back foot and does enough to win the round quite clearly, the only round that he has been clearly ahead of Pacquiao.

P 9 - B 10

To the Scorecard...

So, the very unofficial MyBoxingCoach scorecard is as follows:

Manny Pacquiao - 117
Timothy Bradley - 113

It would appear then that I have scored a clear and convincing 4-point victory for Pacquiao.  I feel that this is a reasonable reflection of what happened on Saturday night.  But, the story doesn't end there.  Two of the judges on Saturday gave it to Bradley by 2 points.  Can I explain this?  Well, I think I probably can and it is in my opinion simply the result of the subjective nature of judging a boxing match and the restrictions of the scoring system in use rather than a return to the dark corruption of the mid-twentieth century boxing world.

Some key observations about my scorecard:

  • I scored 7 rounds to Pacquiao, 3 rounds to Bradley and 2 Even.
  • Of the 7 rounds that Pacquiao won, I felt that 4 of the rounds were won by a clear margin (only one round did I feel that Bradley won clearly).
  • This means that 3 of Pacquiao's winning rounds were very close (rounds 2, 4 and 6):
Here's my card:
P B
1 10 10
2 10 9
3 10 9
4 10 9
5 9 10
6 10 9
7 10 9
8 10 9
9 10 9
10 9 10
11 10 10
12 9 10
117 113

 

What if we assume that those 3 close rounds were close enough to be reasonably given the other way, so that Bradley edges them rather than Pacquiao?  This is an entirely reasonable assumption given the variations in human opinion.  Look what happens to the scorecard when I give Timothy the nod in these rounds:

 

P B
1 10 10
2 9 10
3 10 9
4 9 10
5 9 10
6 9 10
7 10 9
8 10 9
9 10 9
10 9 10
11 10 10
12 9 10
114 116

 

What appeared to be a wide margin of victory is actually reversed and Bradley gets the result by 2 points.  If the boxing world is looking for something to blame for this 'miscarriage of justice', then we need to fix our gaze on the very rigid and inflexible 10-Point Must system of scoring, where the winner gets 10 points and the loser gets less than this based upon how badly beaten he or she was.

The standard for the loser of a round is usually 9.  It appears that the only time a 10-8 round will be given is in the event of a knock down or a one-sided beating that would be so blood-curdling in it's savagery that the referee would be duty-bound to intervene.  Is it time maybe that we consider either relaxing the '10-8' knock down position or alternatively introducing a 'half-point' scoring system, where the scale of the victory in the round may be gauged more than it is now?

The fact that Pacquiao won his rounds more clearly than Bradley should in my opinion be acknowledged.  So, where the judge may have felt that Bradley 'edged' the round he would get '10' to Pac's '9.5'.  Whereas a more convincing win (such as his 12th round performance) would warrant a '9'.  I believe that this would help give the credit deserved for a convincing round and would provide less margin for subjectivity to generate these peculiar decisions.

As I said, it's not the judges fault, it's the fault of the system.  So, rather than scream 'corruption' why don't we suggest some changes to the fabric of the scoring approach?  Bad decisions make negative headlines.  Negative headlines are the last thing we need in boxing.  Unless of course you are a promoter, who 'owns' both fighters, and who would be set to make lots of fine bundles of cash from a return due to a bad decision.  But how unlikely is that!

Any comments, post them below

Cheers

Fran

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Fran June 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Definitely could argue that he’s either on the decline due to age or his extra-curricular activities. I’m half-way through his book and his existence is in many ways a comic book one. Organised chaos by the sound of it. I’ve always felt Mayweather wins, but it would have been a great fight a couple of years ago. Now I could see Mayweather knocking Pacquiao out, I think the gulf in performance is that big.

Cheers for the comment Mike.

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Marko June 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

i’ve read the article as well as the comment section once, but not quite thorougly and with maximum concentration… so forgive me if i have overseen something. i do not want to question Fran’s expertise and authority when it comes to boxing either. i consider myself a complete dilettante. but it seems that one important thing hasn’t been mentioned. as far as i know, in order to defeat the champion and take away his title(s), you really have to o u t b o x him or knock him out. which means that there must not be any doubt that you won. you can’t be just a tiny bit better. remember the Valuev-Holyfield fight? i remember watching that fight… my fellow countryman Zeljko Mavrovic, a man who boxed 12 rounds with top-shape Lennox Lewis, was the co-commentary for this fight when it was aired on national television. he went nuts and started yelling that Holyfield got ripped off because he had clearly won… and as i saw it he did. even the sparrows on my balcony know that Holyfield is a better boxer than Valuev. but i understood the decision because he didn’t clearly outbox the then-champion Valuev, nor did he seriously threathen him, as did Haye for instance. nor did bradley outbox, knock down/out or seriously threaten pacquiao, even if he hit him more times or whatever (i disagree about that too). keep up the good work, Fran, best regards.

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Fran June 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Marko

Thanks for the comment. You are of course right, the challenger should have to ‘win’ the title. It has always been the case that the champion should be favoured, with one or two notable exceptions (the Hagler vs Leonard fight springs to mind). I did mention in a comment on the Pacquiao vs Marquez fight, but you’re right, it should be given more emphasis in the main article.

Thanks for that Marko, it’s a very well made point.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Yeah Ivan, I wouldn’t fight you for the TV remote control to switch a second fight on either. I just hope that the article explained how minor differences in views can lead to major differences on scorecards. As for Manny? Well, even 3, 4 or 5 years ago I don’t believe he would have had any real chance of defeating Floyd. As for now, no way at all. Cheers Ivan

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Dave Waterman June 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I had Pacquiao the winner 117/112. I thought the Filipino bossed the first four rounds; shared the fifth; the sixth to ninth were Pac’s with Bradley not appearing to want to be there; then Pac gave away the last three to a resurgent Bradley.

How the judges arrived at their decisions amaze me. I appreciete your proffered reason, Fran and appreciate too the shortcomings of the 10 Point Must system, but it’s a system that usually serves well and should have served well here. After all, we had three judges who I believe are all American and the Yanks traditionally favour aggression and power as point scorers. There is no doubt that Pacquiao remained aggressive until the tenth round and he landed the more powerful shots. The judges would have seen, felt and heard those punches slamming home so why wasn’t the Filipino awarded those rounds?

My suspicion: I think the judges may have been influenced by Pac’s last outing with Marquez (and indeed the two prior to that) where many believe that the Mexican was robbed of a victory. Without a definitive outcome of the type we saw against Ricky Hatton, might the judges have been active in looking for the positive work from Bradley and scoring him while they discounted Manny’s aggression and power? Aggression and power which, to be fair, was exhibited mainly toward the end of the rounds and not followed up effectively?

Pacquiao is not unfamiliar with a questionable points decision and it has been he that has been the fortunate recipient of a favourable decision on at least three occassions so my sympathy for him doesn’t run too deep. The real loser here is boxing itself, and it’s a loser because the fight everyone wanted (Pac v Money) has been proven past its sell-by date by the upshot of this decision and by Pac’s obvious fading and his falling out of love with the sport. That’s not to say I that I believe the Mayweather won’t happen but it will take a decisive win in a rematch with Bradley for Pacman to go some way in regaining the best P4P status. That win would need to be as unquestionable as Manny’s revenge against Erik Morales but we haven’t seen Pacquiao stop anyone since 2009.

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Darren June 15, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Perfect analysis, and exactly my reasoning. Nuff said!! Keep up the good work coach.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Thanks for the comment Darren.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hey Dave

Hope you’re well.

All good points as usual very well made. Whether the judges are in some arbiters of ‘career justice’ by considering previous outings I’m not so sure. However, like you I’m not sure I could ever agree with that scoring whatever mind-altered state I was in. Pacquiao clearly won this fight, no question.

I suppose the point I was making in the final part of the article was the peculiarities of the 10-Point Must system. I’m certainly not looking to change it, more demonstrate with an example how the result of a contest can swing quite significantly with what are quite minor input differences. Interestingly, if we had the variation of the 10 point system that I suggested here then in my scoring of Pacquiao vs Marquez then it is likely that my decision may well have gone the Mexican’s way, rather than the 2-point win I saw for Pacquiao.

Nice one Dave, take it easy

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Paul Smith June 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I really look forward to the My Boxing Coach fight analysis and you have not disappointed.
I agree that Bradley’s jab had ‘no bite’, and clearly most of his shots were blocked by Manny, but how the judges could gave scored as they did, has left me bewildered. Bradley looked like a defeated man after the 6th round. His body language as he walked back to his corner was that of a man defeated imo.
After the 8th round Manny was cruising and looked to be treating the fight like a sparring session, where his objective was to just work on his defence and stay out of trouble. I attributed that to his new found religious beliefs and thought that he just didn’t want to punish, or hurt Timothy. Pacquiao like many likely thought he ‘had it in the bag’ and was just content to win, on what he thought would be a clear points victory.
In any regard, you are a good man Fran, with a very clear and fair mind. Excellent fight breakdown!
I will now go and watch the fight again and shall be very attentive to things you pointed out and that I may have missed previously.

Thanks.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Thanks Paul. I enjoy putting up this kind of post, especially for the comments and discussion that builds up from them, really good.

Whatever the reason for Pacquiao taking his foot off the gas, it certainly did him no good with hindsight. There are questions about his overall commitment to the sport, and that can be a very bad thing in such an all-consuming sport as boxing. If a boxer’s heart is truly not in it, and this includes being entirely willing and almost enthusiastic about ending the opponent’s challenge swiftly and brutally, then the boxer needs to walk away from the game for good.

We’ll see I suppose.

Thanks Paul, take care.

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Paul Smith June 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I’ve watched it again and have to agree with your view as to how the judges could score the closer rounds in Bradley’s favour. He never really did stop trying to bring the fight and I guess that is what is important.

Cheers

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Fran June 19, 2012 at 7:23 pm

It’s all about opinions Paul isn’t it. Thanks mate.

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ronnie miller June 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I haven’t seen the fight, but have read several round by round comments like yours. (I hope to see a replay) In order for anyone to be accurate in judgement, a replay of each round as many times as necessary and comparison to the punch stats on HBO would be necessary. I think it is very difficult to defend a “one look” decision that judges are required to do in an evenly matched competitive fight like this. Having been a boxer, a referee, a coach, and a judge, I know a match such as this will most likely produce several perceptions.

I did like your idea on points, but my motto has always been “KISS”- keep it simple stupid! If I were the “rules king,” I would use the present 10 point must system as is. I think we might try to use what some kick-boxing matches use. At the end of the fight, if the judges card are split, have an extra round (or as many as necessary) to get a unanimous verdict. This might separate the “men from the boys” if the fighters knew they would have to give it their all in a round or two to be determined the winner. IMHO this could work.
Ronnie M

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Ronnie

That might be the post of the week. Your first paragraph succinctly describes the difficulties of boxing judging; I don’t need to expand. Keeping it simple is always great, and like you I don’t believe the 10-point must system is fatally flawed, but we should acknowledge that we’ll get peculiarities from time to time.

As for the extra rounds, Having dropped to 12 rounds from 15 for safety reasons it might be a struggle to argue for extra. Raises an interesting question as to the relative ‘toughness’ of each sport doesn’t it.

Great comment Ronnie, thanks.

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banjobilly June 15, 2012 at 11:27 am

Fran, I dig yer lessons. Great Paquiao review. You are simultaneously concise and detailed. Also, it’s a veritable KO, the way you link yer vids to ‘n twixt yer commentary. I could not ask for better, sir.
A great 1,2 !
Now … Query: In regards to the 1,2 to the body, it appears the jab is an arm punch. I’ve tried throwing the punch from bent knees, and find it awkward when I try to keep the form as in a standing jab (the torque from front foot). Please advise.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Cheers Alex, glad you enjoyed the breakdown. Answered the 2nd bit of your comment on the other post. Cheers mate.

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Dean June 15, 2012 at 8:20 am

I think the 10 Point must system is out of date, I am also not a fan of the Amateur scoring system (I have lost fights I definitely won, and won fights I definitely lost). Maybe a system could be devised where the fighters just keep going until the other one can’t answer the bell…..sorry couldnt resist!!!

IMO any scoring system that is open to the judges interpretation is going to have issues. I like the sound of the .5 system Fran but I’ve seen judges struggle to add up their score cards with whole numbers (Brodie vs Chi 1 for example), you throw in some decimel points there will be anarchy, but I can’t actually think of a sensible alternative.

Must be something a Hawkeye kind of system can do and completely remove the human element 🙂

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Hahaha. judges adding up correctly, that’ll be the day Dean. I bet in your amateur experience you’ve had the home-club placing lots of fans right behind the judges, following which said fans scream and cheer every time their guy throws a shot. The shot doesn’t have to land, he just has to throw it. Judges being influenced even at our club show level eh mate.

Nice post Dean, really enjoyed that one. Let’s see where this hawk eye thing goes.

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Miguel June 15, 2012 at 1:27 am

Great job of breaking down the fight I really put to use everything you teach.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Thanks Miguel.

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Levi Wampler June 15, 2012 at 12:18 am

Wow, that was a great breakdown. Thanks for that. I missed the fight too, so I was wandering what everyone was upset about the next day. Good work as always.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Cheers Levi. By the way, really like your blog, just checked it out. good stuff!

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Fred June 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I enjoyed your analysis, Fran. I watched the fight and definitely thought Manny won pretty decisively, however I’m sure I was heavily influenced by Larry Merchant, Howard Lederman, Emmanuel Steward and the rest of HBO’s commentary team. Your thoughts on the ten point Must sytem are excellent. Thanks for your great site. We all appreciate and value your wisdom.

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Fran June 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Cheers Fred, that means a lot. I was confused by seeing Lederman’s scorecard (I had the sound off). But like you, Manny got it good for me. Just wanted to demonstrate how things can go wrong with scoring.

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