Two Suggestions For Watching HBO's Replay of Pacquiao vs. Bradley

June 16, 2012

The absurd scores of judges Duane Ford, C.J. Ross, and Jerry Roth that resulted in Bradley's split decision "victory" unleashed a hailstorm of criticism from boxing fans and media. The justifiable roar of protest from nearly every corner of the boxing world has since led to an investigation by the Nevada Athletic Commission and the WBO.

Tonight HBO will replay last Saturday's controversial WBO Welterweight Title bout between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. For those who are planning on watching the fight replay tonight, it might be helpful to consider the following two suggestions before doing so.

Examine Whether Bradley Really "Wins" the First Two Minutes of Rounds

While approximately 95% of boxing media and fans saw this fight as a decisive Pacquiao victory, there are still a few who insist that this was a very close fight or even a Bradley victory.

For example, well-respected ESPN Friday Night Fights host Brian Kenny, who ironically called the fight for Bob Arum's Top Rank TV, saw the fight in favor of Bradley and can't understand what the fuss is all about. According to Kenny, Bradley landed effective "body shots" and won the first two minutes or more of nearly every round.

Many have pointed out by now that the silly argument that the "winner of the first two minutes of a round beats the winner of the last minute" is flawed for countless reasons that should be too obvious to need further discussion. 

But briefly, it should be pointed out that in the rounds where Bradley allegedly "wins" during the first two minutes, he is usually only slightly more active in the beginning of some rounds before being clearly beaten in the last 30 seconds or so. The first round is the clearest example of this. Bradley is more aggressive but lands almost nothing of significance the whole round except a few partially blocked body shots. Pacquiao lands three big left hands to close the round and yes, "win" it.

To be generous however, I think the underlying point raised by Kenny and others is that we shouldn't fall prey to the human tendency to forget what one fighter accomplished in the beginning of a round as opposed to the end of it.

Admittedly, it is pretty easy to be influenced by a late flurry at the end of a round and forget one at the beginning of the round. However, those who have used the "first two minutes" argument to suggest this was a close fight don't appear to consider that the argument doesn't even apply unless Bradley actually wins the first two minutes of the round.

In fact, Bradley almost never clearly "wins" the first two minutes of any round, and some rounds Pacquiao dominates the first two minutes as well.  For example, Rounds 2 through 6, Pacquiao pretty clearly wins the beginning, middle, and end of the rounds.

In any case it is one thing to say that often times Pacquiao picks up his pace and dominates/clearly wins the last third of most rounds - that much is clearly true - but quite another to suggest that Bradley "won" the first two minutes.

All people remember is that Bradley did significantly better in the first two minutes of the round than he did in the last minute or so.  But Bradley doesn't outperform Pacquiao in the first two minutes of most rounds - he merely outperforms himself in the third minute.

Pay Close Atention to the Second Half of the Fight

Veteran Nevada boxing judge Duane Ford has been vocal in his defense of his 115-113 scorecard for Timothy Bradley.  Ford has claimed that fight fans fail to understand that success in one round does not "carry over" into the next round and that each round needs to be scored independent of the other rounds.

Ford believes that the overwhelming majority of fight fans and media failed to grasp this point and that Bradley gave Pacquiao a "boxing lesson."  Both Ford and C.J. Ross gave Bradley 5 of the last 6 rounds of the fight.

For one amusing moment let's take Ford seriously (hopefully, for the last time).  Did we all fail to recognize that Pacquiao's early success didn't translate into later round success?  No.  Actually, it's Ford who failed to judge each boxing round on its own merits.

It is pretty clear that starting in about Round 7, Bradley began slightly closing the gap after Pacquiao had been dominant through Round 6.  Rounds 7 through 9 are certainly more competitive, but still should clearly have been awarded to Pacquiao. Around Round 10, Pacquiao does appear to let up and the rounds get even closer, with Bradley deserving at least 1 or 2 of those rounds.

(For full disclosure, on fight night I scored the bout 118-110, with Bradley winning only the 10th and 12th rounds. I could conceivably have given him the 11th as well.)

Unfortunately, the same flawed reasoning pattern that made people believe Bradley "won" the first two minutes of a round, is replicated in a different way over the course of the fight by Ford.

Because Bradley did better in the second half of the fight than he did in the first half the judges began giving him rounds that he didn't actually deserve.  Basically, Pacquiao was being punished for not being as dominant as he was earlier in the fight.  That is the opposite of treating each round independently.

In fact, if you bother to record the fight and watch it again, I suggest that you consider watching rounds 7 through 12 first,  and then watch the first six rounds.  Would you really give Bradley 4 or 5 of those later rounds?  I think the answer will be obvious.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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