Manny Pacquiao is accustomed to seeing changes happen around him. Just take a look at his accomplishments, a classic rags-to-riches story. From a baker boy to a construction worker, to a world champion boxer to an elected politician in the Philippines, Pacman is the living embodiment of a Cinderella Man. And now it seems he is going to change the world of boxing following a world title fight loss against Jeff Horn.
According to USA Today, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) will re-score the Pacquiao-Horn welterweight title fight following a controversial unanimous decision in favor of the Australian Jeff Horn. The judges at ringside scored the bout 117-111, 115-113, 115-113 in favor of the new WBO welterweight champ Horn. The fight was aired on free TV via ESPN.
The WBO’s decision is in compliance with the request of the Philippines Games and Amusement Boards and Pacquaio’s camp to “to protect boxing’s integrity.” However, no matter what the result of the re-score is, the WBO will not reverse the judges’ decision and the welterweight title belt will remain with Horn. With Pacquiao losing this controversial decision, fans are up in arms disputing the decision. And with many a boxing fight going through these same scenarios, the sport of boxing must implement some changes to prevent these controversial decisions from totally ruining the sport. This is where Pacquiao’s loss could have an effect on the sport: a marquee boxer losing his world title against a relatively unknown hometown fighter in a largely controversial decision and on free TV, no less.
The fight itself was entertaining like many fights wherein Pacquiao is involved. The young Australian seemed game and aggressively attacked the Filipino fighting senator. The bout was a back-and-forth affair with most of the rounds too close to score. However, Pacquiao almost finished off Horn in the 9th round only to allow the Aussie to survive the round. At the end of the WBO welterweight title fight, it was Horn’s hands the referee raised, giving Australia its newest world champion. The judges’ decision came as a shock to some people, boxing experts and boxing fans alike.
Even NBA players, most of whom have never laced a boxing glove in their lives, were surprised with the decision. However, a fight is a fight, and fans have their favorites. In any case, these reactions beg a question: will these celebrities’ reaction be enough to make the top boxing brass see that the sport needs some changes if boxing is to survive?
Be that as it may, uproar or not, the judges’ decision will stand as it should. Just over two decades ago, boxing was the undisputed combat sports in the world. Then came mixed martial arts — with brutal knockouts and the best of the best mixing it up in the Octagon.
Boxing, on the other hand, has had too few a marquee fight; even the heavyweights failed in comparison to the heyday of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. And after a string of controversial fights (with Pacquiao figuring in two of them against Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez), and a couple of mismatches later, boxing seems to have lost most of its followers. Even its most ardent fans are shifting in their seats especially after the Pacquiao vs. Horn decision on free TV.
The WBO’s decision to re-score the fight may have been a result of fan outrage, but it could backfire on itself by undercutting the credibility of the judges sitting at ringside. That, in itself, could be a serious precedent that could further ruin the sport. However, since re-scoring a fight is unprecedented, it goes to show that the top boxing honchos are willing to make changes to make the sports better. And that Pacquiao loss against Horn on free TV could be the spark that blazes the fire that implements major changes in the boxing world. And with Pacquiao, one of the golden boys in boxing during its heyday, losing against a relatively unknown, it may have been the best thing that happened to the sports of boxing. Once again, Pacquiao is in the middle of these possible changes about to happen in the world of boxing.
[Featured Image by Tertius Pickard/AP Images]