Split Decision: Breaking Down the Pacquiao Fix

Whether you stood and cheered, yelled and criticized, or silently sat in awe, Saturday’s controversial finale to the Manny Pacquiao/Timothy Bradley contest was boxing’s first “where were you?” moment of this decade. Three days later, questions continue to linger over the legitimacy of the result and the integrity of the involved parties. Was the fight fixed? Did two judges actually see Bradley as the rightful victor?

Let’s break down the arguments on both sides.

THE FIGHT WAS FIXED

Bob Arum

Saturday’s contest was presented by Top Rank Boxing, a company founded and operated by its CEO, Bob Arum. Considering that TRB represents both Pacquiao and Bradley, Arum stands to profit substantially through a rematch. With the opportunity to promote Pacquiao as an unjustly robbed, yet undeterred babyface, a rematch would boost the profile of TRB and maximize Arum’s earnings.

Mutual Benefit

Apart from Floyd Mayweather and potentially Juan Manuel Marquez, the remaining list of high profile, marketable opponents for Manny Pacquiao is getting thin.

For Timothy Bradley, a rematch with Pacquiao represents the most lucrative fight option by a country mile.

Thus, an immediate rematch would grant Bradley the unparalleled opportunity to share earnings with one of pay-per-view’s biggest draws in two consecutive contests, while providing Pacquiao with a compelling storyline to sell his next fight. When you also consider the potential benefit for Bob Arum, it seems the stars have conveniently aligned for all concerned parties.

Timothy Bradley celebrates after defeating Manny Pacquiao.

The counter-argument, of course, is that Pacquiao’s loss has diminished the appeal of a potential super fight with Floyd Mayweather. However, given the longstanding rivalry between the two (and the lack of legitimacy associated with Pacquiao’s loss), it’s unlikely that boxing fans will temper their demands for the long-awaited contest.

Promotion for Rematch

On May 26th, Bob Arum told the Manila Bulletin that a Pacquiao loss would result in a November 10th rematch. While Arum’s comments were likely an attempt to generate pay-per-view buys, his public discussion of a rematch seemed unusual when Pacquiao (arguably the world’s greatest fighter) was entering the contest as a 5-1 betting favourite.

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