Manny Pacquiao lost his first bout in seven years, a split decision to unbeaten Timothy Bradley that enraged fans of the Philippine boxer, setting the stage for a rematch in November.
“Pac-Man was cheated,” said Karen Selevares, using the nickname of the fighter who’s become a national hero in the Southeast Asian nation. “They’re probably setting up a rematch,” said the 29-year-old housewife, who took her 6-year- old son to a live screening of the fight two hours ahead of time to get good seats.
Pacquiao was elected to Congress in May 2010 after winning world championships in eight weight classes. The crowd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas jeered as Bradley, 28, was declared the winner on the night of June 9. The American boxer was ahead 115- 113 on two judges’ scorecards, while Pacquiao won 115-113 on the third.
“I respect the decision but I believe 100 percent I won the fight,” Pacquiao told reporters after the bout.
Bob Arum, promoter of both fighters, said the two judges who scored in Bradley’s favor should have their eyes examined. Oscar De La Hoya, who lost to Pacquiao (54-4-3, 38 knockouts) in December 2008, wrote on Twitter that Bradley shouldn’t have accepted the victory. Pacquiao landed 253 punches to Bradley’s 159, and out-slugged Bradley 190-108 on power punches, according to CompuBox, a computerized punch scoring system.
“I cannot believe what I just saw,” singer Justin Timberlake wrote on Twitter. “Please tell me they read the decision wrong.”
Pacquiao said he wants a rematch and one is being scheduled in November.
“I thought I won the fight,” said Bradley, who is 29-0 with 11 knockouts. “I didn’t think he was as good as everyone says. I didn’t feel his power.”
Pacquiao, 33, is a high school dropout who brought his family out of poverty through boxing. In the 1990s, he fought for purses as small as 150 pesos ($3.50) -- then about the cost of a T-shirt in the Philippines. Today he’s the richest Philippine congressman, surpassing Imelda Marcos, with a net worth inflated by TV appearances and endorsing products with the Nike, Hennessy Cognac and HP brands.
“I did my best,” Pacquiao said. “I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”
Filipinos support for their champion remains strong as ever, Abigail Valte, a presidential spokeswoman, said in an e-mail yesterday. “During your next fights, and during the challenges that will undoubtedly come your way in the future, you can certainly count on us to stand by you,” Valte said.
“He is no longer Pacquiao, the unstoppable,” said Ramon Casiple, executive director at the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in Manila. His viability as politician and a product endorser will depend on whether he beats Bradley on the rematch, he said.
“I heard boos at the end of the night which is OK,” Bradley said. “We need to definitely do this again in November and let’s make it more decisive for everybody.”
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