It could’ve been a draw
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — International matchmaker Sean Gibbons said yesterday if WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao didn’t finish strong in the so-called “championship” rounds of his title defense against Adrien Broner in Las Vegas over a week ago, the fight could’ve ended in a majority draw.

Examining the scorecards at the end of the bout, Gibbons was taken aback by how judges Tim Cheatham and Glenn Feldman saw it with two rounds left. “They both had it 96-94 after 10 rounds, meaning at that point, they gave the Senator six rounds and Broner, four,” said Gibbons who flew in from Los Angeles with Pacquiao last Thursday. “So if Broner took the 11th and 12th rounds, they would’ve scored it 114-all. The other judge (Dave Moretti) would’ve still had Manny ahead, 116-112. So it could’ve been a majority draw. Honestly, I couldn’t imagine Cheatham and Feldman scoring it that close after 10 rounds. No way Broner did enough to take four rounds. It’s scary that a one-sided fight could’ve been a majority draw. I saw it a shutout for Manny or at worst, Broner got one round, the fourth. That’s how most of the sportswriters at ringside scored it.”

As it turned out, Pacquiao swept the last two rounds in the scorecards of Cheatham and Feldman.  Moretti scored the 11th for Broner and 12th for Pacquiao. So in the final tally, Cheatham and Feldman had it 116-112 for Pacquiao or eight rounds for the defending champion and four for the challenger. Moretti saw it 117-111 or nine rounds for Pacquiao and three for Broner.

Gibbons laughed off the rumor that Pacquiao suffered a detached retina in the left eye. “Broner landed an average of 4.2 punches a round,” he said. “At that rate, no fighter could’ve done any kind of damage to his opponent’s eye. He hardly touched Manny. I don’t know who started the rumor. But it was picked up by a New York tabloid and Yahoo Sports. It was a stupid rumor, totally false.”

Gibbons said Pacquiao had a slight corneal abrasion caused by Broner pushing his glove into the left eye during clinches. Referee Russell Mora should’ve at least warned Broner for it but didn’t. Apparently, the Nevada State Athletic Commission designated Mora as referee because neither Kenny Bayless nor Tony Weeks could be assigned since Broner is African-American. “I think they wanted someone with a neutral background,” said Gibbons. “Maybe, it was a political decision since Mora is from Las Vegas. Maybe, they wanted to give him a chance to do a big fight as the experience will be good for his career. It was the first time he worked a fight involving Manny.”

What bothered Gibbons was Mora’s reputation to tolerate shenanigans in the ring. Sure enough, Broner got away with some butting, holding and elbowing. Although Broner escaped stern warning from Mora, he never gained from the tolerance. Pacquiao dominated the action with his speed and power. In the 12th round, Broner ran away to end the fight on his feet and went on survival mode to connect only one of 12 punches thrown in the final three minutes.

The fight reestablished Pacquiao as a box office attraction in Las Vegas. Live attendance of 13,025 was a sell-out and pay-per-view hits will likely settle at 425,000 – a bigger number than the 300,000 that the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury world heavyweight fight in Los Angeles last December pulled in. It had been two years since Pacquiao last fought in Las Vegas and fans came out in droves to witness his first fight at 40. Several Filipinos living in different parts of the US took the trip to Las Vegas to show their support for Pacquiao. Now, the fans are clamoring for Pacquiao to meet Floyd Mayweather Jr. once more in a rematch to settle who’s the superior fighter with the Filipino no longer hampered by a shoulder injury.

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