By Keith Idec
Fittingly, it was Timothy Bradley who warned before Michael Buffer read the scorecards that Jeff Horn might’ve beaten Manny Pacquiao.
Bradley, who scored a controversial split-decision win against Pacquiao five years ago, told Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore during ESPN’s telecast that the Pacquiao-Horn fight was closer than they thought, “a real close fight.” Even Bradley underestimated during ESPN’s broadcast how the judges viewed a grueling welterweight title fight the heavily favored Pacquiao lost by unanimous decision Sunday afternoon in Horn’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia.
Unlike Atlas, who’s also Bradley’s trainer, Bradley could see how the judges scored their entertaining, back-and-forth fight for the hometown challenger who produced a huge upset. Bradley pointed to how the bloodied Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), who wasn’t especially sharp, didn’t take issue with the scoring after going 12 hard rounds against the determined, tough Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs).
“The reason why they’re OK with this decision is Manny Pacquiao tonight did show his age, at 38 years of age,” Bradley told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Steve Levy following the fight. “He showed his age tonight. Horn was out. He was out in I think it was the eighth or ninth round [the ninth]. Pacquiao had him hurt, but then, the next round after that, you saw Pacquiao laying off the gas pedal. You saw Horn come on the next two rounds, might’ve stole the next two rounds in this fight.
“You know, he put up a great, great fight. I don’t think he won the fight. Honestly, I don’t think he won the fight. But I can tell you, he did enough in there to make it look like he won the fight. Manny Pacquiao was bleeding. You know, blood was dripping down in his eyes. It looked like a ‘Rocky’ show, but you know what? Horn got the victory tonight.”
All three judges – New York’s Woleska Roldan, Argentina’s Ramon Cerdan and Arizona’s Chris Flores – scored the fight for Horn, who won the WBO welterweight title. Woldan scored nine of the 12 rounds for the 29-year-old Horn (117-111), while Cerdan and Flores both scored seven rounds for Horn (115-113).
Unofficial CompuBox statistics offered a complete contrast to those three scorecards.
CompuBox credited Pacquiao with landing 182-of-573 overall punches, 90 more during the 12-round fight than Horn (92-of-625). Pacquiao, according to CompuBox, landed 50 more power punches (123-of-380 to 73-of-428) and 40 more jabs (59-of-193 to 19-of-197) than Horn.
“I can tell you this – Manny got caught with some shots in there, some right hands,” said Bradley, who lost a pair of 12-round unanimous decisions to Pacquiao in their two subsequent bouts. “I’m not saying that Jeff Horn won this fight. I’m just saying he did get caught with some shots, he did get backed up at times. Manny Pacquiao caught him with the cleaner, effective punches. … Honestly, I think that Jeff Horn, honestly, lost this fight. I can tell you that much. He lost this fight. He lost this fight. He lost the fight. Steve, he lost the fight. Steve, I get it. But at the same time, Jeff Horn put up a heck of a fight. I don’t know how it looked from y’all end, but he put up a heck of a fight and it was a bloody mess and he got the decision because he’s here in Australia.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.