Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Beyond reasonable doubt: my thoughts on the controversial Pacquiao-Marquez fight ending

This appears in
Beyond reasonable doubt: my thoughts on the controversial Pacquiao-Marquez fight ending
by rick olivares
photo by steve marcus/reuters

Let me start out by saying that I root for Manny Pacquiao. I think he is the first true Filipino global superstar. He is the best Filipino boxer of all time and by the time he hangs up his gloves, Pacquiao will be one of the sweet science’s all-time greatest.

Before the fight, I was interviewed on television (one of many sports scribes interviewed) and I said that the Pacman would take it anywhere between rounds 8-10. In the same breath, I said it would not be easy.

Boy was I wrong! The fight once more went the distance and no way was this easy to decide. It ended with another controversial decision.

This is how I saw the fight – Juan Manuel Marquez was cautious of being knocked down by Manny in their previous matches so he made sure that he was more or less unscathed in the first two rounds. But just the same, Manny was also wary of Marquez’s power. As the fight progressed, I thought that whatever game plan conjured by Freddie Roach, it wasn’t working. Marquez, I thought had changed the Pacman’s strategy. Sure they traded punches but I felt (gulp) the Mexican hit the more devastating shots.

I glanced at Twitter and Facebook between rounds and the general consensus was Manny was well on his way to losing this. After Round #10, I remember telling myself that if no one was knocked out here, no way was Marquez going to win this. I thought about that for different reasons and I’m sure you get the gist.

By fight’s end, I though that it was close and if Marquez didn’t win this by a split decision, it would be a draw. And in my heart I wanted Manny to win but I thought that he didn’t. This is not trying to pull him down or rag on him. All I am saying here is I figure he didn’t win.

I am not as experienced as Ronnie Nathanielsz, Quinito Henson, Recah Trinidad or others in calling fights but I have been watching bouts (I’ve been in actual fights, in the corner of a fighter, and amongst the media covering them) since I was kid and I would always jot down notes in one of my dozens of notebooks with sports stuff I saved through the years because I figured I’d need it one rainy day.

I find it funny that some say that we should accept the decision of the judges because maybe they see things that we don’t. You got that right. They see the bigger picture here – the big payday in the sky when Pacman fights Pretty Boy. And you cannot tell me that the weight of expectations (i.e. turning Antonio Margarito’s face into street pizza or sending Ricky Hatton to sleep) caused us to feel letdown. Nope. In the four fights prior to his third match with Marquez, including the mauling of Margarito, all went the distance.

Okay, sorry. Am jumping the gun here. Now I’ll tell you why there are so many decisions in boxing that aren’t right.

When Pacman was announced the winner, I thought of four things – one, WTF; two, the second match between Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard; three, Lennox Lewis getting robbed by Evander Holyfield; and four, that incredible Shane Mosley-Oscar de la Hoya match.

June 12, 1989
Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Tommy Hearns II
Eight years after their epic first fight where Leonard came back to force the referee to stop the fight, in the rematch, it was the Sugarman who found himself battered by the Hitman this time around. Hearns sent Leonard to the canvass twice but Sugar came back strong in the 12th and final round. One judge scored it for Hearns while another gave it to Leonard (?) while the third saw it as a draw. The decision was booed at Caesar’s Palace. Sugar Ray later admitted that Hearns should have won the rematch. While there was talk of a third battle it never came to pass.

March 13, 1999
Evander Holyfield vs. Lennox Lewis
The unification match between Britain’s Lewis and America’s Holyfield saw the judges declare the match a draw when Lewis clearly dominated the fight. The WBC, WBA, and WBO all unanimously ordered a rematch that Lewis won via unanimous decision.

Here’s another for good measure.

September 18, 1999
Felix Trinidad vs. Oscar de la Hoya
De La Hoya dominated the first eight rounds then just when he had Trinidad on the ropes, he backed off and began to showboat. Perhaps thinking he was close to knocking out Trinidad. Yet Trinidad rallied and took the last four rounds. While he hit de la Hoya hard it seemed like Trinidad didn’t do enough to win the bout. Imagine when the judges via majority decision gave the welterweight belt to Trinidad.

Many people who say that the decision was just point to Compubox’s stats. Really? You mean the stats are the end all? I think the stats are one factor in choosing deciding a winner but it should not be all.

Here’s a bone I’m throwing onto the table.

When Sugar Shane Mosley first fought Oscar de la Hoya in 2000, the Sugar Man won via majority decision. In their return bout in 2003, de la Hoya posted superior numbers in almost every statistical category (checked this and grabbed this from a boxing website) yet Mosley was declared the winner via unanimous decision!

Take a gander at this. It is quite mind-boggling.
Total Punches Landed
De La Hoya -- 221

Mosley -- 127

Advantage: De La Hoya +94

Total Punches Thrown
De La Hoya -- 616

Mosley -- 496

Advantage: De La Hoya +120

Total Connect Percentage
De La Hoya -- 36%

Mosley -- 26%

Jabs Landed
De La Hoya -- 106

Mosley -- 33

Advantage: De La Hoya +73

Jabs Thrown
De La Hoya -- 296

Mosley -- 268

Advantage: De La Hoya +28

Jabs Connect Percentage
De La Hoya -- 36%

Mosley -- 12%

Power Shots Landed
De La Hoya -- 115

Mosley -- 94

Advantage: De La Hoya +21

Power Shots Thrown
De La Hoya -- 320

Mosley -- 228

Advantage: De La Hoya +92

Power Shots Percentage
De La Hoya -- 36%

Mosley -- 41%

* De La Hoya threw an average of ten more punches per round than Mosley

* De La Hoya landed an average of eight more punches per round than Mosley

* Total punches landed by round -- 11-1 for De La Hoya

* Jabs landed by round -- 12-0 for De La Hoya

* Power punches landed by round -- 7-3-2 for De La Hoya

* First fight: Mosley threw 104 more jabs and landed 18 more jabs than De La Hoya

* First fight: Mosley landed 284 of 678 (42%) total punches; De La Hoya landed 257 of 718 (36%) total punches

* First fight scoring: Split decision 116-112, 115-113, and 113-115 for Mosley

So are stats everything?

Here are more recent ones though non-boxing that should debunk that myth.

In UFC #104, light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida defended his belt against Shogun Rua and it was quite obvious that the challenger had won after the match. Imagine the surprise of the people in the arena when it was announced that Machida had successfully defended his title. When they met once more in UFC #113, Rua knocked out Machida three minutes and 35 seconds into the first round. As’s Brian Knapp wrote, “This time, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua made sure the judges were not involved.

In the match between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs last November 13, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow only completed 2-8 passes but one was for the winning touchdown. Yet Denver still won 17-10. How does a NFL QB throw for that?

In three matches this past UAAP basketball season, the UST Growling Tigers outrebounded the Ateneo Blue Eagles yet lost all three matches (51-44, 50-43, 46-37). Conventional wisdom says that you don’t win the battle of the boards you do not have a shot at winning. So what happened there? You’ll say that there are turnovers and field goal percentages.

Some say that there is this unwritten rule that to be the champ you have to beat the champ. Why isn’t that written in the first place? From what I understand the winner of the bout is whoever performs best that day.

Since I’ve opened up the topic of unwritten rules, I am sure you all remember the other month how Floyd Mayweather Jr. knocked out Victor Ortiz because “he did not protect himself at all times” even if there was no clear indication that the fight was re-engaged. “Protect yourself at all times” was bandied about but what Mayweather did wasn’t sporting at all (never mind if Ortiz had headbutted him). Screw these unwritten rules.

But the decision, however controversial, was made. And Manny Pacquiao is the winner. Like any other referee’s decision, this one is going to stand.

With that, I’m going to say without any trace of sarcasm, “Congratulations, Manny!”

Now that comes with a caveat.

Should you fight again, knock out that sonofagun beyond reasonable doubt. 


  1. Compubox punch stats are unofficial and not accurate so they are as useless are pacquiao's right hand.

    Marquez won this fight going away by atleast 3 rounds.

  2. It was a close fight. I had actually scored it a draw, scoring round by round. Keep in mind I love Manny, so me scoring it a draw, I felt that some of the close rounds I may have favored Manny. When they were reading the scores I was sure they had read it for Marquez.

    Witnessing the hostile response to Manny was hard to digest but I applauded Marquez as he walked out.

    These two are a perfect match up and no matter what will always contest close battles. I wouldn't say Marquez was robbed as I can't really fault any judge for scoring this fight a draw or giving either fighter the victory by 1 round.

    Was really disappointed for Manny as I bet there was no one that wanted him to win this definitively more than him.

  3. I scored it for Pacquiao 7-5. 115-113 is my score, without being biased. I was a close fight, and i respect if someone would say they had it for Marquez, but it was not a robbery. It was close that it could go either way. I watched the replay, and I noticed even more how Manny improve his right(right hook). He also block at lot of punches with his gloves and elbow.