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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



WBO mum on referee

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
15 Jul 2017



The WBO dispelled doubts on the competence of the three judges who scored the recent Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn fight in Brisbane after three of five neutral reviewers concluded that the Australian deserved to win after all.

The three judges were chastised by several boxing analysts, including ESPN’s Stephen Smith, for awarding Horn a unanimous decision. Female judge Waleska Roldan of New York saw it 117-111 while Chris Flores of Arizona and Ramon Cerdan of Argentina scored it both 115-113. All three scored the ninth round 10-9 for Pacquiao even as he totally dominated Horn and there could’ve been a justification for 10-8.

Despite the compubox stats which showed Pacquiao landing 90 more blows throughout the fight, the three official judges agreed to give the Filipino only two rounds, the third and the ninth. Two of the three judges scored the eighth and 10th for Pacquiao. In contrast, the three generously awarded five rounds to Horn----the first, fourth, sixth, seventh and 12th. If the judges scored the ninth round 10-8 for Pacquiao and the defending WBO welterweight champion took the 12th, he would’ve won by a split decision. That’s how close the fight was.

The WBO independent jury found one reviewer scoring it a draw, 114-114 and another calling it for Pacquiao, 114-113. The jury rescored the fight on a TV monitor without audio so the reviewers weren’t influenced by the commentary. The five reviewers were unanimous in scoring the third, eighth and ninth rounds for Pacquiao. Four of the five awarded the fifth to Pacquiao. Two of the three reviewers who picked Horn scored it 114-113 and the other, 115-113.
****

The WBO review proved that the outcome was far from conclusive even as three of the five judges saw it for Horn. No doubt, it was close and could’ve gone either way. Close rounds were given to Horn because in an either-or situation, the benefit of the doubt will always go to the aggressor. Horn was clearly the aggressor for the most part as he was allowed to roughhouse and brawl by referee Mark Nelson.

The disappointing thing about the WBO conclusion was it kept silent on Nelson’s inability to control the fight. If Nelson did what a fair referee does, Horn wouldn’t have gotten away with his shenanigans. He wouldn’t have been allowed to head-lock or butt or punch at the break. Beyond re-scoring the fight, the WBO should’ve focused on Nelson’s performance in the ring because he influenced the result. If Nelson slapped deductions on Horn as he should've, the outcome would've been different.

Assuming for the sake of argument that Horn took more rounds than Pacquiao, you ask the question----would he have been able to do that if Nelson put his foot down on those dirty tactics? Horn turned a boxing match into an MMA brawl. Of course, that was really the only way Horn could defeat Pacquiao but should it have been tolerated? With what Horn did to Pacquiao, now oddsmakers aren’t dismissing the possibility of Conor McGregor defeating Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26. Horn showed that if a referee turns a blind eye to illegal roughhousing tactics in boxing, a fighter could maul his way to victory.
****

WBO president Francisco Valcarcel missed a golden opportunity to set the record straight when he ignored commenting on Nelson’s performance. Too bad the WBO missed the point completely. The scoring wasn’t so much the issue as Nelson’s inability to prevent Horn from manhandling Pacquiao. When the WBO released its review findings, Pacquiao said he wasn’t surprised. Nobody was. “Let the people judge for themselves,” he said. “The people saw what happened. We have seen worse judgments in the past where judges manipulated results. Nothing surprises me now.”

GAB chairman Abraham Mitra said he never expected the WBO to overturn the result but said “the judges’ scores would have greatly changed if the referee did his job properly … the referee didn’t give Sen. Manny the respect and fair protection that is due to a people’s champ.”

It’s not too late for Valcarcel to come out with a statement on Nelson. That would do wonders to preserve the integrity of the fight game. Valcarcel could opt to sanction the referee or not. He may simply remark that Nelson could’ve done a better job of keeping control in the ring and if there’s a rematch, the WBO will make sure that the referee and judges are of the highest caliber, meaning no more Nelson, Roldan, Flores and Cerdan.

Photo: Jeff Horn tackles Manny Pacquiao in this bit of action during their fight in Brisbane on July as Referee Mark Nelson looks on.


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