By MIKE AWOYINFA
FOR seven years, he ruled the boxing ring with an iron fist. He was the king of all he surveyed. From one weight class to another, he moved with such ease and dominated every weight class he stepped into. He was a champion in four different weight classes.
He was unbeaten. He was untouchable. He was the best pound for pound fighter in the world. The only person left to be beaten was the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather, also touted as the best pound for pound boxer in the world.
Such was the aura of his invincibility that all the great boxers of this era, boxers like Oscar de La Hoya all fell before him. On record, he beat the Mexican legend Erick Morales, the man who had earlier beaten him. There was a third rematch and again Morales was beaten. Among his other big name victims were Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Anthonio Margarito and Shane Mosley. The bigger they came, the harder he knocked them out.
Manny Pacquiao was simply out of this world. He was the pride of the Philippines. He was one bionic fighter who fought like a beast. He was always charging at his opponent, always menacing, forward moving, never retreating. He feared no foe.
His name struck fear in every boxer, including Floyd Mayweather who insists Pacquiao needed to undergo blood test a day or so to the fight before he would fight him. But Pacquiao says he hates injections and that the normal urine test should be enough.
The world was looking up to the two to fight, but Mayweather didn’t show that he was ready to fight Pacquiao for fear of denting his unbeaten record. Then Mayweather went to prison, making it even more difficult for the awaited clash between him and Pacquiao to take place. He is still in prison for fighting his woman. Boxers are not allowed to fight outside the ring because they can kill. And for a boxer to beat a woman is the ultimate criminal offence that fetched Mayweather a jail term.
As an interim, another undefeated boxer by name Tim Bradley was pushed into the ring to face the Pacquaio juggernaut and the belief was that he would be crushed as usual. But the unexpected happened and for the first time in seven years, Pacquaio lost a fight through a controversial split decision awarded in favour of Bradley.
It was one decision that shook the boxing world to its very marrow. What nobody thought could be done was achieved. Thanks to two of the three judges who saw the match differently and gave the verdict to Bradley.
Now, the invincible man of boxing has finally lost his belt amidst booing by the pro-Pacquiao crowd who saw it as a miscarriage of justice. In their opinion, Pacquiao won by far.
And Pacquiao is supported by great boxers like Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Amir Khan who saw the verdict as shameful and designed to kill the game of boxing.
Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis tweeted: “Unbelievable! #PacBradley This is another stain on boxing. Even worse than my draw with Holyfield! #Disgraceful.”
Amir Khan, Pacquiao’s stable mate whom Bradley had been dodging to fight tweeted: “What a robbery. Bradley did not win this fight. The crowd are booing … What a joke. We had Manny winning by 5 rounds.”
“Was Timothy Bradley’s split-decision victory over Manny Pacquiao fair? Australia’s Daily Telegraph asked. In a poll, the paper reported that “seventy-five percent of the respondents said no, and only 13 percent said yes.”
A British sportswriter with The Daily Telegraph Gareth Davies describes it as “one of boxing’s great robberies” he has ever seen.
Yes, I watched the fight and at the end of it all, I thought Bradley had not done enough to dethrone the champion. The unwritten rule in boxing is that the champion must be beaten silly before you can take a belt from him.
In my opinion, it should have been a draw. But the experienced judges saw it all in a different light. And as a result the Pacman ended up being sent parking.
All is not lost. Hopefully by November 10, Pacquiao would have the chance to take back his crown in a return match.
Till then, it’s Bradley all the way. Bradley, the lucky man who has proved that no man is invincible, who has proved that only God is invincible.