On Sunday, WBO world welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2) squared off against Jeff Horn (16-0). The match went down at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in Aussie Horn’s own backyard, with the crowd heavily favoring their hometown hero over the Filipino boxing legend—this despite Horn’s inexperience, having faced no significant fighters to date.
Pacquiao seemed to be in control of the match throughout most of the proceedings, landing a flurry of clean shots in the 9th round that prompted the referee to visit Horn’s corner at round’s end and ask him if he’d like to end the fight. When Horn and his team begged him to continue, the ref asserted that he’d end the fight if the Aussie took a similar beating in the 10th. And yet, despite Pacquiao landing way more punches (182/573 compared to Horn’s 92/625), and even though his only significant injuries during the match came from a pair of questionable headbutts by Horn, the judges (two of whom were American) ruled unanimously in favor of the kid: 117-111, 115-113, 115-113.
Legendary trainer Teddy Atlas, who was ringside calling the match, was beside himself with the result.
“That stupid practice in the States where so many decided to give trophies to everybody just for a good effort, instead of saying, oh, a guy won, a guy lost, and you deal with it. You learn. It’s part of growing up. It’s part of life. They give everybody a trophy. That’s what they did tonight! They gave a trophy—a win, a huge win—for trying hard. You’re not supposed to get it for trying hard! You’re supposed to get it for winning! And I thought Pacquiao won the fight.”
The criticism was echoed by heavyweight boxing great Lennox Lewis, who tweeted, “This is what’s wrong with boxing. Horn was very game but I’m hard pressed to see how he could have won that fight by any stretch!” Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wrote, “Boxing is a joke, and it proves it again tonight. Are you kidding me with those scorecards?” followed by the hashtags #joke and #rigged. And the Oscar-nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson was a bit more outspoken, tweeting, “Uhhhhhhh, can U Say Bullshit??!!Manny got Fucked!!! That’s the Face of a Winner??!”
NBA legend Kobe Bryant simply shared the following GIF:
The decision brought up memories of Pacquiao’s highly controversial split-decision loss to Timothy Bradley in 2012 for the welterweight title—a fight that virtually everyone watching felt Pacquiao had won. Now, Pacquiao isn’t the most likable guy—his homophobic views are downright despicable—but this ridiculous decision points to a greater problem in the sport of boxing, which has seen a number of highly questionable decisions (and subsequent charges of rigging) recently. The sport’s taken such a credibility hit that they’re now opting for cash-grab stunts, like the upcoming bout between Floyd Mayweather and the UFC’s Conor McGregor.