WASHINGTON - Sen. Harry Reid on Tuesday endorsed calls for a state investigation into the outcome of Saturday's disputed WBO welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden.
Reid, D-Nev., said it would be helpful for such a probe to "clear the air" surrounding the controversial split decision that favored Bradley but led many to believe Pacquiao was robbed of his belt.
Infuriated fight promoter Bob Arum has sent a letter asking state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to look into the scoring by judges Duane Ford and CJ Ross, who each had Bradley winning. A third judge, Jerry Roth, gave the fight to Pacquiao.
"I feel confident there has been nothing untoward, but if an investigation makes everyone feel better, do the investigation," Reid, the Senate majority leader, told reporters when asked about the fight at his weekly news gathering.
A former boxer and a former member of the Nevada Athletic Commission who has judged fights, Reid usually is a fixture at major fights in Las Vegas. He said he did not go to this one because it was his wife's birthday and he flew back to Washington.
But there has been no escaping the outcry over the fight that might enter boxing lore.
"From all the reports I've seen by people on the outside who saw the fight, who attempted to be fair and judge the fight, Pacquiao won the fight," Reid said. "Now, I understand how upset everybody is."
Reid also has personal connections to some of the players. He long has been friends with Arum, the Las Vegas-based chairman of Top Rank Boxing.
And Pacquiao, a hugely popular boxer, endorsed Reid in 2010, appearing at a frenzied Las Vegas rally a few days before the embattled incumbent won re-election. Reid returned the favor by hosting Pacquiao and his wife when they traveled to Washington last year.
Reid said Tuesday that Pacquiao managed the weekend loss "better than anyone else. He said, 'It's a fight, and I lost. We'll fight again.' "
Ford and Ross have said they stand by their scoring, which each favored Bradley by a score of 115-113. Roth had the fight 115-113 for Pacquiao.
Reid said he thought it was worth the time for Cortez Masto to take a look.
"Remember, this fight involved hundreds of millions of dollars," Reid said. "As I said, I am confident there was nothing untoward. I think people just make bad decisions in a lot of things they do, including judging fights. But it doesn't hurt to clear the air and take a look at this."
"These things happen," Reid said, noting Las Vegas is where Mike Tyson bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear at the Grand Garden in 1997 and where a paraglider landed in the ring during the 1993 fight at Caesars Palace between Holyfield and Riddick Bowe.
"This is a bad decision, but bad decisions have happened in fighting forever," Reid said of Saturday's result. "So I hope there is nothing untoward on this, and that's why I think the attorney general looking into it doesn't bother me at all."
Reid said the controversy also might fuel the revival of federal legislation to regulate boxing, an effort he has pushed periodically along with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
"Maybe this will be the impetus for Senator McCain and I to get back to work on it again," he said.
Contact Stephens Washington bureau chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.