The state attorney general has determined there was no wrongdoing by the officials in the June 9 WBO welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand Garden that saw Bradley upset Pacquiao in a 12-round split decision.
But that will be of little solace to Pacquiao’s legions of fans and many neutral boxing observers who think the judges robbed Pacquiao.
In a letter Tuesday to Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto indicated that after chief investigator Dale Liebherr interviewed members of the Nevada Athletic Commission and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, no evidence of criminal activity or impropriety was found on the part of the officials, including judges Duane Ford, Jerry Roth and CJ Ross. Ford and Ross had Bradley winning 115-113, and Roth had Pacquiao ahead, 115-113.
“Displeasure with the subjective decisions of sporting officials is not a sufficient basis for this office to initiate a criminal investigation,” Cortez Masto told Arum in the letter. “Unless evidence beyond mere displeasure is forthcoming, this matter will be considered closed. While there may be strong disagreement with the decision, the exercise of professional judgment by individuals officiating at a sporting event is not by itself a criminal investigation.”
Arum, who requested the investigation in a letter to Cortez Masto on June 11, said the investigation rings hollow.
“I’m happy that the attorney general did some investigating, but there’s a tremendous gap,” Arum said from Los Angeles. “Why didn’t they interview the judges? They interview the referee (Robert Byrd), and he wasn’t the problem.
“I’m not sure this brings closure. I would feel a lot better if they had interviewed the judges. But it’s her investigation, not mine.”
NAC executive director Keith Kizer said he met with Ford, Roth and Ross individually last week and reviewed the tape of the fight round by round. Kizer said he was satisfied with their performance, and he also praised the attorney general for looking into the matter.
“I’m not sure there was a need for an investigation, but I thought they handled it well,” Kizer said. “It’s unfortunate that people reacted the way they did following the fight. But this was a very close fight, and eight of the 12 rounds could have went either way, and the three judges did a great job.”
Cameron Dunkin, who manages Bradley, agreed.
“There was nothing to investigate,” Dunkin said. “There isn’t anything there.
“There’s nothing weird with the Nevada Athletic Commission. They’re the best commission in the world for a reason, and this should show there was nothing fishy. I’m just sorry the attorney general had to go through this nonsense.”
Bradley is still healing from injuries to both ankles and his left foot sustained in the fight, and Pacquiao is vacationing in Israel. Arum said he hopes to meet with Pacquiao on July 14 or 15 to determine his next opponent. Pacquiao has announced he will fight Nov. 10.
The June 9 fight had a rematch clause if Pacquiao chooses to exercise it. But whether the public will buy it is another story. The pay-per-view numbers on HBO from the first fight – approximately 920,000 buys – were not great. That number was far fewer than the 1.41 million buys generated from Pacquiao’s previous fight, a 12-round majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in their trilogy fight Nov. 12 at the Grand Garden.
“We’ll see,” Arum said. “We’ll sit down with Manny and listen to what he wants and go from there.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.