I caught the fight on radio. At around noon, I stepped out of the car for a bit, and as a result missed rounds 2, 3, and 4, but the rest of the fight I followed closely through the dzBB broadcast, listening to the car radio. Unfortunately, the broadcast seemed to report an altogether different fight.
Don’t get me wrong. By and large, the dzBB coverage, anchored by mainstay Orly and backstopped by analyst Mike (I think he works for, or may have been hired for the fight by, Solar Sports), was commendable. The two (mostly) kept out of the way, during the actual fight. Mike had interesting things to say about the art and science of boxing. Orly could be funny at times.
And yet: I was witness to another fight. For some reason, perhaps because we already take Manny Pacquiao’s take-it-to-the-enemy style of fighting for granted, not much was said about the Pacman’s aggressiveness. There was a lot of impressed commentary over Marco Antonio Barrera’s counter-punching skills. At one point, late in the fight, Orly and Mike discussed Barrera’s stylish way of sidestepping to the right to avoid Pacquiao’s attack.
As a result, seeing the fight through their eyes, I thought Pacman was perhaps running behind on points. Even after Manny had shaken Barrera in the 11th round, and after a point had already been deducted from the Mexican hall-of-famer for a foul, the commentary was still about how close the fight was. When the 12th round started, I distinctly remember the analyst Mike say, Whoever wins this round wins the fight. It was that close. When the fight ended without a knockdown, I started to worry in earnest. Considering the experience, the wiliness, the sheer craft, that Barrera had displayed (and that dzBB reported on the air), I felt a sinking sensation. When Michael Buffer roared into the microphone to announce the scores, I pulled over (oh, yes, I was driving much of the time), gripped the steering wheel hard, and flinched. The way it sounded, Manny might lose, perhaps by a split decision. Mike the analyst told listeners how he scored the fight: It was 114-113 in favor of the Pacman, he said. Mentally discounting patriotic pride or a nationalistic bias on his part, I thought: Man, it could be a split decision, in favor of the older, craftier boxer.
And then the scores were read. The first two judges scored it 118-109; the third 115-112 —- all in favor of Pacman. What the …
How could the scores, especially those of the first two judges, be so lopsided?
When I finally watched the fight on TV in the afternoon, I understood why. I saw all those things that perhaps, out of sheer familiarity, were not reported on radio. Pacquiao controlled most of the fight. Pacquiao dominated the center of the ring. Pacquiao played the aggressor’s role, taking the fight to the enemy again and again. Pacquiao landed more punches, and connected more often. And perhaps most important, in the later rounds Pacquiao did not look at all like he was peaked.
It was a radically different fight from what I had heard on the radio. In fact, I would have probably given the Pacman a lopsided score too, if I had been following the fight on TV. How lopsided? Maybe three, four rounds for Barrera. The rest, clearly, was Manny’s.