PACQUIAO v BRADLEY: Manny is robbed
Not even George Clooney and his boys would have dared attempt a movie heist in Sin City as big as the real crime perpetrated under cover of darkness here.
A cool $200million disappeared in the most expensive robbery in boxing history.
While Floyd Mayweather was kicking his heels in a jail cell a few miles down this neon strip, Manny Pacquiao was adjudged to have suffered the defeat which has cost the pair of them that bonanza from their mega-fight which will never now take place.
In truth, they delayed too long the collision which would have decided who is the world's best pound-for-pound fighter.
Not only are their skills beginning to wane, ever so slightly, but there was always the danger that something untoward would over-turn the golden apple cart.
So it came to pass in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday as Tim Bradley was given the benefit of a decision not so much split as severed from reality.
What next? The hotly anticipated fight with Mayweather may not happen now
Pacquiao's world welterweight title was pilfered in full view of thousands of fans in the arena and a global television audience of millions. Behind the distraction of the jeering uproar which greeted that verdict, the casino strong room was plundered.
However you scored the fight - and I was more generous to Bradley than many - there was only one winner and it was not the brave but outclassed American. Pacquiao was often close to taking the matter out of the judges' hands. A pity he did not do so as results like this hurt boxing.
Promoter Bob Arum used words like 'unfathomable' and 'shameful'. Amir Khan and Lennox Lewis cried foul, with the latter describing the scoring as ‘worse than the draw they gave Evander Holyfield against me'. But it was Holyfield himself who hit the spot: ‘Manny was the world champion and Bradley did nothing like enough to take it from him.'
Holyfield had the PacMan ‘half a dozen rounds ahead', while Pacquiao and his Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach believe they were eight points clear.
All queried the eyesight of the two judges, Duane Ford and CJ Ross, who gave it to Bradley 115-113. They even thought that the one who favoured Pacquiao by the same margin, Jerry Roth, was somewhat myopic.
For the record, I also scored it to Pacquiao by two but from a position where he had the fight comfortably won and could afford to drop a few of the later rounds.
The collateral damage to the hard old game was limited by the dignified reaction of the combatants. Pacquiao, always the gentleman, set his disappointment aside to congratulate Bradley, saying: ‘You will be a great champion.'
He added: ‘Whatever we think of the result, we have to respect the decision. That's boxing.'
Bradley had no hesitation in confirming he would abide by the rematch clause in the contract, saying:
‘Manny is a great fighter. I have to give him the chance to win back his title. He has great punching power and I have to be honest and admit he hurt me a few times.'
Hurt him so badly, in fact, that during the second round he staggered under the barrage, twisting his left ankle so badly he needed a wheelchair to take him to hospital after the post-fight media conference.
The dispute is tough on Bradley, now the undefeated world welterweight as well as light-welterweight champion. Before the fight he brandished a giant mock-up ticket for the rematch which would be required of him if he won. The date printed on it is November 10, with the MGM Grand again the venue.
However Arum, who was critical of the selection of all-local judges by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, may move the bout away from Las Vegas.
Pacquiao said: ‘Wherever we do it I will have to be sure to finish it before it goes the full 12 rounds.'
Ironically, it was here that Pacquiao was accused of robbing Juan Manuel Marquez in the third fight of their trilogy late last year. Roach pondered ‘whether that preyed on the minds of the judges this time'.
They were not helped, either, by Pacquiao's tendency to coast through the first minute of several rounds before opening up. Judges are not always swayed by an eye-catching flurry near the end of a stanza.
Although in the case of the two who voted for Bradley there is no telling what they thought they saw. It was a different fight from the rest of us, the one in which Pacquiao frequently pounded Bradley with combinations.
As for Mayweather, he will be out of prison well before the rematch but confined to the role of spectator. The safe door is hanging open and the contents gone, with no prospect of finding enough money to satisfy the demands of himself and Pacquiao.
Those two judges may never be forgiven - but they knew not what they did.