LAS VEGAS -- The last time Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley fought, judge Duane Ford played a starring role.
Ford’s 115-113 scorecard in favor of Bradley combined with judge C.J. Ross’ same score to trump Jerry Roth’s 115-113 card in Pacquiao’s favor, causing a stunned reaction inside MGM Grand and from pay-per-view fans watching internationally.
Ford was back at the hotel Friday on the eve of the rematch. He’s retired from judging after working 209 title fights and is now president of the North American Boxing Federation.
In an interview with The Times, he said the outcry from his and Ross’ cards did “absolutely not” drive him to leave judging. Ross resigned after scoring Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s convincing victory over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September as a 114-114 tie.
“I haven’t gone back and watched it in quite awhile,” Ford said of Pacquiao-Bradley I. “I did afterward, sat down with the commission. Very close fight, either fighter could have won the fight and if they did it was by one round. There were two very close rounds, the fifth and 10th.”
Ross and Ford gave Bradley the fifth and eighth rounds, Roth gave those to Pacquiao. The 10th was a Bradley sweep. Punch statistics company CompuBox reported that Pacquiao out-landed Bradley, 253-159, in punches, and 63-51 in jabs.
“On video, you can’t tell who won those two close rounds,” Ford said. “But I knew that night. As I look back on it, those were really close rounds. Am I happy with my score? I’m very happy.”
The outrage at Ford intensified after he told a reporter Bradley gave Pacquiao “a boxing lesson," even though Bradley (31-0) was so hobbled afterward he reported to the news conference in a wheelchair.
“If I had it to do again, I would’ve watched my words a little better instead of saying Bradley gave him a boxing lesson,” Ford, 75, said. “Bradley was counterpunching. Pacquiao, I’ve never seeen him miss so many punches, although HBO said these punches landed. They didn’t.
“CompuBox and the punch stats mean absolutely nothing, because, on the professional side, a punch is not scored the same way it is in the amateur. It’s about how much damage was done, how it affected the other fighter. It’s a judgment. One good punch can equal three jabs.”
Judges score each round individually, turning in their judgment to a state commission official. Ford said he wasn’t sure at the end of Pacquiao-Bradley who he had given more rounds.
He said he’s weathered the criticism.
“Was this the first controversy I ever judged? No. And if you have more than 200 world title fights, you’re going to have some controversies,” he said. “But boxing has changed, in that anyone with a laptop is now an expert.”
He says he has no particular rooting interest in Saturday’s rematch, which will be judged by just one person from Nevada, Glenn Trowbridge, along with Canada’s Craig Metcalfe and Florida’s Michael Pernick.
Ford said he’ll continue his retirement routine of scoring the fight.
“I expect the styles will be the same way,” Ford said. “Whether Pacquiao lands more this time or not, that’s up to him, but I’m happy to see him again.”
Would he take a convincing Bradley win as vindication?
“No, because the fight I did, along with the two other judges, they saw basically the same thing I did for 12 rounds,” Ford said. “That goes in the history books. I’m telling you, it was a close fight with two rounds that were difficult to score.
“No one thought Pacquiao would lose a close decision in Nevada.”
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun