What Just Happened Here?
In the mot action-packed 24 hours of sports that this writer can remember, some things went according to plan and others were straight out of the Twilight Zone. Maria Sharapova was virtually unchallenged in her quest to complete the “Career Grand Slam” by winning the French Open at Rolland Garros. Check. The number two seed New Jersey Devils continue to fight their way back in the Stanley Cup Finals series, forcing a game seven with the eighth seeded LA Kings. Check. After pushing the Miami Heat to the brink of elimination and to an eleven-point first half deficit, the Boston Celtics ran out of gas and appeared to misfire on their final three hundred jumpshots, leaving LeBron James and co to take their talents to Oklahoma City. Check.
I could go on for days about how bizarre the NBA season and postseason have been, but I suppose it is coming to the most anticipated conclusion in quite a long time. With the abrupt retirement of Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ I’ll Have Another, the Belmont Stakes was less of an historical event, but there were no shockers there. In fact, let’s say I hypothetically had some theoretical money on Paynter to place and broke even for the day. Allegedly.
While things appeared to normalize in tennis, hockey and basketball, and even horse racing, boxing took a turn for the shocking. Things first went off script in the under cards when undefeated Mike Jones got floored and then leveled by Randall Bailey. Then the main event got off to a late start because the champion Manny Pacquiao was too busy watching his Boston Celtics lose to the Miami Heat to warm up for his hungry, undefeated opponent.
The fight, to most viewers except for the three most important, was a bit of a bummer. Not that there weren’t some exciting exchanged as rounds, but it sort of resembled a Mayweather fight in that many scorecards were hard pressed to find more than a single round for the challenger. For Pacman, it looked like his most dominant end-to-end performance since the fight with Miguel Cotto. The result, a split decision for Timothy Bradley which crowned him the new WBO Welterweight Champion, was perhaps best captioned by his in-ring post-fight interview where he told Max Kellerman he’d have to go home and review the tape to see that he’d actually deserved the win.
Conspiracy theories will run rampant and anomalies such as Bradley’s pre-fight prediction of a rematch to occur on November 10th, the late money that flew to Bradley’s odds in Vegas, and every other bizarre lead up to the contest so much so that ESPN and Grantland’s Bill Simmons has predicted a future 30 for 30 documentary film to cover the shocking events of last night. As a boxing fan, I felt that Manny Pacquiao’s controversial decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez was as much of a sham as last night’s, but it was perhaps less obvious. At least in the former, Manny clearly did more in the later rounds, though I didn’t think it was enough to overcome an early struggle. Still, what goes around comes around. Karmically, the champion deserved to get screwed out of a decision. Emmanuelle Lewis, ringside after the smoke had cleared, affirmed that this is the reason why fights should always end in a KO. In my opinion, Ring Magazine now has no choice but to make 43-0 Floyd Mayweather the undisputed #1 Pound-for-pound boxer in the world, which they’ve been avoiding doing pending a possible super-fight with Pacquiao.
Naledi Semela with The Arkitekt’s Perspective