MANILA, Philippines – Could race have been a factor in the officiating of the World Boxing Organization welterweight bout between Filipino icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao and American boxer Timothy Bradley Jr.?
|Timothy Bradley Jr. (R) of the U.S. poses with referee Robert Byrd after beating Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada June 9, 2012. Bradley took Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title by split decision. Photo by Steve Marcus, Reuters.
If you ask sports analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz, the answer is yes.
Bradley stunned Pacquiao – and the boxing world – when he was declared the winner via a highly contested split decision, even as Pacquiao outpunched him throughout the 12 rounds of the bout.
In an interview on ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda," Pacquiao's mother, Dionesia, roundly criticized the referee, Robert Byrd, for what she claimed was unfair treatment of her son.
"Negro ba 'yung referee n'yo? Nakita ko talaga sa referee... Salamat na lang hindi ako kasama d'yan. Aakyat talaga ako sa ring," Dionesia said.
"Bakit 'di n'ya pinahinto? Hinawakan ka sa leeg, binugbog ka sa likod, foul yata talaga ito! Foul talaga," she added.
Speaking on ANC's "Headstart" Monday, Nathanielsz said he agreed with "Mommy D."
"Mommy Dionesia was very correct. Bradley did something illegal – holding and hitting," he said.
"But why didn't the referee stop him?" host Karen Davila asked.
"Why didn't the referee stop him? Look at the color of their skins," Nathanielsz replied.
Byrd, like Bradley, is African-American.
But Nathanielsz said he was not making an "emotional comment," and he insisted he was not being racist.
"An Afro-American judge, an Afro-American is fighting... when did the Americans see Pacquiao lose?" he questioned.
"It's time for somebody from America to step up and challenge this little guy from Asia, who has dominated boxing all these years. This was a good chance... maybe. I don't know," he added.
It was Byrd's first time to be a referee in a Pacquiao bout, but it was his 108th time to officiate a world title bout.
He has also been the referee in bouts involving other Filipino boxers.
Byrd was a busy man during the 12-round bout, as he constantly had to pull the boxers apart and at one point -- during the ninth round -- he issued a warning to both fighters against low blows.
Bradley defeated Pacquiao with scores of 113-115, 115-113 and 115-113. He remains undefeated through 29 bouts, while Pacquiao sustained his fourth career loss against 54 wins and three draws.