Pacquiao shrugs off referee cheating allegations in 2000 fight

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2022 05:52 PM | Updated as of Nov 30 2022 11:04 PM

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Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday said he did not cheat when he beat Australian fighter Nedal Hussein in their 2000 fight.

Pacquiao was reacting to allegations by retired referee Carlos Padilla, who officiated that bout in Antipolo and said recently he helped his countryman win by "prolonging" the standard 10-count when Pacquiao was knocked down and left dazed in the fourth round. 

"Hindi man daya. Pinaburan lang tayo, pabor lang siguro syempre home court. As a boxer ginawa ko lang naman yung tama," Pacquiao said during training in General Santos City.

"Ako naman boxer lang ako. Ginagawa ko lang yung trabaho ko sa taas ng ring. That's his problem, not mine," he added, referring to Padilla.

Buboy Fernandez, Pacquiao's long-time confidante and trainer, said the call was Padilla's, not theirs.

“Alam naman ng tao kung sino may kasalanan diyan," Fernandez said. 

"Kaya naman kami sa team namin wala kaming comment. Alam niya naman eh, siya naman ang referee.” 

Pacquiao was 21 and a rising star when he went 10 rounds against Hussein for the WBC International super-bantamweight title at Ynares Sports Center on October 14, 2000.

But in a stunning confession, Padilla – known for refereeing the "Thrilla in Manila" between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975 – said he helped Pacquiao secure victory. 

"I am a Filipino and everybody is Filipino watching the fight, so I prolong the count. I know how to do it," Padilla, who was recently inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, said in an interview posted on the World Boxing Council's YouTube page.

"When he get up I said to him 'hey are you okay?' -- and that's prolonging the fight," a smiling Padilla said.

Pacquiao later head-butted Hussein, leaving the Australian with a cut above his left eye. 

But Padilla classified the head clash as a "punch". Pacquiao won by a technical knockout after the doctor stopped the fight due to Hussein's bleeding.

"I declare it a punch but it's (a head butt)," Padilla said, which allowed the fight to continue. 

"As a referee, that's the best way to do – let the doctor stop the fight but they know that it's my fault."

Hussein, who was coached by Australian former world champion Jeff Fenech, said on Instagram that Padilla's admission was a "travesty and a true injustice".

"They should be held accountable for the sport we love," Hussein said in a post addressed to World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman. 

Pacquiao did not immediately respond to AFP's requests for comment.

The 43-year-old multiple world champion retired last year from the sport to make a failed crack at the presidency of his country. 

He has an exhibition fight against a South Korean YouTuber in December, which he has described as "my comeback to the ring". – With reports by Chat Ansagay and Agence France-Presse