Manny Pacquiao boxing on ESPN, rather than pay-per-view, should have been a special night for fight fans. How often have fans been able to see the Pac-Man fight on free TV (well, cable) during his 20-plus year career in the ring?

Saturday night’s bout between Pacquiao and Jeff Horn in Australia was indeed a good boxing match. Horn was hardly deferential to Pacquiao, taking the fight to the welterweight champion instead of simply trying to stay in the ring with him. It appeared that Horn had been knocked out in the ninth round, yet the referee allowed him to continue. The native Australian didn’t squander the opportunity, lasting through 12 rounds and leaving the decision up to the judges.

That’s where controversy ensued, as Horn was awarded a unanimous decision by the three judges that contradicted the view of virtually everyone else who watched the fight. ESPN.com scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Pacquiao. Analyst Teddy Atlas scored 116-111 for Pacquiao. This fight became memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Did Horn get a hometown decision in his native country? Stephen A. Smith, in studio with Steve Levy following the fight, denounced the “bogus” decision, saying the three judges should have their mugshots taken for the crime they perpetrated on boxing.

Stephen A. then found the names of the three judges and his commentary became especially awkward when he exaggerated the pronunciation of Waleska Roldan’s name and questioned whether she was female.

“I’m not assuming there’s a man named Waleska, OK?” said Smith.

Roldan is, in fact, female. But did her name and gender have anything to do with her decision to score the fight heavily in Horn’s favor, 117-111? Judge Roldan on her record, as plenty of boxing observers were doing after the fight.

Steve Levy’s smile and muffled expression was probably an appropriate response under the circumstances. Live TV — ain’t nothin’ like it, as Tony Kornheiser might say.

That’s not to say that Smith was out of line in criticizing the judges’ baffling decision. He was voicing the outrage many viewers — including those in the sports world — were feeling upon hearing the stunning unanimous outcome that contradicted what they had just witnessed. The uproar over the decision may have been equally unanimous in its disbelief.

But did Stephen A. really have to mock the pronunciation of a judge’s name and raise the issue of her gender to make his point? It was a misguided attempt to be entertaining, to further ridicule the ridiculous. In this case, the results truly spoke for themselves, even without Stephen A’s embellishment.

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is an editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has covered baseball for Yahoo! Sports, MLive.com, Bleacher Report and SB Nation, and provides analysis for several sports talk radio shows each week. He currently lives in Asheville, NC.

  • Deon Hamner

    Think it’s a bit of a reach here… Reading this article was longer than his real time mentioning the judges names/sex

  • Mark S

    How ridiculous. He wasn’t connecting her gender with her decision at all. He used a pronoun, then realized he made an assumption based on her name, that may or may not be correct, and explained how he got there. The people who post content to this site constantly wear lenses that look for sexism, homophobia, and racism so they constantly find “objectionable” things that most people with common sense do not see. In some ways, it’s impressive the dedication to constantly find things that are not even there.

  • Neon Voice

    You’re such a Man-Gina.

  • Phillip Mark Rido

    A good fight and correct decision by the Judges…was turned into a negative promo for the sport by two commentators only….Teddy Atlas and Stephen A Smith (bulling others who disagreed with them)…completely disrespectful to all concerned….what Teddy did to Horn after the match was discussing…ESPN control these loud self-adoring fools, they have created this discontent with the decision and with the help of ESPN have discredited the sport.

  • Pedroh

    Stephen Smith is a complete idiot. Not only did he disrespect Jeff Horn, he disrespected the entire sport of boxing. Make no mistake, this fight was one of the top few fights of 2017, To see Horn come back from the pounding he took in round 9 and take 2 out of the last 3 rounds to win was amazing. He definitely did enough to win the fight. Whilst we all admire Mayweather’s supreme defensive boxing skills, his fights are often boring. This was a genuine slugfest and I enjoyed this fight immensely. Especially after I turned down the lamest whining commentator I have ever had the displeasure to hear. Hail to the new kid on the block who (in my opinion) has ended the great Manny Pacquiao’s career.

    • Oxen

      How can Smith respect Horn and the biased judges? So when you do not see a lot of blood , the fight is boring to you? Why not create or make bayonet fights and join in? A good defender has to protect themselves as much as possible it is not a jungle fight.

  • Oxen

    The best way to win when there are very biased or incompetent judges, as seems likely was the case here, as Idi Amin, the boxer once said, it is to ” win by knock out.” Next time Manny should knock out Horn and see if the judges will help Horn again. Horn cannot be allowed to fight Mayweather before a fair fight rematch with Manny. As of now Horn’s win is FAKE he should not be proud of, only the dubious judges thought so and the fans that have no choice but cheer the decision!

  • Sergeant2

    After watching Horn I feel certain in saying Horn would be lucky to make it through the first round against either Thurman or Crawford. I was so certain Manny had won the fight I changed the channel at the end of round 12, felt there was no need to wait and hear who the obvious winner was. I was shocked to read this morning that the judges deemed Horn the winner. Why is it every time this kind of crap happens Bob Arum is the promoter.

  • MrBull

    It’s Stephen A. Smith…it is always blow out of proportion to get ratings…

  • argonne18

    Stephen A. Smith, is to sports journalism, as Miss America Is to world peace. Loud, bloviating, self obsessed, he is perfect for Roller Derby, Wrestle Mania, or CNN.

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