Boxing and controversy have always gone hand-in-glove, as have concerns about fight-fixing in what is one of the more exciting spectator sports around.
Saturday night witnessed another controversial chapter in the sport's history, when Filipino Manny Pacquiao and Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez went head to head, with the World Boxing Organization welterweight title on the line. The former was declared winner, by majority vote, despite a tremendous performance from Marquez. So much so, in fact, that spectators believed he had actually dominated the encounter.
This is not the first time that these two have courted controversy together. In 2004, Pacquiao knocked Marquez down thrice in the first round. However, Marquez took the fight to the full 12 rounds, despite a bloody nose. At the end, almost everyone was waiting for Pacquiao to emerge victorious, but the three judges sprang a surprise.
John Stewart found for Pacquiao with 115-110 points, while Guy Jutras reversed the scores in favor of Marquez. The third judge did not help matters, returning a 113-113 score, so the first of the three fights between the two ended in a draw.
Keeping the Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry in mind, here are three of the most controversial matches in the history of the sport.
1. Muhammad Ali Vs. Sonny Liston (1965)
A matchup between two of the sport's legends is considered one of its most controversial. People and pundits, to this day, still do not agree over what happened in Lewiston, Maine.
In the middle of the first round, Liston fell to the canvas after appearing to lose his balance. Ali claimed it as a knockout punch and started celebrating, with his fist in the air. The referee restarted the match, but, within seconds, the publisher of The Ring magazine declared Ali the winner as Liston had spent 20 seconds on the canvas.
Many people believed the match had been fixed and accused Liston of taking money from the mafia. Many others believed that he feared for his own safety from Nation of Islam terrorists, a notion that Liston accepted, in an interview published in Mark Kram's book, Ghosts of Manila.
2. Kendall Holt Vs. Ricardo Torres (2007)
The fight between Holt and Torres, held in Colombia, added another controversial decision to the books of the sport. The American, Holt, was ahead of the hometown boy, and knocked him down in the sixth round. Furthermore, he was ahead, on two of the three scorecards, until the 11th round. In that round, however, after being knocked down by a Torres punch, Holt was bombarded by beer cans and bottles, making it difficult to punch back. The judges returned a favorable verdict, by technical knockout, to Torres.
Holt later claimed that he was hit by beer cans as early as the sixth round and that, in the 11th round, someone in Torres' corner grabbed at his leg.
3. Park Si-Hun Vs. Roy Jones Jr. (1988)
In the 1988 Summer Olympics, South Korean Park Si-Hun took on American Roy Jones Jr., in the gold-medal match. However, no one could have predicted that the Games themselves would be tainted because of what was to happen in this one match.
The American, who probably could have won fairly easily by knockout, decided to win, instead, by rounds. He therefore shuffled around the ring for five rounds, avoiding Si-Hun's punches. When it came time to decide a winner, the judges saw a completely different match and declared the South Korean the winner. The scores later showed that Jones Jr. had 86 legitimate punches, as compared with his opponent's 32.