Whatever happened to losing with honour?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By , Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    If there’s one thing we learnt from Jeff Horn’s world title win, it’s that sports administrators everywhere will never let a fair result get in the way of undermining their own integrity.

    The World Boxing Organisation’s decision to re-score Horn’s Welterweight title win is entirely pointless and utterly predictable.

    Under pressure from sometime Filipino senator Manny Pacquiao – who waited until he was safely back in General Santos City before complaining about the result – the WBO has announced it will enlist five independent judges to re-score a fight that Horn was unanimously adjudged to have won.

    Why? Two reasons.

    Pacquiao might be a big-time boxer, but he’s an even bigger celebrity – one with millions of fans across the globe, particularly in the Philippines and the United States.

    And when the Battle of Brisbane was beamed into millions of American households in primetime on ESPN, the troubled network managed to plumb new depths with its abysmal coverage.

    Having told anyone who would listen that Horn had no chance of beating Pacquiao, a stupefied ESPN – lead by cartoonish ringside commentator Teddy Atlas – then deployed an increasingly common tactic when supposed experts get something wrong. They blamed someone else.

    “It’s either incompetence or corruption,” raged Atlas – who conspicuously failed to his blame his own ignorance of Horn’s ability as the real reason he was stunned by the result.

    Having been made to look stupid, ESPN then set about deflecting the blame for their own lack of knowledge by implying the result must have been rigged.

    And Pacquiao’s legion of passionate fans – some of whom seemed to spend more time posting comments on the internet than they did watching the fight – fell for it hook, line and sinker.

    Of course, re-scoring the fight won’t make one iota of difference.

    Horn will keep his belt regardless, and the WBO will have engaged in that most David Brent of activities beloved by all sports administrators – being seen to act, while accomplishing nothing.

    Jeff Horn Boxing 2017

    It’s an artform some would argue Football Federation Australia has perfected – typified by the truly bizarre announcement that the final nine rounds of the A-League season will henceforth be known as ‘The Chase.’

    While FFA is busy conjuring some marketing guff around the revolutionary concept of not forcing the same teams to play twice within a matter of weeks, FIFA has made it clear that unless changes are made to the way the game is governed in Australia, they will step in and make changes themselves.

    Yet as much as reform is necessary – and a broad range of stakeholders are legitimately entitled to a bigger say – it’s a strange notion to have to take management advice from an organisation whose reputation is the most corrupt in world sport.

    Still, if it prompts some debate around what a viable national second division would look like, it’s a decent starting point.

    Much as the Association of Australian Football Clubs – composed of almost one hundred National Premier League clubs – would like to see a second division launched sooner rather than later, there has still been precious little discussion around how it would actually be funded.

    It’s far more likely the FFA will announce two expansion teams, one in Sydney and the other in Brisbane, before any moves to create a second division are made.

    Who knows – by the time the A-League institutes promotion and relegation, the rest of the world may well be on the way to ditching it.

    That seems to be the way sport is headed these days, where the notion of a fair contest means nothing and the biggest clubs can always threaten to form a breakaway league based on the size of their Twitter following and a desire to never again be embarrassed by Leicester City.

    You’d think if Manny Pacquiao wanted to win a fight, he’d simply knock the other bloke out.

    But failing that, whatever happened to the concept of losing with honour?

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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