CJ Ross is the latest judge in boxing lore to earn the distinction of being crooked. In the two biggest fights of her career, she ruled that a battered Timothy Bradley beat Manny Pacquiao and that Canelo Alvarez earned a draw with Floyd Mayweather – after punching ghosts for 12 rounds while Money Mayweather smirked.
Both were met with widespread condemnation, especially from ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas. He called the decision for what it was and discussed the obvious negative consequences stemming from lack fof regulation: mainly, crooked judges and dubious title shots (in Mayweather-Alvarez, we may have seen both).
I'm not convinced that this boils down to Vegas gamblers, though. In both instances, the networks and promoters putting on the fight both had major reason to push a decision one way or another.
When Ross handed in her decision for Pacquiao-Bradley, Floyd Mayweather was in jail, and subsequently on his way to Showtime. With Pacquiao running out of opponents to fight and the need for another young American champion to carry Mayweather's torch, HBO and/or Top Rank wanted someone to build around. Timothy Bradley, whose biggest victory at the time was one of the top-five most boring/overhyped fights in recent memory against Devon Alexander, was the most obvious choice – especially with his undefeated record. Despite the beating he took, Bradley added the belts and the distinction of beating Pacquiao to his marketing resume in the hopes he might carry a pay-per-view of his own.
(Update: PPV expectations for Bradley's fight against Juan Manuel Marquez are very low [which is a shame since it has the potential to be a great fight].)
Showtime and/or Golden Boy were in the same boat with Canelo. Showtime has what amounts to a handshake agreement with Golden Boy that they have virtually exclusive rights to fights on their network. The problem is that they've run out of legit fighters for Floyd Mayweather to fight on his six-fight deal with Showtime because Golden Boy doesn't have the stable. Mayweather made $41 million from Showtime for fighting Canelo, amounting to $75 million this year. He'll make the same for the next two years no matter the opponent.
But if Canelo beat Mayweather, well, that's an automatic rematch, perhaps another fight against a lesser foe, and then a rubber match, assuming Floyd won the second (and there's a safe assumption that he would, given the fix). That's four more fights with virtually no effort from Showtime, seeing out his career while everyone gets rich.
Unfortunately, Mayweather beat Canelo so badly they'd have needed to pay off all three judges, the crowd, and Mayweather's security team to pull that one off.
Hopefully CJ Donaghy got her money up front.