Sen. Reid calls for Nevada investigation into Pacquiao’s boxing title loss

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday said the Nevada attorney general should investigate the controversial split decision that cost boxing great Manny Pacquiao his WBO welterweight title.

Reid said an inquiry is needed to quell the uproar following the fight, but that he did not suspect anything “untoward,” such as bribery of the judges.

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The Nevada Democrat has a strong relationship with Pacquiao, who campaigned with the Democratic leader in the final days of his difficult 2010 reelection campaign.

Reid later returned the favor by inviting Pacquiao to the Senate at the beginning of last year during the boxer’s trip to Washington, D.C.

Pressed by a Nevada reporter, Reid said Pacquiao should have been declared the winner in Saturday night’s tilt with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas.

“From all the reports that I’ve seen by people on the outside who saw the fight, who attempted to be fair and judge the fight, Pacquiao won the fight,” said Reid, a former member of the Nevada Athletic Commission who used to judge boxing matches.

Bob Arum, the promoter for both Pacquiao and Bradley, has formally asked for the state attorney general to conduct a probe, arguing it is necessary to answer fans’ doubts about the judging process. The Associated Press, which scored the fight, concluded Pacquiao won easily. 

“Our attorney general is a wonderful woman. She’ll do her best. I feel confident there’s been nothing untoward, but if an investigation makes everyone feel better, do the investigation,” Reid told reporters.

Reid noted that the championship bout “involved hundreds of millions of dollars” and would not be a waste of State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s time.

“It doesn’t hurt to clear the air and take a look at this,” said Reid, himself a former amateur boxer.

Had it not been his wife’s birthday last week, Reid said, he would have attended the bout, which was shown on pay-per-view. Landra Reid, the majority leader’s spouse, is recovering from stage 2 breast cancer. 

Reid said he personally knows one of the judges who scored the title fight on Saturday. At press time, it was unclear if that is the judge who deemed Pacquiao the winner, or one of the two judges who scored it for Bradley.

A rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley is expected later this year. 

Pacquiao told the Los Angeles Times in November 2010 that he helped Reid overcome a late deficit in the polls. 

“[Reid] was behind 4 percent in the polls before I got out there,” Pacquiao said. “There’s a lot of Filipinos in Las Vegas.” Reid ultimately defeated Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle by 5 percentage points. 

Boxing helped shape Reid’s life, just as it has Pacquiao’s. Reid noted publicly in 2011 that both he and the welterweight grew up poor. The sport taught Reid “how to fight fair” and led to his meeting Mike O’Callaghan, according to the senator.

O’Callaghan was Reid’s boxing coach and high school history teacher. He later became governor of Nevada, and Reid served as his lieutenant governor. 

Reid and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have worked together in the past to set up a national boxing commission, but the legislative effort has stalled in recent years.

“Maybe this will be the impetus” that can revive the bill, Reid said Tuesday.

“I haven’t had the chance to talk to [McCain] in the last 24 hours, but I will,” Reid added. 


— Updated at 8:38 p.m.