LAS VEGAS, May 11, 2004
By Lito A. Tacujan  -  Featherweight champion Manny Pacquiao yesterday said they would protest the controversial split draw decision in his showdown with Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday at the MGM Grand Arena.

The Filipino’s American agent Murad Muhammad made the disclosure during the turnover rites of the key to the city of Las Vegas which proclaimed Sunday ‘The Manny Pacquiao Day’ before members of the Filipino community here.

An admission of a scoring error by one of the judges on the first round is one of the issues they will bring up next week before the Nevada Boxing Commission, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Association (WBA).

The 12-round bout lived up to its hype as the year’s most compelling fight before 7,129 fans but ended in controversy and drew heavy flak from the media and boxing websites the morning after.

Muhammad said they would also protest referee Joe Cortez’s poor handling of Marquez’s third knockdown allowing the Mexican 12 seconds to get on his feet, the six low blows that drew no penalty point and the anomalous card of one of the judges who gave Marquez 10 of the last 11 rounds.

"What hurts most is that Manny Pacquiao felt he let his countrymen down. But he did not, he won this fight on the eyes of the whole world," he said.

One of the three judges, Burt Clements, admitted to the Las Vegas Journal Review that he committed a scoring error when he scored the first round 10-7 for Pacquiao unaware that he is allowed to score 10-6 as did Guy Jutras and John Stewart.

"It used to be three knockdowns was 10-7," said Clements." I take full responsibility. Had I been aware of it I would scored it 10-6.

"Clearly it wasn’t non-awareness of three knockdown rule. I just screwed up. I felt badly because I dropped the ball, simply and plainly.

Had he scored 10-6, Pacquiao would have 114-113 to win the contest and the two IBF/WBA belts Marquez had defended successfully. Clements had 113-113. Jutras, who is WBA racing committee chair and Murad said once accused of fraud in a New Jersey championship fight controversy 15 years, had 115-110, showing his bias for Marquez by giving 10 of the last 11 rounds. Stewart scored it 115-110 for Pacquiao.

However, the commission’s executive director Marc Ratner said there’s no rule that covers the situation and no grounds for protest because it’s a judgment call.

Murad also scored Cortez for alleged slow count on Marquez on the third knockdown, stressing the Mexican was down, "his gloves on his face for 12 seconds." He also said no point deduction given the Mexican despite drawing six warnings for low blow.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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