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Sens. Reid, McCain push bill to combat fraud, corruption in professional boxing

Pacquiao Bradley Boxi_Lync.jpg

June 9, 2012: Timothy Bradley, from Palm Springs, Calif., left, trades blows with Manny Pacquiao, from the Philippines, in their WBO world welterweight title fight in Las Vegas. Bradley won the fight by split decision.AP

Giving voice to the outrage over Timothy Bradley's controversial split decision over Manny Pacquiao, two senators introduced legislation Monday that would create a special boxing commission to oversee all matches in the United States and restore integrity to the sport.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who boxed while at the U.S. Naval Academy, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a former middleweight boxer, are pushing the measure establishing the U.S. Boxing Commission, an entity that would carry out federal boxing law, work with the industry and local commissions and license boxers, promoters, managers and sanctioning organizations.

Speaking on the Senate floor, McCain evoked the words of former sportswriter Jimmy Cannon, who called boxing the "red light district of sports." He said the recent dispute stemming from the welterweight bout between Bradley and Pacquiao "is the latest example of the legitimate distrust boxing fans have for the integrity of the sport."

Earlier this month in Las Vegas, Pacquiao seemed to have the fight in hand, but two judges decided otherwise, giving Bradley a split decision in the welterweight title bout. The results ended Pacquiao's outstanding seven-year unbeaten streak and left promoter Bob Arum angry and demanding a full investigation by Nevada officials.

"I've never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight," Arum, who handles both fighters, said after the fight.

Bradley won five of the last six rounds on two scorecards and four on the third. He won 115-113 on two scorecards, while losing on the third by the same margin. The Associated Press had Pacquiao winning 117-111.

"Clearly, the conspiracy theories and speculation surrounding the fight are given life because there are so many questions surrounding the integrity of the sport and how it is managed in multiple jurisdictions," said McCain, who pointed out that professional boxing is the only sport in the United States without a strong, centralized association regulating it.

Under the legislation, all referees and judges participating in a championship or a professional fight lasting 10 rounds or more would have to be fully registered and licensed by the commission. A sanctioning organization could provide the names of judges and referees it considers qualified for that caliber bout, but only the commission could appoint judges and referees to participate in the matches.