LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The fallout from the “Fight of the Century” became murkier on Monday with possible lawsuits in the works and Manny Pacquiao likely to face disciplinary action for failing to disclose a pre-bout shoulder injury.
Filipino Pacquiao lost on a unanimous decision to undefeated American Floyd Mayweather Jr in a heavily hyped welterweight showdown in Las Vegas on Saturday that is expected to be the top grossing prize fight of all time.
Barely one hour after the contest ended, Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, said the 36-year-old southpaw had been hampered by an ‘old’ injury to his right shoulder.
On Monday, an MRI scan in Los Angeles confirmed the boxer has a torn rotator cuff that will require surgery.
The major problem here is that apparently neither Pacquiao nor his team informed the Nevada Athletic Commission about the shoulder issue until a couple of hours before the start of the fight when they asked for an anti-inflammatory injection.
At that point, it was too late for the commission to investigate whether or not Pacquiao was suffering a genuine injury and there were no MRIs or medical paperwork to support the claim made by the boxer’s team, the commission said.
“The first I heard of this was at 6:08 (p.m. PT) when he (Pacquiao) arrived in the locker room,” commission chairman Francisco Aguilar told reporters during the post-fight news conferences.
“I have no proof of the injury. If he told us on Friday, we would have gotten the MRIs and there are a lot of things we could have done.”
While the commission was seemingly kept in the dark, and clearly no boxer wants to give an opponent any hint of possible weakness or injury ahead of a fight, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) was fully aware of Pacquiao’s injury.
The Filipino suffered the injury during a sparring session at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles last month and USADA, after being consulted by Team Pacquiao, permitted treatment through Toradol, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory.
Pacquiao’s promoter said in a statement on Monday that doctors had “concluded that with short rest, treatments and close monitoring, Manny could train and, on May 2, step into the ring against Floyd Mayweather”.
Pacquiao continued to work out and his shoulder improved, “though not 100 percent”, but he decided to proceed with the fight after anticipating that he could receive his pre-bout treatment.
“On his pre-fight medical form filled out earlier in the week, Manny’s advisors listed the medications that Manny used in training and the medications that might be used on fight night,” Pacquiao’s promoter said.
“A few hours before he was expected to step in the ring, when Manny’s doctors began the process, the Nevada Commission stopped the treatment because it said it was unaware of Manny’s shoulder injury.”
USADA had been informed about the injury but its role was limited only to testing the fighters for banned substances in training and on the night of the bout.
The commission was in overall control, yet when Team Pacquiao filled in its pre-fight medical questionnaire on Friday, a query about any shoulder injury was marked clearly “No” before the form was signed by Pacquiao and his advisor.
A copy of the questionnaire was posted earlier on Monday on the true.ink/boxing/ website where Aguilar confirmed that Pacquiao faced possible sanctions from the state attorney general's office for filling out a state form incorrectly.
“It’s something we’re looking at, and an issue we’ll be discussing with the attorney general,” said Aguilar. “Boxers are tough, and it’s our job often to protect them from themselves.”
The fact that Pacquiao did not disclose his injury until the night of the fight could also lead to possible lawsuits from boxing fans who feel cheated after paying record sums for either tickets in the MGM Grand Garden Arena or pay-for-view (PPV).
Some of the coveted ringside spots in the 16,800-seat Garden Arena demanded up to $350,000 on resale site StubHub while a record $300 million (198 million pounds) or more is expected in PPV revenue from at least three million customers who paid $100 to watch.
Pacquiao, who is renowned for his attacking style, connected with just 81-of-429 punches on the night while the defense-minded Mayweather landed 148-of-435.
Editing by John O'Brien