Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao has broken his silence in response to a controversial cheating confession made by renowned Filipino referee Carlos Padilla Jr.
Padilla, 88, claimed that the match between Pacquiao, 43, and Australian boxer Nedal “Skinny” Hussein, 45, for the World Boxing Council (WBC) International super-bantamweight title match at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, Philippines, in October 2000 was rigged.
Padilla appeared to admit to cheating to help Pacquiao win during an interview with the WBC last month. The retired ref confessed to “prolonging” the 10-second count after Pacquiao was knocked down by Hussein in the fourth round of their match.
“Because I am a Filipino and everybody [was] Filipino watching the fight, so I prolonged the count. I know how to do it,” Padilla said. “And when he got up, I said, ‘Hey, are you okay?’ That was prolonging the fight.”
Speaking to ABS-CBN’s “TV Patrol,” Pacquiao denied being involved in any way with Padilla’s decision-making.
The match ended in a technical knockout in the 10th round after Hussein suffered a deep cut on his left eyebrow. According to Padilla’s claim, Pacquiao headbutted his opponent during the match, but the Filipino referee turned a blind eye to the violation.
Headbutting an opponent is illegal in boxing as it is considered flagrant. The act can result in a point deduction for the boxer who delivered it or an outright disqualification from the match.
“He butted the other guy. There was a cut. I declared it a punch. If there is a butt, you have to stop the fight,” Padilla told WBC. “But if you do not do that, the fight continues, meaning to say it is a good hit, clean punch.”
The confession reportedly infuriated Hussein, pushing the retired boxer to call out Padilla and urge the WBC to investigate the matter in an Instagram post.
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Days after the controversial confession blew up online, Hussein and Pacquiao met during a Zoom video call for the first time in years to share their views on the matter. Speaking about the cheating claims, Hussein said that he has no hard feelings toward Pacquiao and that he is a big fan. He also opened up the possibility of holding an exhibition match with the former Philippine senator.
“If there’s a challenge, I’d love to do it against Manny,” Hussein said.
Padilla’s daughter Suzy Padilla-Tuano defended her father amid the criticism in a letter to the WBC, writing, “My father is an 88-year-old man who is just that – old and aging! … Communications can be misconstrued and well-intentioned words can be misinterpreted. The present situation is one such glaring example of what might have actually been said (no pun intended) and what may have been taken out of context.”
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman announced that the organization formed a panel to review Padilla’s confession, stating that the WBC will not make any further comments amid the process.