In a sordid turn of events, referee Carlos Padilla has admitted to assisting Manny Pacquiao to victory in his fight against Australian, Nedal Hussein.
In the year 2000, Hussein travelled to the Philippines to face a young Pacquiao in a super bantamweight contest. The Aussie fighter was undefeated in his first 19, whilst 22-year-old Pac man had racked up 29 victories and just two losses.
Padilla, who refereed Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier’s ‘Thrilla In Manilla’, told the WBC that he was approached before the contest to be reminded how important it was for his countryman.
“Manny was not a world champion yet, he was only good in the Philippines. That fight, I’m about to go and leave the following day and they told me ‘Carlos, please… this is an important fight for Manny Pacquiao, because the winner will have the chance to fight for the world championship.'”
“So in the seventh round, I think, Manny got knocked down, I thought he was going to get up, but his eyes were cross eyed. I am Filipino and everybody watching the fight is Filipino, so I prolonged the count. I know how to do it.”
Admitting to prolonging a count – which was reportedly 18 seconds – is enough for fans to know that the bout was clearly skewed in the hometown hero’s favour, but Padilla’s help didn’t end there.
“When he got up, I told him ‘hey, are you OK?’ still prolonging the fight. ‘Are you OK? OK, fight!’ and then Hussein … because Manny was not like Manny is now, he wasn’t trained by Freddie Roach yet, he holds for his dear life and the guy throws him and he [Manny] went down again.
‘I said to the opponent ‘hey, you don’t do this’ you know, I was prolonging the fight ‘you don’t do that. OK, judges, [point] deduction.'”
Add to a long count an apparently blasé point deduction, then. Next up in the bingo card of bending rules, the now hall-of-fame referee ignored a punishable head butt from Pacquiao.
“Because he is shorter he head butted the other guy and there is a cut but I declared it a punch. If there is a head butt you have to stop the fight and declare to the judges a point deduction, but I didn’t do that, meaning the fight could continue.”
Finally, it appears that Padilla has admitted to working with the ringside doctor to manufacture a quick stoppage.
“I said ‘you better knock that guy out Manny, because we may be in trouble.’ The guy was strong. I told the doctor to reposition himself to the neutral corner, I looked at him and he already sensed what I mean. He went over the ropes and [gestures looking at Hussein before waving it off].”
Pacquiao picked up the WBC International Super Bantamweight title that night. The governing body have bizarrely posted the interview without comment on the fact that their sanctioned bout appears to have been made unfair.
What’s perhaps most damning is Padilla’s laughter throughout the segment, as if in perhaps changing the course of one fighter’s career for the better, he didn’t derail another’s.
One man who did pick up on the scandalous revelations is Hussein, who said on Instagram: “This putrid dog admitted to cheating me.” With the tales told by the referee himself, the fighter’s words are hard to argue with. He retired in 2007 having never won a world title.
Manny Pacquiao, of course, went on to become the only eight-division champion in the history of the sport. He served as Senator for his country – and Padilla’s – from 2016 to 2022.