Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images
The Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley decision brought conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork more than any sporting event in years.And it’s easy to understand why — it was an inexplicable upset in a sport with a long history of shadiness.
But it’s not just boxing that invites this sort of talk.
No matter how transparent or legitimate, every league has its myths.
By our count, the Olympics is home to the most controversies.
But the big-three American sports aren’t far behind.
The conspiracy: The fight was fixed by Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank, to ensure that there would be a lucrative rematch in the fall.
The evidence: Pacquiao obliterated Bradley, with everyone in attendance except the judges agreeing that he won the fight. In addition, stats guru Ken Pomeroy wrote that the likelihood of three judges ruling in favour of Bradley was nearly zero.
But other than that, it's mostly circumstantial speculation.
The conspiracy: The Heat were handed the trophy by the referees, possibly because of some sort of anti-Mark Cuban bias.
The evidence: Dwyane Wade averaged 16 free throws per game by himself, Mark Cuban criticised officiating so heavily that he got fined $250,000, and in Game 5, Miami got 49 free throws to Dallas' 25.
Disgraced NBA ref Tim Donaghy even said the series was fishy, for what it's worth.
The conspiracy: Phelps lost, but was awarded gold so he could go after Mark Spitz' record.
The evidence: Initially, it seemed like Cavic touched the wall first. But after exhaustive instant replay, it's clear that Phelps' final stroke inched-out Cavic by a finger-tip. Still, there are people out there who aren't convinced.
The conspiracy: The NBA rigged the lottery so the highly-touted Patrick Ewing would go to the Knicks with the No. 1 pick.
The evidence: The huge envelope that David Stern pulled out of the glass globe was apparently creased, leading some theorists to believe that the fix was in.
The conspiracy: Sonny Liston took a dive in his rematch against Muhammad Ali
The evidence: The punch that KO'd Liston two minutes into the first round didn't seem to connect, and Ali himself didn't realise he actually hit him.
But as far as Liston diving as part of a gambling conspiracy, there's no real evidence.
The conspiracy: The judges handed the gold medal to the South Korean because they were bribed.
The evidence: An IOC investigation found that the judges were 'wined and dined' by South Koreans officials before the fight, but they didn't find outright bribery. Nevertheless, author Andrew Jennings alleges that the corruption was far more serious than wining and dining.
The conspiracy: The Russians negotiated a log-rolling deal with a French judge, who agreed to give the higher score to the Russia pair no matter what.
The evidence: The French judge was suspended, and initially claimed she was pressured to give the Russians a higher score. She later retracted that statement.
The conspiracy: The NFL conspired to let to underdog Jets win so that the AFL would have enough credibility to merge with the NFL.
The evidence: None. But Bubba Smith, who played in the game, whole-heartedly believes something was amiss.
The conspiracy: A Southeast Asian betting syndicate paid players in three matches to throw games at the World Cup in Germany (Italy v. Ghana, Ghana v. Brazil, and Ukraine v. Italy)
The evidence: Players admitted that they were approached by match fixers at the tournament. Journalist Declan Hill wrote a book about soccer corruption and claimed that a match-fixer told him Italy would beat Ghana by two goals in the opening game. They won 2-0.
The conspiracy: Pretty simple, Chan Ho Park threw a pitch right down the middle so Cal Ripken could hit a homer in his last All-Star Game.
The evidence: Not much, besides the fact that Ripken hit a homer on Park's first pitch.
The conspiracy: organised criminals paid eight Chicago White Sox players to throw the World Series.
The evidence: Players, gamblers, and gangsters admitted that it happened and were convicted by a grand jury. So there's overwhelming evidence.
But the one mystery is that Shoeless Joe Jackson -- who was one of the eight players -- actually hit .375 in the series and played well.
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