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July 29, 2015

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After controversial Pacquiao fight, Sen. Harry Reid proposes boxing legislation

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Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao punches at Timothy Bradley Jr. during their WBO welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, June 9, 2012. Bradley won a controversial split decision.

Bradley Upsets Pacquiao at MGM Grand

Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr.'s WBO welterweight title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, June 9, 2012. Bradley won a controversial split decision in the 12-round bout and is now 29-0. Launch slideshow »
Harry Reid

Harry Reid

Manny Pacquiao’s controversial loss to Timothy Bradley Saturday night inspired accusations of fraud, a call for an official state investigation, and now, a push for federal legislation.

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid told reporters on Tuesday he would revisit a long-standing boxing bill he’s worked on in the past with Arizona Sen. John McCain.

“Maybe this will be the impetus for Sen. McCain and I to get back and work on it again,” Reid said.

The bill is a nearly decade-old venture spearheaded by McCain to regulate boxing much like other professional sports. It would require uniform health and safety standards, common ranking criteria, and a commissioner to head an envisioned United States Boxing Commission and set rules and standards.

But there was always serious pushback from boxing promoters, including Pacquaio’s booster, Bob Arum.

While the bill has made headway and has even passed a few times in the Senate, it’s never been considered in the House.

If Reid and McCain decide to resurrect the effort, it’s not exactly clear what it would look like.

A spokesman for McCain said he “is considering reintroducing” boxing legislation and that “he too considers that latest decision (in the Pacquaio-Bradley fight) another black mark on the reputation of boxing.”

Reid is a Pacquaio fan, but while he was in Las Vegas over the weekend, he didn’t make Saturday’s fight. Instead, he raced home after the Democratic Party convention to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

But as a former athletic commissioner and boxing judge, he declined the opportunity to pile criticism on the controversial decision.

“From all the reports I’ve seen by people on the outside who saw the fight...Pacquiao won,” Reid said. “I judged fights. Championship fights. It’s hard to do. It’s an inexact science.”

“I am confident there was nothing untoward,” Reid said, mentioning that he had a close friend who was judging Saturday night. “I think people just make bad decisions in a lot of things they do, including judging fights. But it doesn’t hurt to clear the air and take a look at this.”

Reid gave a rather laissez-faire endorsement to the idea of having Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto conduct a state investigation. “I feel confident there’s been nothing untoward, but if an investigation makes everyone feel better, do the investigation,” he said.

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