Manny Pacquiao wasn’t yet MANNY PACQUIAO back on Oct. 14, 2000, when he gloved up against Nedal Hussein in the Phillippines.
Pacman held a 29-2 record, and the WBC international super bantamweight crown, while the Australian standout Hussein owned a 19-0 record. The two men toed the line at the Ynares Sports Center, with expectations that the best man would win.
The scrap had ebbs and flows, with Hussein looking to be in the driver’s seat when he knocked Pacquaio to the floor in round four. The action continued, and Hussein held tough when a cut appeared on his left eye. The referee in charge, famed overseer Carlos Padilla, had the ringside doctor look at the slice during the tenth round, and the doc told the ref he recommended the fight be stopped. Padilla waved his hands, indicating the contest had concluded, and Pacquiao celebrated, understanding that he’d be credited with a TKO, because his punches had caused the damage which forced the halt. Hussein protested, walking to Padilla, explaining that he felt fine, and wanted to continue.
To no avail—Pacquaio fought on, defending the minor title twice more before stepping up to meet IBF world super bantamweight champion Lehlo Ledwaba on June 23, 2001. Manny beat the South African, and announced himself to a wider fanbase as the tussle ran on HBO.
Hussein fought on, too, he battled 29 more times, finally finishing up in 2007, with a stoppage loss to Japanese hitter Akashi Uchiyama.
Who Is Nedal Hussein?
Hussein, nicknamed ‘Skinny,’ of Lebanese descent, had a lengthy and solid career, as he snagged plenty of straps. But no, he wasn’t able to get over that hump, and garner a world title strap. It turns out that over the years, Hussein felt himself wondering what might have been, if things had been different that night in the Philippines, in 2000. He played the action in his head, too copiously, thinking about that knockdown, how dazed and confused Pacman was…and that ending, he knew he could have continued. The chatter in his head would pop up now and again, but he knew there was little to do beyond pondering. Until the referee who took him to the ringside physician, the Filipino Carlos Padilla, did a video chat, and admitted that he wasn’t totally on the up and up on Oct. 14, 2000.
The admission came in the video done to hype Padilla’s entry into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. The man who reffed the 1975 Thrilla in Manilla gained entry into the 2020 class, and in August, the NBHOF had a three-class induction, to fete the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes.
The notorious interview (seen below) posted on Oct. 6, and in the last week, came to the attention of folks who were surprised to hear the 88 year old official admit he had his hand on the scale, which helped Pacquiao against Hussein.
Padilla in his notorious session said that he loved Jose Sulaiman—“he’s my idol!”—who ran the WBC in the 1970s, and gave Padilla the opportunity to work step up fights.
Padilla shared that he worked as an actor before getting deep into boxing. “I’m very confident, I didn’t get nervous,” he said of his feelings when obtaining high level assignments.
One tidbit, maybe pertinent to his state of mind on Oct. 14, 2000…he said in his mind, boxers loved the ref when they won, but not so much when they lose. “If they lose, they hate you,” Padilla said. “That’s why I moved a lot!” That sentiment, it could be interpreted, would explain Padilla manipulating what he could so he’d not be the focus of ire. Yes, it seems he had a sensitivity to receiving flak, and thus avoided it when possible.
The ex official did ramble a bit, though his memory seems OK. Yes, he repeated some of his statements, as plenty of 88 year olds will.
The Pacquiao-Hussein bout, Padilla said, got assigned to him, even though he was supposed to be going on vacation. He recalled the knockdown, in round four. It came on a counter jab, sharp, and very well timed. Pacman dropped real quick to the floor, and he rose after maybe eight plus seconds.
Padilla chuckled when saying he wasn’t sure if Manny was going to beat the count, because he was cross-eyed.
In available video (at the 13:34 mark) you see that Manny beats the count, and that Padilla sort of takes his time, but no, not in egregious fashion. Now, did Hussein deserve to have a point taken from him, in that same fourth round, for holding? The action got chippy, and Hussein proved to be the chippier of the two. Indeed, he had a rep for using street fighter tactics, coming into this match. Pacman, you can see in video, held on way after Padilla called for the men to break.
Padilla: “I’m a Filipino, and everybody’s Filipino watching the fight, so I prolonged the count. You know, I know how to do it. When he got up, I say to him, ‘Hey, are you ok?’ And that’s prolonging the fight.”
Padilla implied he did more prolonging when warning Hussein for trying to throw Manny down, after Manny tried to hold, to help clear his head.
Then, Padilla spoke on the cut, which happened in round ten.
Pacquiao had been during it on, taking it to Hussein. “Manny’s shorter, he butted the other guy, there’s a cut. I declare it a punch,” Padilla said, chuckling. If it was a butt, he’d have told the judges the slice came from a butt, not a punch. In other words, he was admitting to ruling in a way that would benefit Pacquiao, his countryman.
That cut, “it’s not really big,” Padilla continues to recall. Yet, he still asked the doctor to examine it, with 1:14 remaining in the tenth. He implies that it would be better for him to be ruling in favor of Pacquiao, because they were in the Philippines, and hometown rooters would be irked if things didn’t go Manny’s way.
In slightly rambling fashion, Padilla says that he low-key indicated to the doc that a stoppage call would be preferred. “He sensed what I mean,” Padilla said, before making the “fight is over” hand motion. Basically, he continued, he placed the onus of responsibility on the doctor to be the man responsible for stopping the scrap, and having Pacquiao be the victor by TKO.
He went on, communicating his fear at having disgruntled Aussies hating on him, relaying that Hussein’s cornerman Jeff Fenech told Padilla he’d see him in Mexico.
In video of that juncture of the fight, we see the doc assessing Hussein, and see Padilla right there, monitoring. You can’t see if Padilla speaks to the doc.
Nedal Husseins Raps With Ak and Barak About Pacquiao Fight
On Wednesday, Hussein spoke to Ak and Barak, on The DAZN Boxing Show, and shared his thoughts on the Padilla hit, and how that match ending affected him.
“I don’t think my blood pressure has ever been that high my entire life,” Hussein said, when asked his reaction to Padilla’s comments. “The arrogance, the way he said it with a smirk, and a laugh, like it was normal. It was the most unethical thing I’ve ever seen in sport.” He asked why the admission hasn’t resulted in a hard look, and maybe criminal charges, haven’t ensued.
Hussein touched on the 22 years following the battle. He explained that the cut was from a butt, not a punch, and told the doctor that. The fix was in from the start, he told the hosts. There was a switch in gloves, he noted.
Yes, his career might have gone differently if he’d beaten Pacman. “That fight gutted me, I was never the same. I didn’t have interest,” he stated. He didn’t have the same hunger, or motivation, following the Pacquiao “loss.”
Hussein today runs a boxing gym, fitness based, as he’s not keen on trafficking in the pro game, which he sees as rife with corruption.
He shared that he’s spoken to a lawyer friend, and he will form some sort of response, but he’s hoping that the WBC will recognize the error, and award him the belt that was on the line on Oct. 14, 2000.
So, what will become of this?
On Wednesday, the WBC put out a release statement, sharing that they’d assembled a “special panel” to look at this Padilla fallout.
We will see if Pacquiao comments officially on the matter.
MY THREE CENTS: This is a strange one, even for boxing. Looks like Mr Padilla emptied out some of his mental files, and didn’t realize the impact of his admissions, that he’d deliberately ruled against a foe in favor of the fighter sharing his nationality.
Everyone knows versions of this, be it with refs, or judges, occurs all too frequently in boxing. But no, it’s not often anyone admits to it. Feels like Padilla thought he was “safe,” the unofficial statute of limitations had expired. No, for Hussein, it had not.
Also, it would be helpful and only fair to speak to the doctor who made the call. Padilla kind of implicated him when admitting his effort to rule in a manner to favor his countryman. How does he remember it? Was the cut actually sufficiently grave enough to stop the fight?
As for those who try to downplay the Padilla truth serum talk, by saying that Pacquiao would have won anyway, that's not gonna fly. Yes, he looked to be controlling the situation in that round ten, but who knows how things might have been changed if Padilla had played it straight, as he was supposed to, up til that point.
Oh, in case you were wondering, how does Pacquiao feel about this brouhaha…His advisor, Sean Gibbons, did indeed bring up the flap. “Yes, he has no idea what Carlos Padilla is talking about,” Gibbons told NYF. “We spoke last night (Tuesday) on things.”
Finally, for those “out for blood,” maybe check out this letter from Padilla's daughter. You can sort of read in between the lines, something that popped into my mind. Sometimes elderly folks remember events quite differently than they occurred. I spoke to my father a few months ago, he remembers being married three times, to three different ladies. Nope, he has had two wives.