Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao said Thursday that a WBO panel ruling that he had won his controversial bout against Timothy Bradley would help restore people's faith in the sport.
The World Boxing Organization on its website Thursday said all five members of a special panel it asked to review the controversial June 9 Las Vegas bout scored it in favour of Pacquiao.
The WBO said it could not overturn the result of the fight or ask Bradley to surrender the belt, but that it could authorise a rematch.
"I hope with this ruling the public's faith in boxing would be restored," 33-year-old Pacquiao said by phone from his home in the southern Philippines.
"I was not surprised by the WBO ruling. I knew that I won, so did the whole world. But that is already over and I am now focusing on the next fight."
He said he and his promoter Bob Arum would discuss his next move in a Los Angeles meeting set for next week, but remained coy on who would be his next opponent.
"We will soon find out who I will fight next," he said, when asked if he was aiming for a rematch against US fighter Bradley.
Bradley snatched Pacquiao's welterweight belt via a split decision, with two judges scoring it 115-113 for the American and a third scoring it 115-113 for Pacquiao.
With the win, Bradley snapped Pacquiao's 15-fight, seven-year winning streak.
The decision sparked outrage in the boxing-crazy Philippines and in the United States, where two senators pushed for the creation of a national boxing commission to regulate the sport.
Arum questioned the competence of the judges and pressed for an inquiry from the Nevada attorney general's office.
Pacquiao is a social phenomenon in the Philippines, where his status as one of the greatest boxers ever has propelled him to huge riches, a movie career and election to parliament.
Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona who boxed when he attended the US Naval Academy, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat and former middleweight boxer, introduced legislation that would create the United States Boxing Commission.
The body would be tasked with administering federal boxing law, working with the industry and local commissions, and licensing boxers, promoters, managers and sanctioning organizations.
McCain, speaking on the Senate floor, said the outcome of the June 9 welterweight world title bout between Bradley and Pacquiao "is the latest example of the legitimate distrust boxing fans have for the integrity of the sport."
Undefeated American Bradley won the controversial fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where the fight's three judges were under pressure to explain their scoring, described by many experts as flawed.
Judge Jerry Roth gave Pacquiao the fight 115-113, but the other judges, C.J. Ross and Duane Ford, both had Bradley winning by the same score, despite Pacquiao appearing to land the more damaging blows throughout the contest.
Longtime promoter Bob Arum, who handles both fighters, fumed over the result. "I've never been as ashamed of the sport of boxing as I am tonight," Arum said in the immediate aftermath, adding he believed it was the result of incompetence rather than corruption.
According to McCain, professional boxing is the only sport in the United States not regulated by a strong, centralized association. "Clearly, the conspiracy theories and speculation surrounding the fight are given life because there are so many questions surrounding the integrity of the sport and how it is managed in multiple jurisdictions," McCain said.
Currently, each state has its own boxing commission, which is in charge of choosing officials for bouts and enforcing rules.
Under the proposed legislation, all referees and judges participating in a championship or professional fight lasting 10 rounds or more would have to be fully registered and licensed by the national commission.
A sanctioning organization such as the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council, International Boxing Federation or World Boxing Organization could provide the names of judges and referees it considers qualified for a bout, but only the national commission could appoint judges and referees to work a fight.*AFP