By Geoffrey Gray
LAS VEGAS -- As the operations crew went about dissembling the ring inside the MGM arena and the cleaning crew mopped up the spilt beer and cheap drinks from the Mayweather-Pacquaio debacle last night, one of the last officials to leave the floor was Bob Bennett, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, the state agency that regulates boxing. With silver stubble and dark eyeglasses, Bennett has an interesting resume for Nevada's boxing tsar: a former marine, he spent the bulk of his career as an FBI agent in the Las Vegas field office, and of the many extensive and failed investigations that office underwent was a probe of Bob Arum and his company Top Rank, the largest boxing company in Nevada, and the longtime promoter of Manny Pacquiao.
The feds investigation of Top Rank, its own debacle that resulted in the raid of the Top Rank offices, a host of allegations, countless stories, and not one indictment, was in some ways the beginning of Bennett's introduction to Arum and Top Rank, and a relationship that took an explosive turn last night, with dueling claims over the Commission's refusal to allow Manny Pacquiao's personal doctors to administer a shot of anti-inflammatory and pain medication into his injured right shoulder roughly ninety-minutes before the fight. While Pacquaio was outclassed by Mayweather in the fight, losing significantly in all the judges' scorecards, he begrudgingly confessed that he'd injured his right shoulder only three weeks before the fight, tearing his rotator cuff, and despite considering calling the fight off, Pacquiao decided to go through with it anyway, because the pain medication he'd been taking had allowed him to train through the pain.
Pacquiao and his team had planned on the shot to get him through the fight, and were denied by Bennett at the last minute.
"It was weird," Bennett told Sports on Earth. "We never knew he was injured."
About ninety minutes before the fight, Bennett said he was approached personally by Arum, who asked him to approve a personal doctor that Arum said was looking after Pacquiao, and the reason was because Pacquaio had injured his shoulder in sparring and needed to receive an injection of medicine before the fight. With so much attention placed on the fight and a litigious history between the camps over allegations of performance enhancing drugs, Bennett said he and other Commission officials reviewed Pacquaio's medical questionnaire, a state form filled out the day of the fight. Bennett said the state questionnaire asks boxers to disclose any medical issues they may be suffering from, or any medications they may be taking. According to Bennett, Pacquiao or an agent representing him filled out the form and never disclosed the injury or medication.
In a tense meeting before the fight, Bennett and Francisco Aguilar, the chairman of the Commission, said they were forced with no option to deny Pacquiao the shot at such a late hour. Bennett and Aguilar claim they asked Pacquaio and his team members to prove Pacquaio had the injury, but they really couldn't, because the nature of the tear and ligament wound is impossible to detect without the use of image-detecting equipment, like MRI machines.
"If he would have told us earlier, at least a day before, we could have had him take an MRI," Aguilar said.
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