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Boxing referee admits he cheated to help Manny Pacquaio win fight in 2000

Referee Carlos Padilla has admitted he gave Manny Pacquiao an 18-second count when he was dropped by Nedal Hussein in 2000. 

Pacquiao celebrates Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Carlos Padilla, the Filipino referee who oversaw the WBC international super-bantamweight championship bout between Manny Pacquiao and Nedal Hussein in October 2000, has admitted to cheating in order to help Pacquiao win the fight in his hometown.

Speaking on the World Boxing Council (WBC) YouTube channel, Padilla revealed that he “prolonged the count” after Pacquiao was knocked down in the fourth round of his fight against Hussein.

“That fight, I’m about to go and leave the following day, and they told me, ‘Carlos, please… this is an important fight for Manny Pacquiao because the winner will have the chance to fight for the world championship,’” Padilla said. “So, you know the opponent, Hussein, or whatever his name was. He is taller, younger, stronger, and [a] dirty fighter, managed by Jeff Fenech. So in the seventh round, I think, Manny got knocked down, I thought he was going to get up, but his eyes were cross-eyed (laughs). I am Filipino, and everybody watching the fight is Filipino, so I prolonged the count. I know how to do it.”

A replay of the fight showed that Pacquiao was given approximately 18 seconds to recover from the knockdown instead of the usual 10 seconds. Pacquiao would go on to score a 10th-round TKO over Hussein when the fight was stopped due to a cut.

According to Padilla, who also served as the referee for the “Thrilla in Manila” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, also admitted that the cut was caused by a headbutt from Pacquiao. Instead of declaring a point deduction against the champion, Padilla said the cut was caused by a punch and stopped the fight as a technical knockout win for Pacquiao.

“Because he (Pacquiao) is shorter, he headbutted the other guy, and there is a cut, but I declared it a punch,” Padilla said. “ If there is a headbutt, you have to stop the fight and declare to the judges a point deduction, but I didn’t do that, meaning the fight could continue.”

After hearing Padilla’s shocking revelation, Hussein has since spoken out against the referee who changed the course of his professional career.

“I was just gutted,” Hussein said. “The arrogance of it. I was also really angry – I was burning. Winning that fight would have changed my life. I missed out on a couple of hundred grand and a world title fight. I would have been able to buy a house and been so much better off. With my career, I missed out on the big fights [afterwards] because of it. It set me back four years. I hated the sport after that.”