No Comments 24 December 2014

By Tim Dahlberg — LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. built a career – and made a fortune – by using deception to confuse and outwit his opponents.

Playing the same game outside the ring has also paid off for Money May. Mayweather has, for the most part, been able to fight who he wants, where he wants and when he wants. He sells enough pay-per-views that he has been able to avoid a fight with Manny Pacquiao that should have taken place five years ago.

But the game has gotten old, even if Mayweather’s many yes men haven’t had the courage to let him know. His latest attempt to twist the story line about a possible fight next year with Pacquiao was so dated and absurd that even the sycophants in his sizeable entourage had to be rolling their eyes.

The wizard of defense has finally been boxed into a corner. The charade is over, whether Mayweather realizes it or not.

He must fight Pacquiao next, if his career is to have any legitimacy. And he must to do it on terms that reflect he won’t be the only superstar in the ring.

Mayweather didn’t seem to grasp that last Dec. 13 when he broke his silence and tried to make it seem as if he were challenging Pacquiao to a fight, not the other way around. In an “’interview”’ with the Showtime network that employs him, Mayweather not only declared he wanted Pacquiao, but set a May 2 date for the fight.

Lest long suffering boxing fans get too excited, though, the conditions quickly followed. Mayweather not only wants to pick the date but to set the purse to his liking and have Showtime be the broadcaster. He regurgitated old arguments about blood testing that didn’t make sense five years ago when he first started spouting them and make absolutely no sense now.

Luckily, the interview ringside in San Antonio didn’t last long. If it had, Mayweather might have demanded Pacquiao be allowed to train only one week for the fight, have his blood taken in the locker room just before he goes into the ring and not be able to use his right hand for the first eight rounds.

That may be laughable. But so, too, is this:

“’Manny Pacquiao, (promoter) Bob Arum, you guys have been ducking us for years,’” Mayweather said. ‘”We’re tired of you guys fooling the public, fooling the critics. Before we tried to make the fight happen and you guys didn’t want to take random blood and urine testing. So that’s why the fight didn’t happen. Then I offered you $40 million and you didn’t want to make the fight happen. Then you lost twice and now you’re coming back begging for the same money. That’s not going to happen.’”

Maybe Mayweather doesn’t read the papers. If he had, he would know Pacquiao had no problem with unannounced blood tests for his fight with Chris Algieri last November. He would know that Pacquiao and Arum would almost surely accept a smaller purse as long as the money split wasn’t lopsided.

Now is the time for Mayweather to step up.

Now is the time for Mayweather to step up.

He would know that the free ride is over for the most part and Showtime won’t keep paying him $20 million to $30 million to fight the Marcos Maidanas of the world.

The fact of the matter is pay-per-view buys are slowing for both Pacquiao and Mayweather. Pacquiao’s fight last November with Algieri in Macau wasn’t a big seller, and both of Mayweather’s fights last year with Maidana underperformed. Both HBO and Showtime are charging premium rates, but not showing premium fights.

Put Mayweather and Pacquiao in the ring together and that would change. Though both fighters have slowed some in recent years, the matchup is still one fans desperately want and are willing to pay for. It would be the richest fight in history, and it wouldn’t be close.

Frankly, it’s hard to see why Mayweather hasn’t already signed on the dotted line. He would easily make $100 million, maybe more. Assuming he wins – and Vegas oddsmakers have already put up lines favoring him by as much as 3-1 – he would cement his legacy and bolster his claim to being one of the great fighters of all time.

But if the fight has an expiration date, so do the negotiations. For a fight as big as this, they would likely need to be wrapped up by the end of the year to allow time for the promotion to begin.

It’s taken five years to even get Mayweather to say he wants the fight.

Now it’s time for him to step up and show he really means it.

(Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press.)





No Comments 20 February 2014

Unlike many Filipino celebrities who were discovered by happenstance on YouTube, your innate talent goes beyond skates, jumps, and choreographed dances. You constructed your own box and made the unthinkable possible. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 25 November 2013

We’ll never again see the seemingly unstoppable whirlwind Manny Pacquiao of 2007 to 2011. That was the Manny Pacquiao who zoomed up the scales to win five of his world titles in a record eight weight classes. But this Pacquiao — the 34-year-old version coming off a gargantuan one-punch, sixth-round, face-first, go-to-sleep knockout against his great rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth encounter a year ago — is still pretty damn good. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 23 November 2013

After eight frustrating years, four controversial fights, 42 contentiously scored rounds, with over 500 punches landed from more than 1,800 thrown, after two grueling hours of opportunity under the spotlight, on Dec. 8, 2012, Juan Manuel Marquez finally landed the punch of a lifetime against Manny Pacquiao. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 28 July 2013

Macau — Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao is harboring thoughts of running for president in his beloved homeland when he finally hangs up his gloves, he revealed to Agence France-Presse in an exclusive interview.

Giving his strongest hint yet that he will push to the top of the political tree when he finally retires from the ring, the “Pacman” — a hero and congressman in his home country — admitted he had considered the presidency of the 95 million-strong nation.

When pressed on whether he had thought about shooting for the top job, the softly-spoken 34-year-old replied “Yes”.

Drawing parallels between his pugilism and politics careers, the former world champion in eight weight divisions said: “When I started boxing, of course I was planning… and thinking about getting to become a champion. So when I entered politics it’s the same thing.

“But, you know, it’s far away,” he said, adding: “It’s God’s will.”

Before that, however, Pacquiao whose record stands at 54 wins, five losses and two draws, must concentrate on his latest bout — a post breakfast-time tear-up with US fighter Brandon Rios, kicking off at the Venetian resort-hotel in Macau at 10:00 a.m. on November 24.

The unconventional start time is for the benefit of the lucrative US pay-per-view audience, who will be settling down to watch the fight mid-evening on Saturday, as top US promoter Bob Arum attempts to elbow his way into the China market.

And viewers will not be oblivious to the fact that it is probably make or break time for Pacquiao’s boxing career.

Despite his last fight ending in a disastrous knockout, when Juan Manuel Marquez caught him with a huge right hand that saw the Filipino crumple to the canvas — his second successive defeat — Pacquiao refuses to entertain the notion that he will lose a third straight bout, or retire.

He said he was “100 percent” sure he would beat Rios (31-1-1), giving him one more chance to regain his credibility — and potentially another shot at a world title.

“He’s OK but I can say he’s a greasy fighter and he loves to fight inside, he loves to fight toe-to-toe,” he said in an interview on July 27as he kicked off a promotional tour for the Rios battle.

“This is going to be a good fight — more action in the ring. Hopefully he won’t run away.”

Pacquiao insists he is as fit as ever, will focus on not leaving himself open to Marquez-style punishment, and has ignored calls from friends, family and media commentators, fearful for his health, to call it a day.

Once regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, he dismisses the possibility of defeat at the hands of the much younger — and possibly hungrier — US opponent.

“There’s a little bit of pressure for this fight but I believe in myself that I can still fight and improve,” he said. “I still can knock somebody out in the ring.

“I never think negative. I only think positive,” Pacquiao added, conceding that his nearest and dearest were desperate for him to bow out of the fight game.

“Especially my mother,” he admitted. “My mother doesn’t want me to fight any more, she doesn’t like it,” he told AFP. “She wants me to focus on serving people.”

His trainer too, the legendary Freddie Roach, has categorically stated that if he loses to Rios it will be the last time he sets foot in the ring.

“If he loses, I will tell him to retire,” he was reported as telling ESPN.

Pacquiao’s preparation for the fight will begin in the Philippines in August, with “light training for conditioning” seeing him run in the morning and hit his gym in the afternoon, before he steps up the work rate to put himself through weeks of gruelling workouts.

Acknowledging he is no longer a young fighter — but confident he will be in as good a shape as ever — he said: “Of course, my mind is still there but I have to adjust a little bit of something in my body because I’m 34 years old. It’s different than if you compare it to when I was 25 years old.

“I need to focus this training camp to maintain the speed, specifically the footwork.”

And the one question that has for years dogged Pacquiao — whether a dream clash with undefeated five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather will ever happen?

“I’ve stopped thinking about him because I don’t think he will fight me. I’ve been waiting four years already,” he said. (Agence France-Presse)





No Comments 12 May 2011

In recent years, one of the most interesting phenomena ever to emerge from Philippine media is the Manny Pacquiao phenomenon. There has never been anything quite like it before. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 14 November 2010

By Michael Rosenthal

Arlington, Texas – We’re running out of words.

Manny Pacquiao fought a three-time world titleholder who outweighed him by 17 pounds when they entered the ring. He supposedly had a number of distractions while training in the Philippines. He was sluggish in sparring. Even some of those close to him were concerned going into this fight.

The result? A beating the likes we’ve rarely seen at this level of boxing, one that gave Pacquiao a major title in a mind-boggling eighth weight class – almost half of the 17 – and added to a legend that just continues to grow.

The scores indicate how one-sided it was before 41,734 on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium: 120-108 (a shutout), 118-110 and 119-109. The had it 120-107. The CompuBox punch stats were staggering: Pacquiao landed 474 punches (out of 1,069 thrown), No. 8 all-time for a title fight. And get this: He landed 411 of 713 power shots, 58 percent.

You had to see it to fully understand it, though.

Pacquiao landed two-, three-, four-punch combinations seemingly at will and avoided taking blows unless he purposely stepped into the path of danger, a pattern that left Margarito’s face a grotesque mess. His skin was bright red, his eyes were swollen shut and blood dripped from a deep cut under his right eye.

Exhilarating and gruesome

It was exhilarating and gruesome at the same time.

It was exhilarating because of the explosiveness and efficiency of Pacquiao’s work. I was in absolute awe at what I saw, a once-in-a-lifetime athlete whose ability is a true gift to boxing fans.

It was gruesome because a brave man was being beaten to a pulp by the fast hands of a killer. Even those disgusted with Margarito’s role in the hand-wrap scandal had to feel sorry for him during the last few rounds of the fight, which should’ve been stopped to prevent further suffering.

To be clear, this wasn’t a great fight. It was a slaughter, which was predictable given the wide disparity in their talent. Margarito’s size advantage was meaningful only because it likely played a role in his survival.

Pacquiao could’ve won every second of every round by pecking away at Margarito from the outside and avoiding his rushes by using his quick feet, as he did numerous times when the Mexican tried to trap him in a corner or against ropes.

Make people happy

That’s not Pacquiao, though. He purposely entered dangerous situations – fighting Margarito inside, laying on the ropes — because, as he said, “I wanted to make people happy.” As a result, he added some drama to the fight by taking a few unnecessary punches.

“It was a hard fight,” said Pacquiao, being charitable. “I did my best to win. I can’t believe I beat a guy that big and that strong.”

That said, Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 knockouts) was never, ever in trouble. He said afterward that he knew in the second round that this was his fight but I suspect that realization probably came before they signed the contracts several months ago.

The Filipino marvel knew exactly what he was getting into. Still, he had to get the job done against a relative giant. Margarito weighed 165 pounds , Pacquiao 148, which in effect meant they were three weight classes apart.

And Pacquiao made it an absolute rout.

“I don’t think we lost a round,” said Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach. “I wish we would’ve knocked him out. He’s a very tough guy. I’m surprised how tough. He has the worst corner. His corner ruined his career by not stopping the fight.”

Uncommon courage

Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) did show uncommon courage, which isn’t surprising given his track record of such efforts.

The proud Mexican would never have quit. And referee Laurence Cole probably would never have stopped it because Margarito continued to defend himself (or at least try) and throw punches.

It was up to Robert Garcia, Margarito’s trainer. He reportedly asked his fighter whether he wanted to continue late in the fight – and was told emphatically, “yes” – but Garcia probably should’ve stepped in nevertheless.

In the end, it was Pacquiao who saved his opponent from undue punishment. He went into cruise control the last few rounds because he didn’t want to inflict unnecessary punishment, which might’ve cost him a knockout.

“I told the ref, ‘Look at his eyes, look at his cuts,’” Pacquiao said. “I didn’t want to hurt him anymore.”

So in the end he turned in one of the most-dominating performances in recent years and then capped it off with a heart-warming act of kindness.

That’s Manny Pacquiao. One of a kind.

(Michael Rosenthal is an associate editor of The Ring magazine.)




No Comments 31 October 2010

How Manny Pacquiao rose from poverty to become boxing’s reigning superstar — and a congressman in his native Philippines — can get lost in the buzz of the sport’s marketing machine and the demands of his daily world. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 12 August 2010

Is the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) a tired and old league? Former Philippine Basketball League (PBL) commissioner and ex-PBA sports commentator Chino Trinidad said, “It doesn’t matter if the PBA will have a two-conference or three-conference format next season, but it really needs to reinvent its identity because it looks like a tired and old league with only Ginebra as the one being consistently followed.” READ FULL STORY




2 Comments 24 March 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

When it comes to martial arts, there are several styles of fighting which are recognized all over the world. From Asia, these include Japan’s Karate, Korea’s Taekwando, China’s Wushu and Thailand’s Muay Thai.

Filipino martial arts have been growing steadily in popularity in recent years. Starting with a minor, underground cult appeal, it is poised to break out as a sports phenomenon not just in its full-contact incarnation, but as an exhibition and display of Pinoy culture as well.

Known by many names, styles and formats, including eskrima (as its known in Cebu and parts of the Visayas) or the more controversial moniker of kali, its official practitioners have preferred the name arnis, short for “arnis de mano,” which is derived from the Spanish phrase “harness of the hand.” Arnis has become the de facto umbrella term.

Referring, but not limited to stick fighting, arnis consists of weapons training utilizing a rattan stick, also called a baston, which is approximately 28 inches in length. It also encompasses empty-hand self-defense, including punching (suntukan), kicking (sikaran), locks and submissions (dumog). Besides the baston, a variety of impact and bladed weapons are also used, the latter of which Pinoys are considered the best in the world.

A milestone in the fighting style was marked last December when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law declaring arnis as the country’s official martial art and sport. Republic Act 9850 requires it to be a Physical Education course in all schools in the country as mandated by the Department of Education (DepEd). Previously, the unofficial sport was sipa or sepak takraw.

“Arnis is one sport which truly originated in our country, a part of our rich culture and tradition,” says Raymond Velayo, president of Arnis Philippines Inc. (ARPI). “First and foremost, I’m very elated at the developments because we’ve worked for so long for this.”

ARPI had persistently lobbied for the bill in both Houses of Congress since 1995, garnering support from a number of politicians, including then Senator Orly Mercado, the late Senator Robert Barbers, and then Congressman and now Senator Miguel Zubiri in 2001.

“We had to stress to lawmakers that the Philippines had not declared a national sport,” adds Velayo. Sipa was unofficial. If you look at the history books, sipa doesn’t exist, but arnis is part of our history.”

Before the Spaniards colonized the country, many indigenous tribes practiced and exhibited some form or variant of the technique, and using it to fend off invaders. With the colonization of the country, first by the Spaniards and then the Americans, Filipino martial arts and arnis slowly diminished in status.

In the 1970s, with the rise in popularity of foreign martial arts, spearheaded by Kung-Fu and ninja movies, there became a renewed interest in arnis and in its history and cultural significance.

In recent years, Filipino martial arts have been appropriated by a number of Hollywood action films. Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible 2), Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life) and Matt Damon (Bourne series) utilized the Pinoy fighting form or one of its many variants.

Considered the greatest martial arts action star of all time, Bruce Lee hinted at the impending greatness of arnis in his last movie before his untimely death. “In Game of Death, he was using two stick against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, instead of the nunchaku,” notes Velayo.

According to Velayo, one of the significant problems of re-introducing arnis to the general population is that there is not one technique or school in Filipino martial arts. It is as varied as, some observers say, as the archipelago’s 7,100 islands.

“There was resistance from groups that felt threatened that the umbrella group ARPI would change their system,” he says. “Filipinos are clannish. We have different dialects and a ‘mine-is-better-than-yours’ mentality. We don’t want these various styles to disappear, all styles must co-exist and be preserved.”

He emphasizes that ARPI’s goal is to provide strong leadership in order to hold together and consolidate the different schools and to wholly preserve their heritage and culture. Without a strong and consistent hand, he says, the Filipino martial arts’ 400-year-old history will fade away.

Amid the division, bickering and politicking, arnis’ sheer number and variety can be maximized to their fullest. Aside from its inclusion as a distinct event in the annual national amateur sports competition Palarong Pambansa – where before it was only an exhibition event – arnis is also featured in half a dozen local and international events, showcasing the myriad styles, forms and strains from regions and clubs all over the country.

Most significant of these events is the National Encounter, which is divided into two categories – the full contact competition and the exhibition or creative portion.

“The Ano or Kata – it’s so lovely and colorful,” says Velayo. “The natives wear costumes to show off their styles and movements.” There is even a program that caters to those in wheelchairs so the disabled can participate.

ARPI had successfully lobbied for its inclusion in the 1991 and 2005 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. The goal now is to have arnis included in other major international sporting events, culminating in the Olympics.

There are hurdles and prejudices to overcome before this can become a reality. “Medyo barbaric pa tayo, some people don’t want to think of this as a sport,” Velayo laments. “Remember, the Olympics were formed during a time of peace, because they wanted activities of friendship and camaraderie instead of war. Our approach as well is the same. We want to perpetuate its existence by turning it into a sport.”

Velayo points out that there is already an official arnis handbook of rules and regulations, and a specialized scoring system and scoreboard. Also, safety has been prioritized, with competitors not only donning protective head and body gear, but also using padded sticks that break instantly if excessive force was used, to prevent serious injury.

Noong araw, they said it would not be played in the Olympics because it’s so deadly. But as a sport, we invented equipment for safety; it’s become one of the safer sports. It’s safer than boxing,” says Velayo.

With arnis now the official sport, there is greater awareness and recognition of its uses and benefits. More importantly, it gives the country ownership of a martial art that is destined to be a popular sport around the world in the near future.

“The new law gives confirmation that it’s ours. Arnis is our very own. If there comes a time when it becomes popular outside the country, people will know it comes from the Philippines. Whatever you say – it’s Filipino. We have to be proud of it and support its propagation around the world. Arnis is yet to come,” asserts Velayo.


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