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[SPORTS] 2016 “THE YEAR IN SPORTS”

The Year in Sports…

 

As 2016 comes to a close I could not help but take a look at all the amazing stories of this year…

 

The greatest story line to me has to be the World Series win for the Chicago Cubs. While they were one of the favorites going in to the season, having not won a title 108 years it is just a moment when you have to be happy for them even if you are not a sports fan. That said while a perennial bad team the majority of the past 108 years somehow they have managed to maintain an incredibly loyal fan base and have been selling out for years. Not only did they win the World Series but it also took one of the most exciting game sevens to make it happen with an 8-7 10-inning victory over the Cleveland Indians who were trying to exercise there own demons having not a Championship since 1948.

 

Another monumental moment in sports this year was Peyton Manning taking the Broncos back to the Super Bowl and earning his 2nd ring as we all knew retirement was in the wings. Coming back from a mid-season injury and really a shell of his MVP form, he along with Von Miller and the vaunted defense willed another title for Denver.

 

What truly kept me on the edge of my seats during a usually boring long NBA season was watching the Golden St Warriors go for the best record in NBA history. The Chicago Bulls in 1996 when an absurd 72-10 and established a mark I thought would never be broken. Low and behold Steph Curry your defending MVP came back with another MVP season and players like Clay Thompson and Draymond Green played at All Star levels and the once laughing stock for many years went on to go 73-9. They reached the NBA finals and after a 3-1 lead bowed out to Lebron and the Cavs 4-3. Many will say because they did not close the deal they are not in conversation with greatest teams ever. If anybody’s asking I am taking the 96 Bulls in 5 games if they would have played.

 

This was also the year of the Summer Olympics and we had some great moments. Carmelo led the US Basketball team to another Gold and we loved that but swimmer Michael Phelps winning his record 23rd medal and retiring from the Olympics was the top story. The most bizarre and controversial moment was when Ryan Lotche, Phelps’ teammate alleged that he was robbed by gunpoint at a gas station with fellow swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and James Feigen. Brazilian officials found no evidence that the incident occurred and announced in a press conference that the men had vandalized the property.

 

There were so many great stories in 2016 these are just a few what are your favorites?

 

#allaboooooard

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The Greatest” is gone. Muhammad Ali, equal parts world champion and humanitarian, died late Friday at age 74,

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Ali had been hospitalized in the Phoenix area this week with respiratory issues. The Paradise Valley Police Department told ABC News that an emergency medical services call was made from Ali’s address in the Phoenix area on Tuesday, and the Phoenix Fire Department confirmed it responded to a call for mutual aid for a 74-year-old male with respiratory issues at that time.

Retired from boxing since 1981, Ali had battled Parkinson’s disease for decades. He had been hospitalized a few other times in recent years, including in early 2015, due to a severe urinary tract infection initially diagnosed as pneumonia.
Ali had looked increasingly frail in public appearances, the last coming April 9 when he wore sunglasses and was hunched over at the annual Celebrity Fight Night dinner in Phoenix, which raises funds for treatment of Parkinson’s. He had been living quietly in the Phoenix area with his fourth wife, Lonnie, whom he married in 1986.

Ali’s funeral will take place in his hometown of Louisville, spokesman Bob Gunnell said in the statement. No further details were expected to be released until Saturday morning. Flags in the city will be put at half-staff Saturday at 10 a.m.

Ali’s death reaches far beyond the sport of boxing.

Ali was one of the world’s most recognized people for his actions in and out of the ring. His stance on the military draft and conversion to Islam polarized America mainly along racial lines. Yet later he unified people with his messages of freedom, peace and equality.

Reaction from the news was immediate.

“Words can’t explain what Muhammad Ali (has) done for the sport of boxing,” Floyd Mayweather told ESPN. “He’s one of the guys that paved the way for me to be where I am today. We lost a legend, a hero and a great man.”

Said Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James: “The reason why he’s the GOAT [Greatest of All Time] is not because of what he did in the ring, which was unbelievable. It’s what he did outside of the ring, what he believed in, what he stood for — along with Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor, obviously who became Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson. Those guys stood for something. He’s part of the reason why African-Americans today can do what we do in the sports world. We’re free. They allow us to have access to anything we want. It’s because of what they stood for, and Muhammad Ali was definitely the pioneer for that.”Added Bob Arum, who promoted 27 Ali fights: “A true great has left us. Muhammad Ali transformed this country and impacted the world with his spirit. His legacy will be part of our history for all time.”

Ali was born on Jan. 17, 1942, and was named Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior. His father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Senior, was named after a 19th-century white abolitionist. Clay Sr. made a living painting billboards and signs. His mother, Odessa Grady Clay, worked as a domestic servant.

At age 12 he took up boxing under the tutelage of Joe Martin, a Louisville policeman who became Clay’s trainer for his amateur career. During that time Clay won two national Golden Gloves titles and one AAU championship. After graduating from high school he won the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Olympics in Rome.

After the Olympics, Clay turned professional. Fighting as a heavyweight he won his first 19 bouts and had Angelo Dundee as his trainer. Clay exhibited quick hands, nimble footwork and an active mouth. Proclaiming himself “The Greatest” the brash fighter earned the nickname “Louisville Lip.”

In 1964, Clay got a shot at the heavyweight title against champion Sonny Liston. Leading up to the contest, Clay said he would “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Despite the bravado, odds-makers had Clay as a 7-1 underdog.

On Feb. 25, Clay fought Liston in Miami Beach, Florida. Clay got off to a quick start but at the end of the fourth round complained his eyes were burning and he couldn’t see. “I didn’t know what the heck was going on,” Dundee told NBC Sports years later. “He said, ‘Cut the gloves off.'”

Dundee said Liston’s corner had used Monsel’s Solution (applied to stop bleeding) on the fighter. After Ali’s eyes were cleaned, he resumed control of the fight. Liston, who some thought was invincible, couldn’t answer the bell for the seventh round. At age 22, Clay was heavyweight champion of the world.

The next day Clay, accompanied by Nation of Islam member Malcolm X, announced at a news conference that he was converting to Islam and changing his name to Cassius X. On March 6, Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad bestowed him the name Muhammad Ali. Muhammad meant one worthy of praise, and Ali was the name of a cousin of the prophet Muhammad.

Ali’s proclamation was met with hostility from the mainstream media, many of whom refused to acknowledge his new name. The Nation of Islam preached black pride and black nationalism. Unlike the non-violent teachings of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X justified violence in the act of self-defense.

On May 25, 1965, Ali defended his title in a rematch with Liston in Lewiston, Maine. The fight lasted only one round and ended with what some thought was a “phantom punch.” Ali went on to defend his title eight more times.

In 1966, with the United States becoming more involved militarily in Vietnam, Ali said he was a conscientious objector based on his religious beliefs.

“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong,” he said.
“I’d like for them to say: He took a few cups of love. He took one tablespoon of patience. One tablespoon, teaspoon of generosity. One pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter. One pinch of concern. And then he mixed willingness with happiness. He added lots of faith. And he stirred it up well. Then he spread it over a span of a lifetime. And he served it to each and every deserving person he met.”
Muhammad Ali, when asked in 1972 how he’d like to be remembered

In 1967, shortly before he was to appear at a military facility for induction, Ali said, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

On April 28, in Houston, Ali refused to step forward when his name was called for military service. That same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. Other boxing commissions followed suit. Soon after, he was convicted of evading the draft, sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000.

Ali stayed out of prison while his lawyers filed a series of appeals that eventually reached the Supreme Court.

By 1970, the mood of the country toward the combat in Vietnam was changing with a strong and growing anti-war movement. More people now saw Ali’s refusal to be drafted not as the act of a traitor, but as a legitimate reaction against what they thought was an unjust conflict.

Eight months before the court ruled, Ali was able to land a fight with highly rated heavyweight Jerry Quarry. The fight would be held in Atlanta. The state didn’t have an athletic commission and with the approval of the mayor, the fight was green-lighted despite the objections of segregationist governor Lester Maddox.

On Oct. 26, 1970, 43 months after his last fight, Ali made a triumphant return to the ring. Despite showing some rust, Ali bloodied Quarry, winning on a third-round TKO.

While Ali was banished from boxing, Joe Frazier became the heavyweight champion. During Ali’s boxing exile, Frazier had supported his attempts to return to the sport. An agreement was reached for the two to fight. In the buildup, Ali called Frazier an “Uncle Tom,” something Frazier would never forget or forgive.

On March 8, 1971, they fought at Madison Square Garden in “The Fight of the Century.” The bout was between the current undefeated champion and the undefeated former title holder whose fans still considered him the real champ. What followed was a 15-round epic with Frazier knocking Ali down in the 15th round en route to a unanimous decision win.

On June 28, 1971, it was Ali’s turn to win a unanimous decision when the Supreme Court overturned his draft evasion conviction.

There was great anticipation for a championship rematch but circumstances changed that in 1973. In January, Frazier lost his title when he was savagely defeated in two rounds by George Foreman in Kingston, Jamaica. Two months later, Ali had his jaw broken in a loss to Ken Norton in San Diego.

Ali avenged his loss to Norton and added a win over Ruddi Lubbers while Frazier won his next fight over Joe Bugner, setting up Ali/Frazier II. On Jan. 28, 1974, the second Ali-Frazier bout was scheduled to take place at Madison Square Garden. Just days before they were to fight, the boxers appeared on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” with Howard Cosell. An argument ensued, with Ali calling Frazier “ignorant.” Frazier countered, “I’m not ignorant!”

That led to the two wrestling on the studio floor before they were separated.

The real fight was billed as “Super Fight II” and was for the North American Boxing Federation championship. But the real prize was for the winner to get a shot at champion George Foreman. Ali won the fight with a 12-round unanimous decision.

Ali was 32 on Oct. 30, 1974, when he faced the 25-year- old Foreman for what became known as “The Rumble in the Jungle.” The fight was held in Kinshasa, Zaire. To accommodate viewers in the United States, the contest began at 4 a.m. local time. Foreman was 40-0 with 37 knockouts, including a two-round demolition of Ken Norton earlier that year. There was concern by some that Foreman would kill Ali. With the crowd chanting “Ali bomaye!,” (Ali, kill him!), Ali unveiled a strategy that would turn the bout.

Starting in the second round he stayed along the ropes, allowing Foreman to throw a series of punches that were mainly blocked by his arms. The “rope-a-dope” tactic sapped Foreman’s energy in the tropical heat. But Ali was also absorbing a great deal of punishment. In the eighth round, he came off the ropes and landed a series of punches that sent the exhausted Foreman to the canvas. Ali had regained the heavyweight title in an unlikely victory.

Following the death of Elijah Muhammad, Ali left the Nation of Islam and converted to Sunni Islam.

Ali defended his title three more times before his third and final fight against Joe Frazier. The “Thrilla in Manila” took place Oct. 1, 1975, in Manila, Philippines. It would be the most brutal of the trilogy, a battle that would test the limits of their wills.

As was the case in the previous two encounters, Ali belittled Frazier leading up to the fight. At one news conference he said, “It’s gonna be a chilla, and a killa, and a thrilla, when I get the Gorilla in Manila.”

The fight began with Ali unleashing a flurry of punches that landed on Frazier. But Frazier wouldn’t back down. By the middle rounds Frazier was taking over the fight. Ali survived the onslaught and in the eleventh was able to unleash several combinations that caused severe swelling around the challenger’s eyes. Taking advantage of Frazier’s condition, Ali continued to connect, and in the 13th round, he knocked out Frazier’s mouthpiec. At the end of the 14th round, both men were exhausted, but with Frazier unable to see, his corner stopped the fight. Ali was barely able to get off his stool to acknowledge the victory. Years later, Ali described the fight “as the closest thing to dying.”
Ali lit the Olympic cauldron at the Atlanta Games in 1996, one of his many post-fight career honors. Doug Mills/AP Photo

Ali was 36 when he faced 24 year-old Leon Spinks on Feb. 15, 1978 in Las Vegas. Like Ali, Spinks was an Olympic light heavyweight gold medal-winner. Spinks was a 10-1 underdog as he faced Ali in only his eighth pro fight but won a 15th-round split decision. Some thought it was the end of Ali’s career; it wasn’t.

Seven months after losing his belt, Ali took it back. On Sept. 15, an estimated 90 million people viewed ABC’s telecast of Ali-Spinks II, with another 60,000 watching inside the Louisiana Superdome. Ali took a 15-round unanimous decision and became the first man to win the heavyweight title three times.

In June 1979, Ali retired from boxing. Unfortunately for him and his fans, he decided to unretire.

In early 1980, he agreed to fight new WBA heavyweight champion John Tate. But Tate lost the belt to Mike Weaver in March. In July, following one failed attempt, Ali signed on to fight WBC champion Larry Holmes in Las Vegas.

Due to concerns about his health, the Nevada State Athletic Commission had Ali examined at the Mayo Clinic as a prerequisite to receiving a boxing license. In his book “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times,” Thomas Hauser obtained a copy of the findings that indicated Ali had difficulty controlling facial muscles in speech.

“The remainder of his examination is normal except that he does not quite hop with the agility that one might anticipate, and on finger-to-nose testing there is a slight degree of missing the target. Both of these tests could be significantly influenced by fatigue,” the report said. “There is no specific finding that would prohibit him from engaging in further prizefights.”

As a result, the 38-year old Ali was granted a boxing license.

The Oct. 2 fight was never in doubt. Holmes was 8 years younger and had a 35-0 record entering the contest. Though Ali wasn’t knocked down, Holmes dominated, winning every round on the judges’ cards. Ali’s corner stopped it after the 10th.

A few days after the fight, Ali was examined at UCLA Medical Center, where doctors said the boxer suffered “residual damage” from the one-sided contest. Ali said at a news conference he checked himself into the facility ” to stop rumors about my being hurt — brain damaged or kidney damaged.” But he also revealed he was taking Thyrolar for a thyroid condition at double the prescribed amount. Ali claimed that sapped his strength contributing to his defeat. His doctor, Dr. Charles Lee Williams Sr., said he prescribed Thyrolar for a thyroid imbalance, but couldn’t say how he came to that conclusion. Some suspected Ali took Thyrolar to lose weight, which can happen with overdosing the medication.

Ali weighed in at 217½ pounds, the lightest he’d been since the Foreman fight. Ali said, ” I shall return.” That return would be against 28 year-old Trevor Berbick, a Jamaican fighting out of Canada. Berbick had lost a 15-round decision to Holmes in April 1981, for the WBC heavyweight title. But with concerns over Ali’s health and diminished boxing skills, state athletic commissions wouldn’t issue him a license.

There were claims, including from his former cornerman, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, that Ali had suffered brain damage from fighting. Ali submitted to a series of tests before the fight at New York University. The tests were supervised by Dr. Harry Demopoulos, who told Sports Illustrated that 30 doctors were involved.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that Muhammad has sustained any injury to any vital organ — brain, liver, kidneys, heart, lungs — nervous system, or muscle or bone systems. His blood tests indicate he has the vessels of a young man,” Demopoulos said. He also called Ali’s slurred speech “psychosocial response.”

The Bahamas approved the fight.

On Dec. 11, 1981, Ali lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Berbick in his final fight, a lackluster performance that even Ali realized was a sign of his reduced capabilities.

“My timing and reflexes just wasn’t there,’ he told reporters after the fight. “There were things that I wanted to do but just couldn’t. No, I’m certain this time. At the Holmes fight I had excuses. This time I had no excuses. I know myself better than anybody and I know this is the end.”

Ali finished his professional career with a 56-5 record, including 37 knockouts. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.

“We lost a giant today,” Manny Pacquaio said in a statement. “Boxing benefited from Muhammad Ali’s talents but not nearly as much as mankind benefited from his humanity. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Ali family. May God bless them.”

In 1984, it was revealed that the 42-year-old Ali had Parkinson’s syndrome. He had tremors, slurred speech and slow body movements. Doctors said it was the result of injuries to the brain sustained during his boxing career.

In the following years, Ali’s condition deteriorated but he remained active as a humanitarian and goodwill ambassador. The man who used to fight in the ring now traveled the world fighting racism, hunger and poverty. Ali supported many charities and causes, including research into Parkinson’s disease, supplying medicine to the needy and improving literacy rates.

In 1990, against the wishes of the U.S. government, he traveled to Iraq and won the release of 15 American hostages who were being held by dictator Saddam Hussein.

In 1996, Ali was given the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the Atlanta Games, his hands trembling so uncontrollably that the world held its breath.

Ali served for 10 years as United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2005, he won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

ESPN had ranked Ali as the third greatest athlete of the 20th century, behind Michael Jordan (No. 1) and Babe Ruth.

“We are sad to hear of the passing of Muhammad Ali. However, we revel in the memory of his athletic excellence in the ring, we recollect with pleasure the charm of the charismatic young man from Louisville who would shock the world and we celebrate the dramatic achievement of a champion of civil rights who changed the world,” ESPN President John Skipper said in a statement. “In many ways, he was truly the greatest of all time.”

Tennis Hall of Famer and social activist Arthur Ashe summed up Ali’s contribution to American race relations in an interview with Thomas Hauser.

“Ali didn’t just change the image that African Americans have of themselves,” Ashe said. “He opened the eyes of a lot of white people to the potential of African Americans; who we are and what we can be.”

In a 1972 interview with David Frost, Ali was asked, “What would you like people to think about you when you’re gone?”

Ali answered: “I’d like for them to say: He took a few cups of love. He took one tablespoon of patience. One tablespoon, teaspoon of generosity. One pint of kindness. He took one quart of laughter. One pinch of concern. And then he mixed willingness with happiness. He added lots of faith. And he stirred it up well. Then he spread it over a span of a lifetime. And he served it to each and every deserving person he met.”

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Andre Berto wins rematch with Victor Ortiz in 4th-round TKO

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In an abbreviated rematch of one of 2011’s best fights, Andre Berto survived a second-round knockdown to stop Victor Ortiz in the fourth round of their welterweight rematch Saturday at the StubHub Center. It was sweet revenge for Berto, whose career had gone into a tailspin following his decision loss to Ortiz in their first bout.

There was little action in the opening round, except for an accidental clash of heads that opened a cut above Ortiz’s hairline, but in the second round, southpaw Ortiz (31-6-1, 24 KOs) floored Berto (32-4, 24 KOs) with a straight left to the head.

“He knocked me down but didn’t hurt me,” Berto said. “I knew it was time to play catchup.”
Berto looked unsteady in the uneventful third, but he regrouped and connected with a beautiful right uppercut in the fourth that sent Ortiz crashing to the canvas. Badly hurt, Ortiz struggled to his feet, only to be quickly toppled again by Berto’s follow-up barrage.

Ortiz barely beat referee Jack Reiss’ second count, and when asked if he wanted to continue, the dazed Ortiz didn’t answer. Reiss immediately called a halt at 1:14 of the round.

“This was the most satisfying win of my career,” Berto said.

The victory was Berto’s first outing since he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on Sept. 12, 2015, in Mayweather’s farewell fight. The win over Ortiz advanced Berto’s record to 31-4 (24 KOs) and rejuvenated his sagging career.
He hit me with a punch I didn’t see coming,” said Ortiz, who has lost four of his past six fights. Nonetheless, the fighter from Ventura, California, indicated that he would be back after a vacation.

• The StubHub Center lived up to its reputation as an epicenter for action-packed fights. In the chief supporting bout, Thomas Williams Jr. of Laurel, Maryland, stopped Edwin Rodriguez of Worcester, Massachusetts, at the 2:59 mark of the second round of a free-swinging light heavyweight brawl.

Rodriguez (28-2, 19 KOs) pinned Williams on the ropes early in the second and hammered him with right hands, but Williams rallied to floor Rodriguez with a stunning right-left combination. Referee Wayne Hedgpeth called a halt without a count.

The victory earned Williams (20-1, 14 KOs) a shot at WBC light heavyweight titleholder Adonis Stevenson.

• In another bout, undefeated Mexican featherweight slugger Jorge Lara (28-0) jumped on three-division former champ Fernando Montiel in the first round and knocked him down four times before referee Ray Corona stopped the fight at the 1:37 mark.

The devastating loss will likely end the 37-year-old Montiel’s career, which began in 1996 and saw him win titles at flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight for an overall record of 54-6-2 (32 KOs).

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Floyd Mayweather on possible comeback: ‘You just never know’

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Almost a year to the day after his superfight with Manny Pacquiao, former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather hinted that he might come out of retirement.

In an interview with Showtime on Saturday, Mayweather maintained that he is happily retired but said he has had talks with CBS and Showtime about a possible return to the ring.
“Everyone is asking me, ‘Is Floyd Mayweather coming back?'” Mayweather said in Washington, where one of his Mayweather Promotions fighters, super middleweight titleholder Badou Jack, fought to a majority draw against Lucian Bute at the DC Armory. “Right now, I’m happy being on this side, but I’ve been talking with CBS and Showtime, and you just never know. But right now, I’m just happy on this side.”

Mayweather then was asked what it would take to come back.

“As of right now, some crazy numbers have been thrown my way — upwards, of course, of nine figures,” he told Showtime. “But I’m truly blessed beyond belief, and I really don’t know what we’re going to do. But right now, I’m really happy being on this side helping our fighters.”

Many fight fans are clamoring for a matchup between unified middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (35-0) and Mayweather, but Mayweather indicated Saturday that it’s unlikely to happen, even if he does return. Mayweather has fought as a junior middleweight before — against Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez — but never at 160.

“I think that it’s best that he go up and fight Andre Ward,” Mayweather said of Golovkin. “I think that would be a good fight for Triple G and Andre Ward. How can Floyd Mayweather fight at 160 [pounds] when I can never even make 154?”

Mayweather defeated Pacquiao by unanimous decision in a showdown billed as The Fight of the Century on May 2, 2015. He then decisioned Andre Berto in September to up his career record to 49-0, tying the hallowed mark with which heavyweight legend Rocky Marciano retired, the best record for a retiring champion. Although another victory would put him ahead of Marciano, Mayweather vowed that the Berto fight would be his last.

“My career is over. It’s official,” he said after the Berto fight.

Until Saturday, Mayweather hadn’t wavered from that stance. In March, he insisted there was zero chance that he would get back into the ring.

“I was able to retire from the sport with all my faculties and not let the sport retire me,” he said.

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Manny Pacquiao defeats Timothy Bradley Jr. in what he says was final fight

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If this was truly Manny Pacquiao’s final fight, as he has said, he went out with a near-vintage performance.

He knocked rival Timothy Bradley Jr. down twice, in the seventh and ninth rounds, and cruised to a unanimous decision in their welterweight fight Saturday night before 14,665 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

In the best fight of their trilogy, Pacquiao, perhaps bringing the curtain down on his legendary, 21-year career, won going away 116-110 on all three judges’ scorecards. ESPN.com also scored it for Pacquiao 117-109.\Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs), 37, rebounded nicely from May’s unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather in their megafight, which was followed by surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff.

“I was looking for a knockout in every round,” Pacquiao said. “He’s a very tough fighter and a very good counter-puncher. Bradley is a good boxer, a great fighter and a good man. It was not easy tonight, [but] my right shoulder was fine. It gave me no problems.”

Pacquiao officially won the trilogy 2-1. Bradley was awarded a hugely controversial split decision when they met for the first time in 2012, and Pacquiao appeared to dominate that fight. Then he got a unanimous decision in their 2014 rematch, which he also dominated. He dominated Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs), 32, of Palm Springs, California, again in fight No. 3.

“Manny was very strong in there. Very heavy punches. He was also very patient,” said Bradley, who has won five world titles in two weight classes. “I wasn’t professional enough to stay patient myself, and I walked into shots.”

Although Pacquiao, who likes Bradley and invited him to his Sunday prayer breakfast after the fight, looked sharp, he declared that he was indeed retiring.

“Yes, as of now I am retired,” Pacquiao said. “I am going to go home and think about it, but I want to be with my family. I want to serve the people [of the Philippines].”

He intends to retire to a life of charitable work and politics in the Philippines, where he is a two-term congressman running for a senate seat. The election is next month, and he is favored to win one of the 12 seats up for election.
Trainer Freddie Roach said leading up to the fight that he would be supportive of whatever decision Pacquiao made about his career, but after seeing how well he fought, Roach said he would be happy to see him continue.

“I loved the way Manny threw his combos. He may be a little rusty, but if he wants to continue fighting, I think he can still go,” Roach said.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Pacquiao landed 122 of 439 punches (28 percent), and Bradley connected on 99 of 302 blows (33 percent).

There was not much action in the early going, but it eventually picked up and became quite an entertaining scrap.

“This was the best of the three fights I had with Timothy Bradley,” Pacquiao said. “Great action, and it was very competitive. Teddy obviously made a difference because this was the best Timothy Bradley I have faced in the three fights.”

Bradley counter-punched well early and showed a lot of movement, but Pacquiao landed some sharp, straight left hands. The action picked up considerably in the fifth round, as both fighters began to look for big shots. Bradley swung and missed wildly with some of his but also landed, as did Pacquiao. There were multiple exciting exchanges that had the crowd cheering. Pacquiao fired fast combinations — he still has his speed — through the middle of the fight, while Bradley struggled to find the target.

Pacquiao scored a flash knockdown just before the bell ended the seventh round. He landed a left hand and a right that forced Bradley to double over and touch his gloves to the canvas.

“I don’t think the first knockdown was a real knockdown, but Pacquiao did a great job in there,” said Teddy Atlas, training Bradley for the second time. “Give Pacquiao credit. I didn’t do enough of a job for Bradley.”
Bradley, who got a tongue lashing from Atlas after the seventh round, came on strong in the eighth as he landed three hard left hooks, among other shots, that forced Pacquiao into the ropes. He appeared to be in trouble, but the round came to an end, and Bradley could not capitalize.

If Bradley was not badly hurt on the seventh-round knockdown, he sure was when Pacquiao dropped him hard with a little less than a minute left in the ninth round. Pacquiao had landed a few hard left hands a few seconds earlier, and then he landed another clean one that knocked him down.

“Manny’s left trumps all,” Roach said.

Said Bradley: “Yeah, he caught me good on that one. He’s just very quick and very explosive. Great reflexes, and it is hard to defend. Congrats to Manny.”

Pacquiao, who made $20 million, and Bradley, who earned $4 million, not only touched gloves at the start of the 12th round — No. 36 of their trilogy — but they also hugged as a show of respect for each other. They fought what might have been the final three minutes of Pacquiao’s glorious career as the crowd chanted “Manny! Manny!”

What a career it has been. He became a worldwide star with a series of big knockouts in the ring and a humble demeanor outside of it while racing up the scale to win titles in a record eight weight divisions: flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight.

He stood atop boxing along with Mayweather for years, until, at long last, they met in May in a fight that shattered every revenue record and generated around $600 million. Mayweather fought once more in September, easily beating Andre Berto, and retired.

Next it was Pacquiao’s turn. Although he waffled about retirement at times, he was definitive at the final news conference Wednesday. “This is my final fight,” he said, and after the fight, he said again that he is finished.

If he is, he will close the book on his legendary career as one of the greatest fighters to ever put on gloves. He turned pro in 1995 at 106 pounds, won his first world title at flyweight (112 pounds) in 1998 and went on to win world titles in a record eight weight divisions, from flyweight to junior middleweight (154 pounds), and beat a who’s who of his era, including Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Marco Antonio Barrera (twice), Erik Morales (2-1) and Juan Manuel Marquez (3-1).

But he lost the biggest of them all in May, when Mayweather outboxed him in a unanimous decision in one of the most hyped fights ever and the richest in history. Coming back from that loss and off surgery, Pacquiao’s supposed career finale was not the caliber of event he had been used to. There was a public backlash over the disappointing fight with Mayweather, at a record $100 for the pay-per-view, and Pacquiao’s anti-gay remarks earlier this year, when he said homosexuals were “worse than animals.”

He was fighting Bradley for the third time after two previous fights that were not particularly well-received. Most did not see a reason for the third meeting, and it was clear by the lack of buzz. But in the end, the fans got a good fight, and Pacquiao, if he elects to, will retire on his own terms.

“I have a commitment to my family that I am going to retire after this, but I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe I will enjoy being a retired man and helping the people. Thank you to all the fans in boxing, especially Filipinos. I appreciate all of your help and support.”

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Adrien Broner Tries To Call Out Floyd Mayweather

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Adrien Broner had a very bad week, but he at least finished it with a bright spot: a dominating, ninth-round knockout victory of Ashley Theophane on Friday in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card at the DC Armory.

Broner then called out retired superstar Floyd Mayweather, who was ringside, though Broner has major legal problems to address first, and Mayweather would have to come out of retirement.

Broner was supposed to be making the first defense of the vacant junior welterweight title he won via 12th-round knockout of Khabib Allakhverdiev in October. But Broner registered 140.4 pounds at Thursday’s weigh-in, 0.4 over the division limit, and he was stripped of the title.

He never attempted to drop the small amount of weight and drank immediately after getting off the scale. For the fight to go on, Broner agreed to pay $50,000 from his purse to Theophane, who weighed 140 pounds and was eligible to win the vacant belt.Theophane was never in the fight. With a sold-out crowd of 8,172 cheering him on, Broner, who considers Washington, D.C., a second home, manhandled Theophane.

“I always could do better, but I did what I had to do to get the victory,” Broner said. “Everybody who fights me comes with their A game, and he came with his A game, but even that wasn’t good enough.”

Losing the title on the scales was the least of Broner’s problems. There was doubt last weekend that the DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission would license him.

Nicknamed “The Problem,” Broner has two outstanding warrants for his arrest in his home state of Ohio for felony assault and aggravated robbery in connection to an incident during the early morning hours of Jan. 21. He is accused of assaulting a man and robbing him of $12,000 at gunpoint outside a bowling alley. Broner, who allegedly lost the money to the victim during a night of high-stakes betting on bowling games, allegedly knocked him unconscious outside the bowling alley after a confrontation and took the money.

Broner was licensed only after commission officials cleared his appearance with Ohio authorities, who have made a deal with Broner, 26, and his attorney that the fighter will return to Cincinnati and turn himself in on Monday. Bail has already been set at $100,000.

“I’ve been going through a lot this whole week, and to come in here and bottle everything up and stay focused and get it done; I want to give a pat on the back to myself,” Broner said.
Broner then called out Mayweather, Theophane’s promoter.

They have been close — Broner often calls him his “big brother” — but they have also had something of a love-hate relationship of late. Broner called Mayweather Promotions “Hateweather Promotions” this week and vowed to knock out his fighter. Then Mayweather did an interview with a boxing website in which he verbally attacked Broner.

“Somebody I look up to and somebody I admire talked all bad about me,” Broner said as Mayweather laughed and clapped ringside. “I don’t know how you all like it. I didn’t like it. I learn s— from physical activity, so me and Floyd, we got a feud.

“I’m a man, at the end of the day, and I come from the streets, from the bottom. I come from nothing, and I will never let a man disrespect me. He got to come see me. We got to get it on.”

Spike announcer Scott Hanson asked Mayweather for his reaction to Broner’s comments after the telecast went off the air. His response was, “I don’t play kid games with Adrien Broner.”

Inside the ring, Broner, who has won titles in four weight classes, handled his business like a professional against Theophane (39-7-1, 11 KOs), 35, of England, who trains at Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas. Theophane was a significant underdog and got the fight more because of his connection to Mayweather than because of merit. He had never beaten a notable opponent, though he came into the fight having won six fights in a row.

Even so, Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) outclassed him. Broner’s hands were much faster than Theophane’s, and he made him pay, routinely lining him up for right hands. In the third round, it was a hard left hand that hurt Theophane with a minute to go and sent him into a corner, where Broner teed off with several shots until he managed to escape.

Broner predicted a fourth-round knockout and came close to getting it when he hurt Theophane with a powerful left uppercut and landed a right hand moments later, as Theophane’s right eye began to close.

“It wasn’t the fourth round, but I knocked his ass out,” Broner said.

Broner went after a fading Theophane in the ninth round. He was all over him, and Theophane’s legs were visibly weak when Broner nailed him with an overhand right, a left to the body that appeared below the belt and another right that sent Theophane staggering across the ring, all of which caused referee Luis Pabon to wave the fight off at 1 minute, 10 seconds.

The crowd booed loudly at what appeared to be a fast stoppage, but Theophane’s legs were gone.

Easter destroys Mendez

Lightweight prospect Robert Easter took a big step up in competition and dominated former junior lightweight titlist Algenis Mendez en route to a booming, one-punch, fifth-round knockout.

Easter (17-0, 14 KOs), 25, of Toledo, Ohio, with a nearly 6-foot frame, towered over Mendez and let his fast hands go throughout the fight. He landed stiff jabs and right uppercuts and was in command all the way.

Easter had big fourth round, in which he rocked Mendez (23-4-1, 12 KOs), 29, who is from the Dominican Republic and fights out Yonkers, New York, with a left hand to the chin and then sent him staggering into the ropes with another left hand.

In the fifth round, Easter hammered Mendez, who was against the ropes, with a clean right hand to the head in the fifth round. Mendez dropped immediately, and though he barely beat the count, he was totally out of it, and referee Billy Johnson waved the fight off at 2 minutes, 43 seconds.

“It felt great,” Easter said. “Coming into this fight, I knew I had to keep my range. I knew he was a slick fighter and a former champion. I stepped on the gas, and I knew I was gonna catch him.”

• In the televised opener, 21-year-old lightweight prospect Gervonta “Tank” Davis (15-0, 14 KOs), a southpaw from Baltimore whom Mayweather regularly raves about, hammered Guillermo Avila (16-6, 13 KOs), 23, of Mexico, in a sixth-round knockout victory.

Davis, who dominated the entire fight, hurt Avila in the third round with a series of clean punches along the ropes, including a straight left hand that opened a nasty cut under his left eye. Davis continued to pound him in the fourth round, teeing off with hard, clean shots, and nearly stopped him in the waning seconds.

Late in the fifth round, Davis landed a flush left hand down the middle that dropped Avila to his backside. He stopped him in the sixth round by crushing Avila along the ropes with a series of flush right uppercuts that rocked his head back and forth before referee Michelle Myers stepped in at 29 seconds.

“I knew he was a strong opponent. He kept bouncing back, and I actually thought he was going to get up at the end too,” Davis said. “He is very experienced, and I thank him for taking the fight. He brought out the best in me. There is always room to get better and better, but this is another step toward my dream. I’m happy I could get this victory for my team, Floyd Mayweather and everyone that supports me.”

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Canelo tops Cotto to claim middleweight title

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Canelo Alvarez is the new middleweight champion of the world after pounding his way to a unanimous decision victory against Miguel Cotto in a hard-fought battle Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Alvarez and Cotto delivered an entertaining fight that had the crowd cheering throughout as Alvarez stalked Cotto, who knew his best chance to win was to box, box and box.
Cotto, 35, gave it a tremendous effort, staying on his toes and moving nicely throughout the fight, but the judges clearly liked Alvarez’s brute strength more, awarding him the fight on surprisingly wide scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111.

ESPN.com had the fight 115-113 for Alvarez, a former unified junior middleweight titleholder who won a world title in his second weight class.

“It’s an emotion I can’t put into words,” Alvarez said through a translator as the sold-out crowd of 11,274 cheered. “I’m very happy, and much respect to Miguel Cotto. I will always respect him and he’s a great champion, but now it’s my era.

“I was fully prepared for what Cotto was going to do in the ring, whether that was take a defense stance or be the aggressor.”

The victory will go down as one of the best for Mexico in its rich and legendary boxing rivalry with Puerto Rico and should launch Alvarez — at 25 already Mexico’s most popular fighter — to even greater stardom.

“It’s a great victory for me; not just for me, but for all of my country, for all my people, and especially for my team,” Alvarez said. “I have a great trainer [Eddy Reynoso]. He brought me here from nothing. I didn’t even know what a jab was. That I’m at this level shows the quality of my trainer.”
Said Reynoso, whose father, Chepo, serves as Alvarez’s manager and assistant trainer: “We are very proud of Canelo today. As we all know, he started from the bottom and now he is the champion. I was never worried about him from the first round through to the 12th round. He has great defense strategy, but I was hoping that he would have finished Cotto sooner.

“I know that he was looking for the knockout and as a result didn’t throw as much as he should have to put Miguel on the canvas. We have a lot of respect for Miguel; he is a great fighter, and we have tremendous respect for Freddie Roach as a trainer.”

Saturday’s fight was contracted at a catchweight of 155 pounds, five less than the division limit.

Alvarez not only claimed the WBC belt but also the lineal world championship, which Cotto was defending for the second time. However, on Tuesday the WBC stripped Cotto of his belt because of a dispute over the sanctioning fee. The WBC demanded $300,000, which Alvarez agreed to pay. Cotto offered to pay $125,000. The WBC refused to negotiate the fee, contrary to what it has typically done for major fights.

Cotto was shocked by the decision and did not do a postfight interview, nor did he appear at the postfight news conference. He immediately retreated to his dressing room, where his promoter, Jay Z of Roc Nation Sports, told him, “You had a great fight.”

“We thought it was much closer than the scorecards showed,” said Roach. “It was a competitive fight. Miguel’s defense was unbelievable all night long.”

The fight began with the crowd immediately breaking into chants of “Mexico! Mexico,” but it was Cotto who moved well and outboxed Alvarez. That was clearly Roach’s game plan as he entered his fourth fight since remolding Cotto in the wake of back-to-back decision losses to Mayweather and Austin Trout. Alvarez began to land a bit more in the second round, but Cotto’s speed was still giving him problems.

Alvarez landed a solid right hand late in the third round that did not appear to faze Cotto, but Alvarez landed several more in the fourth that did seem to bother Cotto more.
The action finally began to heat up in the fifth round. As the two exchanged powerful shots, Alvarez landed an uppercut, and Cotto responded with a left hook during an exchange.

Alvarez, who had slight swelling under his left eye, had a big eighth round, landing a powerful right hand that finally seemed to stun Cotto. But Cotto stood in, and they had a long exchange in the first minute that had the crowd going wild. Alvarez continued to impose his will on Cotto, who backed away and looked a bit tired at the end of the round. Alvarez’s power advantage was evident again in the ninth round, when he landed several heavy shots that stopped Cotto in his tracks.

Cotto’s stamina was impressive. Just as he seemed to be fading in the later rounds, he was back on his toes in the 11th and landed a right hand that rocked Alvarez’s head back. He was moving side to side and rarely staying in front of Alvarez, allowing him to land his right hand cleanly.

Alvarez opened the 12th round going after Cotto, and he landed a solid right hand and continued to land, but Cotto sneaked in an uppercut as the crowd was on its feet. It seemed as though the fight was still on the table, and they were fighting like it.

Alvarez backed Cotto up with a left hook with a minute left but took a right hand moments later. Alvarez got Cotto on the ropes, a rarity, and pounded away in the final 30 seconds before Cotto spun away. But they closed by trading shots to end an excellent fight, which HBO will replay Saturday night at 10:15 ET/PT.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Alvarez landed 155 of 484 punches (32 percent), and Cotto landed 129 of 629 (21 percent). But Alvarez’s heavier blows seemed to inflict more damage.

“We knew going into this fight that it would be a difficult journey, but I feel that I was the faster and stronger fighter tonight,” Alvarez said. “I wasn’t hurt by his punches.”

Alvarez said he knew he was the more powerful hitter and that his aim was to make sure Cotto knew it.

“It didn’t matter if I landed 10 punches as long as they were 10 well-connected punches and not get hit by his punches,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez made at least $5 million for the fight and probably much more via Mexican television rights. Cotto earned at least $15 million.

After he left the ring, Alvarez visited Cotto in the dressing room, where he paid his respects to Cotto’s family and team and told Cotto, “I admire you.”

By capturing the WBC belt, Alvarez must face interim titleholder Gennady Golovkin, who holds two other organization full titles and was ringside, in his next fight. However, Alvarez and Cotto have mutual rematch clauses in their contracts, so Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) very well could dump the belt — but not the lineage — and meet Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) in a rematch that would surely be another fan-friendly fight.

Alvarez still said he was interested in a showdown with Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs), one of boxing’s most fearsome punchers and best fighters pound for pound.

“I’m not afraid of any fighter. GGG is a great fighter, and he is my friend,” Alvarez said. “I have respect for him, but if we do fight, it’s going to be at my [natural] weight class [of 155 pounds]. I’m the champion. I don’t have to do what he wants.

“With all due respect, if he wants to fight right now, I’ll put the gloves on and fight him.”

Fight fans around the world can only hope he is serious.

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Mayweather-Pacquiao set for May 2

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At long last, pound-for-pound greats Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will fight.

Yes, the bout that looms as one of the most anticipated in boxing history is finally on.

For more than five years sports fans have clamored for a summit meeting between the two best fighters in the world, and after various failed negotiations — and a protracted and difficult effort to make the fight in recent months — they will get it on May 2 to unify the fighters’ welterweight world titles at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The showdown is a lock to be the richest in boxing history and will, barring a draw, settle the issue that has been debated for years: Who is the No. 1 fighter in boxing and who is the king of this era?Mayweather made the announcement on Friday afternoon on a social media platform called Shots, of which he is an investor.

“I am glad my decision to meet with Manny and discuss making this fight happen helped get the deal done,” Mayweather said, referring to a chance Jan. 27 meeting with Pacquiao at a Miami Heat game followed by a private discussion after the game. “Giving the fans what they want to see is always my main focus. This will be the biggest event in the history of the sport.”

In addition to the future Hall of Famers finally hammering out a deal for their welterweight title unification bout — one that will see Mayweather receive the lion’s share of a 60-40 money split in a fight that could gross around $400 million — rival premium cable networks Showtime, which has Mayweather under contract, and HBO, which has a deal with Pacquiao, went through a brutal negotiation.

The networks resultingly will come together to produce and distribute a joint pay-per-view telecast, which is expected to cost a record-high $89.95 (and probably $10 more for high definition).

“I am very happy that Floyd Mayweather and I can give the fans the fight they have wanted for so many years,” Pacquiao said. “They have waited long enough and they deserve it. It is an honor to be part of this historic event. I dedicate this fight to all the fans who willed this fight to happen and, as always, to bring glory to the Philippines and my fellow Filipinos around the world.”

Many involved expected the announcement to come on Thursday, but Mayweather was upset because Top Rank, Pacquiao’s promoter, was leaking word of the impending announcement and Mayweather wanted it to be a surprise.

“Boxing fans and sports fans around the world will witness greatness on May 2,” Mayweather said. “I am the best ever, TBE, and this fight will be another opportunity to showcase my skills and do what I do best, which is win. Manny is going to try to do what 47 before him failed to do, but he won’t be successful. He will be number 48.”According those familiar with the agreement, the contract Mayweather signed for the fight gave him the right to be the one to announce the fight, even though he was obligated to notify Top Rank of when he would do it.

On Friday afternoon, Top Rank was notified and Mayweather made the announcement about an hour later, though the deal had been done for a couple of days with both sides having signed the paperwork. Contracts were also signed by broadcasters HBO and Showtime, who will team for a historic joint pay-per-view.

“It’s hasn’t been easy,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com. “But I think in some strange way the inability to get the fight done before now enhances its value and this is one event that the public all over the world has been talking about and discussing for years. The interest in the fight will be absolutely red-hot. I’ve been promoting boxing for nearly 50 years and there is nothing that has come close to this because there has been nothing that has been so difficult to come to fruition. As interest is concerned, this is akin to the first (Muhammad) Ali-(Joe) Frazier fight.

“You have to be grateful that this is finally happening. You can’t bemoan the false starts and the inability to do this before. It’s here now.”

The fight is expected to shatter every revenue record in boxing history, including the pay-per-view buy record of 2.4 million generated by Mayweather’s 2007 junior middleweight championship fight against Oscar De La Hoya; the all-time pay-per-view revenue record of $150 million generated by Mayweather’s 2013 junior middleweight championship fight against Canelo Alvarez; and the all-time gate record of $20,003,150.

“Everyone involved, including Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, knows this fight simply had to happen,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports. “All of us are thrilled to be able to deliver this event to boxing fans around the world.

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“Now, for the second time under his current deal with Showtime Networks, Floyd Mayweather has agreed to fight an opponent that many people thought he’d never face. We set an all-time pay-per-view record with the first event back in September 2013 (with Alvarez) and we look forward to another record-breaking performance on May 2.”

Said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman: “Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have been the two most prominent fighters in the sport of boxing for the past decade, and fight fans around the world have been clamoring for them to face each other.

“And now, on May 2, in what everyone believes will be the biggest boxing event of all time, fight fans have been granted their wish. May 2 will be a signature moment for the sport of boxing and HBO Sports is thrilled to be a part of this spectacular event. I know the fighters and their teams will be primed to excel and we plan to work closely with everyone involved to deliver the same level of performance from a broadcast perspective.”

It is only the second time Showtime and HBO have made such a deal. The first time was for the highly anticipated 2002 fight between then-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who was with HBO, and former champion Mike Tyson, who was with Showtime.

For years, Mayweather and Pacquiao have been the two best fighters in the world, fighting in the same weight class but having not faced each other despite constant public demand.

Both have been considered the pound-for-pound king at various times, with Mayweather having held that mythical position for the past few years with Pacquiao right behind him for most of that period.Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and living in Las Vegas, “Money” Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs), who turns 38 on Tuesday, has won world titles in five weight classes, mainly with his defensive brilliance and speed, while becoming the highest-paid athlete in the world.

Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs), a 36-year-old southpaw known for his speed, power and aggressive style, became the only boxer in history to win world titles in eight weight divisions — flyweight, junior featherweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight — while also generating hundreds of millions of dollars and being elected to congress in his native Philippines, where he is a national icon.

“The reason I like my guy’s chances so much is because of his speed, the tremendous number of punches he throws, the quality of his punches and the fact that he is left-handed,” Arum said. “Top Rank promoted Floyd Mayweather for 10½ years and we recognized that he had difficulty handling a speedy, left-handed fighter and that he and his father (and trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr.) were insistent that we not match Floyd with a southpaw. I remember two fights he had with southpaws who didn’t have the ability Mann has but who gave him trouble — (DeMarcus) ‘Chop Chop’ Corley, who buzzed him and had him in real trouble and Zab Judah.”

Said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer: “Floyd should enjoy being the A-Side while he can because on May 2 Manny is going to put him on his backside.”

Since 2009, Mayweather-Pacquiao has loomed as boxing’s biggest fight, but it took all these years to make it a reality.

Mayweather, who turned pro in 1996 after receiving an Olympic bronze medal, ended a brief retirement in September 2009 by easily outpointing Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao’s biggest rival.Two months later, Pacquiao, who turned pro in 1995, ruthlessly destroyed Miguel Cotto in a 12th-round knockout victory to claim a welterweight title.

It was at that point that Mayweather and Pacquiao clearly were the two best fighters in the world pound-for-pound, in whichever order one wanted to place them.

But a big knockout is unlikely. The last time Pacquiao stopped anyone via KO was Cotto in 2009, while Mayweather has only knocked out one fighter in the last eight years — Victor Ortiz in September 2011.

They were both with HBO when their representatives began to negotiate the fight intensely at the end of 2009 and into early 2010.

All of the deal points were agreed to for a March 13, 2010 fight — including a 50-50 financial split — except for one: the method of drug testing in the lead-up to the fight. Mayweather, ahead of his time, demanded random blood and urine testing and Pacquiao declined to accept the specific protocol Mayweather wanted.

The deal fell apart and both moved on to other opponents. Pacquiao also sued Mayweather for defamation for accusing him of using performance-enhancing drugs; the case was eventually settled out of court, but the bad feelings remained on both sides.While the world waited to see them fight each other, Mayweather and Pacquiao beat a who’s who of their era as they faced one common opponent after another, including De La Hoya, Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Marquez and Shane Mosley.

Since the initial negotiation broke down in early 2010 there were other attempts to make the fight, including in 2010 when then-HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg served as a go-between in the negotiations between Arum of Top Rank and Mayweather adviser Al Haymon.

Those negotiations also failed and Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, denied a negotiation had even taken place despite Greenburg and Arum saying they had.

In early 2012, another attempt was made to put the fight together when Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz, who was visiting Mayweather in Las Vegas, put him on the phone with Pacquiao. Mayweather offered Pacquiao a $40 million flat fee for the fight.

Pacquiao, seeking to share in the overall revenue, not surprisingly declined.

The fight looked dead in recent years. Pacquiao suffered back-to-back losses in 2012 — a massively controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. and a sixth-round knockout loss to rival Marquez in their fourth fight, and then took off 11 months.

While Pacquiao was out of action, Mayweather jumped from HBO to Showtime for a six-fight contract, seemingly making the prospect of a deal even more remote.

Pacquiao returned in late 2013 and has won three fights in a row, a near-shutout of Brandon Rios followed by his regaining his welterweight title by soundly outpointing Bradley in their rematch last April.

In November, Pacquiao authored a one-sided defense against Chris Algieri, whom he knocked down six times in a virtual shutout decision.

Mayweather, meanwhile, fought four of the fights of his Showtime deal, wins against Robert Guerrero, Alvarez and two against Marcos Maidana.

But other than Mayweather’s blockbuster pay-per-view against Alvarez, the numbers for Mayweather and Pacquiao began to decline significantly as the public grew tired of buying expensive pay-per-view to watch them fight anybody but each other.

But after Mayweather outpointed Maidana in their September rematch, he opened the door for the fight, saying at the postfight news conference, “If the Pacquiao fight presents itself, let’s make it happen.”

Two months later, Pacquiao, during the lead-up to the fight with Algieri, called out for a Mayweather fight and continued to do so after his dominant performance.

Pacquiao even filmed a television commercial for athletic apparel retailer Foot Locker in which he mocked the fact that Mayweather had yet to agree to fight him. In the spot, Pacquiao overheard two boxers in the gym working on the heavy bag while discussing their excitement about a Foot Locker promotion.

Pacquiao, working mitts in the ring, walked over to the ropes and shouted at the boxers: “Wait, wait! So the thing the people wanted is finally happening?” One boxers answers, “Yeah,” and shrugged.

Pacquiao broke out into an epic celebration in the ring, shouting, “Yes!!! He’s going to fight me!”

Meanwhile, Arum, who promoted Mayweather before an acrimonious split in 2006, was negotiating the fight with Leslie Moonves, the CEO of Showtime parent company CBS, who served as the go-between on behalf of Mayweather and adviser Al Haymon, Arum’s bitter enemy (although they did have at least two face-to-face meetings at Moonves’ Los Angeles home during the talks).

The networks also got serious about making a deal with high-ranking company executives — HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler and HBO Sports president Ken Hershman and Showtime chairman and CEO Matt Blank and Showtime Sports Executive Vice President and General Manager Stephen Espinoza — meeting face-to-face in New York in mid-January.

Excitement that the fight would be made ratcheted up on Jan. 27 when Mayweather and Pacquiao, coincidentally both sitting courtside in Miami for a Heat game against the Milwaukee Bucks, met face to face briefly at halftime, exchanged cell phone numbers and shared a brief embrace. After the game, Mayweather met with Pacquiao and Koncz in Pacquiao’s hotel suite for about an hour to discuss some of the issues he had with the deal being negotiated.

The talks dragged out for nearly another month until they reached an accord and signed the contracts this week.

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Timothy Bradley defends WBO belt

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LAS VEGAS — Once again, Timothy Bradley’s hand was raised in victory. Once again, he heard the boos.

The script was familiar enough Saturday night for Bradley against Juan Manuel Marquez. So, too, was the result.

Bradley did just enough to win once again, beating Marquez by split decision to remain unbeaten and keep his piece of the welterweight title.”That win was my ticket to the boxing Hall of Fame,” Bradley said. “I beat a great champion.”

The judges thought so, though the fight was about as close as they come. But the pro-Marquez crowd didn’t, and neither did the Mexican fighter who was thwarted in his bid for a title in a fifth weight class at the age of 40.

“I came to win. I felt that I did win,” Marquez said. “The judges took it away. You don’t have to knock out a guy to win.”

Bradley was the more active fighter and came on in the second half of the fight to win. It was the third straight close decision win for Bradley, who was a hotly disputed winner over Manny Pacquiao two fights ago.

Bradley won 116-112 on one card and 115-113 on another, while a third judge had Marquez winning 115-113. The Associated Press scored it 115-113 for Bradley.

Bradley rocked Marquez with a left hook in the final seconds of the final round, the biggest punch of the fight between the last two men to beat Pacquiao.

“He couldn’t touch me,” Bradley said. “I gave him a boxing lesson.”

Coming off a brutal brawl with Ruslan Provodnikov last March that took him two months to recover from, Bradley vowed to fight smart and not engage in a war with Marquez. He used his left jab to keep Marquez away and boxed from the outside for most of the bout before trading wild punches in the final round. Marquez was in the fight the entire way but at 40 he perhaps wasn’t as active as in earlier fights. Bradley was the aggressor most of the night and seemed to control the action from the middle rounds on.

Ringside stats showed Bradley connecting on 168 of 562 punches to 153 of 455 for Marquez. Bradley dominated with jabs, landing 82 of 337 while working much of the night behind his left hand.

The final punch that sent Marquez staggering backward in the 12th round may have prompted two of the three judges to give Bradley the round, but it didn’t have an effect on the ultimate decision.

“Tim followed the game plan perfectly,” Bradley’s manager Joel Diaz said. “No one can outbox Tim Bradley.”

The fight was a tactical affair from the start, with Marquez looking to counterpunch and Bradley trying to figure out a way to land some counters of his own. Most of the rounds were close with no telling punches landed, though both fighters loaded up at times trying to land some big shots.

The decision loss was the latest in a series of disappointing decisions that didn’t go the way of Marquez. He fought Pacquiao three times, losing twice and getting a draw on narrow decisions before finally knocking him out.

“I’ve been robbed six times in my career,” Marquez said. “I clearly won the fight.”

The crowd of 13,111 at the UNLV campus arena cheered wildly for Marquez who, like Bradley, passed up a rematch with Pacquiao in favor of the fight. Marquez knocked Pacquiao out in the sixth round last December, but could never find his big punch against Bradley.

Pacquiao will fight in Macau next month against Brandon Rios instead.

Bradley remained unbeaten in 31 fights with the win, his third narrow decision win in a row. Marquez fell to 55-7-1 and may be near the end of a career that has made him one of his country’s biggest champions.

Both fighters earned $4 million.

In another fight, gay boxer Orlando Cruz lost his bid for a piece of the featherweight title, getting stopped in the seventh round by veteran Orlando Salido.

Cruz, the first openly gay active fighter, was outclassed much of the fight by Salido, who landed the heavier punches throughout before knocking Cruz down with a right hand to the head in the seventh. Cruz was on his knees and couldn’t get up as he was counted out at 1:05 of the round.

“I went into the corner and he hit me with a good shot,” Cruz said. “I thought the fight was close up until then.”

Salido, who lost the 126-pound title in his last fight, won it back with an impressive performance against Cruz, a former Olympian from Puerto Rico who last year came out as gay. He took the fight to Cruz and was ahead 59-55 on two scorecards and 58-56 on a third going into the seventh round.

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Mayweather win top-grossing fight

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The Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez junior middleweight unification fight last Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas indeed lived up to its billing as “The One.”

Showtime, which broadcast the fight on pay-per-view, announced Thursday, along with promoters Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions, that Mayweather’s dominant decision victory shattered the all-time record for highest-grossing pay-per-view fight of all time, generating $150 million in revenue from 2.2 million pay-per-view buys. “This is what we anticipated when we formed our partnership with CBS/Showtime (in early 2013) — record-breaking results,” Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe told ESPN.com. “We’re just ecstatic and we want to thank the fans for supporting this promotion. It was a lot of hard work.

“Everybody busted their behinds but Floyd has tremendous star power and the ability to attract new fans with the support of Showtime and CBS with their plethora of platforms that we were able to utilize. It’s just been remarkable. It’s the best working with the best.”

The $150 million in pay-per-view haul broke the record set by Mayweather’s decision victory against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. That fight generated $136 million from an all-time record 2.48 million pay-per-view buys. Adjusted for inflation, Mayweather-De La Hoya would be worth $153 million in today’s dollars.

The $150 million and 2.2 million buys will likely increase as all of the buys are accounted for, giving the fight an outside chance to also break the buy record. Mayweather-De La Hoya was initially announced at 2.15 million buys and then amended a couple of months later when more of the numbers were tallied.

The only pay-per-view events to top 2 million buys are Mayweather-De La Hoya and Mayweather-Alvarez.

“I’m very happy for the fighters. They will make substantial amounts of money from the upside, a lot more than their guarantees,” Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. “But I am happy as well for the sport of boxing. This is a vote of confidence for the sport and one would have to be an idiot to keep saying this is a dying sport like some people have said. This shows you the strength of the sport of boxing and that boxing today continues to deliver huge numbers that very few other sports can deliver in one night.

“This fight will gross over $200 million when you take into account all of the revenues. Besides pay-per-view, there’s the gate, the foreign television, the sponsors, the closed circuit, the merchandise. Many of those (revenue streams) also broke records. In this fight records were broken.”

Mayweather was guaranteed $41.5 million with Alvarez’s guarantee in the $12 million neighborhood, but both will earn substantially more based on their deals, especially Mayweather, who controlled the promotion and will keep the bulk of the profits.”Floyd has a chance to make 100 million in this fight,” Ellerbe said. “Floyd Mayweather been saying it over and over for years – he’s most dominant athlete in all of sports and he’s getting paid accordingly.”

According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the sellout crowd of 16,146 generated an all-time record gate of $20,003,150, topping the $18,419,200 generated by Mayweather-De La Hoya. Mayweather-Alvarez would fall second behind the inflation-adjusted gate of $20.7 million in ticket sales sold for Mayweather-De La Hoya.

Mayweather-Alvarez also set a Las Vegas closed-circuit record, selling out 26,163 tickets for a gross of $2,615,360. The fight was the second of the 30-month deal for up to six fights that Mayweather signed earlier this year with Showtime/CBS after leaving longtime broadcast partner HBO/Time Warner.

Mayweather, whose May fight with Robert Guerrero did not come close to matching expectations, plans to fight twice more again in 2014, beginning with a fight in May. No opponent has been determined.

“Records are here to be broken,” Schaefer said. “People told me in 2007 with Mayweather-De La Hoya that it was impossible to break the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield pay-per-view record, that we were living in a different time. Well, you know what? We broke the record.

“This is not the end. Records will continue to be broken and as I am standing here we will break the records again. That’s what motivates me – to get more and more people interested in boxing and if the best fight the best, you will see more records fall.”

Showtime replays the bout, along with the junior welterweight championship fight co-feature between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse, on Saturday night (9 ET/PT).

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