June 14, 2012

By DAVE SKRETTA | Associated Press

 

One of boxing’s major sanctioning bodies will review Timothy Bradley’s controversial split decision victory over Manny Pacquiao, the first step toward what promoter Bob Arum hopes will be “clarity” in the judging of the fight.

WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said in a statement Wednesday that the WBO’s championship committee will review video of the fight with five “recognized international judges” and make a recommendation. He said the WBO does not doubt the ability of the scoring judges.

Most reporters seated ringside and the vast majority of fans inside the MGM Grand arena on Saturday night thought Pacquiao had easily defended his welterweight title against Bradley.

The first surprise came when ring announcer Michael Buffer announced that there was a split decision, and the biggest surprise came in the reading of the scores. Jerry Roth had it 115-113 for Pacquiao, while judges Duane Ford and C.J. Ross had it for Bradley by the same score.

The Associated Press scored the fight 117-111 for Pacquiao.

“The public saw the fight and they’re outraged, and we need clarity here,” Arum told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We need those responsible to investigate, to see what happened, how the judges could be so off.

“Was there any funny business going on? Or no funny business? Did they have a conversation with each other?” Arum asked. “We need to get clarity. The public is demanding it.”

Arum’s powerful promotional company, Top Rank, has staged thousands of fights over more than four decades, including some of the most significant in the history of the sport.

He said that the scoring of Saturday night’s fight was among the worst he’s ever seen.

“It puts boxing in a very horrible light,” he said. “I’m looking for the sport to do damage control, and the only way it does damage control is if you do a full and complete investigation.”

Arum submitted a formal request to the Nevada Attorney General's office on Monday asking for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the fight. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the senior senator from Nevada, also has asked for an investigation.

Jennifer Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Attorney General’s office, said in an email to the AP that Arum's complaint is currently under review.

“We are treating the complaint like any other complaint our office receives,” Lopez said. “We do not confirm or deny if we have an ongoing criminal investigation.”

The Nevada State Athletic Commission’s executive director, Keith Kizer, said this week that he has no plans to review the fight, even though he acknowledged having Pacquiao ahead.

Commission chairman Skip Avansino told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he was content with the scoring, while Ford defended his scorecard in an interview with the newspaper.

“I thought Bradley gave Pacquiao a boxing lesson,” Ford said. “I thought a lot of the rounds were close. Pacquiao missed a lot of punches and I thought he was throwing wildly.”

Arum believes the decision — along with the Nevada commission’s reluctance to conduct its own investigation — could provide the impetus for a federal commission to provide oversight for the sport, which has long battled the perception that it is rife with corruption.

“If the commission here in Nevada will be in intransigent, and won’t cooperate, we have to have a federal commission,” Arum said. “We have to examine who these are on the commission, how they got there, how they operate. Something is broke.”

Stats compiled by Compubox showed Pacquiao landing 253 punches to 159 for Bradley, and having a 190-108 edge in power punches. Pacquiao landed at 38.5 percent to 27.7 percent for Bradley.

The decision ended Pacquiao’s 15-fight winning streak, but also sets up a potential rematch later this year. There has been talk that it could happen in November.

Perhaps by then, Arum will have the clarity he is seeking from their first fight.

“Any other sport — football, baseball — the commissioner’s office would investigate,” he said. “I’m not saying hang anybody, but let’s get clarity here. Let’s get a complete report as to what happened. They could say, ‘Hey, all three judges had a bad night.’ That's possible, too. I’m not leaping to conclusions. I want to know as well as anybody else.” 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

June 14, 2012

By RACHEL COHEN | Associated Press

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Not urban legend: The Dream Team really did lose to a group of college stars.

 

A new documentary commemorating the 20-year anniversary of the Olympic gold medalists has the footage to prove it. The video shot at the time so coaches could analyze practice will now be televised to the world.

 

"The Dream Team" premieres Wednesday night on NBA TV, chronicling the future Hall of Famers — led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird — who became the first NBA players to compete at the Olympics at the 1992 Barcelona Games. All 12 members sat down for fresh interviews.

 

NBA Entertainment cameras followed around the team during the Olympics, and some of that footage aired in various forms then. This is the first time all the behind-the-scenes moments have been shown together in one place.

 

"A lot of these things, we all kind of heard these stories," executive producer Dion Cocoros said. "'Hey, I heard they lost to the select team. Did they really have these intense practices?' To show it takes it to the next level. A lot of this has been discussed for 20 years but never seen."

 

The players participated in individual interviews from September through March. Each seemed to add a new anecdote or observation that the next Dream Teamer was asked about.

 

"It really sparked almost like a memory in them when we'd mention something they hadn't thought of in a while," Cocoros said.

 

In the 90-minute film, Jordan recalls his initial reluctance to commit to the team, signing on only after hearing that so many of his fellow superstars were on board. There's footage of the Dream Teamers going at each other in practice with the vigor of a playoff game.

 

Off the court, the players reminisce about all the topless bathers when they trained in Monte Carlo. Another clip shows John Stockton, camcorder on his shoulder, walking around Barcelona with his family and trying — unsuccessfully — to get fans to recognize him.

 

As far as that one loss, Mike Krzyzewski, a Dream Team assistant, insists in the film that coach Chuck Daly "threw" the scrimmage as a lesson to his players during pre-Olympic preparations in San Diego by not making adjustments and using Michael Jordan very little. Still, it would seem any combination of five of the future Hall of Famers should have been able to defeat the college kids without any strategizing.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

June 14, 2012

By MICHELLE RINDELS | Associated Press

 

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge in Las Vegas said she’ll decide later this week whether to ease jail conditions for Floyd Mayweather Jr., after his lawyers argued that the undefeated champion is getting out of shape in solitary confinement and may never fight again.

Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa made no immediate ruling Tuesday on an emergency motion asking the court to move Mayweather into the general jail population — something that jail officials had avoided out of fear for the celebrity's safety — or put him in house arrest for the rest of his three-month sentence.

Mayweather lawyer Richard Wright said he'd be willing to have the boxer serve the sentence in an apartment or somewhere less luxurious than Mayweather’s posh Las Vegas-area home.

“I’m not looking for special treatment for Floyd Mayweather,” Wright said. “I’m looking for fair treatment.”

But prosecutor Lisa Luzaich said softening the sentence would be just another accommodation, similar to when Mayweather’s jail surrender date was postponed for months after sentencing so he could fight Miguel Cotto in May.

“They keep chipping away, chipping away, chipping away,” Luzaich said.

Mayweather pleaded guilty in December to misdemeanor domestic battery and no contest to two harassment charges that stemmed from an attack on his ex-girlfriend while two of their children watched. He was sentenced to three months and entered the jail June 1.

Mayweather’s jail stay will be capped at 87 days because the judge gave him credit for three days previously served. It could be reduced by several weeks for good behavior.

In the motion, which was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, lawyers say Mayweather’s personal physician, Dr. Robert Voy, visited the jail Friday and was concerned the 35-year-old fighter appeared to have lost muscle tone.

Voy estimated the boxer was consuming fewer than 800 calories a day — a drop from his usual 3,000 or 4,000 calories — and wasn’t drinking enough because he isn’t allowed bottled water and doesn’t usually drink tap water.

Mayweather has been getting a little more than 30 minutes twice a day in a couple of barren recreation areas in the administrative segregation unit. His cell, no larger than 7-by-12 feet, has barely enough floor space for pushups and situps.

But prosecutors argued he’s “deconditioning” by choice, and declining much of his food.

“He has the ability to exercise, he just chooses not to,” Luzaich said. “It’s jail. Where did he think he was going? The Four Seasons?”

Voy and Wright also pointed to Mayweather’s declining emotional state.

“I am concerned about Floyd withdrawing, developing anger he cannot dissipate through the usual means of dedicated exercise and training,” Voy wrote in an affidavit. “Boxing has been Mr. Mayweather’s life since he was a young man and we need champions of this type to continue to their natural retirement and hopefully their contributions to society thereafter.”

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

June 14, 2012

By DOUG FERGUSON | Associated Press

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Beaten down at Augusta, now the man to beat at the U.S. Open.

The expectations that have followed Tiger Woods this year are a lot like the fairways at The Olympic Club — up, down, often sideways.

He couldn’t close out tournaments the way he once did. He lost his putting stroke. His left Achilles tendon might be more of a problem than he was letting on. He had his worst finish ever at the Masters. He missed a cut.

And in the midst of such a gloomy outlook, Woods won by five shots at Bay Hill and delivered an uppercut fist pump at Memorial when he chipped in for birdie to complete a stunning rally for his second win of the year.

So when the question came up Tuesday at the U.S. Open — whether Woods had to win a major to end such prognosticating — he all but rolled his eyes.

“I think even if I do win a major championship, it will still be, ‘You’re not to 18 yet’ or ‘When will you get to 19?’ It’s always something with you guys,” Woods said. “I’ve dealt with that my entire career, ever since I was an amateur and playing all the way through and to professional golf. It hasn't changed.”

Even so, this U.S. Open figures to go a long way toward figuring out how close he is to returning to the top of golf.

Woods couldn’t stop talking about how the U.S. Open presents the toughest test players face all year — so tough that he probably won’t be talking to Phil Mickelson, his longtime rival who will be playing with him in the opening two rounds.

“This is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it's so difficult,” he said.

Woods looks as equipped as ever.

Two weeks ago, he played so well at Muirfield Village that he was ranked in the middle-of-the-pack in putting and still rallied from four shots behind to win. He has talked about playing well in spurts, and conceded after that win — the 73rd of his PGA Tour career — that he hit the ball great all four rounds.

Just like that, he became the betting favorite at Olympic Club to get his 15th major — and first since the 2008 U.S. Open — and resume his pursuit of the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.

Then again, his win at Bay Hill made him the pre-tournament rage at the Masters, and he tied for 40th.

“I guess lately, we don’t know what to expect from him,” Steve Stricker said. “When he wins, we’re all eager to look ahead and think that he’s going to be back to where he was in the early 2000s or whenever he was at the top of his game. I think that just shows you the ability that he has, and what people see in the type of player that he is, and the type of shots that he’s been able to hit over the years, and the uncanny ability to just get it done and win golf tournaments.

“So when he does win one, I think that’s why we’re all quick to hop on his bandwagon.”

Woods sees a different trend from the first major of the year. He managed his game at Bay Hill, in part because of a sloppy start by Graeme McDowell that gave Woods a cushion and allowed him to play the shots he needed to win the tournament.

“When I went into Augusta, I did not feel comfortable hitting the ball up,” Woods said. “And I got back into a lot of my old patterns. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. But that’s what made playing Muirfield so nice. I had those shots, and I was doing it the correct way. And I had compression, hitting the ball high and hitting it long. That was fun.”

Olympic is all about hitting it in the fairway, and the right spots on the green.

The golf course is longer than when Woods tied for 18th in 1998, though that isn't the biggest change. The greens have been resurfaced, and they roll so fast that it's difficult to get the ball close. Plus, the USGA has shaved some areas off the green to form large collection areas. A slight miss could send the ball some 30 yards away.

Woods told of the par-3 13th during a practice round in which he hit the green, and the ball rolled down a slope and just inside a hazard.

“I think this probably tests the player more than any other championship,” Woods said. “We have to shape the ball. We have to hit the ball high. We have to hit the ball low. Our short game’s got to be dialed in.”

The difference for this U.S. Open is the variety that USGA executive ­director Mike Davis brings to the toughest test in golf. Instead of mangled rough around the greens, he has created areas of tightly mown grass that sends errant shots down the slope and gives players options of putting, chipping, flop shots, anything to get it close.

The tees can change. The 16th measures 670 yards, though there is an option to play it 100 yards shorter.

“He throws wrinkles at you,” Woods said. “But overall, I think this is just the most demanding test that there is in golf.”

Another wrinkle was putting Woods and Mickelson together, along with Masters champion Bubba Watson, for the opening rounds. Together, they have won 113 and 18 majors, with Woods doing most of that damage.

Woods and Mickelson last played together at Pebble Beach, where Mickelson dusted him and rallied to win in February. In the majors, Mickelson topped him in the final round of the 2009 Masters (won by Angel Cabrera), though Woods beat him soundly at Torrey Pines on his way to winning the U.S. Open.

“I don’t think we’re going to talk about a lot,” Woods said. “This is a major championship. We’ve got work to do.”

Mickelson seems to have embraced the grouping. His only concern is feeling “mentally lethargic” on Thursday and Friday of PGA Tour events, though he promises that won't be the case at the U.S. Open, where he has finished second a record five times.

Playing with Woods should cure whatever ails him.

“I get excited to play with Tiger. I love it,” he said. “I think we all do. He gets the best out of me. I think when it's time to tee off on Thursday I’ll be ready to play. ... The one player I’m most concerned about, if I play my best golf that may have a chance to beat me, is Tiger.”

This is far from a two-man show at Olympic, and it goes beyond the other guy in their group with a pink driver and a green jacket — Watson.

Rory McIlroy is the defending champion and got a shot of confidence from the St. Jude Classic last week, despite a double bogey from the water on the last hole that cost him a chance at winning. Giving his recent run of three missed cuts, McIlroy was happy to be playing Sunday, much less contending.

Luke Donald is No. 1 in the world and knows he will be taken more seriously if he can finally add a major. Ditto for Lee Westwood, No. 3 in the world, who has given himself more chances than Donald in the majors and still hasn’t won one.

But it starts with Woods, as it has since he won the first of his 14 majors as a 21-year-old at Augusta.

“It’s going to be a wonderful test,” he said.

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

June 14, 2012

By STEVEN WINE | Associated Press

 

MIAMI (AP) — Out of work and not ready to retire, Chad Ochocinco found a job back in his hometown.

The former Pro Bowl receiver signed with the Miami Dolphins on Monday, four days after being released by the New England Patriots.

The signing came after Ochocinco had a tryout with the Dolphins, who are thin at the position and dropping a lot of passes in offseason drills. He’s likely to join the team for this week’s OTAs, which continue through Wednesday.

“Congrats to Chad,” tweeted his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. “It’s nice to come home.”

The 34-year-old Ochocinco, a Miami native, made the Pro Bowl six times, most recently in 2009. He had only a minor role in his lone season with the Patriots, catching 15 passes for 276 yards.

The Dolphins traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears in March for two third-round draft picks, and didn’t draft a receiver until the sixth round. Following a practice Monday, coach Joe Philbin conceded there has been room for improvement in the pass-catching during offseason workouts.

“You would like to have some players make it easy and distinguish themselves, maybe make the picture a little bit clearer,” Philbin said. “We have to catch the ball more consistently at every position on offense, because it is not quite where it needs to be.”

Marshall’s off-field issues wore on the Dolphins, and Ochocinco can be high-maintenance, too. His antics have sometimes annoyed his teammates and coaches, and his touchdown celebrations led to an NFL crackdown.

In his career, Ochocinco has caught 766 passes for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns. All of the Dolphins' returning receivers have less than a dozen career TDs.

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

Market Update

1 DOW 17,098.45
+18.88 (0.11%)    
2 S&P 2,003.37
+6.63 (0.33%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,580.27
+22.58 (0.50%)