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Cartoonish Pacquiao-Bradley Result A Big Moneymaker.

Nice photography: This is probably the only punch Bradley landed.

If anyone ever wondered why boxing is losing its appeal and the Ultimate Fighting Championship has taken over the combat sports throne, Saturday night’s Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight for Pacquaio’s WBO welterweight belt was the answer to your queries.

If you looked up “fix” in the dictionary, there would be the pictures of two elderly American boxing judges right beside it. This was so bad, it was a cartoon.

In fact, this was so bad, even Bradley’s supporters booed the result.

Before the fight, Bradley held up a giant ticket: Pacquiao-Bradley 2.

Bradley won the fight on a split decision to hand Pacquiao his first defeat since losing to Mexican bomb-thrower Erik Morales in 2005.  And Pacquaio didn’t even seem to care. It’s as if he knew what was coming. The decision was rotten to the core and it sure appears as if money was right at the heart of it. After all, a Bradley win and there would be a guaranteed multi-million dollar re-match on Nov. 10 back in Vegas. Just as Bradley predicted.

Gee, what a surprise. The promoters got their wish. there WILL be a re-match on Nov. 10 in Las Vegas and even the guy who lost the fight told the crowd he thought that would be a good idea. Huh?

As I watched the fight, it was clear Pacquiao had it under control. This was a no doubter. He was the champ, he controlled the fight from Round 1 right through Round 12 and yet the judges, clearly told to make it look close so that the re-match takes place, pronounced Bradley the winner in an impossible decision. Not even a blind person could have judged the fight that way.

Go ahead, kiss him.

Judge Jerry Roth (115-113) awarded the fight to Pacquiao while CJ Ross (115-113) and Duane Ford (115-113) handed it to Bradley. Pacquiao just shrugged. Even after the fight, right inside the ring, you got the sense this whole exercise was a set up for a re-match. This was nothing more than a money grab.

And it’s just so perfect. Bradley remains undefeated, improving to 29-0, with 12 KOs while Pacquiao falls to 54-4-2, with 38 KOs. Obviously, there was no secondary dough involved if Pacquiao won. That was it. The promoters would have to scrounge around and find another tomato can like Bradley for Pacquiao to dominate. However, if Bradley won the fight, you had yourself a natural re-match, no search for a suitable opponent would be necessary and a guaranteed eight-figure world wide payout would be on its way.

Everyone knows that in the world of boxing, there is a sucker born every minute.

According to USA Today, “Virtually every reporter at ringside had scored it clearly for Pacquiao. HBO’s resident judge Harold Lederman scored it 119-109 in favor of Pacquiao. In an informal survey of boxing writers, all had Pacquiao comfortably ahead. The CompuBox punch count favored Pacquiao by a wide margin. CompuBox had Pacquiao connecting on 253 total punches – nearly 100 more than Bradley’s 159. Pacquiao also landed 190 power punches to Bradley’s 108.”

Tim Bradley and his good pal, Manny Pacquiao.

“I did my best tonight, but my best wasn’t good enough,” said Pacquiao, who, according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, congratulated both Bradley and his father, Tim Sr., afterward and told them Bradley will make a great champion.

“Tonight, he never hurt me. I don’t know what happened.”

Yeah, bullshit Manny, you know exactly what happened.

However, according to three or four media outlets, promoter Bob Arum said publicly that even he couldn’t even stomach the outcome. In fact, Arum went right over to media row after the decision and said he had scored it 10 rounds to 2 for Pacquiao, and said even Bradley’s manager, Cameron Dunkin, had it 8-4 for Pacquiao.

“We’ll make a lot of money on the rematch, but this is (expletive) nuts,” the 80-year-old Arum was reported to have said. “People don’t even know what they’re watching anymore. They’re trying to kill boxing. I don’t think anything was happening here except these people don’t know how to score. They really don’t.”

According to USA Today, he said later that the “outcry worldwide, about this decision, will not be good for boxing.” Then he couched his remarks suggesting the result was, “not disgraceful, but ridiculous.”

Bob Arum. Contracts with both fighters.

But then, I guess he got nervous, adding that “The one thing I refuse to believe is that anything ‘funny’ is going on here. Betting, or anything like that. I don’t believe it.” Betting? Come on, Bob, that’s not the issue. The issue is you.

Don’t protest Bob. The fight was fixed. You have contracts with both fighters. It was too obvious not to be fixed. After all, Bradley earned the biggest payday of his career at $5 million, while Pacquiao was guaranteed $26 million, plus an upside from the pay-per-view revenue. He’ll get more next time. No wonder he didn’t even protest a little bit.

Lesnar Eats Fists and Leaves.

Overeem Towers Over the Fallen Lesnar

It took only two minutes and 26 seconds on Friday night for a new UFC hero to announce his presence with authority and for one of the UFC’s biggest names to call it quits.

And it also made Roland Delorme and Big Will Prince look like the smartest guys in the room.

On Streetz 104.7 on Friday morning, the UFC’s newest Canadian fighter — Winnipeg’s Roland Delorme — and the UFC prognosticating genius, Big Will, agreed that if the main event at UFC 141 was over quickly, Alistair Overeem would be the winner. However, if Brock Lesnar was able to take the fight deep into the third round, Lesnar would prevail.

The fight was short and Overeem was a decisive victor.

The gigantic Dutch striker, made his UFC debut on Friday night at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas and after many years of headlining other promotions around the world, he did not disappoint.

At 2:26 of the first round, Overeem dropped Lesnar to the canvas with a vicious kick to the liver (Lesnar thought the kick broke a rib) and that was it. Lesnar had no desire to get up and now Overeem will get a shot at heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos.

Alistair Overeem

“I could see (the kick) hurt him, then I knew I got him,” Overeem told the crowd after the fight. “Given his background, his time to prepare for this fight, I knew he was not going to be able to defend that liver kick.”

A former champion of Strikeforce and Dream, Overeem made his debut with UFC on Friday night and UFC President Dana White could not have been happier with the newcomer’s performance.

“I really thought Brock Lesnar was going to beat Alistair Overeem tonight,” White told reporters. “I was obviously wrong.”

Only moments after Overeem took out Lesnar, the Minnesota native who once dabbled as an offensive lineman with the Minnesota Vikings, announced his retirement. He has been battling with the stomach ailment, diverticulitis, for at least five years and when interviewed in the ring after the fight, he told the huge, loud Vegas crowd that he was keeping a promise to his wife and retiring.

It was a good decision. Clearly, he ‘s not the fighter he used to be. An Overeem-Dos Santos battle, on the other hand, will be epic.

In the other bouts selected by our panel on Friday morning, Johnny Hendricks defeated Jon Fitch by KO just 12 seconds into their 170-pound bout and Nate Diaz looked sensational in a unanimous decision over Donald Cerrone is a 155-pound fight.

Our panel had selected Fitch and Diaz as winners so they went 2-1 on the evening.

UFC 142

Meanwhile, UFC 142 “Aldo vs, Mendes” will be held Jan. 14 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The World Featherweight Championship between Brazil’s Jose Aldo, the champion, and Chad Mendes of the United States, the challenger, will be the main event. There is also a couple of big middleweight bouts: Vitor Belfort of Brazil will fight Anthony Johnson of the United States and Rousimar Palhares of Brazil will take on Mike Massenzio of the U.S.

There will also be two Canadians on the UFC 142 card: Sam Stout of London, Ont., will fight Thiago Tavares of Brazil in a lightweight bout while Antonio Carvalho of Toronto will take on Felipe Arantes of Brazil in a featherweight fight.

Silva to Win Saturday’s URC 126 Main Event

LAS VEGAS — He has been called “the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.” In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the UFC’s middleweight class getting close to Anderson (The Spider) Silva these days, and as we head into Saturday night’s UFC 126 main event at the Mandalay Bay Conference and Events Center here in Las Vegas, it’s very hard to imagine that Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort will pull it off.

Now, let’s be fair. It’s hard not to like Belfort. He’s a former light-heavyweight champion who was one the true stars of the early days of UFC. However, a series of personal setbacks, even tragedies, have kept the gifted Brazilian out of the championship series for long periods of time. He nearly gave up his career and was once thought to be done.

But now, at 33, he’s back and he’s a terrific opponent for Silva, a guy who just seems to get better every time he enters the cage. He was once dominant and he can still be dominant — against someone other than Anderson Silva. Silva, you see, is the longest reigning champion in UFC and has amassed 13 consecutive victories. If he’s in top shape, Belfort will be no match.

And, by the way,  you can forget the theory that all the pressure is on Silva. The 35-year-old Brazilian has too much experience, too much skill and too much grit to worry about pressure — or any other meaningless intangible.

“I just checked my blood pressure and everything is normal,” said Silva during an international conference call on Jan. 27. “I’ve made a few adjustments, but I’ve been on pretty much the same track. I’ve been maintaining what I always do. It’s a very intense training camp. Of course, I’m always working to improve. I’ve kept the intensity throughout [my camp], and I’m going to go out there and do what I have been trained to do.”

Belfort, meanwhile, is a striker. One of the best in the Octagon at the height of his career. The trouble is, Silva is way too smart to walk into one of his killer punches. Silva won’t lead with his chin and as a result, Belfort will be at a distinct disadvantage. Unfortunately, Belfort is not a particularly talented wrestler and as a result, Silva will take him apart. All the great UFC champions are great wrestlers and great ground-and-pounders and Belfort is neither.

Belfort also faces another problem: Silva is probably as vicious a striker as he is. Suddenly, any advantage Belfort might have had is rendered moot by Silva’s all-around power and strength. If there are any holes at all in the Spider’s game it’s his takedown defense and a nasty little habit of becoming (seemingly) bored in long fights.

Fortunately for The Spider, this should mot be a long fight:

Prediction: Anderson Silva via second round submission.

Hatton Meets Pacquiao on May 2. Could be the Fight of the New Century

It is, perhaps, the most anticipated legitimate boxing match in decades.

I say legitimate, because the recent Manny Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya 150-pound event was just that: An event. A one-time exhibition. It was not a title bout. People watched Pacquiao take out the aging (or aged?) De La Hoya, much like they’d watch a car wreck. It was ugly and interesting at the time, but so one-sided, it was hardly memorable.


However, what we will witness on May 2, live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, could very well be the best boxing match of the new century. It’s the pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao (48-3 with 36 knockouts), against the hard-nosed British entertainer Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs), going nose-to-nose for Hatton’s WBO junior welterweight (140 pound) belt. 


Two decades ago, this fight would barely create a ripple. However, in this new age of talent, speed and star-power, a fight between the two best little men in the game now carries the cachet that the heavyweight crown once carried alone. 


In fact, with the heavyweight division now dominated by slow, gigantic Russian bears who simply pummel their opponents into submission, a scientific battle between two skilled, fast and tough 140-pounders is enough to get the heart racing. This fight has all the ingredients – athletic skill, two international superstars and two young men who have become heroes in their own lands.


This will be an epic encounter between two small pit-bulls, each with the heart of a lion. The Filipino, Pacquiao, is coming off his “Great Statement,” the demolition of the legend, Oscar De La Hoya. After Manny took Oscar apart in eight rounds back in November, De La Hoya’s career came to an abrupt end. Pacquiao is the only four weight-division champion of Asian descent in the history of the sweet science and what he did to De La Hoya that night was the stuff of boxing legend.


But this time Pacquiao will not be in the ring alone. Across from him, staring him down, will be the biggest British boxing phenom since Joe Calzaghe, and experts will tell you that Hatton is far superior in every way to Calzaghe. When Hatton, the latest fighter to wear “the Hit Man” moniker beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. and filled the MGM Grand Garden in December of 2007, he stepped out of Calzaghe’s shadow and into his own universe. Pound-for-pound, he might be the greatest British fighter of all time.


The Las Vegas oddsmakers clearly see Pacquiao as the better pure boxer, and the tougher fighter In fact, right now, Pacquiao is listed as the odds-on favourite at 2/5. A Hatton victory sits at 7/4, which represents solid value, but shows that the exerts believe he’s outmanned.


But since 2007, Hatton has improved dramatically and, in an amazing turn of events, is now trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. He’s such a showman — so much fun to watch — that his antics inside the squared-circle often get in the way of his brilliant technical skills. But make no mistake, even though Hatton’s reach is two inches shorter (despite the fact he’s an inch taller than Pacquiao) than his opponent’s, he is a world champion for a reason. He has speed, excellent skills and a big heart. 


And Pacquiao knows it.


“I expect Ricky to be coming forward and to fight me toe-to-toe,” Pacquiao said during last week’s international conference call from Manila. “I like that. I’m not looking for a knockout. I don’t want thoughts of a knockout distracting me from the job at hand. I tell you I don’t want any distractions in my mind.”

Pacquiao told the international media that he expected Hatton to “walk into my punches because of his aggressive, come-forward style.”

Not surprisingly, Hatton guarantees that he will be aggressive.

“Both of us refuse to go backwards and that is the key to the fight,” Hatton told The Mirror. “Whoever ends up going backwards is going to lose. Manny fights toe-to-toe and so do I. But I punch harder and have more technical ability. My superior technical ability is going to shock Manny more than the size and power aspect.”

On May 2, live on HD pay-per-view at the new Upper Deck Sports Bar at McPhillips Street Station (on that spectacular 16-footX9-foot HD screen), two of the greatest boxers alive today will meet up in what should be one of the greatest fight of this, or maybe any other decade.

Tickets are on-sale now at McPhillips Street Station Casino. It would be a shame to miss this one for this one will be memorable.


Pacquiao destroys de la Hoya. Winnipeg celebrates the victory.

Last Saturday night, I had the opportunity to attend the Oscar de la Hoya-Manny Pacquiao “Dream Fight” at Winnipeg’s McPhillips Street Station Casino. Frankly, it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had in quite some time.


Not only was the new back-projector screen in the concert bowl at the Casino sensational — best picture on any large screen in Winnipeg — but the crowd itself was an eye-opener.


It was estimated by Casino staff that as many as 1,400 members of Winnipeg’s Filipino community attended the fight, lining up early to get their free seat passes in the second floor bar and in the Concert Bowl.


From 7 p.m. (when I arrived) until the fight started at about 11:05, the crowd was quiet. No one spoke loudly or got drunk, no one was belligerent with staff, no one dared make a boastful prediction or cheer de la Hoya.


However, when Filipino singer Karylle sang the country’s national anthem, the crowd came to life and from that point on, the atmosphere was electric. These people cheered every punch Pacquiao landed and rose to their feet when de la Hoya refused to come out for the ninth round. It was a sensational performance by a brilliant fighter and these folks expected nothing less.


Pacquiao is no longer just a Filipino star, but an international icon and in Winnipeg last Saturday night, he belonged to each and every one of the 1,400 folks at McPhillips Street Station Casino.


Since the fight, we’ve learned two things: No. 1, he’s probably going give away a large chunk of his winnings to the poor in the Phillipines and No. 2, that the event didn’t reach the financial success of de la Hoya’s loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007. At least, not yet.


The promoters’ goal was 1.5 million pay-per-view buys, but HBO announced Wednesday that the fight drew 1.25 million pay-per-view buys and $70 million in revenue. The live gate for the fight at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena (15,001) was better than $17 million. Promoters were hoping for $100 million in PPV and $15 million at the gate.


However, despite the doom and gloom, Pacquiao’s brilliant victory over the aging (and, I’m afraid, washed up), de la Hoya is still the third bestselling non-heavyweight pay-per-view bout in history.


According to HBO, only de la Hoya-Mayweather (2.4 million pay-per-view buys) and de la Hoya-Felix Trinidad (1.4 million in 1999) topped Saturday’s bout among non-heavyweight fights and only one other de la Hoya fight (versus Bernard Hopkins in 2004) met or exceeded 1 million buys.


In fact, break even was 650,000 buys and according to promoter Bob Arum, “when every number is counted, the fight could go well north of 1.5 million.”


De la Hoya has long been the draw, but now the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world can probably do it on his own. And with a title fight in 2009 against the British sensation, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, there is a legitimate chance that Pacquiao could become the greatest boxing draw of all-time.


And of course, that’s something the people at McPhillips Street Station Casino last Saturday, could have told us a long time ago.