Saturday, May 9, 2009

Safina defeats Kuznetsova to claim Rome title

ROME – World number one Dinara Safina defeated Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday to claim the WTA Rome clay court International title here.

Safina never looked in trouble as she stormed to victory in an hour and a half as her seventh-seeded opponent paid for a string of unforced errors.

The top seed also gained revenge for her 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Kuznetsova in the final of last week's Stuttgart Open.

It was her first title of the season in her fourth final having also been beaten in the Australian Open and Sydney finals earlier in the year.

Safina, 23, also won her first title as the world number one, an honor she only achieved on April 20.

But while she will be delighted with her victory, the truth was that Kuznetsova handed it too her with 30 unforced errors to just 16 by Safina.

The world number eight also took only two of 11 break point opportunities while Safina converted five of her nine chances.

And Kuznetsova's erratic play meant this result rarely looked in doubt despite a series of breaks in the opening set before Safina sealed it with a smash.

In the second the world number one simply ran away with it until the last couple of games when Kuznetsova started to fight back.

Safina had a match point on the Kuznetsova serve at 5-1 but the seventh seed showed good speed to reach a Safina drop shot and loop a backhand beyond her opponent to claim the point.

She held serve and then took a 40-15 lead on the Safina serve but the world number one saved the first with a blistering backhand winner and the second with a service winner.

A return error from Kuznetsova gave Safina a second match point which she wasted with a netted forehand at the end of a long rally.

However, two more return errors from Kuznetsova proved enough for Safina to lift this title for the first time.(Agence France Presse)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pacquiao vs. Hatton: Who’s gonna win this fight?

By: Maugan P. Mosaid, Ph.D.

Among modern day boxing bouts, the Pacquiao-Hatton fight, I think, is one of the most difficult to predict. Reason: both fighters are equally good, they are both brawlers in the ring, they have big guns to unleash on fight night (May 2 - Saturday; May 3 - Sunday in Manila) and both are knockout artists. In this fight, it is not enough that we use only the “tale of the tapes” so-to-speak, to predict the outcome of the fight.

Before we come to the “tale of the tape”, let us examine more closely the two fighters.

A hero in his native Philippines, the 30-year-old Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) is regarded by most boxing observers as the sport's pound-for-pound king. Demonstrating knockout power in five weight classes, his recent victory over his boxing idol, ring legend Oscar de la Hoya, was cause for national celebration. Amid growing worldwide popularity, he returns to the 140-pound division to take on the hard-hitting Hatton.

On the other hand, Ricky Hatton (45-1, 32 KOs), who hails from the streets of Manchester, England, has a tenacious fighting style and a heavy puncher too. The 30-year-old suffered his only professional loss in December 2007 when he battled future Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a welterweight. Now back in the junior welterweight ranks, he wants to prove himself the most formidable fighter in that division.

Storylines for this fast-paced series will include the interaction between Pacquiao and his trusted trainer and friend Freddie Roach, as well as the fascinating alliance of Hatton and outspoken trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Both fighters (Pacquiao and Hatton) clobbered to shameful defeat the legendary Oscar dela Hoya. Hatton defeated Dela Hoya about two years ago when he was presumably still in the prime of his boxing career. Pacquiao defeated Dela Hoya more than five months ago and Ricky Hatton says that that win was a fluke as Dela Hoya was already diminishingly slow. Assuming that Dela Hoya had in fact been diminished in his fighting prowess a little bit but he still showed potentially deadly punches especially if given an opponent a little less than Manny Pacquiao’s caliber. It just happened that at that time Manny Pacquiao was too much for him that he looked like he was no longer the usual ‘golden boy’ that he used to be.

Both fighters are thirty years old, though Hatton is an inch taller than Pacquiao. Many observers say that Pacquiao uses his speed better when faced with opponents who are a bit taller than him. With respect to knockouts, Pacquiao had 75% of his fights in knockouts while Hatton had 71% batting average but Pacquiao lost thrice and Hatton suffered only one defeat in the hands of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in December 2007.
But more than anything else, Pacquiao’s big heart is his most potent weapon. As he says, his hand will do more of the talking than his mouth. Hatton could be heavier on fight night but weight advantage is one thing and hitting is another thing. On fight night Dela Hoya was four kilograms heavier than Pacquiao but we never saw that advantage in Dela Hoya. Hatton, is of course, a little bit different than Dela Hoya which Manny acknowledged himself, and that is why he says that speed and skill are his best weapons against Hatton.

This is the only Pacquiao fight, to me, that is truly unpredictable. We can only be very sure about one thing and that this is going to be a very explosive fight from beginning to end with both fighters out to prove something. The win for any of them is a win like no other.

And so given all of the above, what do I have in my score card before the fight? Well, the fight shall last until the 12th full round with both men still standing up to the last round and the winner shall be declared by a split decision. In such case, nobody is real winner and loser. That will be good for both of them in their boxing career and the re-match will then be more exciting than this first one.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pacquiao sees Hatton fight toughest of career

WASHINGTON - Manny Pacquiao faces the toughest fight of his career in a hotly-anticipated clash with Britain's Ricky Hatton next week in Las Vegas.

"For me, this is not a regular fight," said the Filipino southpaw. "I consider this fight to be the toughest of my boxing career. After all he is undefeated at 140 pounds."

The former four-weight world champion challenges Hatton hfor his IBO light-welterweight title on May 2.

The Briton has never lost at his natural weight while Pacquiao, who declined to make any predictions about the fight, will be boxing in the division for the first time.

"I want to let my fists do the talking in the ring," 'Pac-Man' Pacquiao, ever respectful of his opponents, added in a teleconference call on Friday. "This is not an easy fight.

"Ricky Hatton is a different kind of fighter than I have been fighting before. He's a good fighter and a strong fighter. I expect him to be in 100 percent condition. He has a lot of energy and throws a lot of punches."

Widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Pacquiao said he and his team had been repeatedly watching video tapes of previous Hatton fights.

"He has a strong left hand, so we have studied that and prepared for that," the 30-year-old added.

But Pacquiao would not detail how he and trainer Freddie Roach planned to neutralise the Englishman's strengths.


"We're ready for Ricky's style," he said. "We have been working on different techniques. I don't want to tell you what they are. I want to surprise you."

Pacquiao enhanced his impressive resume by outclassing 10 times world champion Oscar De La Hoya in December and promoter Bob Arum believes the Filipino now merits consideration as one of the greatest fighters ever.

"I personally have never seen such explosiveness combined with speed in all my years of boxing," said Arum, who has promoted boxing greats such as Marvin Hagler, Floyd Mayweather Jr and De La Hoya.

"I believe Manny's body of work establishes him as one of the best fighters in the history of boxing."

Idolised in the Philippines, Pacquiao has always strived to perform well for his fans.

"All I'm trying to do is give happiness and enjoyment to the people," he said.

Remarkably, his success in the ring has even led to temporary ceasefires in the 40-year guerrilla war being fought between Philippine troops and the Maoist-led New People's Army .

Steffani Cacho, Western Mindanao Command information officer, was quoted as saying in December: "If Manny fights, the guns will be silent."

On Friday, Pacquiao said in reply: "If that's a reason for them to be silent, I can fight every day

Monday, April 20, 2009

Donaire, Viloria crush Mexican foes

Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire lived up to his moniker, crushing Raul “Cobra” Martinez in just four rounds while Brian Viloria scored an emotional win knocking out Ulises Solis to snatch the IBF light flyweight crown in their title bout at the Araneta Coliseum.

Despite a painful left hand, Donaire pummeled his Mexican-American challenger from the get-go, hitting Martinez with left-right hook combinations in the first and second rounds.

Donaire, who retained his IBO/IBF flyweight title, delivered the decisive killer blows in 2:42 mark of the fourth round, ending the fight on a technical knockout (TKO).

He improved his win-loss record to 21-1-0 (14 by way of knockout) while handing the erstwhile undefeated Martinez his first loss after 24 fights.

“He’s a real champion. I’m a big fan of him now,” Martinez said after the fight. He also acknowledged that he was “not invincible,” when asked about the lessons he learned from the bout with Donaire.

Donaire, whose father was not able to watch him fight, said he felt a stinging pain in his left hand.

“My father will always be my father and I thank him because he got me where I am today,” Donaire said during post-fight interviews.

Meanwhile, Viloria, nicknamed “The Hawaiian Punch”, knocked down Ulises Solis in the 11th round to steal the IBF light flyweight crown.

Viloria was aggressive in the first two rounds but Solis recovered in later rounds, before the Fil-Am fighter opened a cut in his right eyebrow in the fifth round.

A former WBC junior flyweight king, Viloria again struggled on the sixth round as Solis briefly regained control of the fight. Both fighters exchanged punches in later rounds until a solid right hook from Viloria knocked his opponent cold towards the end of the 11th round.

During post-fight interviews, Viloria, who improved his record to 25-2-0 (15 by knockout), admitted that Solis was a “tough nut to crack”.

The Mexican fighter, who earlier christened himself “The Filipino Executioner”, previously defeated Filipino boxers Rodel Mayol, Bert Batawang and Nonito’s older brother, Glenn Donaire.(By Marjorie Gorospe;

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pacquiao, Hatton to fire "big guns" - Donaire

The Philippines' Nonito Donaire, who himself is seeing action on April 19 at the Araneta Coliseum when he defends his crown against unbeaten Raul “Cobra” Martinez, said the MGM Grand crowd in Las Vegas can expect an action-packed bout as he expects both heavy hitters to unload their “big guns” on fight night.

“They both have machine guns, I mean big guns, and for sure they will use them on fight night,” said the 26-year-old Filipino champ.

However, in terms of speed and skill the odds are stacked against the Hitman from Manchester, England, Donaire said.

Donaire noted that Hatton has a mannerism that might work in Pacquiao’s favor.

“He (Hatton) tends to throw combinations and then bob to the left,” observed Donaire.

That practice, according to him, will move the Briton away from Pacquiao’s pet left straight and force the Filipino to use his now-polished right hook.

“Hatton is also tall, Manny can very easily use his speed against him,” said Donaire.

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said he plans to use the Filipino’s speed and quick footwork to stay out of Hatton’s range.

“Manny’s style doesn’t change a lot, but both opponents from these two last fights he is about to be or has been involved in—(Oscar) De La Hoya and Hatton—are both stronger, bigger guys, and we can’t stand in front of them,” Roach said.

Roach has packed his personal stuff and moved out of the Wild Card gym to give Pacquiao an exclusive training area. (Inquirer Sports)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Manny Pacquiao is best pound-for-pound fighter

The country’s pride, Manny Pacquiao has indeed reached the status that any Filipino boxer could only dream off, that of being one of the greatest boxers in the planet today.

As if holding four belts from different weight divisions at the same time, and with numerous sport committees and organizations granting awards and commendations left and right, the title best pound-for-pound fighter given to him by boxing experts has just become official.

That is because Sports Illustrated magazine has granted that honor to the Philippine hero, Pacquiao. The widely-read sports magazine came up with its latest pound-for-pound ranking, and at the top of list is our very own Pacquiao.

“Dazzling at whatever weight class he chooses to fight,” is how Sports Illustrated describes the Pacman.

Last year, Pacquiao fought in three different weight classes, and won all of them. From Juan Manuel Marquez (130 lbs), David Diaz (135 lbs) and Oscar dela Hoya (147 lbs). And on May 2, Pacman, who started at 106 lbs, will be facing off with British superstar Ricky Hatton (140 lbs) for the IBO light-welterweight crown.

Pacquiao’s victory over Hatton at the MGM Grand will give his fifth world title in different weight classes, including flyweight, super-bantam, super-feather and lightweight, and as Sports Illustrated wrote, “a win over Hatton all but guarantees a shot at a former pound-for-pound champ Floyd Mayweather Jr., who many feel is lurking in anticipation of a Pacquiao victory.”

Following Pacquiao on the list of pound-for-pound kings is one of his nemesis Mexican counter-puncher Manuel Marquez, the reigning lightweight champion and would definitely love to have a third chance on the Pinoy champ.

Experts say, a third fight is necessary to put the issue between Pacquiao and Marquez to rest. Their first match in 2004 ended in a controversial draw, and their March 2008 bout ended with a close decision.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mosley eyes fight with Pacquiao

Shane Mosley is keen on fighting the winner of the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton showdown for the International Boxing Organization welterweight crown on May 2 in Las Vegas.

Especially if the victor turns out to be the Filipino ring icon.

“I’m very interested in that fight,” Mosley, the WBA welterweight champion, told Ricardo Lois of “I really want that fight. Very good for the boxing world and the public, Manny Pacquiao being No. 1 in the pound for pound list.”

But the 37-year-old Mosley doesn’t want to go down to junior welterweight anymore, saying it would be very difficult for him to fight at 140 lb having fought at 154 in the past.

Mosley noted that Pacquiao and Hatton fought at 147 lb with contrasting results. Hatton absorbed his lone defeat from the now-retired Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007 while Pacquiao stopped boxing’s poster boy Oscar De La Hoya in eight rounds last December.

If the fight with either Pacquiao or Hatton doesn’t work out, Mosley, a three-division world champion with a record of 46 wins, five losses and one no contest, spiked by 39 knockouts, said he is interested in having a rematch with Miguel Cotto.

Two years ago, Cotto beat Mosley by a close but unanimous decision.

The 5-foot-9 Mosley owns the distinction of besting De La Hoya, the world’s only six-division champion, twice.

After Hatton, Pacquiao is looking at two more fights before hanging up his gloves.

Among those prominently mentioned as possible opponents are Cotto, Mayweather Jr. WBO super featherweight champion Joan Guzman and Juan Manuel Marquez, who is raring for a third fight with Pacquiao after his ninth round stoppage of World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Federation lightweight champion Juan Diaz last month.

In their first meeting on May 8, 2004, Marquez battled back from three first round knockdowns to forge a controversial draw.

In their return bout last March 15, Pacquiao squeezed out a split decision victory over the 35-year-old Mexican to win the WBC super featherweight crown.(Roy Luarca)