LAS VEGAS -- Let's talk about Tim Bradley's head. You know, that mass of flesh and bone that sits atop his neck and has become the most talked about advantage Bradley has against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night.
HOUSTON -- The public perception is that no one from Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s camp wants to see Chavez against Sergio Martinez. Chavez, the thinking goes, is too raw, too flawed to match up with Martinez, the lineal middleweight champion who is regarded as one of the top three fighters in the world. Chavez's people will shield him, I've heard countless times, they will match him up against lesser opponents because Chavez is a potential cash cow in the making.
LAS VEGAS -- WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao was involved in a minor car accident when a security vehicle bumped into his vehicle at an intersection Saturday morning, a source told SI.com. Pacquiao was returning to the MGM Grand arena from a Las Vegas area church.
Great athletes need challenges. And in 1996, Roy Jones felt he was running out of them. So that June, the then-No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world decided to create one. On the afternoon of his super middleweight title fight against Eric Lucas, Jones suited up for the USBL's Jacksonville Barracudas. He played 14 minutes that day. Seven hours later, he made Lucas quit in 33.
LOS ANGELES -- Manny Pacquiao won't be here for at least another two hours, but there are already two dozen fans on the sun-splashed asphalt outside Hollywood's Wild Card Boxing Club trying desperately to look like they're not loitering.
This is the time of year when lots of folks are wrapping and unwrapping presents, so here are some suggested recipients in the mixed martial arts world whose gifts would keep on giving, all through 2011:
The old expression is "styles make fights," and that's true, of course. But what makes truly compelling fights is what's at stake. The Dec. 11 Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana super lightweight title bout at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas offered both a high-stakes match-up and a highly intriguing conflux in styles. The result was a dramatic and highly entertaining 12 rounds that ended up elevating both men and earning a real claim as Fight of the Year for 2010.
He is articulate and charming, impeccably dressed with a 1,000-watt smile. He blends power and skill as well as anyone in the 140-pound division and has the best trainer in the business doling out advice in his corner. Indeed, Amir Khan has all the tools to join the rarified air of great British fighters like Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton.
The auditions are over, the field is set. Over the past two weeks, fighters have been submitting their metaphorical resumes to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum with performances in the ring (Sergio Martinez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Andre Berto) and out (Shane Mosley).
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's official: 120-108, 118-110, 119-109. It's a blowout win for Manny Pacquiao. Well deserved. Tough fight, too. Antonio Margarito would have beaten a lot of guys with his effort, but Pacquiao is simply an indomitable force.
GRAPEVINE, Texas -- It was a bizarre moment, even by boxing standards. As the news conference promoting the undercard for Saturday night's show was winding down, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum stepped to the podium with an announcement. Antonio Margarito was here, Arum said, and he wanted to address the media.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Over the last few weeks speculation has run rampant that Manny Pacquiao is not ready for Saturday night's showdown with Antonio Margarito. His work in camp has been sloppy. He's having trouble adding the extra bulk that comes with fighting as a 150-pounder. The distractions that accompany preparing for his first fight as a Filipino Congressman have split his focus.
NEW YORK -- Most boxing fans in the United States have for some time been familiar with the broad sketch outline of Amir Khan, the WBA light welterweight titlist from Freddie Roach's stable with designs on cracking the American market.
NEW YORK -- It wasn't enough for Freddie Roach that Amir Khan beat, batter and unequivocally outbox Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden last Saturday night. Roach wanted more. So when Khan settled onto his stool after the 10th round, comfortably ahead on the judge's scorecards, Roach delivered a message to his young pupil.
NEW YORK -- The formal U.S. introduction of Amir Khan came Wednesday, when he took the stage inside a dimly lit lobby in Madison Square Garden for a press conference to promote Saturday's WBA junior welterweight title fight with Paulie Malignaggi.
GRAPEVINE, Texas -- From the day he collected his first boxing paycheck, Manny Pacquiao has been surrounded by yes men. Dozens of would-be handlers, many with nebulous jobs and no real responsibilities to speak of, have surrounded Pacquiao. And for the last five years, as Pacquiao has risen to the top of the sport, they have been well-paid to live a life of leisure.
NEW YORK -- When the March megafight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. came apart at the seams earlier this month, it made losers of just about everybody: the fighters, the promoters and, most of all, the fans.
Freddie Roach has become the go-to guy for a feel-good story in boxing. He's the former pug of middling ability turned master builder of the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world; the altar boy turned acolyte of legendary cornerman Eddie Futch (and Eddie begat Freddie); the trainer to the stars (he's worked with Mickey Rourke! Marky Mark!) who has become a star in his own right, as the wise, calm voice amid the behind-the-scenes madness of HBO's 24/7, and a friend to boxing writers everywhere for his thoughtful, engaging (and always crafty) interviews. And, of course, he is a model of courage, battling his Parkinson's with grace and dignity even as he works to protect his own fighters from the same sort of damage in the ring.
LAS VEGAS -- Features in Sports Illustrated. Front page stories in the New York Times. The build up for Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto's welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand has been likened to a mini-Super Bowl and is as big a boxing promotion as any since Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought Oscar De La Hoya.
As strategists go, they don't get much better than Freddie Roach. The mastermind behind 24 world champions, Roach devises winning game plans the way Adrian Peterson scores touchdowns or Ray Allen buries jump shots. And no one has benefited more from Roach's skills than Manny Pacquiao. In just the past two years, Pacquiao has defeated a skilled counterpuncher (Juan Manuel Marquez), knocked off a physically superior hook artist (Oscar De La Hoya) and routed a bulldogging slugger (Ricky Hatton). Each victory propelled Pacquiao to a new level. Each came under Roach's watchful eye.
Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach is one of boxing's most respected minds. The three-time BWAA Trainer of the Year owns and operates the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., where he's passed down fistic wisdom to more than 20 world titlists, including sitting pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao's stunningly swift and brutal win over Ricky Hatton clearly established him as the best fighter in four weight classes: super featherweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight. Perhaps the only question Pacquiao has left to answer, and one trainer Freddie Roach acknowledged after the Hatton fight, is how the Pac-Man can handle the top counter-puncher. He may get the chance as early as next year in a showdown with the winner of Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez.
LAS VEGAS -- We're baaaack. You missed The Blog, didn't you? Well, here we are, sitting at a wobbly folding table blanketed by a cheap black tablecloth four rows from ringside at the MGM Grand Arena to bring you play by play and instant analysis from the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton junior welterweight title fight.
The rumblings of the jet engine are deafening, but for Oscar De La Hoya they're as soothing as an ocean breeze. As he settles into one of the plush leather seats on the Gulfstream G-4 -- one of two $14 million planes leased by his promotion company, Golden Boy, to carry him and Floyd Mayweather Jr., his opponent in Saturday's megafight, on a nine-day, 11-city promotional tour -- he can finally be at peace. Why? Well, for starters, it's one of the few times during the day he can put some much-needed distance between himself and Mayweather, against whom he will defend his WBC super welterweight crown and vie for the title of boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter. "I love being able to interact with people, to shake their hands and sign autographs," says De La Hoya. It's the other stuff that gets a little old. "Sometimes when I'm sitting onstage listening to Floyd run his mouth, I think to myself, Hey, I don't need this."
Peter Manfredo is a long way from home. Some 3,000 miles from his hometown of Providence, R.I. Buried in a secluded hotel, Manfredo is just days away from the biggest fight of his career in front of the most hostile crowd he has ever encountered. He's not nervous, but ... well ... facts are facts. In Cardiff, Wales, cars putter slowly along the wrong side of foggy roads. The locals speak with a strange accent -- as if anyone from New England can say anything about another man's accent.