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Friday, August 29, 2008

Sources: De La Hoya, Pacquiao agree to Dec. 6 fight in Vegas

De La Hoya To Announce Fight With Pacquiao

Oscar De La Hoya, boxing's biggest star, will announce Thursday that he will meet pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 6, two sources close to the fight told

Top Rank's Bob Arum, whose company promotes Pacquiao, would not confirm a deal was in place for what would be the year's biggest fight, but he did tell that De La Hoya would host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday to announce his opponent.

"We'll know who is he is fighting tomorrow," Arum said Wednesday from Youngstown, Ohio, where he was attending a promotional event for the Kelly Pavlik-Bernard Hopkins fight that he is co-promoting with De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions. "I made a commitment that I wouldn't say anything and that tomorrow there would be an announcement. I'm not allowed to make any comments. Everything will be clear on Thursday."

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer would not confirm the deal when asked , but sounded positive when asked about it.

"Last week the deal was 90 percent dead, but we were able to revive it. The fact that it has been so quiet is a good sign," Schaefer said from Mexico, where he was traveling on business with De La Hoya. "It's been a lot of back and forth and skillful negotiating and to try to get each side to soften their stance. If the fight was Arum versus Schaefer, it would have been made awhile ago."

Schaefer dismissed reports this week that welterweight titleholder Paul Williams was under serious consideration to meet De La Hoya. Schaefer said that although Williams' name was thrown out during an internal meeting, it was quickly dismissed, and no contact was ever made between the De La Hoya and Williams camps. Williams promoter Dan Goossen confirmed that as well.

De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs), who has repeatedly said the December fight would be the last bout of his storied career in which he's won world titles in six weight divisions, has been in talks with Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) for weeks. But negotiations got bogged down when the sides could not come to an agreement on how to split the revenue, which is expected to exceed more than $100 million.

De La Hoya stood firm for weeks on a 70-30 split in his favor; Pacquiao was demanding a 40 percent slice of the pie.

The rest of the major issues, from the maximum weight to the size of the gloves, were agreed upon, with Pacquiao getting his way on a 147-pound weight limit and 8-ounce gloves.

The percentage split that De La Hoya and Pacquiao have apparently agreed to is unclear.

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer and one of De La Hoya's former trainers, has been an outspoken advocate of the fight, going so far as to say he would train Pacquiao for free because he was so confident he would win.

Roach told on Wednesday that Pacquiao, whom he hadn't spoken to much recently, left him two voice mails at about 7 a.m. ET.

"He left me the messages and at the end of one of them, he said, 'Thanks for all your help.' I read that as the fight is done," Roach said.

Pacquiao, a lightweight titleholder who has won belts in five weight classes and is a national icon in the Philippines, would move up to welterweight for the showdown with De La Hoya.

The fight is expected to take place the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where De La Hoya has fought five of his last six bouts and seven of his last 10.

Dan Rafael is's boxing writer.

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Japan's the place for baseball passion and fanaticism - not the USA!

by Ben Suenaga

Japan was the country of my early childhood, a place of which I only remembered three things – the deafening song of the cicadas (so loud in fact, while walking through the narrow back streets of Kyoto my wife and I had to yell at one another in order to communicate), the near Saharan heat in July, and the pungent scent of cigarettes at every turn.

It had been 20 years since I had returned and every fresh discovery made me feel more and more alien. If it weren't for relatives and what they call the "imprinting" process of my youth I would hold no resemblance to these people apart from my features. On this occasion the one firm memory I will carry with me would be the fervent, passionate and, it would be correct to say, fanatical nature in which the Japanese support their baseball.

Hiroshima is most recognisably remembered by the date August 6, 1945 - the day the atomic the bomb fell. Somewhere in the region of 140,000 civilians were killed and three-quarters of the buildings were reduced to ash as a result. The Genbaku Dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, a towering structure of steel and brick, remains as a reminder of what exists within the dark corners in the hearts of men. From this devastation a city was reborn and, with it, a baseball team - the Hiroshima Carp.

The spirit of this city is something I have never before experienced. The unparalleled respect and congeniality of the people is a true testament to the resilience of the human spirit. This same energy, this same enthusiasm I would later find out is also a noted characteristic of their fandom in baseball.

I first became aware of their team when seated in a cramped eating establishment (Hassei) which serves the city's characteristic okonomiyaki (best described as a savoury pancake containing any number of ingredients, usually a mixture of vegetable and seafood), known fittingly as the Hiroshima-yaki. Framed on the wall was a team photo of what seemed at first sight to be the Cincinnati Reds. Upon closer inspection, with the exception of the coach, the whole team was Japanese. Yes, these were the Cincinnati Reds with one important exception – the C in this case stands for carp.

In the evening we were strolling along the bank of the river which borders the Memorial Park and the Genbaku Dome after feasting on a five-course meal of another of Hiroshima's famed cuisines, the Hiroshima oyster - which are about four times the size of any oyster I've seen on my travels (a little larger than the size of my outstretched hand). The molluscs were served raw, fried, baked and stewed, and finished off with a bowl of cold noodles and tea. As we crossed over a bridge towards the Dome on our way back to the hotel we noticed a hypnotic sound, more of a rumble, or a clapping or stamping, or both, getting louder with every step.

Further in the distance, beyond the Dome, we could see the stadium, but until this point it was unimaginable to me that this sound could be created my these people. It would be the equivalent of the atmosphere of a Tuscan derby. We returned to the hotel, flipped through the channels and there it was... the Hiroshima Carp against long-time rivals the Yomiuri Giants from Tokyo. This is not like American baseball where the life of the crowd is only spurred by a run scored or trying to catch the attention of the peanut man.

There is no relaxing day at the park, sucking on hotdogs and the Coors Light silver bullet, this is a sporting event and, more importantly, these fans are there to support their city and their team. The crowd noise even through the hotel television was raucous and ceaseless. This beast, this organised animal of fandom relentlessly chanted the same thing over and over and over. It was foreign to me what they were saying but whatever it was, you could be sure there was mettle in it.

Football has quite a base of support and the J-League draws a lot of foreign talent, with Brazilians being a major import, but it still has not reached the level of their baseball both in support and skill. In fact, the real World Series - known as the World Baseball Classic - was won by the Japanese in 2006 (the US did not even make a placing in the top four).

If given the opportunity, please visit Japan and, furthermore, Hiroshima. Visit for the people, the food, the baseball and in remembrance of the tragedy which befell this city. Quite fittingly, here is a quote from Calgacus: "To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."

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Can Captain Joe save the day for the Avalanche?

Frei By Terry Frei

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche officials have been kicked out of their Pepsi Center offices during the Democratic National Convention. In fact, some of those television talking-head segments, with a skyline background, have been taking place on balconies in the office area of the building.

So when player agent Don Baizley called Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere on Tuesday and said that Joe Sakic had decided to play another season, and that it was time to agree on a new contract, the reaction almost certainly involved a mixture of relief and gratitude -- and, yes, consternation. Something akin to: That's great … but now? After making the announcement Wednesday that Sakic had agreed to a one-year deal, and a $6 million salary that represents a $750,000 pay cut, the Avalanche also said team officials wouldn't comment beyond canned press release quotes until a team-staged Sakic news conference … next Tuesday. That might seem ridiculous on the surface, but as a resident of the Fortress Pepsi area of Denver, and as a fascinated observer of the chaotic conditions in the adjacent LoDo area and other parts of the area, I can attest that you kinda have to be here to understand what a mess it is. (Your turn next week, St. Paul.)
Joe Sakic

Michael Martin/Getty Images

Can Joe Sakic do it all by himself?

As scheduled, Sakic will meet the media Thursday at his Joe Sakic Celebrity Classic charity golf tournament in Sedalia, Colo., and sponsors bravely will attempt to keep the discussion restricted to Sakic's work with the Food Bank of the Rockies and its children's programs. Although the focus on the DNC, and Barack Obama's looming acceptance speech at Invesco Field, will curtail the number of reporters at the Sakic availability, he still will have to do considerable dodging to avoid answering the inevitable hockey questions. Sakic made the call Tuesday after sensing the mounting pressure and frustration among pockets of Avalanche fans, and after realizing that he was in danger of turning his indecision into a running joke. Oh, and after concluding that, yes, at age 39, he still wants to play at least one more season. His procrastination was the result of sincere angst. After a sports hernia limited him to 44 games last season, and limited his effectiveness for stretches both before and after his long absence from the lineup, he was pondering the possibility that if he did return, he faced the possibility of diminished … well, diminished everything. Production. Minutes. Prominence. It's unfair to say that scared him, but it certainly gave him pause for thought. Not for one second was it possible that this would become a Niedermayer-Selanne act. He was going to make up his mind before training camp. Even if that meant going through informal skating with his teammates as the final test, then deciding, he couldn't let this drag on much longer. Some of his teammates began skating informally this week at the team's suburban practice rink, the Family Sports Center, and (don't tell anyone this) reporters were beginning to pass through to see whether Sakic had showed. He hadn't, or at least he wasn't spotted on the ice. But the pressures to get out with the boys were going to mount, too. It also was fun to try to read between the lines of the limited offseason comments he did make, all of which emphasized that he hadn't made up his mind. To some, that sounded like a man resigned to quitting. To others, it came off as a man leaning toward returning, but wanting to avoid a reverse Favre about-face. Truth was, he was trying to make sure not only that he believed he was capable of playing at a level that would meet his own demands but also that he wanted to do it. Sakic is an off-ice conditioning fanatic, and even a slight diminishment in willingness to pay that price would have been a significant problem. One other issue: For several years, we've been talking about how much sense it would make for Sakic to play through the 2009-10 season, including suiting up for the Canadian Olympic team in his hometown at midseason, then hanging up his skates. But he doesn't want to be a sympathy or emeritus choice. He doesn't want to be lured into lowering his own standards and sticking around one year too long only because of the Olympics. Without Sakic, the Avalanche would have started to resemble a small-market NHL team, a prospect the spoiled fans of Denver would have abhorred. As it stands now, they probably will come in at about $52 million, or nearly $5 million under the cap. Peter Forsberg's availability remains in question, and Baizley emphasized again Wednesday that the Swede won't consider playing again unless his foot problems are cleared up. (Heard that before?) The captain returns to an enigmatic team, partially because of its unsettled goaltending situation in the wake of Jose Theodore's departure. If Jeff Hackett, now known as the "goalie whisperer" in Denver after his work with Theodore, can coax a similar recovery from another former teammate, Andrew Raycroft, and Raycroft takes over the No. 1 job from Peter Budaj, that would help. One of the reasons for Joel Quenneville's departure as coach was that he wasn't as high on the organization's young, homegrown talent -- mainly forwards -- as was the front office, and Tony Granato got a second chance in part because he said what the execs wanted to hear. Sakic and Paul Stastny will give the Avalanche that continued one-two punch at center, and Wojtek Wolski can remain on the wing. Marek Svatos, the Avalanche's leading goal-scorer when injured in March, has to prove he can stay on the ice. The defensive corps is a solid and complementary mix. If Sakic hadn't played, and if the goaltending hadn't stepped up, this was a 25-win team waiting to happen. Even with him, there still are plenty of question marks, because of the Avalanche themselves and because of some of the issues on other rosters in the division. Colorado hopes the wait was worth it.

Terry Frei is a regular contributor to He is the author of just-released "'77" and of "Third Down and a War to Go."

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Favre Funny

Favre Funny by BeachStorm.

Haaaaa! Two of the local churches have sign wars. I walk past each often enough to enjoy them both. This morning I had to walk home - get the camera and walk back...all risking being late to work...which I'm doing right now!

If you are an American football fan you get this. If you are not, or you've been living under a rock for the past few months...Brett Favre, the Green Bay Packers goldenchild retired and then reinstated and moved from Green Bay to the New York Jets. Bitterness ensues.

I just love the creativity of these sign putter-uppers. Soooo funny! Brightened my Tuesday!

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