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Sunday, December 7, 2008

De La Hoya-Pacquiao round-by-round

USA TODAY's J. Michael Falgoust is ringside for Saturday night's long-awaited showdown between Oscar De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It's the sport's pound-for-pound No. 1 fighter (Pacquiao) vs. the No. 1 box office draw (De La Hoya). After both fighters weighed in under the 147-pound limit on Friday (Pacquiao was 142; De La Hoya 145), HBO's unofficial weight numbers tonight show Pacquiao at 148 1/2 pounds with De La Hoya at 147.

Ring walk-ins are underway now that the national anthems of the Philippines, Mexico and the United States are complete. Pacquiao has begun his entrance to Queen's "We Will Rock You" into an arena that appears to not have an empty seat. De La Hoya enters the ring at 11:08 p.m. ET. Both fighters are at ring center receiving instructions from referee Tony Weeks. It's 11:13, and the fight is underway.

Round 1: Both are reluctant to open up, with De La Hoya walking him down and trying to avoid Pacquiao's left. Lots of feinting, but Pacquiao lands a series of hard left hands that appear to catch De La Hoya's attention. Pacquaio stays off the ropes and avoids getting trapped. Pacquaio finishes strong. 10-9, Pacquiao.

Round 2: Pacquiao isn’t rushing in as he's accustomed to fighting. He’s touching De La Hoya with lead lefts. De La Hoya tries to go hard to the body with little success. Pacquiao is landing his left at will. Good body shot by Pacquiao. A clean left to De La Hoya’s head. A lead right uppercut, left hand for Pacquiao lands flush and is the best combination of the fight. Another lead left hand by Pacquiao. Oscar’s face is firehouse red. 10-9, Pacquiao.

Round 3: De La Hoya is still walking him down, but Pacquiao's accuracy is impressive. Good body shot by Pacquiao. De La Hoya is focusing on rights to the body but he can't land consecutive punches. They trade body shots. Pacquiao's right hook is hard. A lead left land for Pacquiao. 10-9, Pacquiao.

Round 4: Pacquiao is responding every time De La Hoya lands anything. A good right hook by Pacquiao. Then he buckles De La Hoya with a straight left to the body. Pacquiao is attacking De La Hoya's body now, and his left eye is swelling shut. A left hand hurts De La Hoya as his legs straighten up. He's being battered like never before in his career in this round. 10-9, Pacquiao.

Round 5: Pacquiao is landing at will. A reverse 1-2 combination stuns De La Hoya. Every punch Pacquiao throws he lands, and De La Hoya has yet to show the ability to make Pacquiao respect him. Now Pacquiao goes back to the body. Hooks, straight lefts, uppercuts, they all land. Oscar attacks on the ropes but doesn't land much. They trade, Pacquiao takes some hard shots and comes right back. This is a clinical beating being given to De La Hoya. 10-9, Pacquiao.

Round 6: Pacquiao is now walking down De La Hoya and cutting off the ring. He appears ready to try to finish De La Hoya. Oscar's left jab is absent, as is his signature left hook. Huge straight left from Pacquiao. De La Hoya needs a game-changer, otherwise this will be a blowout, if not a stoppage. Pacquiao's legs are still crisp. De La Hoya is flat-footed. Another hand lead left by Pacquiao. 10-9, Pacquiao.

Round 7: Not much clean being landed to start this round. Right hook by Pacquiao lands. Oscar can't trap him to get off his offense. He's too slow. Now Pacquiao gets De La Hoya on the ropes and he's pounding his body. He buckles De La Hoya on the ropes, great body shots. Oscar's left eye is almost closed. He has to hold onto the ropes to stop from going down from a wicked combination. Three consecutive lefts by Pacquiao land. Big left to the body. Oscar is ready to go now. Huge right hook from Pacquiao. Oscar is on the verge of being stopped. He's helpless. But he comes back with a left uppercut to Pacquiao's chin, and the Filipino takes it. This is a mismatch. 10-8, Pacquiao.

Round 8: Pacquiao is walking him down again. Gets him on the ropes and Oscar won't leave. His legs are gone.There's a huge knot under De La Hoya's left eye. Pacquiao is having his way again. This is target practice. Pacquiao gets him on the ropes again and tees off. De La Hoya flurries to the body and Pacquiao taunts him to say it didn't hurt. Now he comes back in the last 10 seconds and rakes De La Hoya to the body in the corner. De La Hoya's right foot comes off the canvas from the body shot and almost goes down again. 10-9 Pacquiao.

Pacquiao wins TKO 8: De La Hoya fails to answer the bell for the ninth round as he quits on his stool as referee Tony Weeks stops the bout. De La Hoya walks across the ring to congratulate Pacquiao.

Note: De La Hoya doesn't attend postfight news conference. He was sent to the hospital for observation.

The undercard was completed quickly, with Victor Ortiz pounding Jeffrey Resto to the canvas three times en route to a second-round TKO in a junior welterweight match (140). Also, Juan Manuel Lopez blew out Sergio Manuel Medina in the opening stanza, scoring three knockdowns in a junior featherweight bout (122); Richie Mepranum won a unanimous decision vs. Cesar Lopez in a six-round junior bantamweight match (115); Roberto Marroquin scored a first-round knockout of Isaac Hidalgo in a junior featherweight bout (122); Adrien Broner scored a first-round technical KO of Scott Furney in a lightweight match (135); Jose Angel Beranza scored a unanimous decision victory vs. Jesus Manuel Rojas in a junior featherweight match; and Daniel Jacobs stopped Victor Lares in two rounds in at supermiddleweight (168).

The Football Miracle from Hoffenheim

Few in Germany had ever heard of tiny Hoffenheim before this year. Now, though, the village club team is at the very top of the country's professional soccer league. On Friday night, they clash with powerhouse Bayern München.


One can be forgiven for doing a double-take when glancing at the standings in the Bundesliga these days. There are, to be sure, some familiar names leading Germany's professional football league. Bayern München is there. Berlin's Hertha BSC as well. Bayer Leverkusen.

But right at the very top is a team that, up until a few months ago, hardly anyone in the country had ever heard of. It is a squad from a tiny village in Germany's south-west halfway between Stuttgart and Frankfurt, population 3,200. The town is called Hoffenheim, and the local club team plays against powerhouse Bayern München on Friday night in Munich for the right to go into the mid-season break leading the league.


Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (8 Photos)

It is a success story the likes of which Germany has never seen: Within just a few years, 1899 Hoffenheim has rocketed from regional league obscurity to its current status as one of the elite teams in the country. Football fans from all over Europe are now rooting for the club, attracted by its fairy tale rise up the table. A new book about the club has recently come out called "The Miracle of Hoffenheim," and the title's reference to Germany's dramatic 1954 World Cup victory -- known as the Miracle of Bern -- doesn't even feel overstated. Even Bastian Schweinsteiger, a Bayern star, admitted recently in reference to Friday's game: "If they win, the entire country will rejoice."

There are, of course, some detractors. As one might expect, the team's progress has been helped along by money -- a lot of money. Dietmar Hopp, a co-founder of the software giant SAP, has invested millions of euros in the team in recent years, allowing it to go on a shopping spree for players that could help it to the next level.

Still, comparing Hoffenheim to other clubs who have lucked into money -- such as Chelsea, which was purchased by Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich in 2003, or Manchester City, bought up by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi this year -- is off the mark. For one, rather than going after players the calibre of Robinho (brought in by Manchester City for €40 million) or spending hundreds of millions on the transfer market like Chelsea, Hoffenheim has gone for youth and potential.

"It has been just luck that our scouts have had such a good eye recently," Hopp told SPIEGEL in a recent interview. "They went to Belgium, where they found Demba Ba. Chinedu Obasi came from Oslo." Even the team's biggest star, Ibisevic Vedad -- who leads the Bundesliga in goals scored with 17 -- spent some time on the bench last year due to poor play, when Hoffenheim was still in the second league.

There is also another important difference: Dietmar Hopp actually comes from Hoffenheim, and once played on the team back when it was little more than the local village club. Now, Hopp owns 49 percent of the team, the maximum allowed under German league rules. And he is building a new stadium. The current village stadium, capacity 6,000, is much too small for a Bundesliga team, meaning Hoffenheim has thus far played its home games in nearby Mannheim. The new building, which will be finished early next year, will seat 10 times the population of Hoffenheim.

The size, though, is necessary. Hoffenheim has attracted a growing cadre of fans and draws from a region which has a total population of around 2.4 million. Many of the newcomers are attracted by the team's enthusiastic, attacking style of play.

And its ongoing success means there are more supporters every day. Already, the village has seen a deluge of visitors, many of them journalists from across Europe wanting to see where Germany's top team comes from. So much so that the village is thinking about how it might be able to capitalize on its team's popularity. According to a Friday piece in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, community leaders are hoping to attract nature-loving vacationers. Karlheinz Hess, who heads up the municipality, told the paper, "we don't really have anything other than a nice landscape."

That, and perhaps the best team in the German football league. Most of the country will be tuning in on Friday evening to find out. And so will fans across the world. The game is to be broadcast live in 167 countries. Hoffenheim -- the world is watching.

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Amanda Beard: Leave Michael Phelps Alone!

Marc Malkin

Amanda Beard is coming to the defense of fellow Olympian Michael Phelps.

The 14-time gold medalist Phelps has been flooded with some lousy press lately for becoming not only a fixture in Las Vegas, but also for dating Sin City cocktail waitress Caroline "Caz" Pal.

Beard (left, with Phelps at a Speedo party in April) admits it's "definitely weird" to see Phelps becoming a celebrity tabloid star, but she thinks he should be cut some slack...

"A swimmer's life is extremely boring," Beard said at last night's opening of the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. "We swim and we're in the pool all day long. I know he trains his butt off, so I know it feels good for him to let loose and drink—and to have ladies underneath his arms. It's good for him."

Beard is confident that Phelps will rein it in once he starts training again: "He has a really, really, really intense coach who's very strict."

—Additional reporting by Dahvi Shira

Fla. Man Accused Of Making Boy Drive On Beer Run

(AP) Authorities in southwest Florida say an intoxicated man had his 9-year-old son take him on a beer run. Cape Coral police arrested the 27-year-old man last week, after seeing a pickup truck drive onto a median.

When officers stopped the truck, the man told them he was teaching his son to drive. Officers say the father's speech was slurred, his breath smelled of alcohol and he unable to stand without swaying. Police said an open case of Budweiser beer was in the backseat.

The man was charged with cruelty toward a child and allowing an unlicensed minor to drive. He was released from jail on $2,000 bond. The man did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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Va Tech beats BC, wins 2nd straight ACC title

By FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer

Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans (32) avoids the tackle by Boston College AP – Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans (32) avoids the tackle by Boston College cornerback Roderick …

TAMPA, Fla. – Dangle the Atlantic Coast Conference title in front of Virginia Tech and the Hokies will find a way to grab it.

Tyrod Taylor scored two first-half touchdowns and Darren Evans ran for 114 yards and one TD in less than half-full Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, helping Virginia Tech become the first two-time winner of the ACC championship game with a 30-12 victory over No. 18 Boston College.

The Hokies (9-4), who have won three titles since leaving the Big East for the ACC in 2004, also beat Eagles (9-4) for last year's crown and earned their second consecutive trip to the Orange Bowl.

Easily playing its most complete game of the season, Tech was dominant on offense and defense in avenging a 28-23 regular-season loss to BC, which won that meeting despite five turnovers.

Special teams contributed, too, with Dustin Keys kicking a 50-yard field goal — longest in the title game's four-year history.

Evans became the sixth player in league history to rush for over 1,000 yards as a freshman, but also fumbled twice. His 10-yard TD burst, set up by Stephan Virgil's interception and 36-yard return, put the Hokies up 24-7 late in the third quarter.

"We came out with a lot of intensity, and we took advantage of our opportunities that they gave us," Evans said.

Michael Kelly, ACC associate commissioner for football operations, said 53,927 tickets were distributed for the game, played in Tampa for the first time after a three-year run in Jacksonville, Fla.

Dwindling attendance has been a concern ever since the inaugural title game between Virginia Tech and Florida State drew an announced 72,749 in 2005. The figures slipped to 62,850 for Georgia Tech and Wake Forest in 2006 and 53,212 for BC and Tech a year ago.

Although each school was allotted about 10,000 tickets for Saturday's rematch, the Eagles and Hokies reportedly combined to sell fewer than 5,000. And, with neither Florida State or Miami in the game, and Florida playing for the SEC championship on television later in the afternoon, there was little interest locally.

"Obviously, we're never going to be satisfied until we get this game sold out," Kelly said, adding that ticket sales was affected by the economy and the fact neither school clinched a spot in the game until last week.

BC overcame an early 10-point deficit to win the regular-season meeting. But that was with Chris Crane running the offense — not Dominique Davis, the redshirt freshman who made his second start since Crane broke his right collarbone two weeks ago.

Davis threw a 16-yard TD pass to Rich Gunnell in the second quarter, but was intercepted twice and had a fourth-quarter fumble returned for a touchdown.

The 19-year-old who grew up in Lakeland, about 30 miles east of Tampa, set up the Eagles' only TD with a screen pass that Montel Harris turned into a 51-yard gain to the Tech 15. Two plays later, he found Gunnell open in the right corner of the end zone to trim BC's deficit to 14-7 at the half.

Taylor, picked as the game's most valuable player, completed 11 of 19 passes for 84 yards and rushed for 11 times for 30 yards — 80 fewer than he ran for in the regular-season meeting — and scored on runs of 5 and 4 yards.

Evans carried 31 times and hiked his season rushing total to 1,112 yards. He and Josh Ogelsby were held to 40 yards on 23 carries the last time by a BC defense that limited opponents to just 57 yards per game rushing over the last five weeks of the season.

Davis was 17 of 43 for 263 yards. He was sacked five times, lost the fumble that Tech's Orion Martin returned 17 yards for a TD with nine minutes left. Gunnell had seven catches for 114 yards, but his longest reception — a 37-yarder — ended with him fumbling into the end zone and Tech recovering.

(This version CORRECTS Virginia Tech 30, No. 18 Boston College 12. SUBS 13th graf to correct to fumble, sted interception.)

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Judge's ruling clears way for Smith, McAllister to return

By John Clayton

The New Orleans Saints have added defensive end Will Smith and running back Deuce McAllister to the active roster of 53 players, so both will be available to play Sunday after a judge put their NFL anti-doping suspensions on hold.

Saints coach Sean Payton told ESPN's Rachel Nichols on Saturday at the team's practice facility that Smith will start, while McAllister will rotate in the backfield with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.

To add Smith and McAllister, the Saints were granted roster exemptions until Monday for two players they had signed off practice squads earlier this week.

Linebackers Rob Ninkovich, signed off the Dolphins' practice squad, and Tearrius George, signed off the Cowboys' practice squad, will not count against the Saints' roster until Monday. Neither player will dress or play Sunday, as neither is technically on the Saints' roster this weekend. The Saints needed the exemption because officially, both players had to remain on the Saints' active roster for at least three weeks after signing. A federal judge in St. Paul, Minn., on Friday blocked the NFL from suspending Smith, McAllister and three Minnesota Vikings players for violating the league's anti-doping policy after the NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said he needed more time to consider the case after hearing several hours of arguments from the league and the NFLPA.

McAllister, Smith, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams of the Minnesota Vikings and Charles Grant of the Saints were suspended this week for four games each. They had tested positive this summer for a banned diuretic in the dietary supplement StarCaps. The union argued the NFL didn't properly inform players about the substance. The NFL's attorneys argued that that claim, and others, had been considered and rejected in a process set out by the league's collective bargaining agreement. John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN's Rachel Nichols and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Chairman expects Cubs' sale by spring

CHICAGO -- The chairman of the Chicago Cubs said Friday he expects the baseball franchise to be sold by spring training.

Chairman Crane Kenney told the Chicago Tribune for a story on its Web site that the Cubs are going over the bids they've received and expect the sale by spring training. Both the team and the newspaper are owned by Chicago-based Tribune Co.

Spring training starts in mid-February and ends April 4.

Kenney also denied reports that Tribune chief executive Sam Zell would hold on to a big stake in the team after its sale.

"The bids that came in were for control of the team where for Sam, any interest would be a small interest," Kenney said. "I think at some point people were talking about Sam holding almost half of it. That's not the way they (bid).

"People are ready to come in, and while the economy is as challenging as it is, I think the value of the franchise really hasn't changed long-term. I think the bidders are all well financed and understand that. They didn't deviate much from where the value should be."

According to media reports earlier this week, at least three would-be buyers of the team have submitted second-round bids to Tribune. Kenney said he didn't know if he'd remain with the team under the new owner.

A sale of the Cubs and Wrigley Field, the nation's second-oldest baseball stadium, would also include the company's 25 percent stake in a regional sports cable channel.

The team's sale must be approved by Major League Baseball.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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