Pacquiao Expresses Interest in Mosley Fight

Pacquiao delivered a powerful right to Hatton

Pacquiao delivered a powerful right to Hatton

June 4, 2009

Boxing’s pound-for-pound top fighter Manny Pacquiao told a Filipino news organization today that he would be willing to fight Pomona’s world welterweight champion Shane Mosley later this year, pending negotiations.

Though Mosley’s camp was quick to announce Pacquiao’s interest, saying Mosley would agree to fight at a catch weight between 140 and 147 pounds and accept a 60-40 split of the purse in Pacquiao’s favor for a bout that could be fought Oct. 17, Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum was more reserved.

“This has absolutely no credibility to it. Manny hasn’t decided who he’s going to fight,” Arum said. “It could be Mosley, or it could be [Miguel] Cotto, [Floyd] Mayweather Jr., [Juan Manuel] Marquez or [Edwin] Valero. They’re all in the mix.”

Right straight from Cotto shaking Mosley

Right straight from Cotto shaking Mosley

Arum said, “Shane’s a good guy, he’s definitely in the picture,” but Arum insisted Pacquiao will make no decision about his next opponent until watching the June 13 world welterweight title fight between Cotto and Joshua Clottey.

“Why would I eliminate options?” said Arum, who confirmed he was contacted today about a possible Pacquiao-Mosley bout by Mosley’s promoter Richard Schaefer. “I’ve also heard from Manny’s people that he wants to wait and see the Mayweather-Marquez fight [July 18] before he agrees to anything. That would mean we won’t be ready until November.

“All that he’s said is that he’s willing to fight Mosley. But he still has to explore the best deal.”

— Lance Pugmire

Roger Federer eases into French Open semi-finals

Roger Federer has made his 20th consecutive semi-final in a grand-slam tournament with a convincing straight-sets victory over Gael Monfils at the French Open. The Swiss No 2 seed, bidding to claim his first title at Roland Garros, was in solid form as he won 7-6 (8-6), 6-2, 6-4 on Philippe Chatrier court.

Runner-up at Roland Garros for the past three years, Federer looked more in control of his game than he had two days ago, when he had to come back from two sets and 4-3 down to defeat Tommy Haas. Most notably, Federer’s forehand was working again and he made fewer errors.

However, Monfils, the 11th seed, gave Federer a decent workout and he was forced to save break points in the first and 11th games as an even first set went to a tie-break. After two mini-breaks each, Federer clinched it when he swatted home a forehand volley at the end of a riveting rally.

The former world No 1, a four-set winner over Monfils in the semi-finals of the 2008 French Open, improved in the second set, with his forehand and serve hitting the spot as he broke twice to take the set.

The Frenchman called for the doctor prior to the start of the third set, a stomach problem appearing to be the problem. The doctor was summoned again at the end of the third game, with the set going with serve to give Monfils 2-1 ahead.

But Federer increased the pressure on his opponent, quietening the home crowd, and in game nine, Monfils slammed a forehand into the net facing a second break point. That proved decisive and Federer held comfortably in the next to eliminate the only Frenchman still in the singles draw.

Federer will meet either Juan Martin del Potro or Tommy Robredo in the last four knowing that no-one left in the tournament has beaten him on clay.

Can Shane Mosley Beat Manny Pacquiao At 142-Pounds?

by James Slater – The big news, as surely most fans are aware now, was the statement made by Shane Mosley regarding his acceptance of a catch-weight fight with Manny Pacquiao. “Sugar” said he was willing to meet “Pac-Man” at a catch-weight, and that he “knows this is what Freddy Roach (Manny’s trainer, of course) wants.” We now have to wait to find out two things: will the bout take place on October 17th (the date pencilled in for Pacquiao’s next fight), and just how low will Mosley agree to drop down to so as to make the bout a go?

An absolutely sensational and mouth-watering prospect of a fight, Mosley-Pacquiao would see two future Hall of Famers and possibly all-time greats going at it. Both men are coming off sensational stoppage wins – Mosley against the now disgraced Antonio Maragrito back in January, and Pacquiao against Ricky Hatton at the start of this month – and as awesome as both men looked last time out, it will be mighty tough picking a winner when they square off. However, two factors certainly have to be looked at when deciding who will win.

Will Mosley’s age of 37, going on 38 catch up with him in this fight? And will the weight Mosley agrees to come in at seriously compromise his chances? Mosley will be 38 by the time the fight rolls around and all fighters, no matter how great, fall victim to Father Time at some point if they stick around too long. Mosley looked anything but a fighter headed towards the end when he smashed Margarito four months ago; in fact he looked better than ever. But how long can “Sugar” keep looking that sweet after having had a 16-year pro career comprising of over fifty fights? As for the weight thing, Roach has gone on record as saying he does not want Manny fighting above 142-pounds. In accepting a catch-weight fight as he has, does this mean Mosley is willing to drop down to a poundage he has not boxed at since the 1990s?

Mosley, to his eternal credit, has always sought out the best possible competition so as to solidify his status by defeating them. Is it possible that in his over eagerness to once again reign as the pound-for-pound king he will agree to terms that are a danger to his chances of winning? A natural welterweight today, a Mosley who has to go about dropping some five pounds may be a badly drained and weakened fighter. We all saw what happened to Oscar De La Hoya when he fought once again at a weight he had not been required to make in a very long time. The toll on an ageing fighter’s body when he has to shed weight that is not of the excess kind – but is instead muscle tissue – cannot be dismissed.

Then again, it would perhaps be unfair for Pacquiao to be expected to go up to full welterweight. After all, Manny – who has done amazingly well against bigger men already – began his career way down at 107-pounds. We should really be thankful that this dream of a fight is close to being made, and we should be especially thankful to Mosley for agreeing to box at a catch-weight so as to make it happen. You can bet your bottom dollar Floyd Mayweather would not have and will not accept to fight Pacquiao at as low a weight as 142. No way; “Money” pretty much proved that by forcing Juan Manuel Marquez to box up at 147 in their July fight. Mayweather, should he ever fight “Pac-Man,” will make sure he holds all the advantages he can get or else there will be no fight.

This is where Shane Mosley differs; he is willing to fight the best and he is willing to make compromises to do so. Let’s just hope his dropping five pounds doesn’t compromise his fantastic skill level and his fighting strength when and if he boxes the equally superb Manny Pacquiao.

For Cavs, LeBron’s Silence Speaks Loud Enough

ORLANDO, Fla. – Head down and shoulders slumped, LeBron James(notes) headed off the court as the Orlando Magic streamers shot off above him.

Dwight Howard(notes) was hugging Hedo Turkoglu(notes), dreams of Beating L.A. dancing in their heads. James wasn’t bothering to stick around to shake hands, offer congratulations or pretend there was a bright side to the Magic ousting his Cleveland Cavaliers from the East finals with a 103-90 victory in Game 6.

James was off the floor before the confetti could hit his shoulders.

He later dressed in silence in a corner of the locker room then put on some gold, oversized headphones and headed for the door. Normally one of the last to leave, he was now one of the first. With anger and frustration evident in each step, he charged through the back halls of Amway Arena without greeting anyone, got on the team bus and soon was off to the airport.

There was no looking for his mother, Gloria. There was no talking with Nike executives. And forget addressing fans and media – Mo Williams(notes) was left to answer for the defeat.

LeBron was gone. The King was silent.

The fallout from this defeat will echo loudly all summer, though, the pressure mounting on Cavs general manager Danny Ferry.

Whether this was James’ ultra-competitiveness overwhelming his emotions or a sign of his frustration with a front office that in six seasons has failed to give him the supporting cast capable of winning a championship remains to be seen.

LeBron James, 24, is a free agent after next season and while he’s never said he would leave Cleveland, he’s never said he wouldn’t. As such, this move – his every move, actually – will be analyzed as the psyche of a championship-starved city hangs in the balance.

James doesn’t need a bigger market to be a global icon (a now-doomed Nike puppet advertising campaign is proof of that). And he doesn’t seem to possess the personality that covets the bright lights of New York or L.A. (he still lives near Akron and mostly hangs out with high school buddies or his longtime girlfriend and two young children).

He may need to leave to win a championship, though.

“Going into the playoffs we were confident that we were going to be in the NBA Finals and we were confident that we were going to win it,” Williams said. “I can understand [James’] disappointment because I’m feeling the same disappointment.”

There’s little sense in criticizing James for not speaking with the media Saturday – it’s the only thing he didn’t do in this series. He averaged 38.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists. He offered leadership and defense. He saved Game 2 with an all-timer of a buzzer-beater.

And it wasn’t even close to enough.

Cleveland players said James did speak to them briefly in the stunned locker room and, according to Daniel Gibson(notes), said “we just need to keep working.” It was clear to everyone, however, he was taking this defeat hard.

A 66-win regular season left the Cavs optimistic they had found the parts for a championship, but deep in the playoffs, where intensity is matched and matchups get intense, the limitations are clear.

The Cavs were swept in the 2007 Finals and now have failed to get out of the East the last two seasons.

In this game, from the time the Magic trotted out the booming voice of 7-year-old Gina Marie Incandela for the national anthem to a fourth quarter filled with chants of “MVP” and “Beat L.A.,” it wasn’t so much a contest as a 2½-hour pep rally for the Finals.

All of Cleveland’s recurring problems kept accruing. Howard had 40 points and 14 rebounds as he tore through the not-prime-time frontcourt of Anderson Varejao(notes) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes). Williams had 17 point, but showed in this series he isn’t ready to be this generation’s Scottie Pippen.

The entire bench combined for just 10 points and five rebounds. Other than James, the roster lacked the size and athletic ability to deal with perimeter threats Rashard Lewis(notes) and Rafer Alston(notes).

Cleveland had the best player in this series. Orlando had the next four.

“I think this team is right there,” Williams said. “We just have to do a little bit more.”

What they have to do is get a little bit more. Despite boasting one of the highest payrolls in the league and having a half-dozen years to put together the roster, the Cavs are still a player or two away. Where Ferry finds them is the question.

He has only the midlevel salary-cap exception to spend on free agents. The Cavs discussed acquiring Shaquille O’Neal(notes) at the trade deadline, but the Phoenix Suns balked at taking back Ben Wallace(notes). The Cavs have some pieces, but no margin for error on anything less than the perfect move.

It begins with the need for a big man because it’s not like the 23-year-old Howard is going anywhere. The Magic are no fluke, they’re more than capable of beating the Lakers.

“How many games could [Cleveland] win without LeBron James?” Jerry West asked rhetorically to Reuters. By way of comparison, when Michael Jordan skipped the 1993-94 season to play baseball, the remaining Chicago Bulls won 55. West likely doubts the non-LeBron Cavs would get to 40.

In the same interview, West declared James a superior player to Kobe Bryant(notes).

Yet it is Kobe’s team, rebuilt on the fly after a stretch of mediocrity from 2005-07 that will host Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday. The Lakers will meet the Magic, who have surrounded their young star, Howard, with the perfect complementary parts.

Meanwhile LeBron waits. He’s never publicly criticized a teammate, coach or front-office decision. And he didn’t Saturday.

Maybe Gloria James taught him that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then it’s best to say nothing at all. Just head for the bus, the booming beats of the headphones droning out the questions about the immediate past and the long-term future.

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports’ national columnist and author of “Resilience: Faith, Focus, Triumph” with the Miami Heat’s Alonzo Mourning. The book details Mourning’s rise from foster care to NBA stardom before kidney disease changed everything. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

4-time French Open Champ Nadal Upset by Soderling

By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich, Ap Tennis Writer

PARIS – For 31 matches, Rafael Nadal ruled the red clay of Roland Garros, boasting an unbeaten record and an unbreakable will.

For 31 matches, this was his surface, his tournament, his time.

For 31 matches, dating to his debut on May 23, 2005, Nadal never truly was challenged, much less defeated, at the French Open, allowing him to win four consecutive titles and close in on becoming the first player in history with five in a row.

Until Sunday. Until the fourth round of the 2009 French Open. Until Robin Soderling, a 24-year-old from Sweden with a bit of an attitude and 6-foot-3 worth of power, transformed Nadal’s career mark at Roland Garros from a best-ever 31-0 to 31-1 with 3 1/2 hours of assertive, and sometimes spectacular, play.

“Well, that’s the end of the road, and I have to accept it,” Nadal said. “I have to accept my defeat as I accepted my victories: with calm.”

Simply put, Soderling’s 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-6 (2) victory over the No. 1-seeded Nadal rates as one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. Not sure? Set aside all of Nadal’s bona fides for a moment — the dominance on clay; the six Grand Slam titles, including at Wimbledon and Australian Open — and focus on this: The 23rd-seeded Soderling never had won so much as a third-round match at any major tournament before this one.

“I kept telling myself, ‘This is just another match,'” Soderling said.

Nadal won all three of their previous meetings, including a contentious match at Wimbledon in 2007, and a 6-1, 6-0 rout on clay at Rome in April. But this time, Nadal was a half-step slower than usual — he tumbled to the ground in the third set, smearing clay all over his pink shirt and charcoal shorts — and Soderling was lights-out good.

Soderling finished with 61 winners, 28 more than Nadal, and won the point on 27 of 35 trips to the net.

“One of those days,” Nadal said. “I had someone playing very well in front of me.”

The stunning result rendered the rest of Sunday’s action around the grounds mere footnotes, from reigning French Open women’s champion Ana Ivanovic‘s exit in a 6-2, 6-3 loss to No. 9 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, to Maria Sharapova‘s latest three-set victory, to the Williams’ sisters loss in doubles.

All that really mattered on this day was Nadal’s ouster. In the first round, he broke Bjorn Borg’s record of 28 straight French Open wins by a man. In the second, he eclipsed Chris Evert‘s overall tournament record of 29.

“Everybody’s in a state of shock, I would think,” said Mats Wilander, a three-time French Open champion who works with Soderling as Sweden’s Davis Cup captain. “At some point, Nadal was going to lose. But nobody expected it to happen today, and maybe not this year. Now it’s a matter of: There’s a tournament to be won.”

The biggest beneficiary might be Roger Federer, the 13-time major champion whose resume is missing only a French Open title. Looked at another way, the pressure on Federer to finally win the championship at Roland Garros ratchets far higher. Federer lost to Nadal in each of the past three finals at Roland Garros, and in the 2005 semifinals, too.

“If one guy deserves it,” Nadal said, “that’s him.”

Federer was the last player to even take a set off Nadal at the French Open — all the way back in the 2007 final. Nadal’s streak of 32 consecutive sets won at Roland Garros, second only to Borg’s record of run 41 from 1978-81, did not last long Sunday.

When Nadal missed a backhand wide, then another into the net, Soderling broke him for the second time to take the first set. That, Soderling would say, was key.

“I felt if I can win one set,” he said, “why not the second one, and then the third one?”

Soderling did come within two points of winning the second set, when he led 6-5 and Nadal was serving. Nadal held there, though, then ran away with the ensuing tiebreaker, helped by six unforced errors by Soderling.

That was certainly a moment when Soderling could have folded. Instead, he showed fortitude.

“It takes a serious mind to realize, that, ‘Hey, listen, I just lost the second set 7-6 to Nadal, but I am so much better today, and I’ve just got to stay with him.’ And that’s, I think, what Robin exactly did,” Wilander said.

Nadal’s high-bouncing forehands didn’t bother Soderling. Soderling’s deep groundstrokes and booming serves — at up to 140 mph — troubled Nadal, who stood way behind the baseline. When Soderling served out the third set at love, Nadal had lost two sets in a single French Open match for the first time.

As the fourth-set tiebreaker began, spectators at Court Philippe Chatrier serenaded the underdog with choruses of “Roh-bean!” Others responded, “Ra-fa!” Later, Nadal termed the extra support for Soderling “sad.”

Soderling moved ahead 6-1, but Nadal’s forehand winner erased the first match point of his French Open career. On the second, Nadal’s volley landed wide, the final point of his lone loss at Roland Garros.

“We know that when we walk on the court, we can either win or lose,” Nadal said. “No one remembers defeats in the long run. People remember victories. So I have to move forward.”

He turns 23 on Wednesday, and noted he’s accustomed to celebrating his birthday at Roland Garros.

Not this year. About 75 minutes after the match ended, Nadal left the locker room with a couple of gym bags and a white plastic trash bag with other belongings.

He paused at the tournament’s player support desk for goodbye kisses, then walked past the transportation desk and said, “Ciao. Merci.” Nadal slid into a black sedan that whisked him through the complex’s green gate — departing one week earlier than he expected, one week earlier than every other year he’s been here.