Mosley stands between Pacquiao, legend status


Mosley stands between Pacquiao, legend status

May 4, 2011Win a signed Pacquiao-Mosley glove from Comcast SportsNet Bay Area -- click here!

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- It was 10 years ago this summer and Oscar De La Hoya was the big attraction, as he often was on Saturday nights in this gambling town. Many of the high-rollers who came to watch De La Hoya fight Javier Castillejo hadn't even made their way to their 1,000 ringside seats at the MGM Grand hotel when a 121-pounder from the Philippines made his U.S. debut.

Manny Pacquiao had taken the fight on two weeks' notice. His chances of beating rising star Lehlohonolo Ledwaba were considered so slim that oddsmakers refused to even put a line up on it.

Pacquiao would give Ledwaba such a beating that the fight didn't last six rounds. Then he was gone, leaving the arena like the other undercard fighters to clear the way for the main event.

Those who watched that night saw promise, sure. But no one in the arena would have believed what was to come.

A decade later, Pacquiao is the star, fighting Saturday night in the same ring where he had his coming out party. He'll make a minimum of 20 million to take on Shane Mosley in a bout that should only further cement his place among the great fighters of his time.

And he'll do it wearing yellow gloves, because there are fights that are bigger than those taking place in the ring.

"All my life I've had to fight. As a child, I had to fight just to eat," Pacquiao said. "The biggest fight in my life is not in boxing. The biggest fight in my life is how to end poverty in my country."

The yellow gloves to promote unity against poverty aren't just a symbolic gesture. Neither was getting elected to congress in the Philippines.

Pacquiao is celebrated like no other Filipino athlete. But his legacy may one day be more important for what he does outside the ring.

He hands out money to strangers for the asking. He bought land recently to build subsidized housing for the homeless. And he went directly to Philippine president Benigno Aquino III to ask for 5 million for a badly needed hospital in his Sarangani Province.

He got it, because no one other than Floyd Mayweather Jr. has ever said no to Manny Pacquiao.

"I've said it many times," promoter Bob Arum said. "The Philippines has a social safety net and they call it Manny Pacquiao."

Boxing, of course, is Pacquiao's day job, and it's one he's excelled at in recent years. He gave De La Hoya such a beating a few years back that he sent him into retirement, and he's put on a string of sensational performances against some of the biggest names around.

The only name missing is Mayweather, though Pacquiao seems tired of the topic. Mayweather hasn't fought in a year and shows little interest of getting in the ring with Pacquiao in what could be boxing's richest fight ever.

"I'm the kind of person who doesn't want to talk about someone behind his back," Pacquiao said. "He did his best in boxing. He contributed to the history of boxing. Let's talk about the fight on Saturday."

The problem is, you can't talk about Saturday's fight without talking about Mayweather. Part of the reason for that is that Mayweather dominated Mosley in winning a decision last May and Pacquiao's performance against the same foe will be used as a measurement for who would hold the upper hand should the two eventually meet.

Assuming they ever meet, that is. Mayweather has legal issues and he also seems to have issues with the fact there's a fighter out there would have a legitimate chance of handing him his first professional defeat.

"If he (Mayweather) doesn't participate in an event pretty soon he's going to become totally irrelevant," Arum said.

Right now, though, Pacquiao is just thinking about Mosley, who may give him a better fight than most boxing fans expect. Yes, he's 39 in a young man's sport and, yes, he looked bad in his last two fights. But Mosley still has the speed to match up with Pacquiao and he's never been knocked out in his career.

Pacquiao warned at Wednesday's final prefight press conference that Mosley is dangerous. But he didn't seem especially fearful as the two boxers posed chin-to-chin for photographers and Pacquiao tried unsuccessfully to stop from bursting out laughing.

When they finished, Pacquiao walked over to the edge of the stage in the showroom at the MGM, leaned over and shook hands with Mosley's father, Jack, and several other friends and family members. In his suit he looked more politician than fighter, someone pressing the flesh for their votes rather than preparing to beat up on their guy.

He's done remarkable things as a fighter since making his debut here a decade ago, made more money than he ever thought imaginable. The best thing about Pacquiao, though, may be how he's grown in stature as a man.

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

Young Kings' inexperience rears ugly head in loss to Jazz

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings showed their age Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. They couldn’t buy a basket early. They could do no wrong in the second and third quarters. And when the chips were down, they couldn’t stop a charging Utah Jazz team from pulling away for the 112-82 blowout.

Utah led by as many as 20 in the first quarter and it looked like it was going to be a long night. The Kings shot just 31.6 percent in the game’s first 12 minutes and they allowed the Jazz to knock down 5-of-11 3-pointers early.

“We started off slow and in a hole and tried to come back,” Willie Cauley-Stein said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to 24 in the opening minutes of the second quarter and then Ben McLemore happened. The fourth-year guard went off for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the second as the Kings cut Utah’s lead to just seven at the intermission.

“It’s nice to see him back in there and getting rhythm and feeling good about himself,” Dave Joerger said of McLemore. “He is able at his size to get off of people that are holding. With his athleticism, he can be an effective cutter and he can be an effective pin down player.”

The 24-year-old wing finished the night with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, but he was one of just three Kings players to notch double-figure scoring as the ball movement dried up for long stretches.

Utah made adjustments in the second half to slow McLemore and the Kings did a poor job of responding. They over dribbled the ball, leading to just 14 assists on the night.

The Jazz on the other hand looked like a finely oiled machine. With big man Rudy Gobert anchoring the post, they made cuts at the rim and found open shooters all around the perimeter.  

“They hit shots, a lot of shots, a lot of threes,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “That breaks the game wide open when you’re hitting threes and a lot of stuff is going in.”

Sharpshooter Rodney Hood dropped in 5-of-5 from long range, scoring 18 points in just 24 minutes of play. Gordon Hayward knocked down 3-of-5 from deep for a team-high 20 points. Overall, Utah outscored the Kings 39-6 from 3-point range.

Despite the rough start and the barrage of 3-point makes by the Jazz, Sacramento cut Utah’s lead to just two midway through the third quarter. And then the playoff bound Jazz dropped a 52-24 run on Sacramento to finish the night off.

Joerger allowed his core of young players plenty of time on the floor. Skal Labissiere played a team-high 33 minutes in the loss, coming away with nine points and seven rebounds.  

“I’m definitely learning a lot,” Labissiere said. “It’s the best way to learn to be out there against guys like that. Whenever I’m out there, I’m always learning something. I just try to give my best.”

Rookie Georgios Papagiannis added eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes and Buddy Hield struggled for one of the few times in a Kings uniform, scoring just two points on 1-for-7 shooting.

It’s a process. With the playoff chatter over and done with, the Kings are bound to have a few more night’s like this in the final seven games of the season as they transition to a full youth movement.


How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

How Warriors became better team right before the return of Kevin Durant

When Kevin Durant returns, which could happen as soon as next week, the Warriors will be an appreciably better team than they were when he left.

Better because in Durant’s absence, veteran wing Andre Iguodala found the best of his game and fully regained his shooting confidence.

Better because David West, who spent the first two quarters of the season acclimating to his new teammates and the third on the injury list, has settled in and turned up his fire and production to a level that pleads for more playing time.

Better because Stephen Curry is dancing and Klay Thompson is cooking and Draymond Green is destroying opposing offenses.

Better because everybody on this team can sense the postseason and is making the mental adjustment, while knowing they’ll get an emotional bounce from Durant’s presence on the floor.

“Obviously, you hate to see KD go down; he’s going to be back soon,” Curry told reporters after a 110-98 win over the Spurs in San Antonio. “But we never really lost confidence in ourselves. There was no panic. We’ve just battled.”

Consider that the Warriors, who own the best record in the NBA, are coming off two nights during which they also proved to be the best team. Going into Houston and San Antonio on successive nights, they extended their seven-game win streak to nine, the longest active streak at a time when all playoff teams wish to peak.

By wiping out a 22-point deficit to a Spurs team that simply doesn’t allow that but did anyway even with Green completely off his offensive game.

And this was done with Durant observing and cheering from the bench in street clothes while also learning more about his teammates and appreciating what they’ve been able to accomplish.

Most notably, as a team, what they’ve done on defense. After recovering from the body blow that was losing Durant, losing five of seven in the process, the Warriors have pulled off a dazzling stretch during which they’ve taken apart all comers.

Prior to holding the Spurs to 41 percent from the field, the Warriors limited the explosive Rockets to 38.8 percent, the Grizzlies to 44.7 (34.8 in the decisive second half), the Kings to 48.2, the Mavericks to 35.9, the Thunder to 42.5, the Bucks to 40.4, the Magic to 37.2 and the 76ers to 43.8.

“We play a finesse style . . . but when we’re at our best, you talk about our defense,” Curry said. “It’s about having each other’s back, trying to do little things, physically, to keep teams out of the paint and off the glass.”

What has happened is most everybody in the playing rotation has grown in the absence of Durant. And while some had to if the Warriors were to withstand his loss, that they managed to do so is significant. The evidence is visible and palpable, never more than late Wednesday night.

“We have what it takes to win all sorts of ways,” Curry said. “Whether you’re down 15 and can’t figure out what’s going on in the first quarter, or you put together a beautiful performance for 48 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Night in and night out, you’ve just got to be ready to play."

At no point this season have the Warriors had reason to feel as good as they do returning home to Oracle Arena, where they will play six of their final seven games. Winning five more games gives them the No. 1 overall seed, regardless of what the Spurs do.

They’re on top of their game and they’re a few games away from adding the man who was their best player through the first 60 games.

By all appearances and insinuations, Durant will be back for the final two or three games of the regular season. That beats any trade-deadline deal eight days a week.