(STAR) THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco - Did Oscar De La Hoya have a grand plan to generate the next biggest pay-off in boxing history? Was that plan scuttled until WBC lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao inadvertently played into De La Hoya’s hands?

The general belief is that Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao goaded Golden Boy to take the bait and go for what could be the richest fight in boxing history. But, as it turns out, the characters may have changed, but the plot has essentially remained the same.

The alleged scenario begins with the WBC light middleweight fight between De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. on May 5 of last year. In the card billed “The World Awaits”, Mayweather agreed to a $10 million purse, and remained undefeated, receiving additional revenue along the way. De La Hoya, for his part, pocketed about $23 million, but the pay-per-view revenue boosted that to supposedly more than double the amount, a fact that did not sit too well with Pretty Boy.

According to some boxing analysts, De La Hoya and Mayweather had discussed a rematch before the fight. But Mayweather, who won at 154 pounds, was allegedly unhappy with the revenue turnout from their first meeting, and wanted De La Hoya to come down to his natural weight of 147 pounds. And, according to unconfirmed reports, wanted $50 million.

“There were already indications that the fighters were heading in that direction,” says boxing analyst Atty. Ed Tolentino. “First of all, if you look at the weights the two fighters were fighting at, they seemed likely to converge at 147. De La Hoya has said his best weight is 147. Secondly, turnabout is fair play. Mayweather moved up, and he won. So now, Golden Boy has to follow Pretty Boy down to 147.”

If you study De La Hoya’s last five fights, it would seem that Tolentino’s suggestion looks valid. De La Hoya fought Felix Sturm at 160 pounds, Bernard Hopkins at 156, Ricardo Mayorga at 154, Mayweather at 154, and Steve Forbes at 150. So De La Hoya seems on track to hit 147, the welterweight limit.

From 1997 to 2001, the world champion of six different weight divisions fought 12 times, before moving up and fighting less frequently. It stands to reason that, with just a little more effort, he could make 147.

There was only one problem. Mayweather wanted too much money.

One alternate scenario had De La Hoya possibly trying to coax Kostya Tszyu, the former WBC, WBA and IBF light welterweight champion, out of retirement. The “Thunder from Down Under” had a 31-win, 1-loss card until losing the IBF light welterweight title to Ricky Hatton in June of 2005. Tszyu is a name fighter who could draw a crowd and provide De La Hoya a good workout at the weight he is comfortable with. This would have been a good workout for De La Hoya. But it wouldn’t have the same impact.

Another possible set-up would have Golden Boy fighting Miguelo Angel Cotto, the IBF welter champ. It would have been ideal, since Cotto is shorter at 5’7” to De La Hoya’s 5’10”, and would have been an exciting opponent. Then Cotto was knocked out by Antonio Margarito, who’s 5’11”, taller and longer than even De La Hoya.

Enter HBO’s Larry Merchant, Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao. Merchant suggested the fight months ago, and WBC president Jose Sulaiman said it was ridiculous. Then Roach and Pacquiao said Oscar was an old man and “couldn’t pull the trigger” anymore. De La Hoya, seemingly outraged, was said to have given instructions to make the fight happen. His megabuck payday will take place, after all. In fact, it may even generate another record-setting payday, if De La Hoya manages to beat Pacquiao, and Mayweather gets bored and gives him the rematch.

So now, it appears Golden Boy is smarter than people give him credit for being.

And there is only one thing standing in the way of the next De La Hoya-Mayweather blockbuster: a man named Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao-Mayweather next? The characters may change, but the plot remains the same.

Cheers! By Joey Villar Monday, September 8, 2008

The University of the Philippines Pep Squad bucked the pressure and went ethnic and more to run away with its second straight UAAP Samsung Cheer Dance Competition crown before a record crowd at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Maroons did everything, from mixing tribal songs and dances with difficult stunts and acrobatics, to having their locks cut – Mohawk and ethnic style – before capping their sterling performance with a human replica of the university’s Oblation to retain the crown they won last season.

UP won it handily with a score of 93.3 points, way ahead of the Santo Tomas Salinggawi Dance Troupe, which also finished runner-up for the second straight time with 85.3 points. Far Eastern U Cheering Squad took third place honors with 83.9 points.

“We’ve been having problems because the mounting pressure of being the defending champion and the Centennial host and it caused some problems along the way,” said UP co-captain Angelica Sison, a communications research senior in the din of the celebration before a record 23,443 paying patrons.

“But we found ourselves believing in each other. We basically re-focused our purpose in this competition. Ultimately, we enjoyed every step, every dance, every stunt. It’s fun, fun, fun.”

The team, composed of a total of 80 competing and non-competing members took home the top purse worth P195,000 plus Samsung MP3s to 25 members.

UST and FEU received P120,000 and P80,000, respectively.

Among the stunts performed by UP were three pyramids, some straddle tosses, one-man pop-off catch flip transfer for twisting dismount, pull downs, a four-man full twisting transfer, tumbling passes and a tick-tock stunt.

UP iced the victory with sweeping effect using a huge green and maroon-colored cloth that when it was removed, two letters – U and P – and the human oblation emerged.

“The oblation idea was the brilliance of a last-minute thinking. Coach Lalaine Perena thought of it,” said Sison.

“We even hired a choreographer in RM Garcia who worked in Disney in Hong Kong, He came home to put this thing together for us,” said Sison. “We also had to cut our hair for the team because this was the idea of coach Lala.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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