APRIL 15, 2009
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - Manny Pacquiao is favored to beat Ricky Hatton in their Las Vegas duel on May 2 but according to writer Phil Woolever of Boxing Digest, anything can happen because they’re big punchers with inherent weaknesses.

“Besides an all-action approach to their craft, Pacquiao and Hatton have each exhibited moments of vulnerability that add to the ‘anything can happen’ factor,” he said.

“(Aside from) star power on the marquee and long-time legions of faithful fans, Hatton and Pacquiao share a fighting style that’s based on the same fistic foundation of punch first, strategy later. That’s not to say that either man is lacking in the basic skills but both start from an instinctual philosophy of generating pressure that is almost always channelled into highly effective aggression.”

Pacquiao is guaranteed a $13 million purse for the fight and his final take could reach $20 million based on his 52 percent share of the pay-per-view upside. Tickets for the fight are priced at $150, $300, $500, $750 and $1,000.

Pacquiao is shooting for his sixth world title after capturing the WBC flyweight, IBF superbantamweight, Ring Magazine or people’s featherweight, WBC superfeatherweight and WBC lightweight crowns. Hatton is unbeaten in the 140-pound division where he appears to be most comfortable. For Pacquiao, it is his first venture as a lightwelterweight although he beat Oscar de la Hoya in his last outing as a welterweight.

Hatton’s ability to take Pacquiao’s power will be a crucial factor in determining the outcome of the bout. Experts insist that if Hatton can withstand Pacquiao’s power, it will be a long night for the Filipino. The betting, however, is Hatton will go down once he is hit squarely by Pacquiao.

What Hatton will bring to the table is a question mark. With trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. in his corner, the word is a “different” Hatton will face Pacquiao in the ring. Mayweather is trying to transform Hatton into a semi-stylist with a lot of bobbing, weaving and head-moving. The idea is to make it difficult for Pacquiao to strike because the “old” Hatton would be a sitting duck.

But basic instincts won’t go away easily. When Hatton is pressured and under attack, he’ll rely on what he’s used to. He’ll fire back, come forward and engage – which suits Pacquiao just fine.

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Jim Capers, who served 23 years as an NBA referee, is eager to lend his expertise to the PBA. He has conducted officiating clinics for PBA referees in 1979, 1981, 1983 and 1994 and even worked playoff games in 1981 and 1983 with another NBA whistle-blower Lee Jones. Now, 15 years after his last tour of duty in the PBA, Capers said it’s time for a revisit.

Capers, 73, has worked the last five years in the NBA as a group supervisor managing 15 referees. His focus was improving the efficiency of the officials under his wing and the work involved preparing development plans in conjunction with the personal goals of each referee in terms of enhancing performance to enable upward mobility, interpreting statistical information to facilitate performance assessment, conducting summer clinics for young officials and new applicants, submitting mid-year and year-end evaluation reports and participating in pre- and post-game meetings by travelling to game sites where officials in his group worked.

Capers said he reports to the gym at least thrice a week to stay in shape and can still handle the rigors of a grueling daily work grind. If the PBA invites him over for clinics, he hopes to bring his son Jim Jr., a 14-year NBA referee, to assist.

Capers’ wife Marlene passed away over 10 years ago. He has remarried and this October, will be celebrating his second wedding anniversary with Eileen, a Canadian. Capers has two children Jim Jr. and Steven (a district manager for a dental firm and a comedy show producer) and four grandchildren, Simone, Janae, Mariah and McKenzie.

Capers was saddened by news of former commissioner Leo Prieto’s death. He had hoped to call on Prieto in case he is able to work out a contract with the PBA. Capers said he had also looked forward to meeting former supervisor of officials Crispin Aldiosa who passed away two weeks ago.

“So sorry to hear about Leo and Crispin,” Capers wrote in an e-mail. “Over the years, I have often thought about them as they were instrumental in bringing me to the Philippines in the early days of the PBA. I remember going out with Leo on a number of occasions and with Crispin having great basketball discussions. Although I did not keep in contact on a constant basis, fond memories kept me in touch with them. I certainly feel a loss and I’m sure the PBA’s feelings are mutual. Please send my condolences to both families. And please say hello to ‘The Legend,’ Romy Guevara whom I’ve worked with and I respect a lot. I understand he is still very much involved with the PBA as a technical consultant. Hopefully, if things go right, I’ll be able to work with him again.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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