MANILA, JUNE 7, 2010
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Floyd Mayweather Jr. can retire if he wants to and Manny Pacquiao will just end up fighting whom he wants to.

Amid reports that the American superstar has “retired” a second time, Pacquiao watched as Miguel Cotto stopped Yuri Foreman yesterday to crown himself as the new WBA super-welterweight champion.

Bob Arum had said that if Cotto wins, and the fight with Mayweather doesn’t push through, then he might push for a second match between Pacquiao and the new super-welterweight champion from Puerto Rico.

That’s Plan B, as far as Arum is concerned, even if the Top Rank president reportedly isn’t buying Mayweather’s retirement episode, which came out of The Examiner the other day, hook, line and sinker.

Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s chief adviser, talked to www.insidesports.ph yesterday about the possibility of a rematch between Pacquiao and Cotto, who was stopped inside 12 rounds by the Pinoy icon last November.

Koncz talked about a “minor discussion” within Team Pacquiao just as they left the Yankee Stadium after the Cotto victory. The Canadian adviser to the world’s greatest fighter said they’re going “to see what happens.”

A rematch with Cotto should give Pacquiao a crack at the “Eighth Wonder,” an eighth world title in eight different weight classes. So far, he’s the only fighter in history to have seven world titles in differnt weight classes.

Still, it’s the fight with Mayweather which everybody’s been hoping to see in November.

For one, facing Cotto at 154 lb may put Pacquiao at a disadvantage.

While Pacquiao had faced Oscar dela Hoya, Cotto and Joshua Clottey at 147 lb, he’d never weighed in heavier than 142 because his handlers feel that’s as far as he can go, and climb the ring at around 149.

Cotto must have climbed the ring way over 160 pounds against Foreman.

“Mabigat na masyado ang laban sa 154 (A fight at 154 would be too heavy),” a Team Pacquiao insider said was how Pacquiao had reacted.

Mayweather said in a videotape that he wants another “year or a couple of years off boxing” and if he does then it should dash all hopes that the superfight between him and Pacquiao would ever happen.

Aside from Cotto, also lining up for a shot at Pacquiao are former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Give me a break, Floyd/Goodbye, coach Wooden THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) Updated June 07, 2010 12:00 AM

The cat’s out of the bag. Floyd Mayweather is afraid of Manny Pacquiao.

With no more excuses to bring up, Money is taking a year off from boxing, and not facing questions about the supposedly biggest payday in the history of the sport. Mayweather, who has been stringing up alibis for not fighting Pacquiao for more than a year, has finally run out of cards to play. He has no more reasons not to.

Let’s look back at the Mayweather laundry list. First, Manny wasn’t worth it. Floyd said he was “sitting on $300 million” and didn’t need to come out of retirement to fight anymore. But this boast also shed light on his troubles with the IRS among others, and he had to step back into the ring to make some money. It wasn’t that he wanted to; he just had to.

Then it was the issue of the money. Floyd demanded the bigger share of the purse, even though he was technically retired. But his ego was demanded the respect and attention that he no longer commanded. True, he was undefeated, there was a demand for him to fight again, and there are simply no appealing fighters in higher weight classes. But still, he voluntarily stepped out of the klieg lights’ glare, and the lack of attention was what ate him up. Pacquiao has what he had, and he simply wants it back, even though he no longer deserves it.

There was also the minor issue of the weight. Would it be his weight, or a catchweight? Everything was an issue. Later, he and his estranged father cooked up the idea of taking a drug test with Pacquiao, even though it is not really a strict requirement in some cases because professional boxing is entertainment. Then he started insulting Pacquiao, trying to goad him into a fight on his terms.

Pacquiao eventually relented, although there is still some disagreement on the date of implementation relative to the actual fight. Now, with his back against the wall, Mayweather has chickened out. He probably thinks he has more to lose, and nothing really to gain. It is really difficult to make the transition from “greatest fighter of his time” to “greatest of all time”. Floyd is stuck in the purgatory in between, and falling back into the former.

On the side of Pacquiao, he has gambled by constantly moving up in weight. He is no longer fighting small Mexicans, but has had to face a generation of boxers of African extraction. In his last two fights against Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey, Pacman has shown signs of wear and tear, even when he outpunched Clottey more than 3 to 1. That was a risk Pacquiao was willing to take. That is why his mother’s fears are increasing in volume. But that is also why he is now considered the best of all time. He has taken on the bigger boys.

But Mayweather will not cooperate. This is what will happen: Floyd will disappear for a while, and Pacquiao will fight again. After a few months, when the phone stops ringing and the silence is overwhelming, Mayweather will feel the overpowering addiction to his own voice kick in, and will throw down the gauntlet. But next time, he will have even less leverage to demand his own terms. He has contributed to the tarnishing of his own career. Fans are asking what he has done for them lately aside from face safe opponents, pad his resume, and posture.

And his constant supply of hot air won’t satisfy them.

* * *

“Make each day our masterpiece.” - Joshua Wooden (father of John Wooden)

The light of the basketball world is that much dimmer with the passing of UCLA coaching legend John Wooden. Wooden was an uncompromising teacher who preached the value of team above all, carrying one’s self with dignity, and maintaining timeless values despite the erosion of modern influences.

There was once a story of how Bill Walton, then already a celebrated college center, showed up for practice after the summer sporting his eventual trademark long hair and beard. Coach Wooden reminded him of the team rules against facial hair and long hair. He countered that he had the right to grow his hair. The Wizard of Westwood simply smiled, looked up at him, and gently replied “You’re absolutely right, Bill. We will miss you,” then turned around and walked away. Walton supposedly ran to the locker room for a haircut and shave.

Of course, the numbers will always speak for themselves: an unbreakable 88-game win streak, four undefeated seasons and 10 NCAA titles between 1964 to 1975. He was even a three-time All-American as a player. His players speak with a combination of fondness and reverence, for while coach Wooden was strict, he was also accepting and understanding, taking the high ground, but bringing them up with him, as well. His full-court press with a small line-up gave him an unbeaten 30-0 record and a national title in his first season with the Bruins.

His graduates included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Swen Nater, Marques Johnson, Walt Hazzard, Gail Goodrich, Keith Erickson and many others.

He had many quirks, but you couldn’t question his success. He forbade long hair, drinking and cursing, dunking and showing off. ESPN even published features about how he taught his players to wear their socks and lace up their sneakers as a precaution against blisters. He still wrote love letters to his wife, Nell, decades after she had passed away.

They simply don’t make men like that anymore.

“Every time I ever had the opportunity to talk to coach or hear him speak, I always felt like I went away a better person,” Holland said.

“I always felt inspired. You felt good about yourself and about the world. You felt like you could sort of do anything after you spent time with him. He was that inspirational.”

Wooden is survived by his son James Hugh Wooden, daughter Nancy Anne Muehlhausen, seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Also in mourning today are numerous former UCLA players who considered him family.

From Bill Walton, to Swen Nater, to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, many ex-Bruins regularly kept in touch with Wooden throughout the final years of his life, reliving old memories over the phone or over a cup of coffee and a plate of bacon and eggs. They’re saddened at the thought of losing him, yet uplifted by the notion that he didn’t fear death and often expressed hope it would reunited him with his late wife Nell, who died of cancer on March 21, 1985.

Health permitting, Wooden has paid homage to Nell on the 21st of every month, visiting her grave and then writing a love letter to her, placing it in an envelope and adding it to a stack of similar letters on the pillow where she once slept. Everything in Wooden’s condo – the photos on the wall, the pillows on the bed and even some of the clutter in the living room – is exactly how Nell left it a quarter-century ago.

“This is a tough time for everybody who loves coach Wooden, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that for him, in his spiritual belief, death means he’s reunited with his beloved Nell,” Johnson said. “I’m sure he’d take a considerable amount of solace in that.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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