MMA rankings: Ronda Rousey’s inclusion in pound-for-pound list sparks debate

by Kevin Iole

One of the conundrums facing anyone who tries to put together a pound-for-pound ranking of fighters is how to fairly evaluate those who would, in real life, never have a chance of meeting in a cage.

Newly crowned UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is 5 feet 3 inches and weighs 125 pounds, yet he’s being considered in the same category alongside heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem. Overeem, who is serving a suspension imposed by the Nevada Athletic Commission for failing a random drug test, is 6-5, 265 pounds.

Alistair Overeem is currently serving a one-year suspension after failing a random drug test. (AP)

How does one judge the relative merits of Overeem versus Johnson when their physical dimensions are so vastly different and it is impossible for them ever to meet?

That problem, though, is nothing compared to the decision whether to include women in one global pound-for-pound list.

When Yahoo! Sports began doing a pound-for-pound ranking in 2007, it was not expressly listed as a men’s poll, but it was assumed to be as much. Women’s mixed martial arts was hardly a blip on the radar in those days and few outside of the hardest of the hardcore fans paid it much attention.

More and more women, though, are opting to fight and the quality of the female athletes in the sport has never been better. That is only going to increase as women are given more opportunities.

Though UFC president Dana White still is concerned that there isn’t enough depth to create a women’s division in his company, anyone who has seen women fighting on cards such as Strikeforce and Invicta knows they’re both talented athletes and entertaining fighters.

And so came the inevitable issue: Should a woman be eligible to be included in the monthly Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound rankings? MMA reporter Dave Deibert of Post Media in Canada pushed the issue to the forefront when he included Strikeforce bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey ninth on his Top 10 list.

The rankings are the result of the vote of 20 or so MMA journalists, who are asked to vote for who they feel are the 10 best fighters in the world. The only restrictions they’re given are that they can’t vote for a fighter who hasn’t competed in a year, nor can they vote for someone who is on suspension. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre isn’t ranked and bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will be ineligible next month, because of inactivity. Overeem and UFC welterweight Nick Diaz are both on suspension so are ineligible.

Upon receiving Deibert’s vote for Rousey, I emailed the panel and asked their views on including Rousey, or any other woman, in what heretofore has been an exclusively male Top 10. The issue is beyond whether or not Rousey deserves to be in the Top 10, but rather whether she should even be eligible for it.

 

The simple solution would be to create a separate women’s poll, as is done in college basketball. The problem that would arise is that the majority of voters don’t see enough female fights to make a valid assessment of their relative abilities. The women who fight regularly on television – largely Rousey, Miesha Tate and Sarah Kaufman – would have a massive advantage over the rest of the field.

Hopefully, that time will come when the women’s version of the sport is as ubiquitous as the men’s, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

Of those who responded to my query, a strong majority were for Rousey’s inclusion.

Ronda Rousey’s latest win over Sarah Kaufman came via first-minute submission. (Courtesy Tracy Lee)

Deibert wrote of his vote, “My thought process: It’s a pound-for-pound ranking. It’s not as if Demetrious Johnson is going to take on Junior dos Santos, any more than Ronda will face Jon Jones. The rankings are simply to evaluate the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. Rousey is in the sport, so I don’t see any reason why she shouldn’t be eligible. My two cents.”

Those who were against, though, made strong points. One voter wrote, “I say no on Rousey. If the poll was to rate the sport’s best champions, yes. Pound-for-pound gender, yes. But the reality is that a 135-pound Rousey has zero chance in an MMA bout with Brad Pickett or Yves Jabouin. Not fair to men, or women, to have her ranked.”

Ultimately, though, we chose to allow Rousey, and any woman, to be included. We want to give the voters as much freedom as possible to pick who they choose. If Deibert, or someone else, believes Rousey is one of the 10 best fighters in the world, then he deserves to be able to vote for her and Rousey deserves the recognition.

We’ll consider the start of a strictly women’s poll in the near future, but for now, we’re going to leave this poll open to all fighters regardless of gender.

With that, here are the Yahoo! Sports rankings for September:

 

 

Silva

 

1. Anderson Silva Points: 219 (21 of 22 first-place votes) Affiliation: UFC (middleweight champion) Weight class: Middleweight Record: 30-4 Last outing: TKO2 Chael Sonnen, July 7 Previous ranking: 1 Up next:Light heavyweight match vs. Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153, Oct. 13

 

 

 

 

Jones

 

2. Jon Jones Points: 199 (1 of 22 first-place votes) Affiliation: UFC (light heavyweight champion) Weight class: Light heavyweight Record: 17-1 Last outing: SUB4 Vitor Belfort, Sept. 22 Previous ranking: 2 Up next:TBA

 

 

 

 

Aldo

 

3. Jose Aldo Points: 173 Affiliation: UFC (featherweight champion) Weight class: Featherweight Record: 21-1 Last outing: TKO1 Chad Mendes, Jan. 14 Previous ranking: 3 Up next: Injured, title defense vs. No. 7 Frankie Edgar, date TBA

 

 

Cruz

 

4. Dominick Cruz Points: 143 Affiliation: UFC (bantamweight champion) Weight class: Bantamweight Record: 19-1 Last outing: W5 Demetrious Johnson, Oct. 1 Previous ranking: 5 Up next:Injured, TBA

 

 

 

dos Santos

 

5. Junior dos Santos Points:125 Affiliation: UFC (heavyweight champion) Weight class: Heavyweight Record: 15-1 Last outing: TKO2 Frank Mir, May 26 Previous ranking: 5 Up next: Title defense vs. Cain Velasquez, UFC 155, Dec. 29

 

 

Henderson

 

6. Benson Henderson Points: 105 Affiliation: UFC (lightweight champion) Weight class: lightweight Record: 16-2 Last outing: W5 Frankie Edgar, Aug. 11 Previous ranking: 6 Up next: Title defense vs. Nate Diaz, date TBA

 

 

Edgar

 

 

7. Frankie Edgar Points:57 Affiliation: UFC Weight class: Lightweight Record: 14-4-1 Last outing: L5 Benson Henderson, Aug. 11 Previous ranking: 7 Up next:Featherweight title fight v. No. 3 Jose Aldo, date TBA

 

 

 

Melendez

 

8. Gilbert Melendez Points:46 Affiliation: Strikeforce (lightweight champion) Weight class: Lightweight Record: 21-2 Last outing: W5 Josh Thomson, May 19 Previous ranking: 8 Up next:Injured, TBA

 

 

 

Henderson

 

9. Dan Henderson Points: 39 Affiliation: UFC Weight class: Light heavyweight Record: 29-8 Last outing: W5 Mauricio Rua, Nov. 19 Previous ranking: 9 Up next: Injured, TBA

 

 

Condit

 

10. Carlos Condit Points: 38 Affiliation: UFC (interim welterweight champion) Weight class: Welterweight Record: 28-5 Last outing: W5 Nick Diaz, Feb. 4 Previous ranking: 10 Up next: Title fight on Nov. 17 vs. welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, UFC 154

Others receiving votes: Demetrious Johnson, 37; Rashad Evans, 10; Cain Velasquez, 7; Joseph Benavidez, 4; Gray Maynard, 4; Ronda Rousey, 2; Renan Barao, 1; Michael Bisping, 1.

 

Ineligible: Nick Diaz (serving drug suspension); Alistair Overeem (serving PED suspension); Georges St. Pierre (inactive more than 12 months).Voting panel:Denny Burkholder, CBSSports.com; Elias Cepeda, Cage Potato; Mike Chiappetta, MMA Fighting and Fight! Magazine; Steve Cofield, ESPN Radio 1100, Las Vegas; Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press; Dave Deibert, Post Media; Dave Doyle, MMA Fighting/SI.com; Matt Erickson, MMA Junkie/USA Today; Josh Gross, ESPN.com; Ariel Helwani, MMA Fighting; Rafael Hernandez Brito, Univision; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Damon Martin, MMA Weekly; Todd Martin, freelance; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Dave Meltzer, The Wrestling Observer/MMA Fighting; John Morgan, MMA Junkie/USA Today; Brett Okamoto, ESPN.com; Ken Pishna, MMA Weekly; Mike Straka, Spike TV and Sirius/XM; Dann Stupp, MMA Junkie/USA Today; Jeff Wagenheim, SI.com.

Fox could help UFC develop fighters

by Kevin Iole

Movies sell more tickets if a big name like Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise is headlining. Golf tournaments attract bigger galleries when Tiger Woods plays.

A former Golden Gloves boxer, Stipe Miocic gets a chance to headline an MMA card. (AP)And it’s no different in the UFC. The biggest fights are the ones involving its biggest stars, like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre.

Fighters, though, typically have far shorter shelf lives as top attractions than actors do. And that makes it incumbent upon the promoter to find ways to develop new stars.

For years, that vehicle for the UFC was its reality series, “The Ultimate Fighter.” The show developed fighters like Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin and others, who went on to become some of the company’s biggest attractions.

But with the company’s dramatic growth and worldwide expansion, TUF by itself can’t produce the drawing cards the UFC needs.

And that’s where its deal with Fox comes in. It’s a perfect vehicle for the UFC to use to give its fighters exposure and get them used to headlining a show.

There has been a lot of debate about the UFC’s TV ratings on Fox, FX and Fuel. UFC president Dana White is extraordinarily defensive about it, and went on a lengthy tirade about a Toronto newspaper columnist for saying the ratings were tepid.

Put aside for a moment, though, the issue of ratings, because as Mark Twain once said, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. White will look at the same set of ratings as a UFC critic and each will massage them differently. White inevitably comes to the conclusion that the ratings are outstanding and delivering as expected. The critics look at them and see them as abject failures. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

The ratings debate is an argument for another day. What is not a debate, though, is the kind of impact that fighting on FX and Fuel can have on the fighters.

On Saturday, Fuel will broadcast a UFC show from Nottingham, England, in which Stipe Miocic takes on Stefan Struve in a heavyweight fight.

It doesn’t have the buzz that, say, UFC 154 has with St-Pierre returning from injury to defend his title on Nov. 17 against interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit.

But it’s a main event and provides kind of a dry run as a headliner for two guys the UFC believes might one day become stars.

“Being the main event of a small card is great,” UFC light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar said. “I’ve done both, the big ones and the small ones. Whatever it is, when you’re the main event, your face is on the billboards, you’re doing the interviews, and you’re just the guy. Whether it’s 5,000 at the Palms or 20,000 at the MGM, it’s not that much of a difference; you’re still headlining.

“It’s a great experience to go through. This show [on Fuel Saturday] is not on pay-per-view, but they’re still fighting in front of millions of people.”

One of the misnomers of pay-per-view is that because the biggest fights go to PPV, the audience is greatest. There is, though, a wider audience on television.

Fuel is only in 36 million homes, a fraction of what Fox and FX bring. Both of those are in more than 100 million homes.

But by comparison to HBO (29 million subscribers) and Showtime (21 million), Fuel offers a bigger audience. And while the UFC is using Fox to help grow its audience, Fuel is using the UFC to hopefully increase its own.

Fuel can be a farm system of sorts for the UFC. While guys like Struve and Miocic have been around for awhile, they still don’t have the widespread name recognition beyond the hard-core fans.

Fighting on Fuel and FX can help solve that issue. If the deals help the UFC create a star, it would be a huge bonus.

“I’m obviously a boxing fan and Dana and I both used to watch those ‘Tuesday Night Fights’ on USA Network,” UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said. “It was very cool to watch, because they put on guys who would become some of the sport’s biggest stars [such as Roy Jones, James Toney, Lennox Lewis and others].

“We’re putting a great product on Fuel. These are top-level fighters. We look back now and talk about the [boxers] we saw on ‘Tuesday Night Fights’ and I think there are a lot of similarities in that regard with Fuel. We’re going to see a lot of guys come out of these fights who go on to do great things in this sport.”

Struve is hoping to vault himself into title contention with a win. He’s had his share of ups and downs in the UFC, having been thrashed by Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Travis Browne. He’s also won eight bouts in the UFC and seems to have been progressing well.

A win over Miocic, a one-time Golden Gloves boxer, would probably be his most significant UFC win.

As a main event, it’s set for five rounds, but Struve doesn’t think there’s a chance it goes five. He wants to put on a show.

“Five-round fight? It’s not a five-round fight,” Struve said. “This isn’t going five. It is a one- or two-round fight, depending on when I finish him. I am not worried about going five rounds if it happens, because I hit pads for an hour at a time and every Thursday at my gym, it is pretty much fight night. We do 15 five-minute rounds. I’ve changed nothing in my training. If it goes longer, OK, but I think this is a quick fight.

“A win here puts me in the top five in the world. There’s a lot of hype on this guy and he’s also coming off a big win. I’m only 24, but this is my 12th fight in the UFC. I am going to do my business. I’ve been in the UFC for five years and I am really putting it together now as a mixed martial artist. I think this fight is a great showcase of what I can now do as a fighter.”

In that last regard, he’s 100 percent correct. The UFC needs someone to take the place of guys like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz and Brock Lesnar, who recently retired, and those like Silva, who probably won’t be around much longer.

A platform like Fuel allows men like Struve and Miocic to get a feel for what it is like to headline a show while selling themselves to the public.

Regardless of the ratings, not much could be better than that for an aspiring fighter.

Boxing rankings: Andre Ward moves into No. 2

by Kevin Iole

Andre Ward had been regarded for several years by many boxing insiders as the sport’s most underrated fighter.

He’s underrated no more, however. Ward’s 10th-round stoppage of Chad Dawson, which followed a comprehensive performance, vaulted him past Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez in the Yahoo! Sports rankings and into second place, behind only Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Martinez also had a brilliant performance in a significant win, scoring a near-whitewash of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. before more than 19,000 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Perhaps it was because he was nearly stopped in the final round, but Martinez dropped from No. 3 in the ratings to No. 4 in polling done after the bout.

It’s hard to argue, though, with Ward’s ascension. Ward beat a better quality opponent more convincingly than Martinez. He also showed finishing power that he hadn’t previously displayed.

And Ward’s move up the rankings might not be done. Mayweather is also unbeaten, but he’s near the end of his career, while Ward is just reaching the peak of his powers. Some believe Ward has already passed Mayweather, but it now seems likely that at the very least, Ward will be the successor to that throne as the world’s top boxer.

Had Martinez done to Chavez in the 12th round what he did in the first 11, he might have been able to hold off Ward. But given that Chavez came within seconds of stopping Martinez, voters opted to go with Ward.

Ward finished higher than Martinez on 25 of the 35 ballots cast.

Before unveiling the updated Top 10, please note that September is the final month of eligibility for Yuriorkis Gamboa. Gamboa, who came in 12th, has not fought since Sept. 10, 2011. Fighters who have not competed in a year are ineligible. Thus, Gamboa will not be eligible in the October poll and until he once again fights.

With that, here is the latest Yahoo! Sports boxing top 10 rankings:

 

 

 

Mayweather

 

 

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. Points: 337 (25 of 35 first-place votes) Record: 43-0 (26 KOs) Title: WBA super welterweight champion Last outing: W12 over Miguel Cotto on May 5 Previous ranking: 1 Up next: Nothing scheduled Analysis:Still has yet to indicate plans for resumption of career

 

 

 

 

Ward

 

 

 

2. Andre Ward Points: 282 (4 of 35 first-place votes) Record: 26-0 (14 KOs) Title: WBA, WBC super middleweight champion Last outing: TKO 10 Chad Dawson on Sept. 8 Previous ranking: 4 Up next: TBA Analysis:Showed never before seen power against Dawson

 

 

Pacquiao3. Manny Pacquiao Points: 279 (6 of 35 first-place votes) Record: 54-4-2 (38 KOs) Title: None Last outing: L12 to No. 8 Timothy Bradley Previous ranking: 2 Up next: Dec. 8 vs. No. 5 Juan Manuel Marquez Analysis:Vows he will knock out Marquez, which he desperately needs

 

 

Martinez4. Sergio Martinez Points: 256 Record: 50-2-2 (28 KOs) Title: WBC middleweight champion Last outing: W12 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on Sept. 15 Previous ranking: 3 Up next: TBA Analysis: Will be off while knee, hand injuries heal

 

 

 

Marquez5. Juan Manuel Marquez Points: 177 Record: 54-6-1 (39 KOs) Title: Interim WBO super lightweight champion Last outing: W12 Sergey Fedchenko on April 14 Previous ranking: 5 Up next: Dec. 8 vs. No. 3 Manny Pacquiao Analysis:A convincing win over Pacquiao is his aim

 

 

 

 

Donaire

 

 

6. Nonito Donaire Jr. Points: 166 Record: 29-1 (18 KOs) Title: IBF, WBO super bantamweight champion Last outing: W12 over Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7 Previous ranking: 6 Up next: Oct. 13 vs. Toshiaki Nishioka Analysis:Among the sport’s most complete fighters

 

 

 

W. Klitschko

 

 

7. Wladimir Klitschko Points: 123 Record: 58-3 (51 KOs) Title:IBF, WBA, WBO heavyweight champion Last outing: TKO6 over Tony Thompson on July 7 Previous ranking: 7 Up next: Nov. 10 vs. Mariusz Wach Analysis:No one on the horizon is remotely close to him

 

 

 

 

Bradley

 

 

8. Timothy Bradley Points: 102 Record: 29-0 (12 KOs) Title: WBO welterweight champion Last outing: W12 over No. 3 Manny Pacquiao on June 9 Previous ranking: 8 Up next: TBA Analysis: Talking about December fight with Lamont Peterson

 

 

 

 

V. Klitschko

 

 

9. Vitali Klitschko Points: 76 Record: 45-2 (41 KOs) Title: WBC heavyweight champion Last outing: TKO 4 over Manuel Charr on Sept. 8 Previous ranking: 9 Up next: TBA Analysis:Still dominant at age 41

 

 

 

 

Froch

 

 

10. Carl Froch Points: 37 Record: 29-2 (21 Kos) Title: IBF super middleweight champion Last outing: TKO5 Lucian Bute on May 26 Previous ranking: 10 Up next: Title defense vs. Yusef Mack on Nov. 17 Analysis:Continues to fight, and beat, highly ranked opponents

 

Others receiving votes: Miguel Cotto, 30; Yuriorkis Gamboa, 16; Canelo Alvarez, 10; Chris John, 8; Anselmo Moreno, 6; Chad Dawson, 4; Roman Gonzalez, 4; Guillermo Rigondeaux, 4; Adrian Broner, 3; Gennady Golovkin, 1.

 

Voting panel: Raul Alzaga, Primera Hoya; Al Bernstein, Showtime; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Damian Calhoun, Orange County Register; Brian Campbell, ESPN.com; Scott Christ, Bad Left Hook.com; Steve Cofield, ESPN Radio 1100; Mike Coppinger, RingTV.com; Jake Donovan, BoxingScene.com; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Steve Farhood, Showtime; Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com; Nick Giongco, Manila Bulletin; Randy Gordon, Sirius/XM; Lee Groves, Ring Magazine; Rafael Hernandez Brito, Univision; Keith Idec, The Record; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Max Kellerman, HBO; Scott Mallon, Boxing Digest; Rich Marotta, Fox Sports; David Mayo, MLive.com; Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Cliff Rold, BoxingScene.com; Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com; Tim Starks, The Queensbury Rules; Don Steinberg, Philadelphia Inquirer/Wall Street Journal; T.K. Stewart, RingTV.com; Bob Velin, USA Today; Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City.

Pacquiao, Mayweather reach out-of-court settlement

by Lem Satterfield

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The attorneys for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have reached an out-of-court settlement resolving Pacquiao’s defamation lawsuit in Las Vegas, according to a report by The Associated Press.

Originally filed in December of 2009 seeking compensatory and punitive damages, the suit names, in part, Mayweather, his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., and the fighter’s uncle, Roger Mayweather, and alleges that Mayweather continued to imply publicly that Pacquiao’s success over eight weight classes is the result of having used performance-enhancing drugs.

Earlier this week, Mayweather was ordered to pay $114,000 for failing to appear in the Pacquiao case.

Negotiations between Mayweather and Pacquiao have also failed over the notion of drug testing, which has been contractually mandated by Mayweather for his past three victories over Victor Ortiz, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto.

But will the settlement pave the way for the highly-coveted Mayweather-Pacquiao clash?

Pacquiao’s advisor, Michael Koncz, responded after several attempts by RingTV.com.

“I can confirm that the defamation case against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and parties has been settled. Manny is happy to put this matter behind us and to move forward,” said Koncz.

“However, I am not obliged to make any further comments as there is a strict, confidentiality agreement with the court. Therefore, any further questions in this matter need to be directed to our lawyers, David Marroso and Dan Petrocelli.”

Neither of Pacquiao lawyers, Marroso nor Petrocelli, of the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers law firm, could be reached for an immediate comment.

Athough he was not directly involved in the case, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, called the settlement “totally irrelevant to any boxing issue.”

Malcolm LaVergne, a lawyer representing Floyd Mayweather Sr., told The Associated Press that various parties to the case have signed documents to be filed under seal asking U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks to dismiss the case, while others involved were preparing a public statement.

“The matter has been resolved,” said LaVergne, who declined to disclose the terms of the deal. “Any alleged terms of the resolution would be strictly confidential. Floyd Mayweather Sr. is very happy that this lengthy case has finally come to a conclusion.”

Pacquiao is set to face four-division title-winner Juan Manuel Marquez a fourth time on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas, having won a disputed majority decision in November. Pacquiao has also battled to a draw and won by split-decision over Marquez.

pac-bradley weigh in_1

Pacquiao has chosen to face Marquez over a return bout with Tim Bradley, whose controversial split decision in June dethroned Pacquiao as the WBO’s welterweight titleholder and ended his 15-bout winning streak that included eight stoppages.

On Thursday, Pacquiao said he is willing to take the lower half of a 45-55 split to make a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. should he get beyond Marquez.

What happens next, however, is unclear.

“They’ve arrived at a settlement, apparently, and that’s good. It’s better than to have both parties keep running up legal fees,” said Arum.

“I think that they were each represented by very [good] attorneys, and they realized what the situation was, and what the exposure was, and they settled the case. It happens all the time. It’s totally irrelevant to any boxing issue.”

Mayweather, Pacquiao settling defamation case

by Ken Ritter

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are settling a federal defamation case in Las Vegas, clearing a key hurdle to a long-awaited bout between two top fighters who’ve traded verbal jabs for years but have never met in the ring.

Terms of the pretrial agreement cited in documents filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas are confidential, said Malcolm LaVergne, a lawyer representing Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s father in the case.

LaVergne said documents filed under seal ask U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks to dismiss the lawsuit, and that others involved in the case were preparing a public statement. Documents filed publicly said each side would bear its own attorney fees and costs.

”The matter has been resolved,” LaVergne said. ”Any alleged terms of the resolution would be strictly confidential. Floyd Mayweather Sr. is very happy that this lengthy case has finally come to a conclusion.”

Attorneys for the two fighters and Mayweather’s promoter, Leonard Ellerbe, did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press.

The direction of the case took a turn against Floyd Mayweather Jr. last week, when the judge issued a ruling ordering him to pay about $114,000 in legal fees and costs for avoiding questioning under oath from Pacquiao’s lawyers.

Hicks faulted Mayweather for failure to comply with a court order. But he earlier rejected a bid by Pacquiao lawyers Daniel Petrocelli and David Marroso to end the lawsuit with a more severe sanction – a default judgment for Pacquiao.

LaVergne said Tuesday he had no information about whether the court settlement means Mayweather and Pacquiao will meet in the ring.

Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., declined comment. His spokesman, Lee Samuels, said the company was not involved in the defamation case.

Nevada State Athletic Commission chief Keith Kizer said he wasn’t aware of any talks between the two camps about scheduling a fight. But Kizer said such a fight could set records for the highest purse, gate and number of cable television paid viewers.

A Mayweather-Pacquiao fight might eclipse the Mayweather super welterweight fight against Oscar De La Hoya that drew 17,078 fans to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in May 2007, Kizer said. Paid attendance was $18.4 million.

”Based on my dealings with the boxing public and boxing insiders, the proposed Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has as much interest as any fight I can remember in the last 20 years,” Kizer said. ”I think this would be our first gate over $20 million.”

Pacquiao, 33, a member of Congress in the Philippines, filed the lawsuit in December 2009 in Las Vegas. He sought unspecified damages based on allegations that Mayweather defamed him by suggesting he used performance-enhancing substances. Pacquiao denied Mayweather’s claim.

Pacquiao is 54-4 with two draws in 60 fights. He is due to fight Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand Garden.

Mayweather, 35, who goes by the nickname ”Money,” was serving two months of a three-month sentence in a Las Vegas jail on a domestic battery conviction when he was named by Forbes magazine this summer as the highest-paid athlete in the world for 2011.

He is undefeated in 43 fights and was guaranteed $32 million for the May 5 bout during which he defeated Miguel Cotto.

Worst Call in NFL History

Normally we don’t get involved in other sports, but we couldn’t pass this one up.

By Michael Silver

SEATTLE – Several hours after the completion of one of the more memorable games in Monday Night Football history, Marshawn Lynchwas sitting in a private room in the back of the Metropolitan Grill, celebrating a thrilling, last-second victory with friends and family members over big steaks and fat lobsters.

Then, with the flick of a remote control, Big Brother appeared and left a rancid taste in the Seattle Seahawks halfback’s mouth.

Packers Tramon Williams (38), Charles Woodson (21) and safety M.D. Jennings (43) fight for possession. (AP)A waitress pointed the remote at the large mirror on the wall behind Lynch, and it suddenly morphed into an enormous, high-definition television screen. Within seconds, Lynch craned his neck and joined his dining companions in viewing a replay of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson‘s 24-yard touchdown pass to wideout Golden Tate, giving the Seahawks a 14-12 triumph as time expired and sending 68,218 fans at CenturyLink Field into hysterics.

As Lynch watched Packers safety M.D. Jennings snatch the pass out of the sky and pull it to his chest while Tate, who had blatantly pushed off against Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields, belatedly latched on one arm at a time, the running back’s eyes grew big and his jaw dropped low. The room was dead silent as the realization gripped Lynch and his companions: Like most of the viewing public, they now understood that the Seahawks had received an extraordinary gift from the replacement officials.

“We didn’t win that game,” someone at the table said, and nobody made a peep to challenge him.

By the time Lynch left the restaurant early Tuesday morning and, while waiting for his ride to arrive, reassured a group of Packers fans on Second Avenue almost apologetically that their team would bounce back from this bitter defeat, it was clear the league’s already problematic officiating lockout had reached critical mass.

Dramatic as it may sound, it’s quite possible that history will look back on Tate’s illusory jump-ball touchdown as the moment the NFL jumped the shark.

The outcry over the replacement officials’ game-deciding call (and the failure of the non-replacement replay officials to overturn it) crystallized the brewing anger toward NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners he represents, whose collective insistence upon securing a favorable contract with the regular officials has clearly compromised the game’s integrity.

In the hours that followed, I heard from numerous current and former players and coaches – and not just because I got some unplanned TV time with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the aftermath of Tate’s catch/non-catch – who were aghast at the conspicuous intersection of incompetence and injustice.

A player on one of the Packers’ NFC North rivals who should have been heralding the outcome instead decried the play as “the worst call in NFL history.” A veteran NFL assistant went even further, saying, “Oh, it’s really bad. It’s Tuck Rule bad. Rodney King bad.”

Memo to Goodell: That’s bad.

Officials signal after Golden Tate pulled in a last-second pass for a touchdown. (AP)Can’t we all just get along? Not, apparently, when a staredown over money exists, and the owners are willing to put their own short-term economic interests over the quality of the product and the equality of competition. And while the anger surrounding one flawed finish might not put a dent in the bottom line, this regrettable Monday Night Mistake has the potential to stand as a seminal moment, a bullet that could penetrate the NFL’s Kevlar vest of invulnerability.

For the nation’s most popular spectator sport to survive and thrive, there needs to be a perception of fairness, and a sense that the events that play out to the masses in high-def are being officiated with the highest degree of expertise. In ramming crews of tentative and obviously overmatched replacement officials down the public’s throats for three regular season weeks and counting, the NFL is asking its customers to suspend disbelief, with the same just trust us presumption of which so many politicians are often deemed guilty.

In that sense, the comparison of Tate’s catch/non-catch to the Tuck Rule (or the Immaculate Reception, the Vinny Testaverde phantom touchdown, the numerous Bill Leavy errors that helped doom the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, or whatever dubious officiating decisions of past years one might choose) might be misguided. The more apt analogy might go back a quarter-century to the 1987 players strike, when the league enlisted replacement players who would form the nucleus of their respective teams for three “games” which counted in the standings.

If the Packers (1-2) miss the playoffs, or if the Seahawks (2-1) edge out another team for a postseason birth by a single game, the stain of Monday’s game will linger for a long time. Green Bay’s players, coaches and fans have a right to be furious, as do the bettors who lost money because of the officials’ blunder, and the fantasy players who tasted defeat thanks to the last-second scoring play.

It’s a shame, because the game was notable for several other reasons, including the Seahawks’ eight first-half sacks of Rodgers and the shrewd adjustments Packers coach Mike McCarthy made at halftime to protect his quarterback and spur his team back from a 7-0 deficit.

Packers CB Sam Shields (L), safety Jerron McMillian (C) and Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (29) are stunned as they leave …And while this was a great way for Wilson to complete his third NFL game, he surely would have preferred that his magical comeback had been capped by a completion that survived the legitimacy test. As it was, the pass was a mini-miracle, given that Wilson, Y! Sports has learned, called the wrong play in the huddle before lining up for the fourth-and-10 attempt with eight seconds remaining.

Instead of sending three receivers to the left corner of the end zone where Tate and Jennings ultimately fought for the ball, Wilson mistakenly called a “Waggle” play which called for him to roll right while several receivers ran underneath routes. Some Seahawks ran the play Wilson called, while others ran the one he was supposed to have called. Whatever – after he rolled right, drifted back to his left and planted at the 39-yard line before unleashing his high pass to the end zone, it all worked out in the end.

Except, in the long run, it may not have worked out so well. For one thing, Monday night’s shady finish was another blow to Goodell’s authority in the eyes of many players, who struggled to reconcile the commissioner’s insistence on protecting the shield with this power play that has turned the officiating situation into a mockery.

One NFL assistant admitted to me Monday that because the replacement officials have been so tentative and obviously overwhelmed, attempts to intimidate and bully them into favorable calls are rampant. As another former player put it, “The NFL is all about intimidation. We prey on the weak – and these [replacement officials] are the weak.”

Given the league’s massive popularity and tremendously favorable economics, it seems hard to imagine a world in which the NFL isn’t a strong, sustainable force. Yet I’m convinced Monday’s gaffe was a watershed moment, and I worry it might trigger a downward spiral that takes on a life of its own.

Here’s another analogy, one that I find a bit scary: If the powers that be don’t watch out, might the NFL become like boxing?

After peaking during Muhammad Ali’s heyday in the ’70s, boxing has largely become a fringe sport over the past two decades for two primary reasons: The obvious brutality and toll it takes upon the men who compete; and the fishy decisions that have engendered a pronounced lack of faith in the integrity of the matches.

Given the growing concern surrounding head trauma and its haunting connection, perceived or proven, to the demise of so many gridiron warriors, the NFL has a serious health-and-safety issue to confront. And if the fans start to perceive the officiating to be as untrustworthy as that of ringside scorecards, the league will have an equally daunting problem on its hands.

Goodell, too, may have a problem: While the owners seem staunchly supportive of the commissioner, who early this year signed a lucrative contract extension through the 2018 season, it will be interesting to see if the players view him as vulnerable – and apply their prey on the weak mentality accordingly.

I hope I’m just being an alarmist in the wake of a crazy game, and I expect Goodell to remain in his job for a long time – but I don’t think I’m overstating the reaction, or what is ultimately at stake.

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll celebrates with Michael Robinson. (AP)Of this much I am certain: As Lynch, his grandmother and several friends and business associates left that downtown Seattle steakhouse early Tuesday morning, they seemed a bit less exultant about the victory over the Packers than they had before that mirror became a TV screen, allowing them to see a sobering replay of the faux touchdown that rocked the football world.

“It’s not like we did anything wrong,” Lynch said, shaking his head, as he stood on Second Ave. “We have nothing to apologize for.”

He’s right – the Seahawks don’t. The owners do, however, and so does Goodell. And as long as this increasingly reckless lockout lasts, any after-the-fact apologies will seem as hollow as the football that Jennings pulled to his chest.

Timing off in Pacquiao offer to Mayweather

by Tim Dahlberg

There’s always something to sell in boxing, some angle to make you pay.

The latest from Manny Pacquiao is he’s willing to do everything but pick up Floyd Mayweather Jr. and drive him to the arena to make the megafight boxing has been waiting way too long for.

Pacquiao says Mr. Money can have more money, and get top billing. He can watch him take his steroid tests, and even choose the food at the prefight press conference if he wants.

”He can even wear my trunks if it gets him in the ring with me,” Pacquiao said. ”I want to fight Floyd Mayweather next.”

Unfortunately for boxing fans, Pacquiao is not fighting Mayweather next. He’s meeting Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time, a fight so unattractive that he needs to talk about Mayweather to get anyone to pay attention to it.

That’s not entirely Pacman’s fault. Actually, most of it is Mayweather’s fault for refusing to step up for the fight that would likely define his career.

His nonsensical rants about steroids and patriotism whenever Pacquiao’s name is brought up are just that. His strange reluctance to prove his boast that he is the best fighter in the world brings into doubt just how legitimate that boast is.

Still, he remains the biggest draw in boxing, something he proves every fight with his big pay-per-view numbers. The mere mention of his name sells tickets, though it’s anyone’s guess when he will fight again after serving more than two months in jail this summer.

It’s been nearly four years since Pacquiao gave Oscar De La Hoya such a beating that he sent him into retirement, a fight that started the buzz about a Pacquiao-Mayweather match. It seemed sure to happen, and it seemed sure to be the richest fight ever, with both boxers pocketing at least $40 million.

My guess now is Mayweather and Pacquiao will never meet in the ring, even now when Pacquiao is offering to take 45 percent of the purse to 55 percent for Mayweather. I’ve felt that way for some time, and the feeling was reinforced when Mayweather went apoplectic when I dared to ask him before his fight against Miguel Cotto in May why he wasn’t fighting Pacquiao instead.

That doesn’t mean Pacquiao can’t use his erstwhile rival to sell some tickets of his own. And that’s all he’s really doing by calling out Mayweather now when he’s got another fighter in front of him.

I’ve been ringside for all three of Pacquiao’s fights with Marquez, and they’ve all been good, close fights that could have gone either way. Their styles guarantee a competitive fight, and if you liked the first 36 rounds you’ll probably dig the credit card out to pay for another 12.

But do I want to see them fight for a fourth time on Dec. 8? Not particularly.

But that is the fight promoter Bob Arum gave us when he told Timothy Bradley he wasn’t a big enough attraction for a second fight with Pacquiao, even though he won the first in a highly controversial decision. Arum believes that Hispanic fight fans will help Pacquiao-Marquez IV do more than the 850,000 pay-per-views for Bradley in June.

There’s a sense, though, that Pacquiao is fading, even though he appeared to dominate Bradley before backing off in the final rounds of their fight. He has been fighting professionally now for 17 years, and the difficulty he had getting motivated for his last two fights is a sure sign that he’s inching closer to the end of his lucrative career.

Beating Marquez for a third time in four fights won’t prove anything other than Pacquiao can still earn a big payday. Losing to him will mean two defeats in a row for Pacman, and almost certainly scuttle any chance of a Mayweather fight.

Mayweather has been uncharacteristically quiet since his release from jail in Las Vegas, where he was serving a sentence on a domestic abuse charge. He hasn’t revealed what his plans are, though it’s clear he won’t be fighting the rest of the year.

Assuming Pacquiao beats Marquez – and that’s a big assumption – the earliest the two could meet would be in the spring, most likely the first week of May. That’s also the last legitimate date for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight to mean anything, and if it passes, a chance to make boxing history will pass along with it.

Pacquiao’s offer to take less money does put the onus of making the fight squarely on Mayweather. He’s running out of excuses not to fight Pacquiao, and both his legacy and reputation will suffer if he doesn’t.

Any serious talk about a possible fight, though, will have to wait until Pacquiao fights Marquez.

Until then any offer Pacquiao makes is nothing more than a sales job for Dec. 8

Chavez Jr. Tests Positive for Marijuana

by Steve Kim
MaxBoxing.com
A rumor circulating around boxing circles on Monday was confirmed on Tuesday. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who lost his WBC middleweight crown to Sergio Martinez Saturday night in Las Vegas, has tested positive for marijuana.
Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the NSAC, declined to comment till all the tests from this past weekend (which was unusually busy in his jurisdiction) came in. Earlier in the day as Top Rank was informed of Chavez’s plight, they issued this statement to the media: “Top Rank is reviewing the situation. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will have the opportunity to explain the situation to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.”
But later, it looked as if Bob Arum would be fighting hard on behalf of his client, telling the L.A. Times’ Lance Pugmire, among other things, that marijuana isn’t a performance enhancing drug and should be legalized (http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-boxing-chavez-marijuana-20120919,0,3307897.story).

It’s been a checkered past in this regard for the son of the Mexican icon. He tested positive for banned diuretic after his 2009 bout versus Troy Rowland and earlier this year, he was arrested for a DUI just weeks before his fight in San Antonio against Marco Antonio Rubio (http://ringtv.craveonline.com/blog/173245-chavez-jrstrikes-plea-deal-in-drunk-driving-case).

In terms of what penalties Chavez fight face, any violation can lead to a fine (up to 100% of purse) and/or suspension (up to 12 months)/revocation, under the rules of the NSAC.

Five questions that will be answered by UFC 152

by Maggie Hendricks

Finally, we have a fight week after way too long of a break. Jon Jones is putting his belt on the line against Vitor Belfort, a middleweight. It’s not the fight we want, but it’s the fight we get. Here are a few questions that will be answered by Saturday night’s fights in Toronto.

What does changing an opponent on short(ish) notice do to Jon Jones? If there has been one hallmark of Jon Jones’ career, it’s been good preparation. In every title defense, he has shown a complete knowledge of his opponents strengths and weakness. He then exploited those weakness for a win. This is why he wouldn’t take Chael Sonnen on short notice. With Belfort, he had about a month to study up which is a shorter time than usual. If he’s not prepared, the champ could end up beating himself.

Will Michael Bisping or Brian Stann be the (maybe possibly could be) next middleweight contender? UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva’s next fight will be against Stephan Bonnar, but beyond UFC 153, he needs a new opponent. This could be decided with the Bisping/Stann match-up … perhaps. If Silva decides he wants to fight only Georges St-Pierre or light heavyweights with middle names that start with a Q or take six months off, the Stann/Bisping winner could be left in the cold.

Can the flyweights steal the show? Joe Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson’s bout to decide the inaugural flyweight champion was the headliner before the cancellation of UFC 151. Though they’re not the main event of the night anymore, but that doesn’t mean the 125-lbers won’t be the stars of the show. The little guys tend to bring exciting fights. That should be no different on Saturday.

Does Matt Hamill still have it? It’s been more than a year since Hamill ended his career — for the first time — with a loss to Alexander Gustafsson. He’s back after a brief retirement, but will he still have the fire to get it done in the Octagon? He’ll have a chance to show it against Roger Hollett.

Will fans tune in? UFC 152 was solid before the Jones/Belfort bout was cut together and pasted onto the poster. But people’s response to the cancellation of UFC 151 was angry. It’s possible the anger will carry over and keep fans from spending $54.95 on Saturday night.

Jon Jones jokes about relationship with UFC, refrains from ugly response

by Kevin Iole

TORONTO – He’s won world title fights in the most spectacular fashion imaginable against some of the meanest, nastiest, baddest men in the world.

Jon Jones has, at 25, and in a little more than a year as the UFC’s light heavyweight champion, established himself as one of the elite fighters in mixed martial arts history.

He hasn’t hit so much as a speed bump in his career in the cage.

Jon Jones attends the  UFC 152 Press Conference ahead of his fight vs. Vitor Belfort. (WENN.com)Thursday, though, had the potential to be a career-defining day for him. This was the day when he would finally face the public and would be forced to answer the question that has been the biggest story in the sport for the last month.

On Aug. 23, Jones opted not to fight Chael Sonnen in the main event of UFC 151 when original opponent Dan Henderson injured a knee. No sort of finagling, demanding, pleading, coddling or badgering by UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta or UFC president Dana White could force him to change his mind.

“I’m a huge fan of being prepared,” Jones said. “I’m a gigantic fan of being prepared. I ultimately believe being prepared leads to making the fight look easy. You do your homework, you pass tests. It’s as simple as that. To go back to the Chael Sonnen situation, I wouldn’t have been able to do my homework and it wouldn’t have been a smart decision.”

So, Jones passed on the situation. When White couldn’t find a suitable main event on just eight days’ notice, he was forced to cancel the card at a cost of at least $20 million to the company.

White was irate and didn’t hide that he placed most of the blame on Jones for the cancelation. The public sided definitively with White and painted Jones as the UFC’s biggest heel.

Jones got his first real opportunity to plead his case on Thursday at the final news conference to promote his match on Saturday against Vitor Belfort at the Air Canada Center in the main event of UFC 152.

Over the past month, Jones was vilified as a selfish, egotistical phony who was out of touch with the people who helped him become rich and famous.

That person, though, was not present at the downtown sports bar where the UFC made the final push for ticket and pay-per-view sales for Saturday’s card.

Jones came to the news conference needing to do something dramatic. What he did while sitting behind a microphone answering questions was every bit as dominant in its way as what he did while battering Mauricio “Shogun” Rua en route to taking the light heavyweight title at UFC 128.

Jones hit a massive grand slam at a time he needed one most.

Asked how he felt about fighting in Canada, Jones beamed that toothy grin of his and said, “Even if I get booed, I’m still happy to be here. I’m going to put on the best show I can for you guys, for sure.”

He made his case logically and passionately. He was deferential when he needed to be, but he was far from a pushover.

White was missing, but his presence loomed large over the proceedings. The minute the news conference was opened for questions, Jones was put on the spot. He was asked to describe his relationship with White.

When he wants to be, Jones can be disarmingly charming. After he beat Rua at UFC 128, he delighted the crowd by animatedly describing the way he’d run down a mugger a few hours before the fight.

He used his story-telling ability Thursday to quickly cut the tension.

“I hate him,” Jones said of White, feigning anger. “I hate him. Hate everything about him.”

He then folded his arms across his chest, leaned back in his seat and animatedly nodded his head.

A few seconds passed before he started to laugh and speak again.

“Nah, I’m joking, man,” Jones said. “Dana White’s awesome. You know, I’ve said before, Dana White is a passionate guy. … When he’s upset with you, he’s going to be passionate. I forgive Dana White for any insults he might have given me. I’m looking forward to talking to him and just moving forward.

“I’ve said this before, but me and Dana White are both ambassadors of this great sport. The two of us not being on the same page really makes no sense for anyone. I really want to get this sport as far as possible and get the word out, and I think working along with Dana and the UFC is a great way to do that.”

He related a story about how he’d struggled with everything that was thrown at him and how his girlfriend’s mother told him to use adversity as an opportunity to grow.

“Right now, I’m on top of a lot of things,” Jones said. “I’m doing a great job as a parent, a great job in my business and I’m doing really well with my performances, training really smart and everything.

“I believe I’ve grown from all of it and I appreciate all the curveballs life has thrown me.”

Jones, though, wasn’t a pushover. He didn’t apologize meekly, and he pushed back at White and Fertitta several times, albeit respectfully.

He apologized to those who purchased tickets to UFC 151 in Las Vegas, many of whom had non-refundable airfare and so were forced to fly to Las Vegas with no fight to see. But he never wavered from the “I did the best thing for my career,” position.

“I’m hoping that at the end of the day, the fans start to open up their minds about the situation and realize that I’m not a UFC executive,” Jones said. “I have absolutely zero power to cancel an event.

“At the end of the day, being a world champion, I’ve dedicated my whole life to this.”

He was honest and said he wasn’t sure if he’d have taken the fight even if White and Fertitta had told him they’d cancel the card if he did not.

He made light of Sonnen and noted he didn’t feel Sonnen has knockout power and was a less-threatening opponent than Belfort. Jones said he could defend a double-leg takedown, in a nod to Sonnen’s success against middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

But he wouldn’t take the blame for the cancelation of the show or for his decision.

He said he hoped he helped make his fellow fighters aware that they have rights. While he didn’t say so directly, he was intimating that he proved a fighter could stand up to White, refuse to be bullied and still have a viable career in the UFC.

“Being the champion, it means more to me than any fan,” Jones said. “It means more to me than it means to Dana White. If I would have somehow lost that fight, Dana wouldn’t have lost a night of sleep over it. Life would have gone on. … Ultimately, why wasn’t it a good enough card? Why wasn’t it a great card? Why did it have to get canceled? I watch bar fights. I love fights, no matter what level it is.

“I think it was more of an insult to the other fighters on the card that, pretty much it was like saying they weren’t good enough to host the card without me and Dan Henderson. I think that was more of an offensive thing. They should be mad at the superiors, not me.”

Whether Jones did enough to win back the favor of the fans is a question only time can answer.

Jones, though, did a brilliant job of advancing his cause on Thursday. He positioned himself as a charming innocent who had the wherewithal to refuse to be bullied.

Unquestionably, skeptics will remain. And should he lose on Saturday, there will be a portion of the fan base that celebrates.

But needing something dramatic to repair his image, Jones belted it out of the park.

If he beats Belfort on Saturday, he’s going to leave Canada with not one, but two major wins under his belt.