Pacquiao says he’s ‘fine’, has no plans to retire
Pacquiao says he’s ‘fine’, has no plans to retire
There had been speculation the 33-year-old Pacquiao might consider retirement after losing for a second time in his last three bouts but the Filipino southpaw made it clear he would be back to compete after taking a well-earned break.
“To all my fans, I would like to thank you for your prayers and assure you that I am fine,” Pacquiao said in a statement just hours after his stunning defeat in a non-title welterweight bout in front of a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“I am looking forward to a nice rest and then I will be back to fight. On behalf of (his wife) Jinkee and our family we would like to wish everyone a joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.”
Pacquiao, who had won twice and drawn once in his three previous meetings with Marquez, was floored by a thunderous right by the counter-punching Mexican with just one second left in the sixth round of a high-energy bout.
The Filipino was also knocked down in the third round but fears of a possible concussion were put to rest after a precautionary CT (computed tomography) scan at nearby University Medical Center hospital after the fight ended.
“The results were negative,” said Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s adviser. “We were in and out in just over an hour and Manny was in excellent spirits.”
Both fighters had much to prove in their heavily anticipated fourth showdown on Saturday.
Marquez was determined to set the record straight after firmly believing he had been “robbed” by judges’ verdicts in their three previous fights while Pacquiao was eager to prove his powers had not diminished with age.
The Filipino had delivered a below-par performance against Marquez 13 months ago when he narrowly retained his WBO welterweight title with a controversial majority decision that was greeted by loud booing from disgruntled Marquez fans.
Pacquiao’s preparations for that fight were hampered by various distractions, including marital difficulties, but he has since patched up his relationship with his wife and become a much more disciplined boxer after giving up his former pastimes of cockfighting, gambling and nightclubbing.
In June, however, Pacquiao lost on a hotly disputed split decision to American Timothy Bradley, his first defeat since he was beaten by Erik Morales in Las Vegas in March 2005.
With his ego bruised and his stature diminished, the Filipino set his sights on bold vindication against Marquez, but once again he fell short in his bid.
“I want to congratulate Juan Manuel,” said Pacquiao, who slipped to 54-5-2 with 38 knockouts. “I have no excuses. It was a good fight and he deserved the victory. I think boxing fans who watched us were winners too.”
Pacquiao’s stunning loss has almost certainly written off any chance of a long awaited mega-fight between the Filipino and American Floyd Mayweather Jr., and he is now much more likely to take on Marquez for a fifth time.
“Yes, why not? It’s a good fight,” said the Filipino, who has won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight divisions. “If you give us a chance, we’ll fight again.”
John eyes bout
Meantime, unbeaten Indonesian featherweight Chris John already has one win over Juan Manuel Marquez and after seeing the Mexican knock out Manny Pacquiao on Saturday he is keen to move up in weight and face him again.
Marquez’s stunning sixth round knockout of Pacquiao, considered one of the all-time greats of the sport, in Las Vegas on Saturday has made the Mexican welterweight (55-6-1 40 knockouts) a hot commodity.
The 39-year-old has not ruled out a fifth bout against Pacquiao, with undefeated American light-welterweight Brandon Rios also a possibility, but John believes he should be next in line for a shot at the Mexican, possibly at lightweight.
“I will fight Marquez at any weight because it is big money,” the 33-year-old was quoted as saying in Monday’s Straits Times. “I am a much better boxer than him and I have more speed and skill.”
The duo met in Indonesia in 2006 with John claiming a unanimous points decision victory to defend his WBA featherweight title, though Marquez was unhappy at being docked points in the late rounds for low blows.
John’s Australian promoter, Angelo Hyder, told the newspaper the fight could happen in a neutral venue.
“Marquez and his team have always disputed the decision, even though all three judges gave it to Chris, and so boxing in a neutral place like Singapore could make the fight happen,” he was quoted as saying.
“We will approach them and try and get the fight because this is unfinished business.”
While John has long fought at featherweight (126 pounds), Marquez has been boxing in the welterweight and light welterweight divisions over the last couple of years.
The Mexican last boxed as low as lightweight (136 pounds) in a 2010 world title victory over Australian Michael Katsidis.
Marquez, who contemplated retirement before beating Pacquiao, looked extremely comfortable at 147 on Saturday.
“He is a massive puncher and knocked Manny Pacquiao clean out with one punch and it is my job to make sure I do not get hit with the same punch,” John said.
“I want the fight and will win again.”
John (48-0-2 22 knockouts) was named the WBA’s fighter of the decade earlier this year but has long been criticized for not fighting more in the United States, the traditional home base of the sport where the likes of Marquez and Pacquiao have regularly fought.
The Indonesian’s last two bouts have taken place at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, part of a five-fight series before retirement, John said previously.
Celtics beat Cavs in Game 5, lead NBA Eastern Conference finals 3-2
- Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and the Celtics held LeBron James to two fourth-quarter points.
- Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary.
BOSTON: LeBron James is tired. The young Boston Celtics seem to be getting stronger.
Rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24 points — his ninth 20-point game of the postseason — and Boston beat Cleveland 96-83 on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics held James to two fourth-quarter points, earning their 10th straight victory in Boston to remain perfect at home this postseason and move within one win of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2010.
“I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games. That’s when I have the most fun,” said Tatum, who needs one more 20-point game to tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s rookie record of 10 in a postseason.
“I can’t say it enough: We’re one win away from being in the finals,” Tatum said. “The playoffs bring the best out of people.”
Game 6 is in Cleveland on Friday night, with the decisive seventh game back in Boston on Sunday if necessary. The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
“We’re looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7,” said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. “It’s up to us to see if we can come back here for one more.”
Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown had 17 points for Boston. Tatum added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals one day after finishing a single vote shy of a unanimous selection to the NBA’s All-Rookie team.
“The sky’s the limit” for Tatum , Brown said. “He’s going to continue to get better. He’s my workout partner. I expect it in myself and I expect it in him.”
Kevin Love scored 14 points for the Cavaliers, who are trying to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season. James has played to the end in seven straight seasons.
To extend that streak, he’ll need to win two in a row.
One of them will be in Boston.
“Our focus — LeBron’s focus — is to win,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “That’s the only thing that matters.”
The Celtics opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and nursed it the rest of the way, holding on through a four-minute scoring drought that saw Cleveland score nine straight points to cut the deficit to 83-71. But Terry Rozier hit Horford with an alley-oop to snap the skid, and that was as close as the Cavs would get.
Reserves Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart each scored 13.
James had one basket on four shots in the fourth quarter, and afterward conceded that he was worn down. He finished 1 for 6 from 3-point range in the game; the Cavaliers made just 9 of 34 attempts from beyond the arc and shot just 42 percent overall.
“I had my moments, but I think everybody at this point is tired, worn down whatever the case may be,” he said. “I was still trying to make plays, put our team in position to win.”
GOONING IT UP
Boston went on a 15-3 run in the first quarter to turn a three-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics scored nine in a row at the end of the first quarter and into the second to take a 36-19 lead, their biggest of the game.
That’s when the Cavaliers fought back .
After a hard defensive play by Morris sent Larry Nance Jr. into the first row of seats, Morris appeared to wander over and say something. Nance to jump up and body checked him; Morris responded with a one-handed shove to the face.
Aron Baynes and Brown came in to break it up, and Terry Rozier put a body on Nance. After a review, the referees called technicals on Rozier, Nance and Morris. Kyle Korver made the foul shot to make it 36-20 and Cleveland went on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to eight points, 36-28.
But Morris made a long 3-pointer to stop the scoring drought, and soon hit another to cap an 8-2 run that made it a double-digit lead.
Smart said the Celtics wanted to more aggressive at home.
“At their place, they were the aggressor,” he said. “That showed and they came up with the victory. We just wanted to be that team tonight.”
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time. ... James had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists at the half. Tatum had 13 points, and Horford had 10 points and seven boards at the break. ... Baynes made his first start of the series, subbing for Morris. ... It took until midway through the third quarter for a Cavs starter other than James or Love to make a basket. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. ... The Celtics were 10-0 in the playoffs at home in 1986. ... Horford had his 7th double-double of the postseason, matching a career high he set in 2015.