Mayweather wants ‘statement’ win over Maidana

Updated 11 September 2014
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Mayweather wants ‘statement’ win over Maidana

LAS VEGAS: Floyd Mayweather, coming off one the biggest scares of his undefeated boxing career, wants to send a message Saturday when he faces Argentine brawler Marcos Maidana.
Mayweather, who won a majority decision over Maidana in May, will battle the South American again for the World Boxing Association welterweight title and World Boxing Council welterweight and junior middleweight crowns.
“I know that I am almost 40 but I am still going strong,” the 37-year-old Mayweather said on Wednesday. “I am coming to make a statement.”
This is just the second rematch Mayweather has given since turning pro in 1996. Mayweather won a controversial unanimous decision over Jose Castillo in 2002. The pair fought again eight months later for the WBC lightweight title and Mayweather won by another decision.
Mayweather, 46-0 with 26 knockouts, will need to get off to a better start against Maidana than he did in their first fight in order to keep his perfect record intact.
Maidana will be trying to pace himself so that he doesn’t run out of steam in the later rounds.
“I don’t have to make any adjustments. He do,” Mayweather said. “I won. He has to make adjustments.”
Maidana, 35-4 with 31 knockouts, came the closet of anyone to becoming the first fighter to beat Mayweather, landing 51 percent of his punches with Mayweather on the ropes.
His aggressive game plan worked for the first six rounds as he landed 221 punches on Mayweather, the most of any opponent. The only other fighter to land 200 punches on Mayweather was Castillo, who landed 203 in their first fight.
“I am very well prepared but this time around I already know him,” Maidana said. “Floyd is not used to giving rematches. So I got this great opportunity.”
Maidana said one of the keys for him is to be more patient and sacrifice quantity for quality.
“I am going to pace myself this time. I am not going to waste punches,” he said.
Vegas oddsmakers have listed Mayweather as an 8-1 favorite ahead of Friday’s weigh-in.
His longevity in the sport has been attributed to brilliant counterpunching skills and a stingy defense that doesn’t allow opponents to land many clean shots.
And he said Wednesday that is just the way he likes it.
“I try not take no shots,” Mayweather said. “I don’t want to be known as the guy that can take a good shot. I want to be known as the guy that can dish it out.”
Mayweather said prior to his May fight with Maidana that he could retire at the end of that fight. But once the bout was over and pay-per-view figures were in, he quickly reversed his tune.
Mayweather provided more mixed messages Wednesday, telling reporters he might stop or he might fight past his current contract with Showtime if they come to him with a good offer. He is currently in the middle of a six-fight contract with Showtime.
“I can’t really say. They may come with another contract. I am pretty sure they will,” he said. “It is not hard to stop right now. But I feel good. I am just ready to fight.”
Kenny Bayless will be the referee Saturday, marking the fifth time he has been in the ring as the referee for a Mayweather fight.
Mayweather complained bitterly about the choice of gloves that Maidana wanted to use prior to the first fight, saying they didn’t have enough padding.
Maidana’s trainer, Robert Garcia, said Wednesday that an agreement has been reached to use eight-ounce gloves on Saturday.


Jaka Ihbeisheh’s heartwarming journey from Slovenia to Palestine — via football

Updated 18 November 2018
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Jaka Ihbeisheh’s heartwarming journey from Slovenia to Palestine — via football

LONDON: Jaka Ihbeisheh’s eyes glisten as he recalls the moment his father first watched him play for Palestine. While the midfielder’s path to the national team may have been unconventional, those feelings of pride on his debut were wholly natural. From western Yugoslavia to the West Bank, Ihbeisheh’s journey was fueled by a desire to rediscover his roots.
Ihbeisheh was born in Ljubljana in 1986 to a Slovenian mother and a Palestinian father, who met while the latter was studying medicine in Croatia. His parents separated when he was seven years old, however, and his father moved back to Palestine.
It would be 18 years before he saw his father again.
An early love of football developed into a career for Ihbeisheh, who played for a number of Slovenian clubs. But while he lived out his childhood dream professionally, in his personal life there remained a nagging question about the whereabouts of his father.


In 2013, Ihbeisheh finally decided to try to reach out to the man from whom he had been estranged for three quarters of his life.
“After getting married, I started to question more where I was from and what my father had been doing,” Ihbeisheh explained. “We still had an envelope at home with an address on it so I decided to write a letter to him asking him if he wanted to meet me.
“I wrote three letters — in Slovenian, Croatian and English — and to be honest I had no idea if I would receive a reply.”
A month passed by with no response but then one day Ihbeisheh opened his Facebook account to see a friend request from someone whose name was written in Arabic.
“It was a strange moment after all those years but the date of birth matched my father’s so I knew it was him. We started to talk on Skype first, in Croatian. I was amazed he could remember but he said that because he studied medicine in the language he had never forgotten it. He still used Croatian medical textbooks.

 

Jaka Ihbeisheh in action for Slovenian side Rudar Velenje. (Photo / Twitter: @ihbeisheh)


“After a few calls, my wife and I decided the time was right to go and visit him in Palestine. A lot of people said things like, ‘Don’t go there you are crazy, you will get shot’ — but my father lived there and I wanted to go and visit him. I was not afraid.”
That first trip was fraught with nervous excitement as Ihbeisheh made his way to his father’s homeland via his aunt’s house in Jordan. The midfielder had read and heard about the potential difficulties of the crossing into Palestine and his own passage was not straightforward.
“The security at the border was very heavy and when they asked me where I was going, I said Palestine. He said, ‘No, to Israel’ and I said, ‘No, Palestine’. Then he separated me and my wife and a soldier came and took me into a room to ask a lot of questions.
“They asked about my life, my father, my work, my wife. They went on Wikipedia to check if I really was a Slovenian professional footballer. Then they called my wife inside — they were checking our stories matched. They asked my wife the name of my coach and fortunately she knew it. We were there for five hours in all.”
For Ihbeisheh it was glimpse into the border woes that are a regular part of life for Palestinians, though happier experiences were to come.


“When we got off the bus, my father and all his family were there waiting and it was very emotional. Of course, we had a big meal to celebrate.
“After that trip, I knew that if the opportunity came up I would want to play international football for Palestine. My father didn’t need to say anything for me to know how much it would mean to him.”
When Ihbeisheh returned to Slovenia, the thought of playing for Palestine was still on his mind but he had no idea how to put the wheels in motion. Then a fortuitous meeting with a Palestinian diplomat’s son opened the door. Six months later, Ihbeisheh received a text inviting him to be involved with the squad for the first time.
“My first game was a friendly in Dubai ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup and it was an amazing day. When the national anthem played, I was so proud. You meet the other players and hear their stories, then you understand why it means so much to represent Palestine.
“Since then I have come to play every time they call me. I love being part of this team.”

 

Jaka Ihbeisheh meeting hero Xavi, and on the sidelines of a Rudar Velenje game. (Photo / Twitter: @ihbeisheh)


Ihbeisheh went on to make a major impact at the Asian Cup in Australia, becoming the first Palestinian player to score at a major international tournament in a 5-1 defeat to Jordan.


But while that was a moment to savour, it paled in comparison to the first game he played in Palestine.
“It is a totally different occasion playing in Palestine. Everyone is supporting their country and they make incredible noise, they want to take pictures with us. We feel like heroes. It’s a shame that our home games are often moved away from our land and our people — I hope this stops.
“My first game there was a 0-0 draw with UAE in (the West Bank town) Al-Ram and of course it was the first time my father saw me play in Palestine. This was an emotional moment for him and for me. He said, ‘I was really proud to see you play but I am proud even when you are not playing. You are always representing your country.’
“The more I am called up to play for Palestine, the more I see him so, for us, football has an important meaning.”
That sentiment is true for many in Palestine, for whom football offers a temporary escape from difficult lives. Palestine may often appear to be a byword for conflict but Ihbeisheh has found the opposite to be true, the country uniting him with both his father and his heritage.
“I feel really sad about some of the things I hear, some of the experience my friends and family have. It is difficult to imagine for people like me who have always lived in Europe. You just hear the things on TV or radio but it is not the same as when my teammates tell me their stories.
“What each of them has gone through, and achieved, to play football for Palestine is inspirational. They know how football can help to give the supporters something, for a little bit of time they forget about all the worries. This is important to them, and me.
“I may not come from Palestine but when we are together as team-mates, there is no difference if you have lived your whole life in Palestine or outside of Palestine. We are all the same, we are family.”