Saturday, March 22, 2008

Seahawks give Tatupu $42 million deal

KIRKLAND, Wash. - Lofa Tatupu agreed to a $42 million contract with Seattle that will keep the Pro Bowl linebacker with the Seahawks through the 2015 season.

"This isn't just Good Friday. It's great Friday," Tatupu told Seahawks president Tim Ruskell upon finalizing the contract Friday.

"I'm going to end my career with the Seahawks."

The deal includes the final two years on the original contract he signed after being selected in the second round out of Southern California in 2005, plus six more years worth a potential $42 million.

Fletcher Smith, Tatupu's agent, said the deal includes about $18 million in guaranteed money from 2008 to 2010.

Tatupu was supposedly too slow and too short when he was the sixth linebacker taken in '05. Last season he became the second player in Seahawks' history to be named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three years.

"I think I've exceeded a lot of people's expectations, but not my own," Tatupu said.


LAS VEGAS - Manny Pacquiao's rematch victory over Juan Manuel Marquez was worth every minute of the four-year wait.

Pacquiao won a narrow split decision to claim Marquez's WBC 130-pound title Saturday night in a sensational fight that left two of the world's best boxers bloody and triumphant.

Though Marquez landed more punches at a higher percentage, Pacquiao (46-3-2) knocked down Marquez (48-4-1) in the third round and persevered through a nasty cut. Marquez also was cut, but neither backed down from one scintillating exchange after another.

Their first matchup ended in a draw in May 2004. Marquez was knocked down three times in the opening round of that acclaimed bout, but the Mexican champion improbably rallied to win most of the later rounds in a possible career-saving performance.

An immediate rematch was scuttled by financial arguments, and Pacquiao went on to cement his spots atop the sport and in every Filipino's heart, while Marquez made a long climb back to a match he eagerly accepted this time.

The second fight was just as tight — and every bit as exciting.

Judge Duane Ford favored Pacquiao 115-112 and Jerry Roth called it 115-112 for Marquez, while Tom Miller gave a 114-113 edge to Pacquiao despite giving the last two rounds to Marquez. The Associated Press narrowly favored Marquez, 114-113, on the strength of his 12th-round performance.

With outstanding action in nearly every round producing bloody injuries and heart-stopping moments, the fight showed why both boxers are at the peak of their profession. One defining moment came when Pacquiao nearly had the fight won in the third round, but Marquez kept his feet.

"I thought at that point I was in control of the fight," Pacquiao said. "But when he cut my eye in the fourth round, he made it more difficult for me, and I couldn't take control of the fight. ... I wasn't sure (heading into the 12th round), but I always treat the final round as the most important. I don't take any chances."

From the opening bell, the action was fast and frenetic at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Marquez staggered Pacquiao in the second round, but Pacquiao floored Marquez in the third with a left hook. Pacquiao then wobbled Marquez again late in what's sure to be one of the year's best rounds, but couldn't finish off Marquez.

"I don't like the decision," Marquez said. "I still feel I am the champion. It was a bad decision. That first knockdown, he got me cold, but then I adjusted my game plan and I thought from then on, I dictated the whole fight. ... The people are the best judge, and the people are booing him. I won."

Pacquiao won a major world title in his fourth weight division, and he intends to take on a fifth when he moves up to 135 pounds for his next fight against David Diaz, the WBC lightweight champion who won on Saturday's undercard.

"I don't think so," Pacquiao said of a third fight with Marquez. "This business is over."

Marquez, whose brother Rafael just finished a three-fight epic with Israel Vazquez, landed 172 punches, or 34 percent of his total compared to Pacquiao's 25 percent. Pacquiao threw more jabs, and Marquez landed more power shots.

Pacquiao entered the ring to thousands of cheering fans and a Filipino rapper who incited the crowd with a live performance. Marquez had a white-suited mariachi band waiting for him in the ring, and his fans drowned out the sizable Filipino contingent.

After a cautious start, both fighters showed glimpses of their fearsome potential in the second round. Pacquiao won several tough exchanges, but Marquez wobbled Pacquiao with a three-punch combination in the final seconds.

The third round was nonstop action, with both fighters trading quality punches before Pacquiao put Marquez on the canvas with a left hook. Marquez was leaning against the ropes by the end, but wouldn't go down.

Marquez cut Pacquiao with a punch in the fourth round, but Pacquiao staggered him again in the seventh, and a collision of heads opened a nasty cut near Marquez's right eye. Marquez then split Pacquiao's right cheek early in the eighth, but Pacquiao kept charging forward to take punishment with his obscured vision.

They traded quality punches until the final minute, when Marquez landed a handful of combinations to do the final damage. Both fighters' cornermen raised them in victory.

"It was a close fight, but we came back at the end," said Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach. "It could have gone either way, in my mind. Manny followed him around the ring too much. He didn't cut off the ring like he should have. Marquez may have had a lot to do with that as well. Manny was more disciplined in training than he was in the fight tonight."

Marquez could have had this fight shortly after their first bout across the Las Vegas Strip at the MGM Grand Garden, but his management complained about the financial terms. Marquez ended up fighting for $30,000 in Indonesia, where he lost his WBA title to Chris John two years ago, but Marquez claimed the WBC title last year by beating Barrera.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Arsenal defender Kolo Toure believes his team-mates have the ability to claim a crucial victory at Stamford Bridge on Sunday - a game that can be seen

The Gunners' recent form has been less than impressive, with Saturday's 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium their fourth consecutive stalemate.

Manchester United now occupy top spot in the Premier League, while Chelsea have impressed of late and sit three points behind Arsenal in third.


But Toure has warned Avram Grant's side that The Gunners will 'give everything' as they look to retighten their grip on the race for title glory.

"Again we were chasing the game [on Saturday] after conceding a really silly goal," Toure told the club's official website. "It is always difficult for the team to come back and we are lucky that we scored a late goal again.

"Now we just need to keep going and win the big games. We are still in the title race and as long as we play like we did late on [against Middlesbrough] then in other games we might be more lucky.

"We will try to go to Chelsea and get some points. We know that we can go anywhere and win - we have shown that in Milan. We need to repeat that kind of performance next week and then we can beat Chelsea.


"We do not have a match now in the week, so we will rest and when we come back, we will be full of energy and can give everything. The most important thing is to be confident and play your game, stay strong in your mind and believe that until the end it is not finished.

"It is going to be an exciting finish to the Premier League. Whichever team is more confident and consistent is going to win the title.

"At the moment it is hard because we have dropped two points in every game. But when we get back to winning, we can carry that on until the end of the season."


Poll: who do you think will prevail in Premier League title race?

Poll: who do you think will prevail in Premier League title race?

Arsenal slipped up again on Saturday, being held 1-1 at home by Middlesbrough and dropping points for the fourth successive match, allowing Manchester United to leapfrog them into top spot after Sir Alex Ferguson's side claimed a surprisingly slender 1-0 victory over bottom club Derby County. And what about Chelsea? They did not look like being a factor after being beaten 2-0 by Manchester United back in September, Avram Grant's first league game in charge, but since then have lost just once in 22 Premier league outings. The latest table below makes fascinating reading, especially as both Manchester United and Arsenal have still to go to Stamford Bridge.

Source: /thegame/2008/03/poll-who-do-you.html

David Beckham passes test of his fighting spirit

The verbal confrontation in which David Beckham became embroiled with André Rocha, of Brazil, late in the Los Angeles Galaxy’s goalless draw away to FC Dallas in a friendly on Saturday may have lost something in translation but it demonstrated one undeniable fact: Beckham’s desire to play for England for the 100th time, and beyond, has not been dulled by him plying his trade in an undeniably inferior standard of football.

“I’ve always said I always want to be available for my country. I don’t want to let go of that and I still love passionately playing for my country. Nothing’s ever going to change that,” the former England captain said. “I might be playing on the other side of the world but nothing will change the passion.

“I don’t know how much longer I can play for England � it’s obviously down to other people to decide that. I always want to be available.”

Had Franco Baldini, the England general manager sent on a near 10,000-mile round trip to Pizza Hut Park to assess Beckham’s fitness, troubled himself to speak to the midfield player after the game, he may have been able to glean that information for himself

Foot Ball : Brown demands ruthless streak

Wes Brown feels that Manchester United must stop being so wasteful in front of goal if they are to claim the title.

The Red Devils spurned chance after chance against Derby at the weekend and needed a late strike from Portuguese ace Cristiano Ronaldo in order to claim all three points.

With the Rams having conceded six against United's title-chasing rivals Chelsea in the week building up to Saturday's encounter, Brown's fears appear to be well founded.


"We're getting some really good chances, one-on-ones, and we've got to start putting them away," the England full-back told United's official website.

"We made it very hard for ourselves against Derby.

"We could have finished the game in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but luckily we got the winner in the end.

"If we hadn't won it would have been very disappointing, so it was a relief that we got the goal."


There were some positives to be taken out of the Pride Park clash though, and an outstanding debut from keeper Ben Foster has helped to prove just how strong Sir Alex Ferguson's squad has become.

"Ben's experienced in the Premier League," said Brown.

"He's a great keeper, it was his first game for a long time and he came in and did brilliantly."

Source: story/0,19528,11667_3315974,00.html

MU News: It's not like watching Brazil

If the Barclays Premier League is the best in the world, as many, including Sir Alex Ferguson, have suggested, there remains a puzzling gap in its make-up, a void, the filling of which is surely the next step in the evolution of English football. Our elite clubs dominate Europe, the wealth generated by our domestic competition and its prominence throughout the world is unmatched: so where are the beautiful Brazilians?

The finest individual exponents of the game would surely want to play in the league that is on course to produce at least one European finalist for the fourth year running, perhaps two. Yet a rundown of the Brazil squad shows that of the 52 players most recently called up, only seven play in the Premier League and just two are strikers.

English football continues to attract the fringe players, the holding midfield players, the iffy defenders. The greats of the modern Brazilian game – Ronaldinho in his prime and latterly Kaká – talk of coming here only as a last hurrah, a final pay cheque, their best years long gone. Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, hankers after Ronaldinho, but he is chasing the name, not the footballer, as he did with the spent force that is Andriy Shevchenko. The time to sign the Brazilian was when Manchester United had the chance in 2003, and he chose Barcelona. The great ones always do.

Middlesbrough have recruited a Brazilian striker in Afonso Alves, who has eight caps, but already there are concerns. Elano, of Manchester City, capped 20 times, was initially a great success, but his influence has waned with the form of his club. Alex (12 caps) will only ever be a squad player at Chelsea, while it is too early to judge Gilberto (28 caps) at Tottenham Hotspur; but neither is a forward.

Source: columnists/martin_samuel/article3564455.ece