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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All eyes on 'PacMan' Saturday night

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Hector Longo

As the clock ticks down to Sunday night's "Game of the Year," the New England Patriots at the Indianapolis Colts, thoughts of non-Big 4 sports have crept into the sports landscape.

Saturday night looks to be the perfect Pats-Colts prelim when you consider the pay-per-view offering of Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight championship.

Pacquiao goes by the brand of the "No. 1 Pound for Pound Boxer on the Planet." Who's going to argue? The guy is 49-3-2 and will attempt to win a record seventh world title.

If you watched him systemically destroy Ricky Hatton in his last fight, you understand the greatness of Pacquiao. He simply is a ring machine with a nasty streak that flips on when he hits the ring.

Cotto can't be discounted for a minute, either.

The man has one loss at the plaster-casted hands of Antonio Margarito back in July of 2008. Well, the speculation is that some hardening agent was applied to his hands because Margarito was caught attempting to lay it on thick again against Shane Mosley.

Pacquiao-Cotto from Vegas on Saturday night? Now that's must-see TV, even at the steep price of $54.99.

Quiet Man speaks again ...

Yeah, but is anyone listening? And, does anyone really care?

Give it up for North Reading's Bob Trieger, one of the nicest guys in the business and a heck of a publicist for a handful of pro boxing enterprises, including Methuen-born former "heavyweight champ" John Ruiz.

Trieger reports that the 37-year-old Ruiz remains a "clear and present danger" in the heavyweight division.

Ruiz, a heck of a nice guy in the handful of times we've spoken, has squeaked every ounce of production he could out of his body. At his age, I just wonder if a victory over David Haye for the WBA championship will make a difference in Ruiz' ring legacy.

Ruiz has been the consummate overachiever throughout his career. His former trainer/manager Norm "Stoney" Stone belongs in the Boxing Hall of Fame in Cazenovia, N.Y., for the job he did nurturing Ruiz and rolling up the paychecks.

At some point, though, it has to end.

Go get 'em, Rob

At 29, Rob Oppenheim still hasn't reached his prime years in golf, but now would be the perfect time for a step up.

Andover's Oppenheim faces a giant challenge in Stage 2 of the PGA Tour's qualifying school next week at Mountain View Country Club in Georgia.

A veteran with Canadian Tour and New England Pro Tour victories on his resume, Oppenheim will be gunning for a Stage 3 spot, which guarantees at least work on the Nationwide Tour — golf's Triple A tour — next summer.

Of course, the ultimate goal is a PGA Tour card for Oppenheim, who has made the cut in one of the two bigtime tour events in which he's competed. Stage 2 action begins a week from today.

Hopefully, 2009 is the year.

Another fresh face wins bracelet

We watched the final table of the World Series of Poker last night on ESPN as David Cada, a 21-year-old out of Michigan, took home over $8 million for the title.

Clearly, the drama surrounding this event, which began with 6,494 players at the Rio in Las Vegas for eight full days in July, makes for incomparable television.

Of course, TV pares three-plus days of final table action — a total of 364 hands into a couple hours of coverage. The drain, the mental toll and the anguish of players, who when you come down to it are all pretty much equal and have their fate determined by the flip of the flop, turn and river, can't seriously be displayed in two hours.

While 78 percent of the poll participants at wsop.com had predicted pro/poker celeb Phil Ivey to win, he took home seventh overall, denied again poker's greatest prize while yet another youngster burst out of nowhere to beat the best.

I admit it, if I could have watched the final table action live, from beginning to end, I would have been transfixed.

To me, the World Series main event has become the gambling equivalent of the Boston Marathon.

If you play the game and can afford the $10,000 entry fee, isn't it a shot every poker player has to take? Now, if I could only convince my wife.

Source: http://www.eagletribune.com/pusports/local_story_315004409.html?keyword=topstory

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