The Layup Drill — Springing into April: Return of the Pac Man and golf, golf, golf, and some hockey

By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly

Welcome to another edition of the Layup Drill. This month, we take a look at the return of Manny Pacquiao to the ring and a look at golf happenings as spring comes into full bloom.      

Pacquiao returns to ring with win

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Manny Pacquiao (Photo by Akira Kouchiyama)

On April 12, Manny Pacquiao fought Timothy Bradley in a rematch of their much-disputed June 2012 fight, in which Bradley ended Pacquiao’s seven-year win streak. The Filipino fighter lost his next bout also, when he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. Meanwhile, Bradley won two more fights and elevated his status as a premier boxer. Their paths met once again in what many Pacquiao fans hoped would be his redemption.

Pacquiao avenged his loss with an impressive unanimous-decision win over Bradley. The two fought evenly until the middle rounds, when Pacquiao pulled away from Bradley. Pacquiao may not be the fighter he was at 30, but at 35, he still has much of the same qualities his fans love about him. He takes the fight to his opponent, does not back down, and sticks to his game plan. Ultimately, it was Pacquiao’s quickness and his ability to defend against Bradley’s ongoing attempts to knock out Bradley that won the fight. As a result, Pacquiao won the World Boxing Organization’s welterweight title — the title he lost to Bradley in 2012. It was Bradley’s first loss in 31 professional fights. The only negative for Pacquiao was a cut over his left eye caused by an accidental head butt with 12 seconds left in the fight. Pacquiao had to get 32 stitches after the fight.

Perhaps the most entertaining thing about the second fight between Pacquiao and Bradley was Pacquiao’s mother, Dionesia Dapridan-Pacquiao. With Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee back in the Philippines unable to travel since the two are expecting their fifth child, Pacquiao’s mother traveled to Las Vegas from the Philippines. She was seen praying heavily with a rosary in hand, while pointing at the ring during the fight. She seemed to be beside herself, probably praying that her son would win, as well as not get hurt. It did appear odd on television, as though she was administering a spell on Bradley. After the fight, she did give Bradley a hug, so, apparently, no spell.

It may be that he is entering the last years of his career, but Pacquiao still has one of the most loyal fan bases in boxing. “I was surprised. I felt like I was in the Philippines,” Pacquiao told the media in regards to the reception he received in Las Vegas. It was the first time he had fought in the United States since being knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012. The love for Pacquiao includes every detail of his life, including what he ate before his fight with Bradley — chicken kabobs, steak, chicken soup, steamed white rice, steamed asparagus, bananas, and hot water, according to a knowledgeable boxing journalist.

It is reported that Pacquiao is expected to receive $20 million for this fight, while Bradley will make $6 million. However, the IRS may step in and retrieve some of the earnings from Pacquiao — there are rumors that he owes a heavy tax debt to the IRS. You may recall that in his last fight in November, the Filipino tax authority froze Pacquiao’s funds due to an investigation that he may have owed as much as $50 million in unpaid taxes.

Tiger withdraws from The Masters

Tiger Woods announced on April 1 that due to a pinched nerve that required back surgery, he would not play in the Masters golf tournament in Augusta this month. Woods’ withdrawal came as a shock to some since it’s the biggest annual tournament in golf. The decision to forego the Masters shows how hurt Woods must be. He hasn’t won a major tournament since 2008. Woods, 38, has had nagging injuries, including knee problems and now his back. The question is whether Woods can recover to compete at a high level again. He started out as a young phenom who was certain to surpass the record for total number of major victories by a golfer. However, physical issues and well-documented personal issues have kept Woods from winning another major in years.

The Masters is going on without Woods, but television viewers are not tuning in. Ratings have fallen dramatically for The Masters, which started April 9. Despite not being close to winning a title in recent memory, Woods is still a recognizable figure that people tune in to watch. Since he is not there, many are not tuning in.

Whatever happened to Guan Tianlang?

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Guan Tianlang (Photo via Twitter)

You may recall last year when we wrote about a 14-year-old Chinese golfer who became the youngest to play in the Masters. He proceeded to make “the cut” (scoring well enough to play the last two days of the tournament) in what was one of the most memorable weekends for a young golfer. This year, he did not qualify and was at home in China watching the tournament. Guan is still committed to the game, having traveled to Florida to work on his swing and putting. He continues to play in tournaments and hopes to return to Augusta. Hopefully, we will see him sooner than later.

Kim and Yang look to help UW women’s golf team

On the golf scene locally, the University of Washington women’s golf team is looking strong. SooBin Kim is a golfer on the rise. The South Korean junior was named a Women’s Golf Coaches Association Second Team All-American and the first UW golfer since 2006 to earn First Team All-Pac 12. In addition, fellow South Korean teammate Jennifer Yang should help the Huskies this year. She is a junior with four top-10 finishes, which is solid. Both Kim and Yang went to the same secondary school in British Columbia before attending the University of Washington. It must have been a real good golf team.
Kim and Yang should help the top 10 ranked Husky women this season.

Lee helps the U.S. win gold

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Jen Lee (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army)

Before we leave winter altogether, the U.S. Men’s Paralympic Hockey team won the gold medal in Sochi, Russia. The Paralympics, which were held in March after the Winter Olympics, featured many of the world’s greatest paraplegic athletes. One of the best performances from the United States came from the USA Hockey team, when it defeated Russia to win the gold medal. Jen Lee was the goalie for Team USA. Lee became the first active-duty soldier selected for the team. Lee currently serves in the U.S. Army. (end)

Jason Cruz can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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