Saturday's nontitle welterweight bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez has all the makings of a classic as the two fighters prepare to meet for a fourth and, almost certainly, final time in the ring.
Their previous three encounters were gripping, all-action affairs between Filipino Pacquiao, probably the greatest offensive fighter of his generation, and Mexican Marquez, one of the best counterpunchers in recent memory.
Adding further spice to the mix is the fact that both men have a lot to prove when they square up at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for their heavily anticipated showdown.
While the 33-year-old Pacquiao (54-4-2 38 KOs) is eager to show his powers have not diminished with age after a below-par performance and a stunning upset in his last two bouts, Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) is determined to set the record straight against the Filipino southpaw.
Marquez has yet to beat Pacquiao, having lost twice and drawn once, but the 39-year-old Mexican firmly believes he was "robbed" of three wins because of the judges' verdict.
SOCCER: In Hoover, Ala., Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Gomez blocked Helge Leikvang's shot in the final round of a shootout, lifting the Hoyas over Maryland, 4-3, on penalty kicks following a 4-4 tie in the NCAA soccer semifinals. Georgetown (20-3-2) beat Maryland (20-2-2) for the first time in 29 tries. In Sunday's final, Georgetown will face 15-5-3 Indiana, a 1-0 winner over Creighton in the other semifinal.
SPORTS BETTING: NBA commissioner David Stern scolded Gov. Christie and said New Jersey "has no idea what it's doing" by seeking to allow sports betting in the state in a deposition in the ongoing legal battle between the governor, the four major professional sports leagues, and the NCAA.
RODEO: Three-time world bull riding champion J.W. Harris had a 90.5-point ride on Stink Eye in the National Finals Rodeo to win the opening round and take the lead in the world standings.
In saddle bronc riding, defending world champion Taos Muncy of Corona, N.M., won with an 87 on Fire Lane.
SKIING: In St. Moritz, Switzerland, Tina Maze of Slovenia won her third race of the season in a World Cup super-combined event Friday, while Lindsey Vonn failed to finish.
ICE SKATING: Mao Asada took the lead with an exuberant short program at the Grand Prix Final in Sochi, Russia, edging American Ashley Wagner by a half point. In ice dancing, Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States led after the short dance, nearly two points ahead of world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.
Two-time Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir said he is skipping the rest of the season to prepare for the 2014 Winter Games.
- Associated Press