Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, May 09, 2004

Williams hurts ankle in reaching final

BERLIN Venus Williams twisted her ankle while avoiding an upset against Karolina Sprem on Saturday and said the injury could force her to miss the German Open final against Amelie Mauresmo.

Mauresmo surged into Sunday's title match of this $1.3 million French Open tuneup with a 6-2, 6-0 rout of Jennifer Capriati in the other semifinal.

Williams was overpowered in the first set but recovered to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. She wore tape on her left ankle after twisting it in the final game against the 19-year-old Croat.

Marquez salvages a draw

LAS VEGAS Juan Manuel Marquez kept getting up and never gave up. When the fight was over, he had both one amazing comeback and the featherweight titles he brought into the ring against Manny Pacquiao.

Knocked down three times in the first round, Marquez rallied Saturday night to salvage a draw and retain his WBA and IBF 126-pound titles in a thrilling fight with Pacquiao.

Marquez, who seemed as if he wouldn't make it out of the first round, took the fight to Pacquiao from the third round on in a fight that had the crowd at the MGM Grand hotel arena on its feet cheering almost every round.

Judge John Stewart scored it 115-110 for Pacquiao, while Guy Jutras had it 114-110 in favor of Marquez. Judge Burt Clements scored it 113-113.

The Associated Press also scored it 113-113.

''I should have won the fight. I'm disappointed,'' Pacquiao said.

Marquez looked as if he wasn't going to get off the canvas after the third knockdown in the first round, but got on his feet at the count of eight and lasted the final few seconds of the round.

From then on, he was a different fighter, counter punching effectively and piling up the rounds.

''In the first round I got careless and got hit with a right hand,'' Marquez said. ''I was disoriented after the first round, but once I got over that I thought I controlled the fight.''

Pacquiao, cheered on by a large Filipino contingent, said he thought he would knock Marquez out in the first round ''but there wasn't enough time.''

''I thought I won, I didn't think it was close,'' Pacquiao said. ''I thought I took his fight away from him.''

Marquez said he also thought he won the fight.

''In the first round I went in there overconfident,'' Marquez said. ''But I survived that and I thought I won.''

By the final round, the three knockdowns were but a distant memory as Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, told him he had to win the final round.

The fighters then put on a show to end the fight before hugging each other as the final bell sounded.

''I thought Pacquiao had the edge, my God, we had a 10-7 edge in the first round,'' Roach said.

Actually, Pacquiao had an even better edge from two of the three judges, who scored the first round 10-6 in his favor. Jutras was one of those judges, but he then scored 10 of the next 11 rounds for Marquez.

Ringside punch stats showed Marquez landed 158 of 547 punches to 148 of 639 for Pacquiao.

Pacquiao, a hero in his native Philippines, wasted little time going after Marquez, knocking him down for the first time with 1:35 left in the first round with a straight left hand. Marquez got up, only to go down seconds later from another left hand.

After Marquez went down for a third time late in the first round it seemed like the fight was over. Marquez laid on his back on the canvas, gloves over his eyes, while referee Joe Cortez counted before finally getting up at the count of eight and finishing out the round.

The white trunks of Marquez were stained with the blood flowing from his nose, but he fought back and soon began landing some good shots of his own. Late in the third round he hit Pacquiao with a right hand that knocked him back and the two traded punches at the bell.

Marquez was more than holding his own, while Pacquiao seemed to be trying to load up on his left hand.

''More than one shot, do you hear me?'' Roach told Pacquiao after the fourth round.

Pacquiao was cut over the right eye in the fifth round, and Marquez kept the pressure on. In his corner after the sixth round, his trainer told him he had won ever round but the first.

Both fighters weighed 125 pounds.

Both fighters had won 13 straight, and Marquez had stopped his last 11 opponents. Pacquiao, meanwhile, was coming off of a big win last November over Marco Antonio Barrera, thought of at the time as the best 126-pounder in the world.

In a super lightweight fight, Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico remained unbeaten by taking a tough 12-round unanimous decision over Lovemore N'Dou.

Cotto, a 2000 Olympian and the WBA's No. 1 contender at 140 pounds, won on all three scorecards but took some big right hands from N'Dou in improving to 20-0.

Cotto had the edge in the early rounds, landing well with lefts to the body. He continued working the body effectively most of the fight, though he became less aggressive as the fight went on and N'Dou landed some big rights to the head.

''How many more rounds?'' a tiring Cotto asked his corner after the ninth round.

Cotto won 116-112 on one scorecard, 115-113 on a second and 117-111 on the third.

N'Dou, who lives in Australia, fell to 38-7-1, losing his second fight in a row.

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