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Pacquiao awaits what could be his last fight

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Manny Pacquiao was sitting on a couch, talking about his dreams.

Good ones and bad, like the one he had a month before fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“I dreamed I lost the fight, but in my dream I also saw there was a problem,” Pacquiao said. “It happened exactly like my dream.”

A lot of boxing fans might have wished Pacquiao had disclosed his dreams before last May’s megafight. They could have saved themselves thousands of dollars for a ticket or $100 to watch at home on pay-per-view in boxing’s richest fight.

Instead they paid to see a ho-hum fight won by Mayweather, quickly followed by an excuse from Pacquiao. In the fourth round he reinjured a shoulder no one outside his camp knew was injured, Pacquiao said, leading to his defeat.

In all it was huge letdown for almost everyone involved. What was billed as one of the greatest matchups in recent years was a snoozer that looked little different from any other Mayweather fight.

Now Pacquiao returns nearly a year later for a welterweight fight with Timothy Bradley that even promoter Bob Arum is having difficulty figuring out how to sell. The two meet in a rubber match of their three-fight series Saturday night, and once again Arum wants fight fans to dig into their pockets for what could be Pacquiao’s final pay-per-view fight.

Arum has jumped in the middle of Pacquiao’s derogatory comments about gays, calling them outrageous while defending the fighter himself. He’s put together a “No Trump” undercard of Hispanic fighters and tried to market the fight as a clash between longtime Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach and new Bradley trainer Teddy Atlas.

But even a promoter of Arum’s stature – he’s celebrating his 50th year in boxing this month – can do only so much. The first two fights between Pacquiao and Bradley weren’t terribly memorable, and boxing fans may still be suffering a hangover from the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.

While his fight with Mayweather generated 4.4 million buys, this one will struggle to do the 700,000 Arum is predicting, even at a lower price. There are also still tickets available at the MGM Grand box office, also a lot cheaper than the Mayweather fight.

Still, there’s a good chance this will be Pacquiao’s last fight, the final time we’ll see the remarkable Filipino who started boxing in the ring at age 12. He’s running for Senate in the Philippines, and if he wins he’ll have a full-time job that would leave little time for training.

He runs hot and cold about leaving boxing, though, and there is the alluring prospect of another big payday or two if he is impressive against Bradley.

“It’s hard to say right now,” Pacquiao said. “I haven’t been there. I don’t know the feeling of being there. But I’m OK with that (retirement).”

If Pacquiao does retire it won’t be because he’s taken too many punches in 65 fights over the last 21 years. He still has his mental faculties, as evidenced by a command of English that gets better every fight, and feels fresh after taking nearly a year off to relax and repair his shoulder.

But he’s getting pressure from his wife to stop boxing, and wants to transition from being a congressman to a senator and, perhaps in the future, make a run for the presidency.

“It’ not about being tired of boxing,” Pacquiao said. “It’s about the advice of my family.”

Even with the loss to Mayweather in a fight that paid him more than $100 million, Pacquiao would seem to have little left to prove in the ring. He won his first title 18 years ago at 112 pounds and added seven others in the years in between as he transformed from scrappy fighter to boxing superstar.

He also claims to have some money still left after years of buying cars, houses and providing for the needs of a lot of his countrymen.

“I’m OK, I’m OK,” Pacquiao said about his finances.

Sitting on the couch in a VIP room at the MGM Grand a few days before his fight with Bradley, Pacquiao seemed at peace with both his life and career. He laughed easily, tried his best to explain contradictions in when exactly his shoulder was hurt (he now claims 2009) and talked about how moving up in weight had taken away some of his knockout power.

He also talked about his dreams, including the one that came to him before the Mayweather fight that he would lose. There have been no dreams about this fight, Pacquiao said, although Roach was quick to offer one of his own.

“I dreamed that he wins this fight by a knockout,” Roach said.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Boxer LaMotta, immortalized in ‘Raging Bull,’ dies at 95

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MIAMI (AP) Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life was depicted in the film “Raging Bull,” has died at the age of 95.

His fiancee, Denise Baker, says LaMotta died Tuesday at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia.

The Bronx Bull, as he was known in his fighting days, compiled an 83-19-4 record with 30 knockouts.

LaMotta fought Sugar Ray Robinson six times, handing Robinson his first defeat. He lost the middleweight title to him in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

In his previous fight, LaMotta saved the championship in movie-script fashion against Laurent Dauthuille. Trailing badly, LaMotta knocked out the challenger with 13 seconds left.

LaMotta threw a fight against Billy Fox, which he admitted in testimony before a U.S. Senate committee. He said he was promised a shot at a title.

On June 16, 1949, he became middleweight champion when Marcel Cerdan couldn’t continue after the 10th round.

The 1980 film “Raging Bull” was based on LaMotta’s memoir. Actor Robert DeNiro won an Academy Award for it.

Canelo and Golovkin fight to controversial draw

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Gennady Golovkin retained his middleweight titles Saturday night, fighting to a draw with Canelo Alvarez in a brutal battle that ended with both fighters with their hands aloft in victory.

The middleweight showdown lived up to its hype as the two fighters traded huge punches and went after each other for 12 rounds. Neither fighter was down and neither appeared seriously hurt but both landed some huge punches to the head that had the crowd screaming in excitement.

Golovkin was the aggressor throughout and landed punches that had put other fighters to the canvas. But he couldn’t put Alvarez down, and the Mexican star more than stood his own in exchanges with Triple G, from Kazakhstan. The two were still brawling as the final seconds ticked down and the fight went to the scorecards.

One judge had Alvarez winning 118-110, a second had it 115-113 in Golovkin’s favor while the third had it 114-114. The Associated Press scored it 114-114.

Golovkin, who has never lost in 38 fights, retained his middleweight titles with the draw. But Alvarez showed that he could not only take Golovkin’s punches but land telling punches of his own.

A frenzied crowd of 22,358 at the T-Mobile Arena roared throughout the fight as the two middleweights put on the kind of show that boxing purists had anticipated. They brawled, used sharp jabs and counter-punched at times, with neither one willing to give the other much ground.

“Congratulations all my friends from Mexico,” Golovkin said. “I want a true fight. I want a big drama show.”

There was plenty of drama late in the fight as Alvarez seemed to rally and rocked Golovkin with uppercuts and big right hands. But just as soon as he landed he often took one back from the slugger so feared that most other fighter avoided him.

“I won seven-eight rounds easily,” Alvarez said.

It was a battle from the opening bell as Golovkin tried to walk Alvarez down but often found himself getting hit from sharp counter punches.

“Today, people give me draw. I focus on boxing,” Golovkin said. “Look my belts, I’m still champion. I’ve not lost.”

Golovkin predicted before the fight that the late rounds would resemble a street fight, and in a way they did. Both fighters were willing to trade, and both had no problems landing hard shots to the head.

Golovkin had chased Alvarez for nearly two years, trying to get the signature fight that would pay him millions and make him a pay-per-view draw on his own. Alvarez finally agreed after Golovkin looked vulnerable earlier this year against Daniel Jacobs in a decision win that stopped his knockout streak at 23 fights.