BOXING Not planning to lead with boxing often, but the sudden stunning end to the epic trilogy-plus between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez after a back-and-forth encounter is the exception. So is the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight officially off the table now?
But then the fights delivered for the most part. Lightweight champion Ben Henderson might get the respect he deserves, following up two close decision wins over Frankie Edgar with utter domination of Nate Diaz, who couldn’t get close enough to Henderson to unleash the Diaz brothers’ “punches in bunches” attack. All Diaz could offer were leglock attempts against Henderson, who seems contractually obligated to make a few miraculous escapes in each fights. That’s Lightweight Present. It was a bad night for Lightweight Past, BJ Penn, who remained up at welterweight to be pummeled for three rounds by Rory MacDonald, a rising welterweight contender who earned few fans with his showboating and his immediate call-out of Carlos Condit. He finally offered up his respects to the great but clearly diminished Penn, but it might be too late as far as the fans are concerned. Light heavyweights also have a strong contender on the rise in Alexander Gustafsson, who dispatched former UFC and Pride champion Mauricio Rua. The fight was the best of a strong main card, but Gustafsson rose to the Rua challenge more convincingly than Dan Henderson, who’s supposed to be in line for a title shot. Just saying. Bellator was supposed to have its featherweight tournament finale, but Shahbulat Shamhalaev got food poisoning, postponing his bout with Rad Martinez. The highlight was Jessica Eye‘s standing submission over Zoila Gurgel.
ALPINE SKIING Lindsey Vonn looks set to duel with Slovenia’s Tina Maze for the World Cup title this season, and the rivalry needed a bit of cooling off after Slovenia’s staff apparently misinterpreted something Vonn said at the finish after she won the super-G in St. Moritz.
Remember — “Vonn” and “Maze” are both four-letter words. So is “Tina” for that matter. But not Julia Mancuso, who finished a strong third. In any case, Maze had the better weekend. In addition to finishing second in the super-G, she won the super-combined and giant slalom. So Vonn prevented the hat trick, but Maze has 677 points to Maria Hoefl-Riesch‘s 443 and Vonn’s 414. Mancuso is fifth at 251. Ted Ligety is second in the men’s standings after finishing 12th in slalom and third in giant slalom at Val d’Isere, where leader Aksel Lund Svindal cooled off a bit.
FIGURE SKATING Grand Prix Final! And like the ski jumpers, they were in Sochi. Japan swept the men’s (Daisuke Takahashi) and women’s (Mao Asada) events; Russia won the pairs. But it wasn’t a bad weekend at all for the USA: Meryl Davis and Charlie White pulled off the win in ice dancing.
Fun quote in that story from Ashley Wagner: “For me, I always like to go big or go home, so when I fall I like to fall really hard.” The American still finished second. That’s not bad — that’s bad-ass. Elsewhere, Olympic champion Kim Yu-na came back to steal the spotlight from Asada and Wagner.
SPEEDSKATING Heather Richardson‘s results from the weekend in Nagano: third, first, sixth, second. The top two were from 1,000-meter races; the others from the 500. Brittany Bowe was fourth in the 1,000. Tucker Fredricks got on the podium for the U.S. men; Shani Davis barely missed out.
The USA didn’t participate in the short-track World Cup in Shanghai — if you’re still curious about the results, knock yourself out.
SLIDING SPORTS A slightly down weekend for the USA’s Steven Holcomb — fifth in the two-man, sixth in the four-man. But there was plenty of success for the U.S. women in Winterberg: Elana Meyers and Katie Eberling were second in bobsled, while Noelle Pikus-Pace returned to the World Cup skeleton podium after nearly three years away.
CHESS Magnus Carlsen, who will officially take over as the highest-rated human of all time in January, was held to a draw by world champion Vishy Anand but won the London Chess Classic. London is one of those tournaments that uses a soccer-style 3-1-0 points system, so Carlsen got 18 points for his 5-3-0 (W-D-L) record and a truly sick performance rating of 3044. Only a handful of players have ever had a tournament rating above 3000. Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik was second with 16 points (4-4-0). England’s Michael Adams and the USA’s Hikaru Nakamura shared third with 13 (3-4-1). Anand was a little disappointing with 9 points (1-6-1). SOCCER Mostly stuff you already know about American players overseas, the U.S. women’s win over China and Lionel Messi‘s record: