Fernandez & Pacquiao grab sports headlines
By Al S. Mendoza
TWO screaming sports stories this week:
One, Ramon Fernandez did not make an empty threat, proceeding to sue Jose “Peping” Cojuangco for libel.
Two, Manny Pacquiao is fighting Jeff Horn of Australia after all.
Fernandez filed the case in Cebu City on Tuesday.
The court action stemmed from Cojuangco’s public statement that Fernandez was “a game fixer” when Fernandez was still playing for Toyota in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Fernandez vehemently denied the charge.
“I did not fix games,” he said, “but I did fix my teams to win titles.”
The Maasin, Leyte-born Fernandez won a total of 19 PBA titles, becoming the first to win four Most Valuable Player awards from the 70’s to the 80’s.
Known as the PBA’s “El Presidente” for his elegant moves and scoring skills, the 6-foot-4 Fernandez drew the ire of Cojuangco when he exposed Cojuangco’s alleged anomalous handling of public funds.
“He (Cojuangco) has yet to properly liquidate some P38 million given him by the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission),” said Fernandez, one of four PSC commissioners.
Obviously piqued, Cojuangco, 82, serving a fourth four-year term as POC president, countered that “Fernandez was a game-fixer” while playing for Toyota.
Saying this was an insult and damaging to his reputation, Fernandez, 63, said he would hale Cojuangco to court if:
One, Cojuangco would not retract what he said.
Two, Cojuangco would not apologize publicly.
And three, Cojuangco would not resign as POC president.
Cojuangco stood his ground, forcing Fernandez to seek redress from the court.
Aside from criminal liability, Fernandez is also asking damages to the tune of P10 million.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao has signed the contract to fight Horn (16-0-1, win-loss-draw, 11 knockouts) on July 2.
Horn, a former schoolteacher, will challenge Pacquiao, the reigning WBO junior welterweight champ, in Brisbane, Australia.
Pacquiao will earn at least $7.5 million for the bout that was finally inked because of Bob Arum’s imprimatur.
The fight was ditched when Arab businessmen tried to lure Pacquiao to fight Amir Khan in Dubai.
When that one fell apart, Pacquiao went back to Horn.
“Horn is an Aussie,” said Arum in a Los Angeles Times interview. “There’s government behind it. They want the fight…Essentially, to buy the cheese, they wanted Pacquiao against this Aussie fighter.”
Pacquiao has practically two months to prepare for the fight that will be jointly bankrolled by the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council.
Brisbane is home to many Filipinos, ensuring Pinoy support for Pacquiao, whose last fight was in November when he easily decisioned Jessie Vargas.
This early, Pacquiao is seen to score another easy victory.