Pacquiao to return
April 9 against Bradley
LAS VEGAS (AP):
Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring April 9 for the first time since losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and it will be against a familiar foe.
Promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday that Pacquiao will fight Timothy Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for a third time in his first bout since losing a decision to Mayweather in the richest fight ever. Pacquiao re-injured a shoulder in that fight and was ineffective against Mayweather in dropping the unanimous decision.
Technically, the fight with Bradley will be the rubber match of their three-fight series. However, most in boxing believe Pacquiao won the first fight in 2012 easily - the judges gave it to Bradley - and was largely dominant in the rematch, which he won by decision.
Top rank spokesman Lee Samuels said the pay-per-view fight has not officially been signed, but that both fighters had agreed to terms and would be signing soon. Pacquiao was given a $2 million advance on his guaranteed $20 million purse, Samuels said.
Messi scores in 500th game for Barca
BARCELONA, Spain (AP):
Lionel Messi scored in his 500th match for Barcelona to help them ease past Real Betis 4-0 on Wednesday and ensure they kept the lead of the Spanish league to conclude a superb year for the Catalan club.
Barcelona broke a run of consecutive draws in the league to cap one of their best years in club history. Before kick-off Andres Iniesta paraded the recently won Club World Cup trophy, their fifth title won in 2015. The four goals scored took the year's tally to 180, bettering Madrid's milestone of 178 from 2014.
"It was a spectacular year, and we wanted to finish it in the same way," Messi said. "It will be complicated to better this, but like always we will try to do so."
Messi recovered from a hard knock with Antonio Adan that was ruled a penalty against the Betis goalkeeper, by scoring Barcelona's second goal, after an own goal put the Catalan side on its way.
CAS rejects appeal from Musa Bility
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP):
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has dismissed Musa Bility's appeal to overturn his exclusion from the FIFA presidential election.
Bility, who is from Liberia, failed to make the field after failing an integrity check.
FIFA's election monitoring panel ruled the Liberian football federation president ineligible last month. No reason was publicly given, but Bility said a previous criminal allegation against him was dismissed by a Liberian court.
CAS says it will release the grounds for its decision early this year.
FIFA has approved five candidates for the election to be held on February 26. Michel Platini, who has been handed an eight-year ban but still hopes to run for FIFA presidency, is also expected to appeal to CAS.
Monfils out of Hopman Cup with leg injury
PERTH, Australia (AP):
Gael Monfils has withdrawn from the Hopman Cup mixed team event due to an unspecified leg injury and will be replaced by French compatriot Kenny de Schepper.
It was not clear whether the injury would prevent the 24th-ranked Monfils from competing in the Australian Open beginning January 18 in Melbourne.
Hopman Cup tournament director Paul Kilderry said yesterday "it's unfortunate to hear Gael is unable to play in Perth ... we wish him well over the next couple of weeks ahead of the Aussie Open."
De Schepper and his partner Caroline Garcia play their first match Monday against the Britain team of Andy Murray and Heather Watson.
Serena Williams and Jack Sock open for the United States, also on Monday, against Elina Svitolina and Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine.