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Ed Hawkins reveals truth behind spot-fixing scandal

EXCLUSIVE: The truth behind the amazing story that exposed cricket's dirty secrets

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UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 11 November 2012

The sentencing in November 2011 of three Pakistani cricketers and their agent for their involvement in the Lord’s spot-fixing scandal a year earlier apparently brought to an end one of the most shocking episodes in the history of cricket corruption.

Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Mazhar Majeed were all shown to be corruptible by their roles in the deliberate no-balls that had marred the third Test against England – and paid the price with jail terms. But could their actions, as the judge said, have actually defrauded bookmakers Is it possible to place a bet on the precise timing of a no-ball

In the second exclusive extract of his new book about corruption in cricket, Ed Hawkins re-examines the crucial details of the News of the World (NotW) sting, and explodes some of the myths behind the story that rocked the game…

Scandal: The News of the World published their allegations against three Pakistani players in August 2010

Scandal: The News of the World published their allegations against three Pakistani players in August 2010

The story of Pakistan’s tour of England in the summer of 2010 would have made good reading as a thriller. Intrigue, infamy, cash in suitcases, back-stabbing, even sex, thanks to Veena Malik, the former girlfriend of Asif having her say, and, finally, courtroom drama.

Butt, the Pakistan captain, Asif and Amir, the two fast bowlers, and Mazhar Majeed, the fixer, were each sentenced to prison for their part in bowling no-balls to order in the fourth Test at Lord’s in August of that year. The four men, who all blamed one another for the crime, had been charged with conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.

It was considered a disastrous day for cricket. It was, however, considered a great day for investigative journalism.

Hidden cameras showed Majeed talking to undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood, perhaps best known as the ‘Fake Sheik’.

Majeed was seen to propose three no-balls during the Lord’s Test, two to be bowled by Amir and one by Asif. For this information he was paid 150,000.

‘Caught!’ screamed the NotW headline under a ‘world exclusive’ banner. ‘Match-fixer pockets 150k as he rigs the England Test at Lord’s’. And ‘We expose betting scandal that will rock cricket’.

Butt received two years and six months, Asif one year, Amir six months and Majeed two years and eight months. The story that had everything was a bestseller. But did it really have everything The answer is, unquestionably, no.

Sentenced: Amir (left), Butt (centre) and Asif (right)

Sentenced: Amir (left), Butt (centre) and Asif (right)

In the backstreets of every Indian city, in outbuildings or bedrooms of crumbling apartments, never did a bookmaker cry ‘souda fok!’ – ‘all bets are off, it’s a fix’. In other words, there was no betting scam. There was no spot-fix.

It is the great irony of this tale. A story purported to be the latest in a litany of match-fixing scandals in the sport was far removed from the illegal Indian market where the ‘fix’ supposedly had its roots.

‘It seemed clear to me they that had been scammed,’ an Indian bookmaking contact told me. Recordings by the newspaper showing Majeed, a Croydon-based businessman, predicting when the no-balls were to be bowled would appear proof of match-fixing or spot-fixing to the layman.

But to anyone with a semblance of betting knowledge it was anything but. The NotW spent 150,000 and failed to get a bet on. The money paid was for Majeed to prove that he could control the Pakistan players.

Amid the media storm, not once was the question asked: if the newspaper had wanted to make money betting on the Indian market on those no-balls, could it have done so

Everyone in the Indian book-making world I have spoken to has confirmed it is not possible to bet on the timing of a no-ball.

Yet it was convenient for the media to ignore this point. It would have spoiled the story. The illegal Indian market is a monster. It is vast. It is unregulated. But it is structured and it is certainly not complacent.

No-ball: Amir oversteps at Lord's with Butt watching on

No-ball: Amir oversteps at Lord's with Butt watching on

No-ball: Amir oversteps at Lord's with Butt watching on

‘Do you think we’re fools’ one Indian bookie told me. ‘If someone says they want this no-ball bet for big monies and I’m Ladbrokes, I tell them to go away. No bookmaker in the world takes this bet.’

The reason would be that they suspected you had inside information. And it is no different in India.
You could argue that in the case of the Pakistan ‘spot-fixing’, it is irrelevant that one would not have been able to bet on a no-ball. The three Pakistan players were shown to be guilty of corrupt practices. They were cheating the game, their team-mates and the spectators.

And you would be absolutely right, but only if the court they were being tried in and the judge who would sentence them were aware that a no-ball is not a betting opportunity in India.

The court was not aware. The judge was not aware. This much is clear from the erroneous sentencing remarks by the Hon Mr Justice Cooke: ‘Bets could be placed on these no-balls in unlawful markets, mostly abroad, based on inside advance knowledge of what was going to happen…

Individuals in India were making 40,000–50,000 on each identified no-ball. On three no-balls, therefore, the bookmakers stood to lose 150,000 on each bet by a cheating punter.’

Butt, Asif, Amir and Majeed went to prison for charges that included ‘conspiracy to cheat at gambling’. If there was no bet placed, if there was no opportunity to even place that bet and therefore no one was defrauded, can anyone be guilty of such a charge

Mr Justice Cook said the NotW had ‘got what they bargained for’. Yet without their money, those no-balls would not have been bowled.

Media scrum: Amir arrives in court for the case

Media scrum: Amir arrives in court for the case

Nor would the no-balls have been bowled if Majeed was the fixing kingpin, as he was portrayed. The sting would surely have been drawn from the News of the World if Majeed was indeed the experienced fixer that he claimed to be.

In sales chatter to impress the undercover journalist, Majeed boasted of his knowledge and expertise in the field: ‘I’ve been doing this with the Pakistani team now for about two-and-a-half years, and we’ve made masses and masses of money. You can make absolute millions.’

Majeed said it would cost 400,000 to fix the result of a Twenty20 match, 450,000 for a one-day international and 1million to fix a Test match. There was no mention of how much a no-ball would cost because Majeed, correctly, did not believe one could bet on such an outcome.

Yet when the News of the World reporter was talking about placing bets on no-balls, Majeed, instead of hearing alarm bells ringing in his head, heard the ringing of the cash register.

Had money not been on his mind, he might have recognised he was being set up. Instead, he was focused on providing the no-balls that had been demanded, believing that if he could prove that Pakistan players were under his control, there would be more money to come: ‘I’m going to give you three no-balls, OK … right’

Majeed was true to his word. On the first day of the Lord’s Test, Amir bowled a no-ball from the first ball of the third over and Asif overstepped on the sixth ball of the 10th over. The third was not delivered because poor weather cut play short.

Outraged: England players react as Amir comes out to bat the day after the allegations

Outraged: England players react as Amir comes out to bat the day after the allegations

Keen to reassure his ‘sponsor’ that a third no-ball would still be delivered, Majeed rang the journalist that evening.

He told him that Amir would bowl a no-ball off the third ball of his third full over as he still had three balls to bowl the next morning following the disruption. Majeed confirmed this with Amir via text message.

However, for an unknown reason, Majeed attempted to get the ‘fix’ called off. He phoned the journalist, telling him that there ‘was no point doing the third now’. It is this volte-face that is crucial in exposing Majeed’s inexperience.

Shamed: Amir

Shamed: Amir

Alarmed at the prospect of his scoop losing some lustre, the journalist thinks quickly and tells Majeed that he must go through with the third no-ball because his ‘syndicate’ has already placed the bets.

This is important.

The ‘syndicate’ is claiming to have placed wagers on the timing of no-balls before the match had started. ‘So you can place money on the no-balls then’ Majeed asks. The journalist says yes. ‘What sort of monies’ says a surprised Majeed. This is the partially-sighted leading the blind.

If Majeed had been the shrewd, shady operator that he claimed to be – and the NotW had been only too willing to enhance this ‘reputation’ – then he would have immediately recognised that the journalist was lying.

Indeed, Majeed’s ignorance is stupefying. For a start he should have known that it was not possible for the syndicate to place these bets on a market that did not exist.

Secondly, a fixer well-connected to the Indian industry would have known that, even if such a market did exist, it would have been out of the question to have already placed such a wager before the Test match had started, as the reporter said his punters had done.

Someone asking for odds for a no-ball from a bowler’s third ball off his third full over on the second day would have been laughed at by any bookmaker in India – or anywhere else on the planet.

Adapted from BOOKIE GAMBLER FIXER SPY: A JOURNEY TO THE CORRUPT HEART OF CRICKET’S UNDERWORLD by Ed Hawkins, to be published by Bloomsbury on November 15 @ 16.99. Copyright 2012 Ed Hawkins To order a copy for 14.49 (incl p&p), call 0843 382 0000.

Allen Stanford sentenced to 110 years in prison

'You, sir, are a dirty, rotten, scoundrel': Victims' fury as disgraced financier Allen Stanford is jailed for 110 years
Stanford was convicted in March of 13 or 14 counts of fraudHe had been running his Ponzi scheme for two decades
Prosecutors sought maximum sentence of 230 years
Stanford was once considered 605th richest man in the worldOrganized series of high-paying cricket matches between England and a Caribbean
side

By
Bob Graham

PUBLISHED:

00:24 GMT, 15 June 2012

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UPDATED:

00:26 GMT, 15 June 2012

A Texan tycoon who defrauded almost 5 billion from investors and used his wealth to bankroll international cricket matches in England was jailed for 110 years yesterday.

Allen Stanford, who for 22 years ran investment scams with an estimated 17,000 victims, was once one of the richest men in America, worth more than 1.2 billion.

The courtroom in Houston was packed with many of his victims to hear the sentence handed down, the majority of whom were small business owners.

Two of the estimated 17,000 victims of Stanford’s fraud were allowed to address the court.

Convicted financier Allen Stanford arrives at Federal Court in Houston for sentencing

Jailbird: Convicted financier Allen Stanford arrives at Federal Court in Houston for sentencing

Jaime Escalona, who represented Latin
American victims, addressed the hearing before turning to stare directly
at Stanford to tell him: 'You, sir, are a dirty, rotten, scoundrel.'

The other victims’ spokesman, Angela
Shaw, of the Stanford Victims Coalition, said of the fraudster: 'Allen
Stanford has stolen more than billions of dollars. He took our lives as
we knew them.' She said some 28,000 people had lost money in the scam.

Yet, even in his final hour of shame
the former tycoon couldn’t help but deny it all and to blame others.
'I’m not a thief…..I did not defraud anybody,' he said.

'The US government are responsible
ruining the business….they destroyed it and turned it to nothing.
Stanford was a real brick-and-mortar global financial empire.'

Stanford was convicted in March of 13 of 14 counts of fraud

Guilty: Stanford was convicted in March of 13 of 14 counts of fraud

Stanford now plans to appeal against the conviction and sentence even though he was officially declared 'indigent' – penniless.

The court has now to appoint lawyers
who will be funded out of a scheme similar to Britain’s own legal-aid
and it is estimated to run into tens of millions of dollars.

During sentencing,
Stanford’s 40-minute rambling account was the first time he had actually
spoken to the court about what had taken place during the 22-years his
banking empire existed.

He claimed he was a scapegoat and
blamed the federal government and a court-appointed receiver who took
over his companies in 2009 for tearing down his business empire and
preventing his investors from getting any of their money back.

He said: 'I’m not here to ask for
sympathy or forgiveness or to throw myself at your mercy but I will tell
you I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t defraud anybody.'

Stanford was once considered one of
the richest men in the U.S., with an estimated personal net worth of
more than 1.2billion. His financial empire stretched from the U.S. to
Latin America and the Caribbean.

Calling Stanford arrogant and without
remorse, prosecutors said he used the money from investors who bought
certificates of deposit, or CDs, from his bank in Antigua to fund a
string of failed businesses, bribe regulators and pay for a lavish
lifestyle that included yachts, a fleet of private jets and sponsorship
of cricket tournaments.

Stanford added moments before being
led away: 'If I live the rest of my life in prison… I will always be
at peace with the way I conducted myself in business.'

Disgraced tycoon Stanford’s schemes
were the second largest in US financial history – second only to Bernie
Madoff, the so-called ‘King of Con’ – who was given 150 years for his
11.2-billion Ponzi scheme.

The majority of the victims were small businesses or private investors, looking to cash-in on interest rates above bank rate.

Cricket fan: The then Sir Allen Stanford poses with the England team during the Stanford 2020 Super Series match between England and Middlesex in 2008. He was later stripped of his knighthood

Cricket fan: The then Sir Allen Stanford poses with the England team during the Stanford 2020 Super Series match between England and Middlesex in 2008. He was later stripped of his knighthood

During the 2008 Stanford Super Series, the financier was photographed bouncing the wife of English cricket player Matt Prior on his knee

Cheeky: During the 2008 Stanford Super Series, the financier was photographed bouncing the wife of English cricket player Matt Prior on his knee

Happier times: Allen Stanford poses with Stanford Superstars following their victory at the end of the Stanford 20/20 Super Series match between England and Stanford Superstars in 2008

Happier times: Allen Stanford poses with Stanford Superstars following their victory at the end of the Stanford 20/20 Super Series match between England and Stanford Superstars in 2008

Mike Bishop, of Houston, Texas, who
lost round 900,000 said outside the court: 'This was a wholesale
failure by government agencies who regulate companies such as Stanford.
They are as responsible.

'Here in Texas we believe in capital
punishment but I would not wish it on Stanford, I want him to wake up
every morning in his prison cell and reflect on what he did to us all.'

Stanford, ever the showman, entered the courtroom dressed in green prison fatigues and grinning all over his face.

When handcuffs were taken off he waved
to his elderly mother Sammie Stanford who sat in the well of the court
alongside Stanford’s daughter Randi.

Prosecutors had asked the court for a
sentence of 230 years in prison. The prosecutor told Judge David
Hittner: '230 years will not get anyone their money back but on
sleepless nights they will know that he got the maximum.'

In June 2008 Stanford signed a
controversial deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for a
series of five Twenty20 cricket games between England and a Caribbean
side nicknamed the ‘Stanford All-Stars.’ The winners would collect a
prize-fund of 13.6-million and the losers would get nothing.

Left in the lurch:: Stanford Bank headquarters in Panama City, Panama

Left in the lurch:: Stanford Bank headquarters in Panama City, Panama

Stanford arrived at Lords cricket ground in London in a helicopter containing treasure chests laden wish cash

The U.S. government wants Allen Stanford to forfeit $5.9billion from his massive Ponzi scheme, even though the convicted financier has been declared indigent

From prince to pauper: The man who was once transporting chests filled with cash in his helicopter (left) has been declared indigent and having to rely on court-appointed lawyers

During the tournament, Stanford was
pictured sitting with the England players wives, at one sitting bouncing
the wife of wicketkeeper Matt Prior on his knee.

His next trick was to fly into Lords
aboard a personalised helicopter laden with treasure chests of cash. He
planned to be the saviour of English cricket, even though he admitted he
never really understood the game.

By the time of his arrest, in February
2009, the ECB has severed all ties with Stanford and his honorary
knighthood provided by the government of Antigua had been stripped.

The jury that convicted Stanford also
cleared the way for U.S. authorities to go after about 212-million in
stolen investor funds sitting in the financier’s frozen foreign bank
accounts in London, Canada and Switzerland.

Three other former Stanford executives
are scheduled for trial in September. A former Antiguan financial
regulator was indicted and awaits extradition to the U.S.

Prosecutors said Stanford had treated
his victims like 'roadkill'. They had asked for a prison sentence
spanning more than two centuries, calling him a 'ruthless predator' who
stole from investors 'simply to satisfy his own greed and vanity.'

Allen Stanford found guilty of 4bn fraud

Disgraced Stanford faces life behind bars after being found guilty of 4bn fraud

Disgraced financier Allen Stanford has been found guilty of orchestrating a massive 4.6billion fraud by a court in Houston, Texas.

Stanford set up a series of $20m (12.7m) cricket tournaments between England and West Indies in 2008 and announced the deal with the ECB by landing a helicopter at Lord's.

Jurors reached their verdicts against Stanford during their fourth day of deliberation, finding him guilty on 13 of the 14 charges except a single count of wire fraud.

Appeal: Stanford's lawyers have said they will contest the verdicts

Appeal: Stanford's lawyers have said they will contest the verdicts

Stanford, who was once considered one of the wealthiest people in the US, looked down when the verdict was read.

He faces up to 20 years for the most serious charges against him, but could spend longer than that behind bars if US District Judge David Hittner orders the sentences to be served consecutively instead of concurrently.

His mother and daughters, who were in the federal courtroom in Houston, hugged one another, and one of the daughters started crying whnen the verdicts were read out.

'We are disappointed in the outcome. We expect to appeal,' said Ali Fazel, one of Stanford's attorneys after the hearing.

Howzat! Stanford famously perched Matt Prior's wife Emily on his knee during the England v Middlesex Stanford Super Series match in 2008

Howzat! Stanford famously perched Matt Prior's wife Emily on his knee during the England v Middlesex Stanford Super Series match in 2008

Prosecutors called Stanford a con artist who lined his pockets with investors' money to fund a string of failed businesses, pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts and private jets, and bribe regulators to help him hide his scheme.

Stanford's attorneys told jurors the financier was a visionary entrepreneur who made money for investors and conducted legitimate business deals.

Stanford, 61, who's been jailed since his indictment in 2009, will remain incarcerated until he is sentenced.

Martin Samuel: Cricket won the day

Nothing to report here, unless you love cricket

There will be those who insist that the last two days in Dubai have shown the quality of mercy and the power of redemption.

They believe that Pakistan’s excellent bowling and dogged turn with the bat have revealed what a mistake it would have been to cast the nation’s cricketers into the wilderness after the spot-fixing scandal in 2010.

That is one way of looking at it.

Catch me if you can: Jimmy Anderson celebrates his late wicket

Catch me if you can: Jimmy Anderson celebrates his late wicket

Here is another. What we have seen so far is not a result of indulgence or understanding, but of the very real threat that the sporting world was preparing to deliver the ultimate sanction, having tired of Pakistan’s refusal to confront its corrupting influences.

It is the work of courtroom examination and prison sentences, of media exposure, of a message relayed to the last-chance saloon, telling its inhabitants to drink up and pack a suitcase.

We have finally got what we wanted from Pakistan. A rather uneventful day at the cricket. Fantastic.

There was nothing here to question, nothing to arouse suspicion even in the most cynical observer. Scoring patterns were not like a particularly badly executed foxtrot — slow, slower, quickest, quick, slow — and while there were some unexpected dismissals, Jonathan Trott bagging the wicket of a settled Younis Khan for instance, there was nothing disquietingly unfathomable on view.

Getting his man: Jonathan Trott takes the wicket of Younis Khan

Getting his man: Jonathan Trott takes the wicket of Younis Khan

Making a breakthrough: Trott is congratulated after his wicket

Making a breakthrough: Trott is congratulated after his wicket

And some may feel that is a pity. They may think that it was Pakistan’s maverick nature that made them such compelling opponents. Yet as so much of that eccentricity aroused justified suspicion, it became colour we could do without.

Had the players and administrators that undermined cricket in Pakistan been allowed to continue unchecked, who knows what we would have seen on Wednesday.

It might have been more interesting but only in the way the fantasy of a West End show is more entertaining than the daily grind of life. What took place instead was a game of cricket; apologies if it wasn’t for you, but there may well be a few more long afternoons in the sun like this before the series is out.

‘We got wickets with really good balls today,’ said Stuart Broad, the pick of England’s bowlers, and one sensed that might not always have been the case in the past.

Pick of the bowlers: Stuart Broad took two wickets on day two of the Test

Pick of the bowlers: Stuart Broad took two wickets on day two of the Test

The rehabilitation of Pakistan cricket does not end with the imprisoned three. There are other notorious figures, subject to dark speculation and in one instance the threat of public exposure, who are also not here. Questions may be asked about Saeed Ajmal’s action, but not his integrity, and there is similar confidence in captain Misbah-ul-Haq.

Yes, off-spinner Ajmal’s seven wickets on Tuesday were not without controversy, but there is an ocean separating the legality of a doosra ball and the fixing of events in a game.

For Ajmal’s doosra, read the drying of the football before throw-ins at Stoke City, added buoyancy swimsuits in the Olympic pool or the use of the whip in horse racing. These are technical arguments about the method of playing the game. Chucking the ball and chucking the match are polar opposites. Whatever the final verdict on Ajmal’s doosra, it is unquestionable that he aims it to win.

If anything, Pakistan need more like him; more players to whom victory is all.

Going close: England's James Anderson, Graeme Swann and captain Andrew Strauss watch as the ball hits Misbah-ul-Haq

Going close: England's James Anderson, Graeme Swann and captain Andrew Strauss watch as the ball hits Misbah-ul-Haq

Who knows what Mohammad Aamer, the young fast bowler whose six-month prison sentence was trumped by a five-year ICC ban from cricket, makes of it all Does he keep abreast of developments from his cell Does he care Does he regret

The cancer had to be excised from Pakistan cricket for the sake of men like Ajmal, whose brilliance was undermined by the baser urges of the men around him.

Only by removing them and removing those whose lax executive leadership had allowed corruption to flourish, could Pakistan cricket and Pakistani cricketers realise their potential.

What went before had not worked. Judicial inquiries whose recommendations were largely ignored; life bans that were nothing of the sort; a culture of studied ignorance and denial.

Day at the cricket: Despite the lack of spectators there was a good afternoon's cricket in Dubai

Day at the cricket: Despite the lack of spectators there was a good afternoon's cricket in Dubai

It needed cricket’s equivalent of the nuclear option or Pakistan could not progress. Now here we are. Even when Misbah’s innings slowed to the pace of a three-legged camel, it still felt good.

This did not end up as the best day for Pakistan because England possess incredibly determined bowlers.

If Muhammad Hafeez, the Test’s top scorer so far with 88, is right and Pakistan are going to fall short of their target — by popular consent par for this track in the first innings is 400 — it is because, despite the evidence of the first day’s play, England are currently the best team in the world. If the batsmen fail, as they did on Tuesday, it is unlikely the bowlers will, too.

So, the opening pair having steered Pakistan through to 114, the next six wickets fell at a steady rate, evenly spread over an additional 174 runs. England’s seamers toiled, Graeme Swann kept it tight, without ever having the bamboozling impact of Ajmal, and Trott picked up what many England players regard as Pakistan’s key wicket — in his first over no less.

Keeping it tight: Graeme Swann kept the runs down

Keeping it tight: Graeme Swann kept the runs down

Only Chris Tremlett did not strike and the two late wickets, including that of Misbah lbw to Swann courtesy of a referred decision that no umpire would have made with the naked eye, edged the day in England’s favour.

Yet there are still 96 runs between the teams with three first-innings Pakistan wickets remaining, meaning the genuine tourists have had a little of their swagger removed with the series in its infancy.

There was even the odd handful of boisterous Pakistan fans inspired to come out by the events of the first day. It was all very encouraging.

You never know, if their numbers are bolstered by the arrival of the Emirati weekend on Friday and Saturday, the DSC Stadium might achieve an atmosphere that does not make this feel like the first Test match on the moon.

Floyd Mayweather Jnr sent to prison

Jailed! Mayweather will serve 90-day prison sentence after pleading guilty to battery

Floyd Mayweather has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge and no contest to two harassment charges.

The boxing champion, who has a perfect 42-0 ring record and has dodged jail in previous domestic violence cases in Las Vegas and Michigan, was sentenced on Wednesday.

The case stemmed from a hair-pulling, punching and arm-twisting argument with his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris while two of their children watched in September 2010.

In the dock: Floyd Mayweather at his court appearance

In the dock: Floyd Mayweather at his court appearance

“Punishment is appropriate,” Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa said after a prosecutor complained that Mayweather has been in trouble before and hasn”t faced serious consequences.

“No matter who you are, you have consequences to your actions when they escalate to this level of violence.”

Good behavior could knock several weeks off Mayweather”s sentence, but he will likely serve most of the sentence which is set to begin on January 6.

Mayweather and his manager Leonard Ellerbe declined to comment outside the courtroom.

The sentence raises further doubts about a long-awaited showdown between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, whoeach have their backers for claims to being the world”s best pound-for-pound fighter.

A long-awaited fight between the two men regarded as among the best of their generation has been delayed by stalling techniques and verbal sparring.

Smarten up: Mayweather has his tie adjusted by manager Leonard Ellerbe

Smarten up: Mayweather has his tie adjusted by manager Leonard Ellerbe

The two men have a defamation lawsuitpending in Las Vegas federal court stemming from statements by Mayweather that he suspects Pacquiao was taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Mayweather returned in September froma 16-month lay-off to continue his undefeated record with a controversial knockout of Victor Ortiz in Las Vegas.

Mayweather”s promoters have a May 5 date reserved against an as-yet unnamed opponent at the MGM Grand GardenArena. But if Mayweather is jailed until the end of March, it could cutinto the usual eight-plus weeks he takes to train.

Mayweather, 34, stood still in a striped olive vest and showed no reaction as the judge sentenced him to six months in the Clark County jail then suspended half the term.

She gave him credit for three days previously served in jail and ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service, pay a $2,500 fine and complete a yearlong domestic violence counseling programme.

The plea deal he accepted avoided trial on felony and misdemeanor that could have got Mayweather 34 years in state prison if he was convicted on all counts.

Saragosa said she was persuaded to jail Mayweather following his admission that he hit Harris and twisted her arm, and that two of their children, aged nine and 10, witnessed theattack.

Enlarge Sentence: Mayweather and his team arrive for his big day

Sentence: Mayweather and his team arrive for his big day

Mayweather threatened to kill or makeHarris “disappear”, Saragosa said, and their 10-year-old son ran from the house and jumped a back gate to fetch security. Mayweather had takencellphones belonging to Harris and the two boys.

“Things could have gotten more out of hand than they did,” the judge said.

Luzaich cited three previous domesticviolence arrests for scuffles involving Harris, with whom Mayweather has three children, and three cases involving another woman with whom Mayweather has one child.

Mayweather also is expected to plead no contest next week to a separate misdemeanor harassment charge involving a 21-year-old homeowner association security guard who was poked in the face during an argument about parking tickets placed on cars outside Mayweather”s house.

Mayweather”s lawyer, Karen Winckler, said she may appeal what she called the unusual sentence handed down Wednesday.

In court, she called Mayweather “a champion in many areas” and aired a list of his good deeds, including buying toys for children for Christmas and promising to donate $100,000 to breast cancer research by the end of December.

Winckler argued that the public would benefit more if Mayweather performed 100 hours of community service with children.

Mayweather is also on the hook for 40hours of community service with the Las Vegas Habitat for Humanity Project under a South Carolina federal judge”s order for dodging a deposition in a music rights lawsuit.

Ring hero: Mayweather is a star of boxing but will now be out of the fight game

Ring hero: Mayweather is a star of boxing but will now be out of the fight game

Mayweather has a January 31 deadline on that court order. Habitat for Humanity official Catherine Barnes saidWednesday that Mayweather had not started to log the hours.

Mayweather goes by the nickname “Money” and was guaranteed $25million for the Ortiz fight that won him the WBC”s welterweight belt. Mayweather earned more than $20m in a previous fight against Shane Mosley.

Mayweather has been arrested several times since 2002 in battery and violence cases in Las Vegas and in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich.

He was convicted in 2002 of misdemeanor battery stemming from a fight with two women at a Las Vegas nightclub. He received a suspended one-year jail sentence and was ordered to undergo impulse-control counseling.

He was fined in Grand Rapids in February 2005 and ordered to perform community service after pleading nocontest to misdemeanor assault and battery for a bar fight.

He was acquitted by a Nevada jury in July 2005 after being accused of hitting and kicking Harris during an argument outside a Las Vegas nightclub.

He was acquitted again in October of misdemeanor allegations that he threatened two homeowner association security guards during a parking ticket argument.

Mayweather also faces a civil lawsuitin Las Vegas from two men who allege he orchestrated a shooting attack on them outside a skating rink in 2009. Police have never accused Mayweather of firing shots and he has never been criminally charged in the case.