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Woman is detained in Berbick case

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A woman involved in a long-running land dispute with former heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick has been detained for questioning in connection with his death, police said Monday in Kingston, Jamaica.

Authorities said the woman was the mother of a 20-year-old suspect arrested Sunday but would not release their names.

Berbick’s body was found Saturday in a church courtyard with wounds on the back of his head. A two-inch-thick metal pipe found at the scene is believed to be the murder weapon, police said in a statement.

Police said that Berbick was charged this year with assault for allegedly punching the woman, who lives in the parish of Portland, about 80 miles east of Kingston, where Berbick also lived.

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Berbick, who was believed to be 52 years old, fought at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and defeated Muhammad Ali by unanimous decision in Ali’s final bout in 1981.

Berbick won the World Boxing Council heavyweight title in 1985 with a decision over Pinklon Thomas, but Mike Tyson -- who was 20 -- knocked out Berbick in the second round Nov. 22, 1986, to become the youngest heavyweight champion.

TENNIS

Federer pulls out of Paris Masters

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Top-ranked Roger Federer pulled out of the Paris Masters because of fatigue, and ATP officials promised to take steps to make sure the sport’s elite players abide by commitments to the top tournaments.

Federer’s withdrawal came a day after he won the Swiss Indoors for his 11th title this year. No. 2 Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and David Nalbandian also have withdrawn.

ATP rules allow players to sit out two of the nine Masters events without a fine or suspension. Federer did not play in the Hamburg Masters in May.

In a first-round match, Marat Safin improved to 22-2 at the Paris Masters with a 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory over Nicolas Mahut. Safin has won the Paris Masters three times.

Robby Ginepri defeated Max Mirnyi, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2; Nicolas Almagro beat Jonas Bjorkman, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (7), 7-6 (2); and Olivier Rochus defeated Janko Tipsarevic, 6-4, 7-5.

Former No. 1 Kim Clijsters is scheduled to make her comeback from a two-month injury layoff Wednesday when she begins her defense of her Gaz de France Stars title as the tournament’s new top-seeded player.

Clijsters was promoted to the top spot when Nadia Petrova withdrew from the tournament in Hasselt, Belgium, because of fatigue.

In first-round matches, sixth-seeded Vera Zvonareva beat Vera Dushevina, 7-6 (3), 6-1, and Karolina Sprem defeated Lucie Safarova, 6-4, 6-2.

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SOCCER

U.S. to participate in Copa America

The U.S. men’s national soccer team will take part in the 2007 Copa America in Venezuela from June 26 to July 15, its first participation in South America’s premier tournament since 1995.

The event will be played in nine Venezuelan cities, with Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela each heading groups of four teams for first-round play.

The U.S. played in the Copa America in Ecuador in 1993 and Uruguay in 1995.

-- Grahame L. Jones

MISCELLANY

Cal State Fullerton suspends players

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Senior Bobby Brown and juniors Curtis Battles, Scott Cutley and Frank Robinson have been suspended by Cal State Fullerton for the first three men’s basketball games this season because of a secondary NCAA rules violation, the school announced.

NASCAR officials are investigating whether Robby Gordon intentionally threw debris on the track to cause a caution at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.

A caution was called for about 35 laps from the finish, severely affecting Jeff Burton, who was a lap down because of an earlier incident and needed the field to run through a final round of green-flag cautions to catch up.

Gordon benefited from the caution because he was the first car not on the lead lap. That gave him NASCAR’s “free pass” to get back on the lead lap, and he wound up finishing 10th.

Burton, a contender in the Chase for the Nextel Cup title, finished 13th.

In a task-force report released by NCAA President Myles Brand, Division I schools were encouraged to rein in spending on sports -- but there aren’t any requirements everyone must adhere to or be punished if they don’t.

The task force of about 50 school presidents and chancellors was formed in January 2005. The report makes more than a dozen recommendations, covering spending and how to make sports an integrated part of campus life.

Antitrust laws prevent the NCAA from mandating how much schools can spend, Brand said, adding that because each situation is different, it wouldn’t make sense for there to be broad rules covering budgets for sports.

Alex Zanardi will return to Formula One in a test drive of a modified BMW Sauber on Nov. 24-26 in Valencia, Spain.

Zanardi drove 41 races in Formula One, the last in 1999. He lost his legs in a 2001 crash in Klettwitz, Germany, in a CART race.

He has been driving for BMW in the World Touring Car Championship, winning twice.

Areyoutalkintome, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Doug O’Neill, was added to the field for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint after trainer Nick Zito told race officials Commentator would not run because of a shin injury.

Earlier, Untouched Talent was declared out of the Juvenile Fillies by trainer Jeff Bonde because of an entrapped epiglottis, clearing the way for Lilly Carson, trained by Ralph Nicks.

Each of the eight races for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs is limited to 14 horses.

-- Robyn Norwood


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