Sunday, January 15, 2017

DeGale and Jack battle to Draw-Boxing Challenge

As bad as the PBC presentation on Spike was on Friday,that's how good the same promotion (with some help from "Mayweather Promotions") was on Showtime on Saturday as two title fights and a preliminary fight on Showtime Extreme produced excellent viewing for the boxing fan....

The main event saw an attempt to unify two of the super middleweight titles that failed as WBC champion Badou Jack and IBF beltholder James DeGale battled to a majority draw in an entertaining bout.
DeGale scored a flash knockdown of Jack in round one and dominated the early and middle rounds before ceding control to Jack,who won many of the late rounds and dropped DeGale in the final round,nearly stopping the Briton.
Had DeGale not been knocked down in the twelve,he would have won a unanimous decision.
I had DeGale a 114-112 winner,which agreed with one judge,but the other two scored the bout a draw.
One would think a rematch would be in order after such an exciting fight,but Floyd Mayweather,the promoter of Jack appears to want to move Jack to light heavyweight where the natural fight considering promotional issues would be against WBC champion Adonis Stevenson.

The co-feature saw the emergence of a possible future star as Gervonta Davis took the IBF junior lightweight title away from Jose Pedraza via a seventh round knockout.
Davis,another member of Floyd Mayweather's "Money Team" fights far differently than his mentor as Davis comes forward, makes exciting fights and is fun to watch-none of which could be said on a consistent basis of Floyd Mayweather.
Pedraza could have been more effective,if less exciting had he used his size to use the jab and see if Davis could find his way through it.
Instead,Pedraza stood his ground and attempted to back Davis up to his own detriment and fell far behind on the cards before the Davis stoppage.
PBC is stronger in some divisions than others and 130 pounds is not one of their stronger divisions as many of the bullies in the division including the boss of them all in Vasyl Lomachenko fight for other promoters and make fights vs those fighters difficult to make.
Davis strikes me as a talented fighter,who will make good fights,but will wind up being very good,but not elite....
Ramon Malpica and I each earned one point for the Davis win,so after the first weekend.I lead Ramon 4-3...

Normally,I don't mention undercard fights,but Showtime extreme shows a few undercard fights early in the evening at times and there was a middleweight fight between two undefeated prospects that both have been seen on Showtime's ShoBox series for prospects.
Immanuel Aleem was the underdog vs Ievgen Khytrov,but in the fight of the night (which does go a long way),Aleem dropped Khytrov in the first and then again in the third and looked to be ready to put Khytrov away.
That's when the fun really began as a stunned Khytrov turned the tide and began to send Aleem reeling around the ring and was out on his feet before being saved by the bell.
In round six,Aleem dropped a badly hurt Khytrov with a crunching left and an argument could have been made to end the fight right then,but Khytrov gamely rose before being driven into the ropes to be pounded before the referee stopped the fight.
Huge win for Immanuel Aleem,who is worth remembering after this fight and goes to show that there is more than just the main event when it's time for good action in the ring....

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Waste of time-New boxing challenge

I wrote yesterday about the first day of a two day PBC boxing weekend being a waste of time and that's exactly what it was from Hialeah Park in Miami with two blowouts in non-competitive bouts....

In the main event,Erislandy Lara did what you are supposed do when a world champion fights an overmatched opponent-he takes him out as quickly as possible as Lara dominated three rounds and then landed a crunching left hook on former champion and current rabbi Yuri Foreman to end their WBA junior middleweight title fight in the fourth round.
Lara,who is as technically skilled as any fighter in the game,but usually fights in a manner that is as exciting as watching someone clean their basement,gets credit for taking Foreman out,but loses points for fighting Foreman to begin with.
Lara is in perhaps the most difficult spot in boxing as he is A) Very Skilled and B) Usually not very entertaining to watch,which means C) Lara comes with high risk with very little monetary reward for anyone wanting to face him of any type of top level stature.

After the stoppage of Foreman,Lara brought out the usual PBC prattle of "I'll fight anyone",but never anyone that fights for his own promoter (Lara stablemates;WBC champ Jermell Charlo or IBF champ Jermall Charlo),which would be easy fights to make.
Instead,Lara calls for fighters that aren't promoted by PBC and have little interest in a fight against Lara that would have trouble attracting fans (Gennady Golovkin,WBO 154 pound champ Canelo Alvarez,etc).I understand Lara's predicament,but I don't feel too sorry for him being that it is a business and his lack of interest in either Charlo brother takes title unification away from the tide...

The other televised fight saw former super middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell pound former kick boxer Norbert Nemesapati around for six rounds without scoring a knockdown before Nemesapati's corner stopped the bout after the sixth.
Dirrell,the former WBC champ who lost a decision to Badou Jack,who unifies that belt tonight with IBF champ James DeGale, last year has generally fought overmatched opponents since that loss and should be in line for a title fight soon despite that fact.
Dirrell proves little from these showcase bouts other than staying busy and avoiding an upset loss...

This was the type of card that doesn't help fans come to the sport whether it is on free television or not.
I think tonight's Showtime card should be a good on,so tear yourself away from the Patriots blowing out the Texans and check out what I think should be two pretty good contests....

The 2017 boxing challenge started with Ramon Malpica.
I started with three points for the night with two for the Erislandy Lara knockout win and one for the Anthony Dirrell win.
Ramon took two points with one point each for the Lara and Dirrell wins.

Pigskin Picking Machine

Last Week:4-1
Overall: 115-46

New England over Houston 35-10
Pittsburgh over Kansas City 23-17
Green Bay over Dallas 24-20
Seattle over Atlanta 29-26

Friday, January 13, 2017

Title Unification and 2017 Boxing Challenge

The 2017 boxing challenge gets underway with a PBC promoted two nights that features the best and worst of boxing.

Starting with the worst from Spike TV with arguably the worst title fight that you could make from a lack of action point as talented but dull Erislandy Lara defends his WBA junior middleweight title against faded former champion Yuri Foreman,who is also dull and has fought only twice against low level competition since 2013.
This is a pathetic fight if it were just a main event,it's even worse that it is for a world title.
The undercard has former super middleweight champ Anthony Dirrell against Norbert Nemesapati.
Can't you sense the excitement?

However,Uncle Al Haymon and the PBC offers up a really good doubleheader on Saturday on Showtime with two pickem level title matches.
The main event features a title unification at 168 pounds as WBC champ Badou Jack faces IBF titlist James DeGale in Brooklyn.
This should be a good fight and I'm always in for titles being unified...
The co-main event might be one that I'm even more excited about as IBF junior lightweight champion Jose Pedraza defends against Floyd Mayweather protege' Gervonta Davis.
Pedraza was highly touted as a prospect before winning the title,but I had him losing in his first defense to Edner Cherry,although Pedraza got the decision.
Davis doesn't have a top 20 victim on his resume',but has the backing of Haymon and Mayweather,which is why the talented and yet untested prospect is getting this opportunity..
Pedraza better be on his top game as he has made several comments about the PBC not being fair to him,so he may have a rough time getting any decision;let alone a close one.

WBA Junior Middleweight title.12 rds
Erislandy Lara vs Yuri Foreman
R.L:Lara unanimous decision
TRS:Lara KO 10

Super Middleweights.10 rds
Anthony Dirrell vs Norbert Nemaspati
Both:Dirrell unanimous decision

WBA/IBF Super Middleweight title unification.12 rds
Badou Jack vs James DeGale
Both:DeGale unanimous decision

IBF Junior Lightweight title.12 rds
Jose Pedraza vs Gervonta Davis
R.L:Davis unanimous decision
TRS: Davis split decision- I actually think Pedraza is going to win,but I just cannot see him getting a decision all things considered...

Podcast: Q and A

The podcast returns as I answer questions from readers and listeners...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

California Scheming

I know all about the feeling that football fans in Southern California (Far Southern California that is) have today.
They feel betrayed and I've been there with the Browns,so I know how they feel,but this is an unusually special money grab.

The National Football League is well known for taking any dollar that they can grab and for almost any reason and this extends to their franchises.
Their lack of caring and concern extends from Cleveland having the Browns ripped away despite sellouts to be given to Baltimore,who wouldn't have needed a team at all,had the NFL not punched them in the face twice with the Colts moving to Indianapolis and Paul Tagliabue  picking Jacksonville (great call,by the way) over Baltimore in 1990's expansion,so that his beloved Washington D.C could remain the only team in a market that would never accept the Redskins in the Baltimore portion to allowing teams to return to towns for twenty year checks,only to allow those cities (St.Louis and Oakland) to be held up later for more opulent stadiums.
Cities that deal with the NFL do so at their own peril and more than likely,accommodating them is a 10 to 15 year time-share in keeping them happy.
Being fair,baseball is no different as 20ish year old parks in Arlington and Atlanta are being replaced as obsolete,so the NFL isn't alone,but they seem to have a unique place as they almost always (emphasis on both words) go for the money.

San Diego isn't blameless as despite some attempts to finance a new stadium,they have not been able to get a deal finished.
Qualcomm Stadium is 50 years old and I can see the points for a new facility,although sometimes a nice renovation can go a long way (Arrowhead in Kansas City for example) towards revitalization,I agree with the Chargers needing to catch up with the times.
Here are my problems with this.

The city of San Diego has made a decision that the Chargers/NFL is not of the same value to their community as the financial commitment would take to keep them there.
Many people in the sports world are applauding San Diego for not doing so (I saw Rachel Nichols doing so on Twitter to name one person) and if that's how they feel,good for them.
Usually,that doesn't last for long with pro sports (I know the feeling with the Hagerstown Suns),people discover what they have lost and the arduous task of returning pro sports to their town begins.
That's a long road that even if successful,the community winds up spending just as much,if not more to return sports to the area than they would have spent to begin with to keep the team.
Not to mention the moral dilemma that so many have to deal with-stealing because you were stolen from.
I'd have much more respect for San Diego,if they simply said that the NFL has simply gotten too expensive for their city and are moving in different directions.

As for the Chargers,they are a laughing stock after this move.
Not even the Los Angeles media seem interested in the Chargers,they'll be entering a market with two baseball teams (Dodgers and Angels),one other pro football team (Rams),two basketball teams (Lakers and Clippers),two hockey teams (Kings and Ducks) and two major college programs (UCLA and USC) that are powerhouses in football (USC) and basketball (UCLA) to contend with for attention.
They'll be playing in a 30,000 seat stadium for two years until the stadium built for the Rams (and now Chargers) will be ready and have released a logo that basically is a knockoff of the Dodgers that has brought guffaws from all over social media.
Add to that,the Southern California sports fan that notoriously often times is only interested in winning teams and terrific weather that allows year around activity and the Chargers are going to have a very difficult time with a 5-11 team and an aging quarterback (Phillip Rivers) cementing itself in that local sports scene.
The Chargers have long ago being shown to be a franchise that doesn't worry about its fans and customers.
From refusing to give the fans what they want (the powder blue uniforms) to firing the most successful coach in its history (Marty Schottenheimer) to keep around a general manager who sent the franchise to its current spiral,the Chargers have usually succeeded by accident and more often failed by a stubbornness by the Spanos family to listen to its fan base or to anyone that had successful in football.

I see no winner in this fiasco.
The Chargers are going to be shoved into a market that could care less,San Diego loses professional football with the money that brings in,the NFL continues to look like a company that would put a team in Minot, North Dakota,if they'd build them stadium,the Spanos family joins the list of owners that moved a team out of town despite fan support and the fans in San Diego,who can look to Baltimore as an example of having to steal a team for a return to the league,as the NFL will look at San Diego as being close enough to Los Angeles to not be a must have return...

Sad thing to see yet another city lose its team,but in the end.sports are only a game to their fans-to everyone else,it is always a business and in business-money is always the bottom line....

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Case for and against DeShaun Watson

One night after the Clemson Tigers led by quarterback DeShaun Watson upset the Alabama Crimson Tide,the drumbeat began from Cleveland Browns fans-Is the conqueror of Alabama,our guy and the future of the Cleveland Browns under center?

I'll offer a pro and con look at DeShaun Watson before I give my take at the end of the post.
Keep in mind that this is before the post season all-star games and of course the combine,so I'm reserving the right to change my mind...

The Case for the Browns to take Watson

The Cleveland Browns are in need of a quarterback and here is the best quarterback from the college ranks that knocked one of the best teams (thought of before the game) in college football history off and happens to be sitting there for the Browns in a season that they hold two of the top twelve picks in the draft.
Watson gives you decent size (6'2),good speed and has ability to get out of the pocket and make plays with his feet.
Watson has a good arm and some ability to get the ball downfield and not even his worst detractors would knock his leadership abilities or his smarts (graduated in 2 and a half years).
DeShaun Watson is a proven winner,is the most plug and play of the quarterbacks in this draft and might be the top rated of all quarterbacks.

The Case for the Browns to pass on Watson

DeShaun Watson doesn't have great size and tends to run first instead of staying in the pocket.
Watson's arm isn't a cannon and he isn't always accurate when throwing the deep ball.
Even at his best,the Watson accuracy can be erratic from medium to long range,so that is a concern.
Watson's NFL comps range from a bigger Russell Wilson to a more mobile Drew Brees to a Robert Griffin/Colin Kaepernick style that might have been better suited to solve NFL defenses five years ago than the current defenses that have almost made those types of quarterbacks and the systems best suited for them obsolete.
Are you satisfied with using a first round pick,especially the first overall on a player that doesn't figure to be a franchise quarterback?

My Answer
I'm vehemently against taking DeShaun Watson with the first pick in the draft.
To me that would be a huge reach and taking a quarterback for the sake of taking one.
I'm not sure I like Watson at 12 either,but I'm a little more open to him (or any other QB) at that point in the draft.
Honestly,with so many holes on this team,I want the best player on the board and if that means that the Browns don't take a QB until round two or even round three,I would be OK with that.
I want playmakers on either side of the ball and if I (or the Browns) are not convinced that Watson (or any other QB) can be such,then I have no problem waiting a round or two for a perceived lesser quarterback.
My answer is as follows (for now before all the pre-draft stuff)
No at 1,maybe,but lean no at 12,highly consider at 33 depending on who would be there/
It's entirely possible that Watson doesn't make it to 12,quarterbacks are often overdrafted and with several teams between 1 and 12 with a quarterback need,it's arguably even likely Watson isn't there at 12.
All things considered,if the Browns must take DeShaun Watson with the first pick in the draft-I can live without him....