Saturday, June 29, 2019

Boxing Challenge; Commey stops Beltran

Ray Beltran missed the lightweight weight limit by nearly two pounds, but after some side agreements, the show went on in Temecula California in a junior welterweight bout rather than the first defense of Richard Commey's IBF lightweight title.

Commey made sure the ESPN audience saw the best from the professional that made weight as Commey drilled Beltran with four knockdowns, two of them in round one on his way to an eighth-round knockout of the former WBO champion.
Commey almost ended this fight early as he stormed from his corner to score two knockdowns, one of which was scored because only the ropes allowed Beltran to stay on his feet.
Beltran did battle back though and answered the Commey attack with counter shots, including one left hook that caused Commey to pause for a bit and allowed Beltran to hear the bell.
The next three rounds were fought on fairly even terms, although Commey had an edge on my card until a fifth-round knockdown essentially changed the fight to a Commey attack against an occasional Beltran counter hook.
After the fifth round knockdown, you had the feeling that the ending of the fight and its result was only a matter of time and Commey's left that crashed home in the eighth and drove Beltran to the floor seat-first did just that.
Beltran rose, but the fight was stopped then and there.

For the technically flawed, but fun to watch Commey, it looks like it will be elite prospect Teofimo Lopez next, assuming Lopez wins his title eliminator in July.
Commey can be easy to counter and one would think that would be a problem against the hard-hitting Lopez, but as he proved against Beltran if Commey lands he is capable of hurting any lightweight in the world.
As for Beltran, it could be time for him to consider the gold watch route and step away after his second defeat in three fights and being stopped for the first time since 2001 (!).
If Beltran does decide to fight on, it is clear that he cannot make the lightweight limit any further and will need to move up to the junior welterweight division, where plenty of young stars are waiting and with Beltran unlikely to defeat the likes of Regis Prograis, Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez or Maurice Hooker, it would seem to be a high mountain to climb.

In the co-feature, talented junior middleweight Carlos Adames was taken to the limit by veteran Patrick Day but won a unanimous decision in an entertaining faceoff.
Day was badly hurt in the ninth and tenth rounds and at the bell, Day seemed to be hanging on by a thread as Adames hammered away attempting to grab the knockout.
For Adames, this is the type of hard fight that prospects need to progress up the ladder and develop the skills needed to survive a difficult fight against better competition and I thought Adames fought well.
The surprise was Day, who was even on my card after eight rounds (I scored Adames a 96-94 winner) and fought well against a superior force in Adames.
I would wager that Day's performance in this one was noticed by managers and promoters and he'll receive future chances to give similar tests to prospects in the future.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored two points to move the totals to 154-140.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Boxing Challenge

The boxing weekend starts early this weekend with a Friday night card that originally was going to be the first defense for Richard Commey of his IBF lightweight title against rugged veteran and former WBO champion Ray Beltran from Top Rank and ESPN.

The card will remain, but as a junior welterweight bout as Beltran blew the weigh-in and therefore the title fight was no more.
Commey will retain his title, regardless of the result and Beltran will lose forty percent of his purse with twenty percent to Commey and twenty to the California athletic commission.
It's still a good fight, but a title fight would be preferred and this looks like a good mesh of styles.
Now, even though Commey retains his championship no matter the result, a Beltran win on national television might take some of the edge away for his unification fight later this year against Vasyl Lomachenko, who holds two titles (WBA and WBO) and will be fighting Luke Campbell for the vacant WBC title in late August.
I'm not sure what the solution to fighters missing weight and it seems to be happening more and more frequently.
I still think moving the weigh-ins to the morning of the fight would help or at least penalize the fighter that misses weight by making him weaker for the event.
I understand the concerns for fighter safety, but where's the concern for the fighter that did his job and made weight against the beefed up fighter?
Having an extra 12 hours or so (weigh-ins used to be on fight mornings) could be a help in more fighters making weight and might be worth pursuing.
The co-feature showcases big punching prospect Carlos Adames against Patrick Day.
Adames in a junior middleweight fight,
Adames looked very strong in demolishing Frank Galarza in four rounds in April.

Two middleweight titles are on the line on two platforms on Saturday.
Yes, the ridiculous decision by the WBC to name Canelo Alvarez something called a "franchise champion" which is essentially a reason for Canelo to avoid mandatories and the WBC to still be involved with a cash cow has now turned Jermall Charlo as the WBC champion despite never defeating a top ten middleweight.
I'll deal with the WBC in an upcoming post, but just as the middleweight division was closing in on a unified champion, this decision has brought the PBC into the division with a title and one they will be unlikely to defend against fighters that are promoted by another entity or from their background with the Charlo brothers, rarely against anyone with a pulse.
While I don't expect the commentators to take on a fight their network purchased, I'm hoping someone picks up the gauntlet against the WBC's silliness and how they now have a champion that has never fought a top ten contender in the division

Showtime boxing continues to be the loser in the programming wars as PBC continues to shuffle their secondary cards to the best-produced broadcasts in the game.
This shapes up as possibly the worst card that Showtime has broadcast and unless something unexpected happens, looks to me to be two mismatches and a fight better suited to FS1.

In their main event, new WBC middleweight champion (and that's ridiculous in its own right) Jermall Charlo "defends" against Brandon Adams, who is a natural junior middleweight that just won the "Contender" reality television show.
While I've been critical of Charlo's competition (he holds two or maybe three victories worth noting), Adams is a special case as he enters with three wins in five round fights and a decision win over Shane Mosley Jr.
Adams has never defeated a top ten contender and even if this wasn't originally a world title fight, it still is a sad excuse for one.

Erickson Lubin, the big punching yet soft jawed junior middleweight that was wiped out in one by Jermell Charlo in his only go at a top ten fighter faces Zakaria Attou in a WBC eliminator for the winner of the Tony Harrison-Jermell Charlo rematch.
Lubin, who crushed faded former champion Ishe Smith in three in his last fight, is miles ahead of Attou, who has fought no one that you've ever heard of, has lost six times and in his 29 wins has only seven KO's,

In their opener, Eduardo Ramirez faces Claudio Marrero in a WBA eliminator for a mandatory shot at Leo Santa Cruz.
Marrero, who has been a staple on lower level PBC cards, does have a big punch and can make fun fights, but lost a unanimous decision to Tug Nyambayar in his last fight, while Ramirez lost his only title shot against Lee Selby, but rallied from behind to stop undefeated Bryan De Gracia in the ninth in his last outing.
This will be the most competitive fight of the night, but neither should be the mandatory for a title let alone the often-reluctant Santa Cruz.

DAZN will have the other middleweight champion as talented, but often dull Demetrius Andrade defends against Maciej Sulecki.
Sulecki gave Daniel Jacobs all he wanted in 2018, but in March, he barely held on against Gabriel Rosado, who knocked him down twice in the ninth and banged him around in the tenth.
Sulecki won the deserved decision but showed vulnerability in defeat, so this could be a good chance for Andrade to win impressively.

Former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker will make his DAZN/Matchroom debut against former world title challenger Alex Leapai.
Parker KO'ed undefeated Alexander Flores in his first fight since his close decision loss in a great fight against Dillian Whyte last summer.
Leapai is durable, but shouldn't be a test for Parker.

In the DAZN opener, Kal Yafai defends his WBA junior bantamweight title against Norberto Jimenez.
On paper, this looks like a squash match with Jimenez's 29-8-4 record, but Jimenez hasn't lost since 2011 and has a draw in Japan in a 2014 challenge of Kohei Kono for this very title.
The undefeated Yafai might be facing someone that is better than his record as he continues to look for a big fight perhaps against WBC champion Juan Francisco Estrada.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 152-138.

Junior Welterweights.12 Rds
Richard Commey vs Ray Beltran
Both: Commey Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 10 Rds
Carlos Adames vs Patrick Day
R.L: Adames KO 7
TRS: Adames KO 4

WBC Middleweight Title 12 Rds
Jermall Charlo vs Brandon Adams
R.L; Charlo KO 4
TRS: Charlo KO 3

Junior Middleweights 12 Rds
Erickson Lubin vs Zakaria Attou
R.L: Lubin KO 6
TRS: Lubin KO 4

Featherweights. 12 Rds
Claudio Marrero vs Eduardo Ramirez
Both: Ramirez Unanimous Decision

WBO Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Demetrius Andrade vs Maciej Sulecki
R.L: Andrade KO 9
TRS: Andrade Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights,12 Rds
Joseph Parker vs Alex Leapai
Both: Parker Unanimous Decision

WBA Junior Bantamweight Title 12 Rds
Kal Yafai vs Norberto Jimenez
Both: Yafai Unanimous Decision

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Rollin' down to Memph Err Charleston

Catching up from Fred Landucci and I's trip to Charleston, West Virginia for the South Atlantic League All-Star game from a week plus ago. but before I begin two caveats- one the picture is one used from a previous Appalachian Power Park visit as the ones I took are elsewhere currently!
Apologies for that and for this-this might not be the most exciting recap of a road trip that I've ever written or you have read!

Why was that?
Read on and see.
I've written about Charleston and things that we have been able to see and do in the area in the past, but this wasn't one of those trips.
This trip was pretty one-dimensional as we drove straight to the stadium other than a quickie lunch at Long John Silver's (try not to get too excited here) as the Power were placing on their website all week about long lines etc.

We arrived maybe 30-35 minutes before the five o'clock gate opening and there were maybe 25 people ahead of us.
The line did increase in size as the openings grew closer, but nothing that I would consider a long wait time and it was nowhere near what I would have expected for an event such as this.
The Power did give away a very nice commemorative metal tumbler that will be well used here as I gave it to the lovely Cherie, who didn't have a steel tumbler, but I did (go Bucks!)
While back in Maryland, I've been told near chaos was erupting at the Carolina League all-star matchup, we were among maybe ten people graphing and I was able to have most of my cards signed.
There were a few that I had a sizable amount for that did not arrive for various reasons, Adam Hall of Delmarva (I'll see Adam twice in the second half) and Josh Breaux and Josh Stowers of Charleston (The Riverdogs do not come to Hagerstown this season), so that was disappointing and I missed most of Delmarva's hitters as a Shorebirds fan that made the trip occupied much of their time,, but otherwise I did very well.
Delmarva's Grayson Rodriguez (2018 Orioles 1st rounder) signed everything I had including my top 100 and was very nice, while the other top 100 that I landed on the day was Ronny Mauricio, who is the shortstop for the Columbia Fireflies (Mets).
Mauricio is very quiet and I have a feeling he struggles with the language, the 100 would have been all that I would have reeled in, but later, Fred struck up a conversation with a Columbia fan traveling to the game and that fan knew Mauricio and helped Fred get another card (SAL top prospect, the first card out of the new set that I purchased during downtime) for me.
The other players that I needed were pretty accommodating, although Tristan Casas of Greenville (2018 Boston #1) and Charleston's Canaan Smith were only one per, Casas was nice (Fred nabbed Smith for me while I was getting another player).

There was a home run derby scheduled for six with the game starting around 7;30, but the derby took so long that they cut the second round out of the competition (it was supposed to move from eight to four to two) and moved to a four-hitter final round.
The derby was won by Hickory's Curtis Terry (Rangers and promoted to High A Down East a few days later) and we were able to get a few others as the teams left the field.
However, the derby had left things very short on time and we were walking around at 8;10 and the teams were still be introduced on the field.
This looked to be a very long evening now for a post-game attempt, so Fred and I conversed a bit, looked at what I hadn't gotten signed yet (Most were from Delmarva, who is the next team to come into Hagerstown) and decided to head out for dinner.

A dinner at TGIFridays across the street from our hotel, sleep shortly after and an early morning ride home the next day and the trip was over as I had to work later that night.
Not the most exciting read, but Fred and I always have a good time on these trips and I would bet money on one thing- we had a much better time than we would have had at Frederick!!!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Boxing Challenge: PBC's One Shot Night

The PBC card on Fox looked bad Sunday night from Las Vegas on paper.

After all, the WBC junior middleweight title grudge rematch between Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo was on ice after Harrison suffered a training injury to his ankle that required surgery, late replacement Jorge Cota was clearly not on Charlo's level, the perpetually boring, yet technically dominant Guillermo Rigondeaux in the supporting bout against Julio Ceja and another Joey Spencer squash match to drag out what looked to be a dull night live from Haymon Land.

The main event ended as expected as Jermell Charlo violently knocked out Jorge Cota in the third round with a pair of right hands, the first one which dropped Cota and almost ended the fight then and there, but Cota was given the chance to survive only to be devastated by one more straight right that looked to be guided by radar and end the fight that will certainly be mentioned in the knockout of the year conversation.
While the KO was exciting, the fight didn't really prove anything considering the opponent and the post-fight talk featured the typical Charlo crowing, including the inference that Harrison dodged the fight, despite his watching from ringside with the ankle propped up, many fans/media criticized Charlo for yet another win against a fighter that was not remotely in his class.
I won't and I've not been afraid to notate either Charlo's weak challengers in the past, but I'm not sure what people expected from Charlo or PBC.
The division isn't especially deep right now. there was no one interested in taking a tough fight that isn't for a title on short notice, Fox had a network date set and both Charlo's have been criticized by me in the past for not fighting enough.
All things considered, I'm not blaming Jermell Charlo or PBC for the mismatch, it was one of those times that it simply could not be avoided, although if they fought better opponents (Remember that Harrison was lightly regarded after his split decision win over aging Ishe Smith entering their fight) I'd be more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Guillermo Rigondeaux has been regarded for years as a master boxer that was boring to watch as his racehorse-like legs carried him around the ring to dominate top fighters such as Nonito Donaire and
Joseph Agbeko and occasionally show power against fighters that he didn't respect their punching prowess to score the odd knockout.
In an eliminator to face WBC champion Rey Vargas for his junior featherweight title, Rigondeaux appeared to be a prohibitive favorite against former WBC champion Julio Ceja, who had fought only three times since his February 2016 title loss in one round to Hugo Ruiz and one of those against good competition (Former bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno) as he was expected to once again gallop circles around Ceja, earn a unanimous decision and move on the likely difficult work of making the mandatory fight against Vargas and his promoters with Golden Boy.

Instead, Rigondeaux dug into the canvas and fought Ceja in the most entertaining fight of the former two-times Olympic champion's career.
The action swung back and forth and often pushed the rulebook as both fighters were penalized in the eighth round for low blows and it seemed to be Ceja that was charging down the stretch to slightly lead (67-66) on my card after seven rounds.
The eighth round saw plenty of exchanges including the penalization of points as mentioned above, but it was Rigondeaux, who landed largest and last with a left hand that looked to have ended the fight with Ceja dropping to the floor with a thud.
Ceja surprisingly beat the count and was in deep waters, but referee Russell Mora waved the fight off with one second to go in the round.
Here's my complaint-you always hear the thump from ringside to indicate ten seconds remaining in the round, so Mora knows the time remaining, why not give Ceja a chance in his round to revive as, with only one second to go, Rigondeaux isn't going to be able to land any further punches in the round.
Simply follow Ceja to the corner, tell the corner you need to see some offense quickly or you'll stop the fight.
By not doing so, Ceja was not given a chance to continue in a situation where he should have been.
Bad call by Russell Mora, a referee that makes more than any referee named Lawrence Cole.
Rigondeaux seemingly has begun to make the same transition as his fellow Cuban Erislandy Lara, who also has become less dominant while providing more entertaining fights.
If this is a sign to come, Rigondeaux's fights may see a more vulnerable boxer, yet in the waning stages of his career, one that fans may finally want to watch him fight.

A final word on a non-boxing challenge fight as prospect Joey Spencer survived a stern challenge to remain undefeated with a close unanimous decision over Akeem Black, who entered the fight at only 5-2.
While I thought Spencer won the six rounder, his face was bloody at the end and Black rocked him in the fourth round to make me wonder just what PBC has in Spencer.
They must think he has the makings of something they can work with as Spencer's fights are often shoved into the two-hour block that PBC always advertises, but never reaches, but I question that after the struggles last night.
This is a problem when you push a prospect to the front of the line rather than for the hardcore observer that watches every prelim bout- every blemish is seen and it makes one wonder just what PBC expects from Spencer to give him this type of push?
It'll be interesting to see if the management slows Spencer's exposure down a bit to see where that may take them.
I do know this- it isn't good for a prospect to squeak by this early in his career against the fighter level that he is opposing.

In the boxing challenge, I added five points (3 from Charlo with a bonus point for the round of KO and 2 from Rigondeaux to Ramon Malpica's four (2 Charlo, 2 Rigondeaux) to move my lead to 152-138

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Devils swap John's with Blackhawks

The New Jersey Devils were busy with the attention that comes with drafting the first overall player and then swinging a trade for one of the league's better defenders, but Ray Shero also made a quiet deal among his big moves and the various chess moves of draft picks sliding up and down the board as well when the  Devils traded center John Quenneville to the Chicago Blackhawks in return for winger (and John) John Hayden.

The trade basically is your classic case of two teams trading players that had been disappointing first-round selections with hopes that a change of scenery and organization would help turn a career around in a low risk trade.
The 24-year-old Hayden was Chicago's third-round draft pick in 2013 from Yale and in parts of three seasons scored eight goals and fourteen assists with the Blackhawks with three of the goals and two assists coming last season in 54 games played.
Hayden isn't known as a strong skater and the Blackhawks apparently were looking for a better fit for what they are installing as a system, which is what I have been reading from the Blackhawks side of things.
Hayden is more of a grinder type that will challenge for a spot on the fourth line preferably, although the third line would be acceptable in a pinch, but not for a longer period of time and he's not afraid to drop the gloves on occasion either as shown here against Minnesota's Marcus Foligno.

As for Quenneville, he never seemed to find a groove in New Jersey after being drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft as the final first rounder of the Lou Lamoriello eta.
Quenneville played well in his three years in the AHL with the Devils affiliates in Albany and Binghamton in scoring 46 goals with a total of 119 points, but was unable to break through as a Devil scoring only two goals in 33 career games, one of those goals coming in last year's 19 game stint with the parent club.
Like Hayden, Quenneville hopes that changing things up a bit could help turn his career around.

I've said I don't have the knowledge of hockey draft prospects that I do of the other sports, so if you would like to check out the Devils newest arrivals via the draft in day two, All About The Jersey in our links area will give you a great deal of information on those selections.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Devils acquire P.K. Subban from Nashville!

You had a feeling that New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero had a potential deal or two with a cap-strapped team on ice somewhere to be taken out on the NHL Draft's second day, but I'm not sure that I saw one of this magnitude coming as the Devils acquired defenseman P.K. Subban from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Steve Santini, prospect Jeremy Davies, the Devils own second-round pick (they still have their acquired second rounders) and their second-round pick in the 2020 draft.

Now, before we get too excited, Subban didn't have a usual season of his standards in 2018-19 with nine goals and twenty-two assists along with a plus-five over 63 games, which would look very nice on last year's Devils squad, but was a drop in production.
Plus Subban is 30 years old, he'll become the highest paid Devil at nine million a year and he's signed for the next three seasons (or at least until a potential Taylor Hall contract would be signed), so you better hope that last season isn't the beginning of a sharp career decline, but...

IT'S P.K.FREAKING SUBBAN and for next to nothing!
It is a player that instantly becomes your top defenseman, allows Andy Greene to drop to either second pair anchor or team with Subban and at least take some of the pressure off a veteran blueliner if they pair them together.
Subban likely isn't a player in decline, just two years ago Subban notched a 16 goal and 45 assist line to finish third in the Norris trophy voting and it's because of his statistics over his career that a respectable stat line looks a bit out of place.
Subban's not a player that has historically had injuries that nag at him and after having some locker room problems in Montreal, was a model citizen with Nashville.

The cost of the two draft picks wasn't a huge hit as the Devils had multiple second rounders this draft and with multiple third rounders still in this draft, it would not surprise me at all to see Ray Shero try to trade one of those picks to get back into round two in 2020.
Steve Santini spent parts of four seasons with the Devils and never really broke out into being anything more than a depth defenseman at best and an AHL hired gun at worst.
Jeremy Davies might be the biggest loss of the trade as Davies signed with the Devils this spring after three seasons at Northeastern and had developed into an interesting prospect after New Jersey selected him in the seventh round in 2016.

The New Jersey Devils have just added an elite defenseman that can play large amounts of minutes, play on both the power play and penalty kills and isn't all that old at 30.
Even if Subban isn't what he once was and there is little indication that that may be so, this deal is incredible for its cost and for another reason as well- showing that this Devils franchise is committed to winning soon and not to a total rebuild.
Being able to show that commitment might go a long way in helping the Devils retain the services of one Taylor Hall next summer as Hall becomes eligible to test free agency.

The Devils made a minor trade today, but I stayed awake after work to hammer this one out, so that will have to wait until tonight to opine on that and any other Devils deals that may arise.

Boxing Challenge: Cancio crunches Machado again

It was interesting, exciting and both fighters had their moments, but in the end the Andrew Cancio-Alberto Machado rematch ended the same way as their first fight with Machado finished on the floor, this time in three rounds, not four.

The first fight saw Cancio pull a massive upset over Machado, who blamed a bad training camp and problems making weight for his loss and appeared to avoid those issues before the rematch, which Machado was contractually obligated to recieve after he activated that clause.

The first round saw both fighters land plenty with each landing their share of big body shots and the round was fought on even terms.
Machado started well in round two and when the two collided heads with the result opening a bad cut over the right eye of Cancio with the cut being bad enough that it looked to be a factor in the fight with Cancio's vision, if not potentially stopping the fight as the fight moved forward.
However, even in the second round you could feel that Cancio's strength was already taking its toll on Machado and that Machado was going to have to do something to deter the aggression on Cancio.
It didn't take long for Cancio to take that option off the table as you could feel Machado melting away against the attack and when Cancio ripped a left hook to the body that made me think of their first fight,Machado again wilted and couldn't rise from the floor.
For Cancio, it was a confirmation that his first win was not an fluke and stamped him as a player in the 130 pound division, even if it is with a minor belt.
Cancio could be headed for IBF champion Tevin Farmer (both DAZN fighters) or possibly eventually Gervonta Davis as his minor title is under the "super" (ugh) title held by Davis as long as Cancio keeps winning and forces the WBA to make that fight.
As for Machado, I'm not sure where he can go from here.
If you cannot have the strength to keep Andrew Cancio off of you, how can you expect to keep lightweights from rolling over you, especially of the caliber of Vasyl Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney and Richard Commey, all of whom are either champions or someone that will need to be dealt with to reach title contention.
Despite the talent that Machado has, I just don't see a road for success for him in the future and he may very well be finished as a title level fighter.

The co-feature saw a surprise and some controversy as Elwin Soto upset Angel Acosta with a 12th round stoppage to strip Acosta of the WBO light flyweight championship.
I had Acosta slightly ahead after a late round rally from an early deficit that saw Soto knock the champion down in the second round in a fight that saw plenty of punches thrown and punches that crashed home on their opponent.
I had Acosta ahead 105-103 (7-4 in rounds with Acosta losing a point for the knockdown) entering the final round with winning most of the second half of the fight with combinations with both hands that consistently found their mark on Soto and hurt him several times, although Soto managed to stay upright throughout the fight.
Acosta was leading on all three cards with my card agreeing with the judge that had the fight that tight, but must have thought he needed the round as he raced out of his corner to attack Soto and drove the challenger into the ropes where Soto threw a Hail Mary of a left hook that landed and hurt Acosta, who wobbled away.
However,I didn't think that Soto's followup punches landed squarely and even though Acosta was far from out of the woods, I didn't think the stoppage by referee Thomas Taylor was a good one.
I would imagine a rematch will be in order.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica added two points for Andrew Cancio's win and I scored nil on the Friday action.
Ramon cut the lead in the challenge to 147-134.

Devils Draft Jack Hughes

The New Jersey Devils walked to the podium with a franchise making decision to make and even though Ray Shero drug the anticipation out with an odd and rambling announcement that seemed like it took two hours, not two minutes, the Devils made the selection of American center Jack Hughes official.

Hughes had been the unanimous choice by observers as the best player in the draft before a late rush by Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko made what initially seemed to be a no-brainer selection into a far more difficult decision to make.
Hughes is not quite as big as one would like from a center (5'10 170 pounds), although I wouldn't say he is undersized as some have.
I'd say Hughes is more slight of build than small, which basically means that Hughes is smaller because he is 17 rather than describe him as a smaller player.
Hughes is the all-time scorer for the U.S. developmental team and his game has been compared to Patrick Kane and as a smaller Connor McDavid in the past, but the comparison that I've been hearing more of late is that of Steve Yzerman and that I'll take every day and all day!

Hughes has been noted as one of the more creative offensive players to come into the league in years and some of his highlights have been dazzling to watch with the sort of speed and skating ability that is rarely seen from a forward.
If Jack Hughes lives up to his clips and the ability that he seems to have, Hughes could be the type of player that the New Jersey Devils have never had in their existence.
That's not knocking some of the tremendous players that the Devils have had through the years, but the Devils have never had this type of player with creativity, yet has the ability to pass the puck and make his teammates better.
Jack Hughes could be the type of player that becomes the face of a franchise for a dozen years.

Did the Devils do the right thing in taking Jack Hughes over Kaapo Kaako?
Yes, for two reasons.
The hockey reason? If two players are close in talent and ability, you take the center over the winger.
The center will control the puck more and will have more of an impact over the course of a game than a winger will
The other reason? Marketability.
Yes, Hughes is an American and Kaako is not,  but that's not the only reason Hughes is more marketable.
Watch the Hughes interview at the draft with Kathryn Tappen and his media work after the selection- the guy has that "it" factor that comes up so often in these situations.
Hughes reminded me more than a little of Baker Mayfield minus Baker's chip on his shoulder, but I saw more than a few similarities with Mayfield and his charismatic attitude.
Hughes has been reported to be quite the leader on and off the ice with the U.S. national team and I can see why from seeing him speak.

I'm thrilled to have Jack Hughes with the Devils and that's not a knock on Kaapo Kaako, who I also think is going to be a terrific player and might help get the Devils-Rangers rivalry off the back burner a bit.
Jump on board as the New Jersey Devils have hopefully drafted themselves a franchise center!

Back later with a look at last night's Golden Boy card on DAZN with a controversial upset in the boxing challenge.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Boxing Challenge

The boxing challenge could have been so much bigger than it will actually be, but the injury to WBC junior middleweight champion Tony Harrison cost fans a grudge rematch of Harrison's controversial upset win over Jermell Charlo and a fight that fans were excited about after the last junior middleweight title match where Julian Williams surprised Jarrett Hurd to take Hurd's WBA and IBF titles.
The suddenly underwhelming PBC on Fox card will still take place on Sunday with what appears to be a card better suited for their FS1 platform rather than network prime time television with Charlo against late replacement Jorge Cota.
Cota, who is 1-3 against notable competition and only his loss to Erickson Lubin via fourth-round KO is a top ten loss, will attempt to pull a massive upset against a Charlo that is less than thrilled to be without his title and disappointed that Harrison will not be the fighter across the ring as scheduled.
This looks to be all Charlo in a very likely lopsided fight.

The co-main event features the continuation of the career rehabilitation of Guillermo Rigondeaux after his loss to Vasyl Lomachenko and signing with PBC.
Rigondeaux faces former WBC junior featherweight champion Julio Ceja in a WBC title eliminator that will determine the mandatory contender for champion Rey Vargas.
Ceja has fought just three times since his title losing first-round knockout loss to Hugo Ruiz in February 2016, but will have a punchers chance (28 KO's in his 32 wins) against Rigondeaux in the unlikely chance that Ceja has to reach the fleet Rigondeaux with a clean shot.
This fight likely will see Rigondeaux either play it safe boxing and win every round or try to get Ceja out early and take a chance on getting hit.
Either way, it'll take a hail mary from Ceja to have a chance in this one...

Tonight (Friday) in Indio California, DAZN and Golden Boy will offer what should be the most exciting fight of the weekend as Andrew Cancio defends his minor title against Alberto Machado in a rematch from Cancio's shocking win in February,
Machado was heavily favored to move past Cancio into a possible fight against any of the three champions at the weight (WBA champ Gervonta Davis in a mandated fight, WBC champion Miguel Berchelt in what would have been an exciting war or IBF titleholderTevin Farmer in a fight that would have been easy to make with both fighters with DAZN) and seemed to be on his way after knocking down Cancio in the first round.
However, Machado quickly ran out of gas after struggling to make the weight and Cancio knocked Machado down three times in the fourth round to win the fight.
Machado activated his contractual option for a rematch and here we are.
Machado is rumored to have had an easier time making the weight and a better training camp, but Cancio has the advantage of winning the first time out.
If Machado is at his best, he is the biggest puncher and better boxer, the question is he at his best?

The co-feature offers WBO light flyweight champion, Angel Acosta, defending his title against Elwin Soto.
Acosta, who will be making the fourth defense of his title, has won all twenty of his wins via knockout, while Soto's two fights in 2019 were against fighters with records of 3-13 and 0-14.
Acosta will be a different animal than anything Soto has faced before and it'll be interesting to see how Soto reacts to that.

I lead Ramon Malpica 147-132 in the boxing challenge

Junior Lightweights. 12 Rds
Andrew Cancio vs Alberto Machado
R.L: Cancio KO 10
TRS: Machado KO 8

WBO Light Flyweight Title. 12 Rds
Angel Acosta vs Elwin Soto
R.L: Acosta KO 5
TRS: Acosta KO 6

Junior Middleweights. 12 Rds
Jermell Charlo vs Jorge Cota
R.L: Charlo KO 6
TRS: Charlo KO 3

Junior Featherweights. 12 Rds
Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Julio Ceja
R.L: Rigondeaux KO 10
TRS: Rigondeaux KO 4

Devils Draft Night

Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images
The New Jersey Devils have the top choice in the draft for the second time in three years and once again have a difficult decision to make with the pick.

While the 2017 choice between Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick would see the player that is passed over (Patrick) go to one of the Devils rivals (Philadelphia), this choice is even more important to get right as the player that isn't selected will not only again go to a rival, it's a rival that is just miles away, shares the same market and if the choice is wrong, will haunt the franchise and its fans for years.
While Ray Shero and the Devils appear to have made the right decision thus far with Hischier over Patrick by a small edge, this one is even more important as the player passed over will become a New York Ranger.

Jack Hughes is the likely choice as a center and holding the all-time record for points for a member of the United States development team.
Kaapo Kakko of Finland is the bigger player and plays at right wing, which is the position that it is harder to find an elite player.
Kakko is considered to be more likely to make a difference immediately with experience from Finland's top league, while Hughes is considered to be a franchise type of player, although he may take longer to do so.

I don't claim to have the type of knowledge of the NHL draft prospects that I do of the other three sports, but I do know franchises and for as much as the Devils would claim this doesn't matter, they know that it does- If the Devils would pass over an American star like Jack Hughes and he proves to be a franchise-level star for the team across the river and beats them for a dozen years, Kaapo Kakko could be an excellent player, but unless he's Alex Ovechkin, the Devils would pay a huge price for that call.
Take Hughes and Kakko turns out to be the better player, considering all the factors available at the time, the fanbase would understand.
If you take Kakko and the above scenario happens even in the best case, they'll never forgive you for allowing their backyard rival to thrive with Hughes.
Hughes has to be the choice here for hockey reasons and others as well.

I'll be back tonight with some words on the likely choice of Jack Hughes or even the possible, but still surprising choice of Kaapo Kakko.

Sorry so short, but still have the boxing challenge before tonight's Golden Boy card on DAZN to finish up.

Cavaliers trade in, Draft Kevin Porter Jr.

The Cleveland Cavaliers added the shooters that the team hoped to add in the first round of the NBA draft with the selections of Vanderbilt's Darius Garland with their pick at five and Belmont's Dylan Windler with the selection obtained from the Houston Rockets at twenty-six.

Yet, as I wrote in the previous post on the selection of Dylan Windler, I felt that one player might have been worth the risk involved to take at 26 and I wished that the Cavaliers would have stepped up and gambled on potential greatness.
Apparently, someone in the Cleveland front office was thinking the same way as the Cavaliers shipped three future second rounders, possibly a fourth future second rounder and a cold hard five million dollars to the Detroit Pistons for the 30th slot in the first round.
The Cavaliers second rounders on the move are all picks that they have obtained through various trades (2020 Utah, 2021 and 2023 Portland along with 2024 Miami, if it is within 55 and 60 in the overall draft), so they still have their own second rounders for the future.

The drafting of USC guard Kevin Porter Jr is the type of "Gamble on Greatness" choice that teams in Cleveland (including the Browns and Indians) need to do more of as Cleveland will almost never be a free agency magnet for superstar athletes.
Porter has an NBA ready body, can play above the rim, runs the floor well in the transition game and is an effective scorer with both the outside shot and driving to the basket.
Add into the equation, Porter's ability to create shots ( among the top factors in young players finding success in the league) with never being mentioned to being a "me first" player and you have a player with all of the skills needed to be a success in the league.
Porter's game has been compared to that of James Harden, Porter tries to emulate Harden and as a fellow lefty, has many of the moves that make Harden arguably the best scorer in the game.
So if Porter has all of these abilities, he reads like a player in the top seven, not one available at the final pick in round one, so what's the problem?

On the court, Porter is another player that needs the ball to play best, played just 21 games at USC and averaged a little under ten points a night, while off the court Porter was suspended at both USC and high school along with a reputation for not being an easy player to coach.
The good news is that Porter's issues are more along the line of immaturity than serious problems and with his background ( This links to an excellent article by The Ringer and Porter's background), I think that can be overcome.
If you watched the ESPN piece on Porter during the draft and his interview with Maria Taylor after being selected as I did, I had the feeling that this isn't a bad guy at all, but rather a young man that with the right mentor and guidance could be helped past his problems.

As a player, Kevin Porter Jr brings all that you could hope for a first-round draft pick and even though Porter carries the potential of being a bust, I'm fully on board with taking the leap of faith.
At this place in the draft and for the cost that the Cavaliers paid to move up, Kevin Porter Jr could be a steal.
Give the Cavaliers credit for trying to make something happen rather than being content.

Tonight is the NHL Draft where the New Jersey Devils lead things off, plus DAZN boxing, so there will be two or even three posts today depending on time.

Cavaliers select Dylan Windler

The Cleveland Cavaliers added Dylan Windler with the 26th pick of the first round that was obtained by the Cavaliers in a trade deadline swap with the Houston Rockets.

The 6'8 forward averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Belmont Bruins last season on a Bruins team that won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title and earned the rarest of all rare- a small conference non-qualifier that received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they defeated Maryland in the first round.

Windler shot 54 percent from the field and even more importantly over 42 percent from three-point range.
In other words, the Cavaliers, a team in desperate need of adding outside shooting, selected a player with shooting as his top skill.
Windler reminds me of Kyle Korver a bit, although Windler is only an inch taller, he's much more of a true forward than Korver, with big-time shooting range and the ability to hit the three.
On a good team, Windler would likely find a place as a designated three-point shooting specialist as Korver has been for so many teams over the course of his career, but in Cleveland, he'll be expected to do more and there is the question mark with Windler.
Is he a shooting specialist or is he a player that could develop into more than that as a more complete player to be counted on with a larger slice of playing minutes?
If I knew the latter to be true, Windler likely wouldn't have been available at 26 and the case for the former comes from Windler's statistics, which declined against Belmont's better opponents, although he did score 35 in the NCAA win over Maryland.
Windler will have to have plays set up for him to get his shots, but he's not a guy that has to have the basketball to play well.

In the end, Cleveland needed to upgrade their shooting and Dylan Windler gives them another possible upgrade in that department.
Windler proved he could shoot at Belmont, but his struggles against better and more athletic defenders have shown that it's possible that he may not be as effective without a specialized offense.
I was middle of the road with the selection of Windler.
He has some qualities that could mesh very well with what John Beilein intends to install for the Cavaliers, but there was one player available that I was hoping Cleveland would take a swing at instead.

However, the Cavaliers weren't finished yet and began to attempt to trade for another first rounder.
Were they successful? And if so, would they then select the player that I would have taken at 26?
Tune in next time for those answers. Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Cavaliers select Darius Garland

The Cleveland Cavaliers bought into one of the popular waves around the league and took a player with their first-round pick that could in theory suit that style with the selection of Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland with their fifth overall pick.

Garland is hoped to be part of the two "Ball Handler" backcourt with last season's top pick Collin Sexton that the Cavaliers hope to run out as the core pieces of their rebuild and if that works, it could be very effective.
However, I have questions with one looming largest- Can Garland and Sexton actually play on the floor together?
Sexton was rated by some analytics numbers as the worst defensive player last season in the league and now you expect to place a player beside him that was considered to have defensive problems on the same scale entering the draft?
The whole two ballhandler scheme never gets off the ground, if the two guards cannot stop anyone and therefore you are afraid to put them on the floor at the same time.

You also have to wonder just what the Cavaliers are getting, mainly because Garland played only five games in his freshman year at Vanderbilt after suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Therefore the data is very limited, but Garland was the hot name as the draft neared and the injury looks to be behind him.

The positives for Garland are his offensive game where he's an excellent shooter, good in the open court, handles the ball well and with the exception of needing some work finishing around the basket doesn't shy away from contact.
The son of former NBA guard Winston Garland (which I didn't know until Garland had been selected) has been mentioned as having problems "facilitating", which is another term that is suddenly being used often in league circles as involving others in the offensive setup.
That problem can be overcome with work and experience, but I'm still wondering about two players that seem to need the ball to be effective playing together efficiently and both being questionable defensively.
Both players could improve and solve some worries, but if in the end, Garland and Sexton cannot play together, I'm not sure the Cavaliers made the right move here.
Can the Cavaliers afford to have perhaps their two best players (eventually) play on different units?
I'd tend to lean towards no, but time will tell with that and after all, the Cavaliers are far from contention and by the time that contender status arrives, the problem will either be gone or have to be dealt with through a trade.

As far as the player's talent, I'm more than fine with Darius Garland, the concern is the fit.
Let's see how it works out.
Back soon with the Cavaliers other first-round picks.-That's right. Picks.

Cavaliers Draft Night

Now that I am home and things are slowing down a bit personally (I'll be writing about my trip to the South Atlantic All-Star game later in the week), things pick up in the sports world with the Cavaliers drafting tonight in the NBA Draft with the fifth and twenty-sixth (Obtained from Houston) pics and the Devils leading off tomorrow evening's NHL Draft.

The Cavaliers dropping to fifth in a draft with three blue chippers was a blow, but they still can come away with a nice player to add to the core of a rebuilding team at five or perhaps even a trade down with a team like the Atlanta Hawks, who might be persuaded in the right situation to consider trading their picks at 8 and 10 for that fifth pick.
Assuming that would not happen and the Cavaliers would stay at five, I'm hoping for Texas Tech two guard Jarrett Culver to be the choice.
Culver's all-around game may not be spectacular, but his floor (worst result possible) is higher than just about anyone else and I think he will mature into a top-notch defender.
I think his ability to create his shot will speed his development and I think he can play alongside Collin Sexton which is a plus for the Cavaliers.
The problem is that I think there is a fair chance that Culver could be the choice of the New Orleans Pelicans with their new acquired 4th overall pick from the Lakers in the trade that sent Anthony Davis to California.

If Culver isn't available, then for me it's a mess.
Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland is currently the hot name entering the draft, but he played just five games for the Commodores before being injured and he plays the same position with similar skills as Collin Sexton.
Normally, I take the best player available, but I'm not sure in this case Garland is head and shoulders above everyone else in the draft to take the risk of him meshing with Sexton.
Duke forward Cam Reddish is the enigma of the draft- abilities that rank with the elite three, but the production doesn't match the talent and there are rumored issues with maturity.
If Reddish clicks, he's the steal of the draft, but he carries risks.
Virginia power forward DeAndre Hunter is an excellent defender and is a high character player, but I wonder about his shot and I'm thinking that he might be as good as he is going to get right now.
North Carolina's Coby White has the type of offensive game that could thrive in the league, especially in the open floor, but doesn't play a lot of defense and I'm not sure his passing is good enough yet to consider that a plus skill.
If the Cavaliers stay at five and if Culver is gone, my guess is that they take one of the above four players and I'm not sure that any of them are sure things or even players I'll be thrilled about. although I can't say that I'd be furious about any of them either.

Meanwhile at 26, who really knows who will be available.
You can always hope that a player falls more than he should and there could be an easy choice, but usually, when that happens there are reasons that you and I are unlikely to know about.
Kevin Porter Jr of USC has been rumored from anywhere from the middle of the top ten to the end of the first round.
Porter has elite potential, but there has to be a reason he averaged less than nine points a game for the Trojans.
If you are going to swing big at 26, swing BIG!
I liked what I saw of Gonzaga power forward Rui Hachimura in watching Bulldog games and Tennessee's Grant Willams at the same position.
Hachimura's game has some growth, while Williams is one of those physical players that seem to either see very little action and leave the league in a few years or develop into a role-playing banger that winning teams usually need.

The Cavaliers lack a second rounder, so unless they decide to purchase (allowed under NBA rules) one or made a deal, they will be finished after 26.
The fifth pick could go in several directions and other than wanting Jarrett Culver, I wouldn't have the slightest idea on how things could fall out.
Whomever that player is, he will be counted on as part of the rebuild to dig the Cavaliers out of their post-LeBron bunker and hopefully he will be around for a while.
I'll be here later tonight with looks at both players.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Boxing Challenge: Wild Night in Riga, Warrington survives.

The World Boxing Super Series finished the semi-finals of their third and final tournament with the cruiserweights, resulting in two of the wildest fights that they could have imagined from Riga, Latvia.

In the first semi-final, Yunier Dorticos won the vacant IBF title with a one-punch KO of Andrew Tabiti in the tenth of a clumsy mix of styles.
The style differential resulted in plenty of awkward stumbles and grasps along with clashes of heads and shoulders that on one occasion in round six ended with a severe gash above the right eye after an encounter of heads.
Dorticos was the aggressive fighter throughout and despite an occasional moment, Tabiti appeared to be very tentative in his first championship attempt.
Dorticos ended the fight with one right hand that will certainly be a KO of the year challenger and moves to the finals of the tournament and a chance to unify two cruiserweight titles.

Why only two?
Didn't I write in the preview that the tournament winner would hold three titles?
Well. the WBC decided that someone (The WBSS, the Latvian boxing federation, the WBO, and who knows who else received various blame) didn't give them enough say in judging, so before the bout in a fit of pique decided to take away their sanctioning of the fight.
Up to that point, the semi-final winner would have then owned two titles and the tournament winner-three, but this decision took away from that.
Maybe someone can pacify the Sulaiman gang before the final and their belt can go to the victor.
In the ring, it was quite wacky as Mairis Briedis ripped away the WBO title from Krzysztof Glowacki via a controversial third-round knockout that was so strange that if it was not for the next fight being for the WBSS tournament championship, I'd bet the WBO would have called for an immediate rematch and I'd bet even more that the organization will rule that the Briedis-Yunier Dorticos winner will be mandated to face Glowacki.

For a round and a half, each fighter landed some punches in exchanges and it appeared that this battle could be a good one, then it all went to hell.
Both fighters move into an almost-clinch, but referee Robert Byrd doesn't move in right away,
The fighters attempt to separate from each other,  and as Briedis locks up the right arm of Glowacki, Glowacki steps to the side and throws a chopping left to the back of the head of Breidis.
Breidis didn't enjoy this rabbit punch and responded with one of those side elbows that resembled one of the famous "seven moves" of Kevin Nash to the face of Glowacki, who crumbled to the floor faster than a vampire staked by Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Glowacki then rolls on the mat with one of those Jimmy Valiant-like spasms and tries to win the fight by DQ, but Robert Byrd isn't having any of that.
Still, Byrd deducts a point from Briedis and the round resumes with Briedis dropping a clearly in trouble Glowacki with a strong right.
Glowacki gets to his feet, says he is OK, and three seconds later (I timed it) before the fighters could reach each other to engage, the bell rings to end round two.

BUT everyone hears it, BUT Robert Byrd.
Briedis jumps on Glowacki and EIGHT seconds after the round should have ended, Briedis knocks down Glowacki, the bell is still ringing and after a badly dazed Glowacki beats the count and takes the mandatory eight count, Byrd seems to finally hear the bell ringing, BUT then waves the fight off for either Glowacki's safety or for Glowacki's corner entering the ring!
Someone explains to Byrd that all of this action came well after what should have been the end of the round and Byrd lets the fight continue, but the damage has already taken its toll on Glowacki, who barely staggers out for round three and is quickly finished off by Briedis.
Byrd is 74 years of age and even though he doesn't look it, this fight may show that retirement from refereeing (I would be OK with him staying as a judge, which Byrd does at times as well for now) should be at least considered and likely decided upon as his performance contributed to the winner of the fight.
Just a farce and even though I think Briedis is the more rounded and skilled fighter and would have likely won this fight, Glowacki was not given a fair chance due to the official that is there to make the fight fair and deserves a rematch.

In Leeds, England, Josh Warrington kept his IBF featherweight crown by a far closer than expected split decision over countryman Kid Galahad.
Warrington's walk forward and throw accumulative punches to simply wear out his opponent, didn't work in this one as Galahad was able to consistently gum up the works through an ugly run-out-the-clock defense.
Galahad's tactics allowed him to stay in the fight, throw Warrington out of sync and basically give him the best chance to win.
Galahad didn't win the fight officially or on my card (115-113 Warrington), but he made Warrington look like less than exciting and with Warrington attempting to land a unification fight with WBO champion Oscar Valdez and battling with Warrington victim Carl Frampton to do so, this fight could not have helped his cause.

In the boxing challenge, I outscored Ramon Malpica six to five over the weekend with a one-point difference due to the Tyson Fury KO (Ramon picked Fury by decision).
We each selected winning fighters in both WBSS fights and Josh Warrington while losing with Sullivan Barrera.
I lead the challenge 147-132

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Boxing Challenge:There's only one Tyson Fury

Five fights on a Saturday that carried over the course of the day with some crazy routes to get to the final destinations, which saw almost all the favorites earn victories.
I'll be writing about the other cards later and will focus on the Las Vegas event here.

In the most important fight to the mainstream observer, Tyson Fury crushed Tom Schwarz in two rounds in Las Vegas to retain his "lineal" heavyweight championship.
Fury showed the power that he has been a bit reluctant to let loose in the past (Fury has never scored even a knockdown against a top twenty level opponent) to knockdown Schwarz in the second, rip open a nasty gash over his nose and impressively end the bout with a strong flurry that drove Schwarz into a corner before the corner attempted to toss the towel in, but was beaten to the punch by referee Kenny Bayless.
The enhancement match did what it was intended to do, which was introduce Fury to the American audience, but proved little for Fury.

Here are my personal thoughts on Fury.
He seems like a very nice person away from the hype and seems to be one of the more gracious winners in the game since his return to the ring from his personal issues.
Fury also might be one of the slicker fighters in the heavyweight division in a long time as far as avoiding punches and making an opponent look bad and he has skills in the ring that men of his size may have never possessed in the history of the ring.
Fury's defensive game is the type that hasn't been seen in the division since the days of Chris Byrd, who was a much smaller fighter and wasn't a natural heavyweight, let alone be 6'9 250!

I'm still not sure about his chin.
Yes, anyone, Deontay Wilder hits can go out and give Fury bouquets for surviving two knockdowns against Wilder, but I still can't forget his knockdown against former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham.
The survival against Wilder goes a long way in proving his mettle, but fighters that walk such a tightrope eventually run into someone that finishes the job.

He's just not that entertaining in the ring.
Full credit for finishing off Tom Schwarz early rather than prolonging viewers (and that of Schwarz) agony with seven or eight lopsided rounds, but that's usually not Fury's M.O and his lack of power can make him less than entertaining at times.
Those power questions exist because he's never scored a knockdown against a contender.
That isn't the be all and end all as he's proven he can outbox champions such as Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder, but it can make his fights more than tedious if the opponent stops attacking as in the Klitschko fight.
It's the lack of power that could prove to make Fury a less than fun champion in the ring.

He's definitely fun outside the ring.
The post-fight singing and the pre-fight entrances come off more fun than others that seem so choreographed and it mostly seems in good fun, although I could have done without Fury calling Schwarz a "bum" in pre-fight press conferences.
Calling top fighters names is reasonable because everyone knows it's not true and fighters are playing head games, enhancement talents like Schwarz (and the fans paying to watch) know this already- we don't need to have it drummed home.

Where do I rank Tyson Fury among the heavyweights?
Currently, number one.
I had Anthony Joshua ranked first before his shocking loss to Andy Ruiz and I can't rank Ruiz above Fury yet.
I thought Fury defeated Deontay Wilder despite the official draw and his win over Wladimir Klitschko as dull as it was, means more on a resume' than Wilder's best win- the late round KO of Luis Ortiz.

Tyson Fury might be the most unusual heavyweight champion in a long time with the unusual combination of his boxing skills and size without a big punch to go with the package.
Fury has plenty to prove with really one official good win, but for now, I'd rate him the best of the bunch.

In the semi-final from Las Vegas, Jesse Hart made his initial venture into the light heavyweight division a winning one with a mild upset over veteran contender Sullivan Barrera via unanimous decision.
Both fighters were hurt at various times in an entertaining, yet sloppy battle with Hart being credited with an eighth-round knockdown that was either a flash knockdown or a knockdown of questionable quality depending on your perspective.
Hart moves on to another fight in the loaded and just as importantly controlled by Top Rank, light heavyweight division, while the aging 37-year-old Barrera may have reached the end of his days as a top ten contender and might be reduced to a gatekeeper in the division.
I scored Hart a 96-93 winner.

I'll be writing about the other three fights over the weekend in my next post.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Boxing Challenge

The boxing weekend is filled with interesting fights that range from extremely hard to select a winner to a glorified squash match and with various titles on the line.

The most publicized match of the weekend is also the most lopsided as Tyson Fury battles unknown Tom Schwarz in his first appearance as part of the ESPN/Top Rank organization in Las Vegas.
Fury, who is the lineal heavyweight champion, but does not physically possess a title, is entering the fight after his draw with Deotay Wilder, in which Fury dominated the bout, but was floored twice by Wilder and despite winning many more rounds allowed Wilder to escape with a draw.
I thought Fury won that fight anyway, which shows his domination even with the knockdown, but shows his chin can be questioned within reason.
If you thought Andy Ruiz knocking out Anthony Joshua was an upset, Tom Schwarz defeating Tyson Fury would be earth-shattering.
Schwarz is undefeated but has never fought a top fifty fighter, let alone defeated one or even fought anyone that you have ever heard of, so who knows what Schwarz really brings to the ring.
In other words, this is the ultimate squash match or a star vs "Enhancement Talent".

The semi-main is interesting from the light heavyweight division as veteran contender Sullivan Barrera faces Jesse Hart, who is moving up from super middleweight for his venture into the division.
Barrera, who is a solid backend of the top ten contender ilk that has become a gatekeeper of sorts that defeats fighters of a certain level (Joe Smith, Felix Valera for two examples), but isn't quite an elite level fighter with losses to Dmitry Bivol and Andre Ward.
Hart, who lost two exciting and fairly close decisions to Gilberto Ramirez in super middleweight title fights, seems to have more than his hands full in this one.

ESPN+ adds to their fight day with a featherweight title fight from the United Kingdom as IBF champion Josh Warrington defends against his mandatory contender Kid Galahad.
Warrington, who decisioned Carl Frampton in his last fight, looks to move forward to a rumored unification fight with WBO champion Oscar Valdez but must get by the undefeated Galahad to do so.

DAZN returns with the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series inside the cruiserweight tournament with three titles on the line between the two fights.

The main event will see newly gifted WBO champion Krzysztof Glowacki defending that title as well as fighting for the vacant WBC title against former division Mairis Briedis.
Glowacki was elevated by the WBO from one of their lesser titles, which might be the only reasonable reason to have those ridiculous "titles" to become their full champion.
Both titles in this fight were formerly held by Oleksandr Usyk, who vacated all four championships in the division after winning last year's WBSS, for his move to the heavyweight division.
Briedis formerly was the WBC champion before losing a majority decision to Usyk in last year's semi-final in the only fight that Usyk has been challenged in over his career.
I scored that fight a draw and off that fight, Briedis looked to be a solid favorite to win the second year tournament,
Instead, the top seed threw a shoe in horse racing parlance and against the eighth-seeded and hand-picked per WBSS rules, Noel Mikaelian and appeared to have handily lost as I had Mikaelian ahead 115-111.
I was stunned to see Briedis given a unanimous decision with two of the cards being fairly wide,
Briedis' performance is what makes this interesting as Briedis should be able to outbox the slow Glowacki.
Glowacki never stops moving forward though and if he catches Briedis, who knows what happens and if Mikaelian showed a declining Briedis, Glowacki could very well take Briedis out.

The other end of the tournament looks to have an explosive ending on tap as the IBF championship vacated by Oleksandr Usyk will be decided by the victor of the Yunier Dorticos-Andrew Tabiti fight.
The undefeated Tabiti decisioned Ruslan Fayfer in the first round in a dull fight, while Dorticos lost in last year's semis via a final round knockout in a fight of the year candidate against Murat Gassiev before a first-round decision win over Mateusz Masternak that saw Dorticos go the distance for the first time in his career.
I think this one should be an exciting shootout that could end early with both fighters landing quickly and often.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 141-127.

Heavyweights. 12 Rds
Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz
R.L: Fury Unanimous Decision
TRS: Fury KO 8

Light Heavyweights, 10 Rds
Sullivan Barrera vs Jesse Hart
Both: Barrera Unanimous Decision

IBF Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Josh Warrington vs Kid Galahad
Both: Warrington Unanimous Decision

WBO and Vacant WBC Cruiserweight Titles/ World Boxing Super Series Semi-Final. 12 Rds
Krzysztof Glowacki vs Mairis Briedis
Both: Briedis Unanimous Decision

Vacant IBF Cruiserweight Title/World Boxing Super Series Semi-Final. 12 Rds
Yunier Dorticos vs Andrew Tabiti
R.L: Dorticos KO 6
TRS: Dorticos KO 4

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Dog Days of Summer

Well, Hello.

Been a bit this week since I typed a few notes.
It's not always easy in June sometimes when there is a lull in the live baseball schedules (eight days between games, pushed to nine after a rainout) and you add in two league championship series that even though you prefer one team to another, you don't care enough to write about it making things to write about scarce for a bit.

One thing that I've gained after doing this for so many years now is just how hard it is to write something every day.
I have it easier compared to a columnist in a newspaper as I have different teams or boxing to write about before I pull something out of the past to write about and during certain times, I struggle and it isn't my full-time position!
I have so much respect for the people in print/digital media that have to come up with something almost every day and do so with a rare clunker, so doing this has made me realize that.

It's funny, there are times that I have so much to say and so little time and there are others that I have just nothing to say, sports or otherwise.
I have opinions on non-sports issues, but I'm not always sure people want to hear/read them.
One bad experience has made an impact here and I'm not sure I would be cut out for the brickbats and catcalls that come as part of a real columnist's job.
You have to have a thick skin and though I'm sure you can develop that over time, I'm not sure I would react as well to an opposing opinion that gets too strident on an issue that is important compared to someone being critical of a sports opinion.
I suppose if the day is right, I could see a controversial post, but I'm not planning on it.

The next few weeks will pick things up as I'll have a trip, Cavaliers and Devils drafts and the usual things that I scribble down and I'll hopefully cope better with the next stretch of time without everyday things to write about.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Boxing Challenge:Golovkin Rolls,Valdez cruises

The main events on the competing networks Saturday night ended as expected, but who truly knows what the future brings for either of the two victors.

DAZN's top pairing saw the return of Gennady Golovkin for the first time since his controversial majority decision loss to Canelo Alvarez that the majority of boxing observers feel that he won, yet many wondered what Golovkin has left at 37 years of age after two tough fights against Alvarez.

We received a few answers to a few questions, but not the main answers, which are- Will Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez agree to a third fight and will it be next in the fall and just what Golovkin will have in the tank for that bout?
Golovkin proved that he can still punch and that he will run over anyone below the top level as he showed with his fourth-round knockout of Canadian Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden.
Rolls fought well and even won the second round on my card, but you felt the similarities to past Golovkin wins- Rolls was being walked down and the boom was coming, the question was how would Rolls respond?
The response was not great as one Golovkin left hook crashed home in the fourth round and sent Rolls face down to the canvas and after an attempt to rise ended in failure, it was time to look forward.
GGG predictably called for Canelo, Oscar De La Hoya predictably trolled with a shot at the quality of Rolls (Like Rocky Fielding was Joe Calzaghe in Canelo's return) and told GGG to win a belt (only the WBO belt of Demetrius Andrade isn't with Canelo) and he'd "consider" the third fight.
It may not be up to Team Canelo as DAZN's President John Skipper reportedly wants that fight next and he isn't paying Canelo for Rocky Fielding's or Golovkin for Steve Rolls'.
I'd bet on what Skipper wants he will get and despite the public posturing of arguably the biggest troll in boxing, the guy that writes the checks is likely to get what he wants and after Anthony Joshua's loss to Andy Ruiz on his platform, Skipper may not want to gamble on waiting until the spring for both guys to win (and not get beat up) their next fight.

ESPN and Top Rank countered with Oscar Valdez defending his WBO featherweight strap with a unanimous decision over gutsy but outmatched Jason Sanchez in Reno Nevada.
Valdez scored a fifth-round knockdown and dominated from thereafter, although Sanchez would occasionally battle back with a right hand or two, the challenger, who was taking a large rise in competition, simply couldn't compete with the champion, who almost finished Sanchez off in the final round and just missed scoring the stoppage.
I scored Valdez a 118-109 winner and the talk after the fight wasn't a unification fight with the winner of IBF champion Josh Warrington against mandatory contender Kid Galahad later this month or recently signed by Top Rank, former champion Carl Frampton.
Instead, the discussion was of a move up to junior lightweight and WBC junior lightweight champion Miguel Berchelt.
I'd think that a match against the new WBO champion at 130 pounds and fellow Top Rank promotee Jamel Herring would be a better bet for success, but I'd be fine with Berchelt-Valdez.
I'd prefer Valdez-Warrington or Valdez-Frampton to that, but I could live with Berchelt-Valdez.
I'd favor Berchelt in that one, but Valdez certainly has a solid chance of victory.

In the boxing challenge, I outscored Ramon Malpica four points to three on the strength of calling the round of Gennady Golovkin's knockout.
I moved my lead to 141-127.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Boxing Challenge

Only two fights in the boxing challenge this week as the undercards for both main events (DAZN and ESPN) are underwhelming.

The biggest fight is the return of former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who fights for the first time since his controversial two fights vs Canelo Alvarez that saw GGG draw and lose a majority decision, against undefeated Canadian Steve Rolls.
The bout will be the first for Golovkin under new trainer and former cruiserweight contender Johnathan Banks, who trained Wladimir Klitschko after the death of the great Emanuel Steward.
Banks replaces Abel Sanchez, who had trained Golovkin since Golovkin's move to the United States years ago and it'll be interesting to see if any small refinements have been made to Golovkin's game under Banks.
This isn't really about Rolls either, who hasn't faced anyone that could even remotely consider a contender and only a ShoBox win over Demond Nicholson in 2017 coming close to being a name on the record and Golovkin can understandably be given a squash match after the Canelo fights and to chip some rust off.
After all, Canelo had an "enhancement match" in his first post-Golovkin match against softer than custard chinned Rocky Fielding, so there is nothing wrong with Golovkin doing the same, I only wish that he would have done so far sooner and should GGG get rid of Rolls quickly, I'd even suggest another similar, if mildly tougher foe before a projected fall third fight vs Alvarez.
Is the object to prepare Golovkin to defeat Canelo with perhaps a new wrinkle to help the judges see better, errr add to the picture? Or is it simply to be more active to bring to the table what "lost" the first two fights?
That's about the sum of the interest in this one unless Rolls fools us all and takes Golovkin the distance.

ESPN and Top Rank counter-programs with Oscar Valdez defending his WBO featherweight title against Jason Sanchez.
Valdez fights for the second time since his broken jaw against Scott Quigg and looked impressive in his return win over Carmine Tommasone in February.
Sure, it was a soft touch, but Valdez needed one of those after tough fights against Miguel Marriaga, Genesis Servania, and Quigg along with the broken jaw.
As for the undefeated Sanchez, who really knows what the New Mexico native brings to the ring?
Sanchez has fought one fighter with a record that you would call impressive, a unanimous decision last October over then-undefeated Jean Carlos Rivera, who then lost his next fight, has fought just one scheduled ten rounder (the Rivera win) and has fought some of the worst opponents that a recent challenger for a title has faced.
Sanchez's second best win is 13-6-2 Daniel Olea and in his last six fights, Sanchez has fought fighters with records of 58-46-2, 3-35-4 (yes three wins), 1-8-1, and 12-27-2.
In other words, he's a completely blank slate and it'll take a cosmic leap for Sanchez to pull this upset.

Thanks for the nice comments on the Five Punch Combination.
I think I'm going to continue it, it helps me get my boxing thoughts out in lieu of the old podcasting days!
Thanks again!

In the Boxing Challenge, I lead R.L.Malpica 137-124.

Super Middleweights. 12 Rds
Gennady Golovkin vs Steve Rolls
R.L: Golovkin KO 5
TRS; Golovkin KO 4

WBO Featherweight Title 12 Rds
R.L: Valdez KO 7
TRS: Valdez KO 6

Friday, June 7, 2019

Five Punch Combination

Trying a new column with five points (hence the title) with opinions and sometimes ideas on the fight game.

    With the semi-finals of the cruiserweight division of the World Boxing Super Series coming up a week from Saturday, the three of the four titles that were vacated by Oleksandr Usyk were still open for a new champion.
The WBA had already handed their title to Denis Lebedev, a long-time favorite of theirs, but the other three still needed to be filled.
Surprisingly two of the three have stepped up with decisions that made sense with an opening for the third to take advantage of a situation for next weekend as well and if everything falls into place, the winner of the tournament will hold three of the four titles and boxing will avoid the usual chaos that unfolds when a unified champion vacates his titles.
First, the WBC announced that the winner of the Mairis Breidis-Krzysztof Glowacki would be their champion and on the same day, the WBO stated that they had elevated Glowacki to their full champion from one of their minor titles.
With that decision, two of the four championships would be unified with the conclusion of their bout and with the WBA with Lebedev, only the IBF belt remains vacant and they have a terrific opportunity for next weekend as well.
The top two contenders for their title actually face in the other semi-final as Andrew Tabiti (1) and Yunier Dorticos (3) (There is not a number two contender at this writing) and the IBF could rule that their bout could be for their title.
That makes sense and would then have the winner of the tournament hold three titles and be the legitimate ruler of the division.
For once, things could actually work out well for boxing.

    Zab Judah returns to action tonight at the age of 41 against the "Hebrew Hammer" Cletus Seldin in New York.
Judah, whos career that was filled with several highs and lows, but for the most part for such a talented fighter never seemed to live up to his talent, has fought just two times in the last six years and you would think would have ring rust, but I think if Judah has even half of his toolbox remaining, he should have more than enough to defeat the limited Seldin.
Seldin has more than enough power to hurt Judah, should Judah not have the ability to stay away from him, so there is some intrigue here, but I still wonder about Judah with a win or loss as a win might see him step up in competition at 41 and despite the ability that he once had, could get hurt.

    I also love the July 27th junior welterweight title in Arlington, Texas between WBC champion Jose Ramirez and WBO titlist Maurice Hooker for two reasons.
I love the 140-pound division being down to two champions with this winner having two titles and the WBSS final unifying the WBA championship of Regis Prograis with that of IBF king Josh Taylor with hopes that the two winners can make a deal for a fully unified champion that would hopefully stick around for a while, but rarely happens.
I lean slightly toward Ramirez in this fight that could go either way, but that is mainly because Hooker has been recently having problems making weight.
A motivated and ready on the scales Hooker is more than capable of winning this one and it should be a really good one from Arlington, Texas.

    The second reason is Matchroom/DAZN and Top Rank/ESPN working together to make a fight that was made at the right time.
Top Rank allowed their guy (Ramirez) to fight on the opposing platform because it was the right thing for their fighter and boxing fans with the bonus of what their guy gains with a win.
Kudos to both sides for working together for the best for their fighter and with this cross-promotion and the recent common ground between Top Rank and PBC for Wilder-Fury II shows that this can be done when the will is available, but it does make me wonder one thing- If Top Rank and PBC can work together for Wilder-Fury, why not for Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford?
And perhaps there is more to the failure to sign that fight that everyone wants than just Bob Arum or Al Haymon?

    PBC announced their undercard for Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman and after the stink that still waifs through boxing from the terrible slate behind Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia have come through with a pretty strong supporting cast.
Yordanis Ugas, who just missed taking the WBC belt of Shawn Porter in his last fight (I scored the fight a draw) takes on Omar Figueroa, who once looked to be a future star before inactivity ate away at his career.
I really like that fight and the winner will likely be in a position to challenge someone for a title in the near future.
Former junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets battles John Molina in what should be a straight-ahead action fight.
Lipinets looked very impressive in mowing down Lamont Peterson and sending him into retirement, while Molina lost to Figueroa in his last fight, but has made a career of bobbing up when thought to be finished in the past.
In the opener, former bantamweight champions face off as exciting and undefeated bomber Luis Nery meets Juan Carlos Payano in what should be an interesting affair.
Payano was knocked out in one round by Naoya Inoue in the WBSS, so it will be interesting to see how Nery stacks up with Inoue as Inoue-Nery ranks with the best fights that boxing can make.
Terrific job by PBC bouncing back from their previous PPV undercard and I hope to see more like this as time goes by.

One for the road:
                            I wish I could say the same for the card offered by the same PBC for Fox two weeks later.
The main event features Adam Kownacki, who sells tickets and can be entertaining against the right level (and style) of heavyweight against washed up Chris Arreola, who I'm sure will offer the usual refrains of "best shape of my life, new this or new that has revitalized me" etc.
Should Arreola have anything left, this could be entertaining, but it's more likely to be a name for the Kownacki record as they attempt to keep him active before feeding him to Deontay Wilder.
Speaking of those "new me" statements, Andre Berto against Miguel Cruz fits that bill as well.
Actually, Berto uttered just those quotes in the fight announcement and entering the fight with a split decision loss to Devon Alexander that he didn't deserve and a stoppage loss to Shawn Porter, I'm not buying the 35-year-old Berto, although he is likely to be favored against Cruz, who has fought one opponent of note in losing a lopsided decision to Josesito Lopez in 2017.
The curtain-jerker isn't good either as Marcus Browne, who is in line for a light heavyweight title shot against Jean Pascal.
Browne looked very strong in dominating Badou Jack in January, while Pascal trudged through a decision loss to Dmitry Bivol and looked like a finished fighter while doing so.
I'm not sure what this fight does for Browne other than keep him active and for Pascal fighting a bigger and younger fighter is how aging fighters can get hurt.

I could use input on this, so feel free to let me know about the format and how often you might like to see this.