Sunday, June 27, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Lomachenko, Davis notch knockout wins

    The boxing Saturday saw two of the game's biggest stars grab victories, a once-hot prospect staked his claim to a second title try, and a former Olympian made a statement that perhaps he is ready to enter the top ten in his division.

Top Rank and ESPN+ finished their stretch in Las Vegas with the return of former three-division champion Vasyl Lomachenko to the ring for the first time since his surprising loss to Teofimo Lopez.

Lomachenko's opponent, Japan's Masayoshi Nakatani, had fought well in his decision loss to Lopez and had rallied in his last fight to knockout Felix Verdejo in the ninth round, so this was not a walkover for the comeback of the former champion entering their fight.

However, when the fight started it was all Lomachenko as he won every round, dropped Nakatani with a short left hand in the fifth and when the fight was stopped in the ninth, Nakatani was standing but without his faculties from the Lomachenko assault and with a swollen and battered right eye to boot.

Lomachenko received good news after his victory as it was announced that he would receive a rematch with Teofimo Lopez, should Lopez win in his oft-delayed mandatory defense against Australia's George Kambosos.

Should Lomachenko manage to repeat his performance in his victory over Nakatani against Lopez, I'd give Lomachenko a good chance of reversing his original result in the rematch.

The co-feature saw former Olympian Janibek Alimkhanuly dominated former minor beltholder, Rob Brant, winning each round, knocking Brant to the floor on one knee in the sixth, and forced his corner to stop the fight after the eighth round.

Alimkhanuly hit Brant with the left hand all night and as impressive as Alimkhanuly looked in overwhelming a former top ten middleweight, I'll wait until his next fight to decide if Alimkhanuly is that strong of a contender or was Brant simply used up and Alimkhanuly simply was the first fighter to reach him?

I'm definitely stating the latter, although it could be some of the former as well.

PBC's pay per view hasn't been watched by me as of this writing.

In Atlanta, Gervonta Davis knocked out Mario Barrios in the eleventh round to win another WBA minor title, this time in the junior welterweight division.

The fight was reported to be an excellent fight with Davis scoring two knockdowns in the eighth before the fight ended in the eleventh.

The problem with Davis isn't his skills (he's talented), his power (he can punch well), his fights (they are often entertaining), or his ability to draw on PPV (he's drawn excellent numbers).

The problem is who he's defeating- PBC isn't very deep in the three divisions that Davis has fought in during his last three fights and his wins are over washed-up Yuriorkis Gamboa, much smaller Leo Santa Cruz, and now Barrios who doesn't have a top ten win in his career.

Now, Davis may be content to win bogus belts, make entertaining fights against limited opponents, and collect nice paychecks from pay per view, but until he faces a top fighter that is his size and defeats them, I'll still have questions to be answered.

It's nothing against Davis, who for his limited competition has fought more second-level fighters than compatriots Ryan Garcia or Devon Haney have and they have the same questions to answer, although I'd say their top wins (Garcia over Luke Campbell and Haney over Jorge Linares) are better than Davis's top win.

While I'd like to see Davis against a top fighter next and preferably at lightweight, I'm wondering just who will be next for him.

Two fights that aren't glamourous, but could be made might be Chris Colbert, who holds a minor WBA belt at 130 pounds in the one division that Davis's title is the main one, or lightweight Rolando Romero, who holds a minor title and fights for PBC.

In the co-feature, Erickson Lubin stopped Jeison Rosario with a body shot in the sixth round.

The victory places Lubin in the WBC's mandatory position for the winner of next month's four title unification between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano.

Lubin suffered his only loss via a spectacular first-round knockout challenging Charlo in 2017.

On DAZN, Julio Cesar Martinez defended his WBC flyweight tilt with a sixth-round knockout over Joel Cordova in Mexico.

I've yet to see this fight either.

Editor's Note; Cordova's average 12-3-2 record belied his effort against the powerful Martinez, winning three of the five rounds before Martinez stopped Cordova in the sixth.

My scorecard was 48-47 Cordova at the time of the stoppage.

In the boxing challenge, I outscored Ramon Malpica 9-6 on Saturday with the three-point difference coming from the win, result, and bonus round point for the win by Erickson Lubin.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing weekend is a strong one with the return of the fighter once thought to be the best in the world, an excellent fighter tries to add another meaningless belt, and a champion in a division with other strong champions defends his title.

ESPN and Top Rank will have the free television audience with the return of Vasyl Lomachenko against Masayoshi Takatani.

Lomachenko, a three-division champion, lost his three lightweight titles in his last fight in a surprising upset to Teofimo Lopez after a slow start saw him fall behind on the cards.

Lomachenko did charge down the stretch in winning most of the late rounds to lose a close decision to Lopez, but Lomachenko did show a sign or two of an aging body that has suffered several injuries over the last few years and Nakatani looks to be a good litmus test of how much Lomachenko lost over recent years.

Nakatani took Lopez the twelve-round distance in Lopez's last fight before the Lomachenko upset and since knocked Felix Verdejo out in the ninth round after falling behind on the scorecards.

This should be a showcase fight for Lomachenko's return, but Nakatani's recent loss to Lopez does add an interesting variable to grade the performance of Lomachenko against the man that defeated him.

The co-feature is of interest with former minor middleweight beltholder Rob Brant against undefeated Janibek Alimkhanuly.

Brant is known for his upset of current WBA champion Ryota Murata, but was finished in two rounds in their July 2019 rematch and has notched one win since that defeat.

Alimkhanuly is an undefeated former Olympian that is making his first jump against contender-level fighters, very similar to last week's attempt by Beketmir Melikuziev, and it'll be interesting to see how he fares against Brant.

PBC is on pay per view with their main event pitting WBA junior lightweight champion Gervonta Davis against minor junior welterweight champion Mario Barrios.

Davis does very good numbers on pay per view and he collects these minor WBA titles like I collect Topps baseball cards, so for Davis and PBC, it made sense for a Davis-Barrios match.

Barrios impressively won his last fight against an overmatched and undeserving Ryan Karl, but in the fight before against Batyr Akhmedov, he was very fortunate to win a decision that many (including me feel he didn't deserve) and with that win as his only one over strong competition, who knows what Barrios will bring to the ring.

Davis isn't the biggest lightweight and will be giving away even more against Barrios.

If Barrios is a legitimate title-level junior welterweight, this could be a very good matchup but if he's not-another Davis squash match is on the books.

The co-feature would receive my nod for the most likely to be entertaining and perhaps shortest fight of the weekend in a title eliminator at junior middleweight.

Erickson Lubin and Jeison Rosario have plenty in common with both possessing strong punching power, questionable chins, knockout losses to Jermell Charlo and Rosario is a former champion as well to make this arguably the hardest fight to select.

Lubin has won his last five fights since he was knocked by Charlo in one round in 2017 against good, not great opponents, while Rosario is making his return from losing his WBA and IBF titles to Charlo via eighth-round KO in his last fight.

Lubin has tried to add some boxing ability to his game and while that may lessen the excitement a little, should Lubin be able to do that even at times, that may be enough to give him the edge.

DAZN is live from Mexico with the exciting Julio Cesar Martinez defending his WBC flyweight championship against Joel Cordova in what is a stay-busy fight.

Martinez has been rumored to be considering moving up to the talent-rich junior bantamweight division and with Cordova's pedestrian 12-4-2 record and only three knockouts, I don't see this as a competitive matchup.

Sunday night on Fox, PBC appears to be playing out the string with their agreement with the network due to expire at the end of the year with another less than thrilling offering.

The main event is another WBA minor title defense, this one by Cuban David Morrell, who, after only four fights, owns a minor title.

Morrell does own a win over then 22-0 Lennox Allen and opponent Mario Cazares is 12-0.

The rub with Cazares is that only two of his wins are over fighters with winning records (and one of those was 9-8) and his entire body of work is his upset decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr by six-round technical decision when the fight was stopped on a headbutt.

Unless Cazares is better than expected, this one shapes up to be a showcase for Morrell.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 87-81 and this is a good time to refresh the boxing challenge rules.

If you pick the winner of the fight- for example, Valdez over Berchelt- One point

If you pick how it happened- Valdez by KO or correct decision (Unanimous, Split, or Majority)-One Point

If you pick the correct round of knockout- Valdez KO 7, one bonus point.

Lightweights 12 Rds 
Vasyl Lomachenko vs Masayoshi Nakatani
R.L: Lomachenko KO 9
TRS: Lomachenko KO 11

Middleweights 10 Rds
Rob Brant vs Janibek Alimkhanuly
R.L: Brant Unanimous Decision
TRS: Alimkhanuly Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Gervonta Davis vs Mario Barrios
Both: Davis Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 12 Rds
Erickson Lubin vs Jeison Rosario
R.L: Rosario KO 7
TRS: Lubin KO 6

WBC Flyweight Title 12 Rds
Julio Cesar Martinez vs Joel Cordova
R.L: Martinez KO 10
TRS: Martinez KO 5
Super Middleweights 12 Rds
David Morrell vs Mario Cazares
R.L: Morrell KO 5
TRS: Morrell KO 8

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Travelin' solo

     I haven't made very many solo trips in my life.

Not because I don't like being alone-I do,  but almost always someone will come along and we'll have a good time on the road

It didn't work out for anyone to travel with me this time, as I was going to Westerville, Ohio to pick up Cherie's anniversary present.

In the era of Louis DeJoy and his one-man demolition of the USPS and resulting terrible delivery time, I decided to drive out and pick it up myself for the above reason.

I'll be writing more on the gift in a future post, where you'll see why the importance of picking it up safely and without worry.

I only drove out for the night and then the afternoon before picking up the item and driving home.

Since the consistently rising cost of taking the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which is now up to a staggering eighty dollars round trip (33 from Breezewood to the Ohio line and 46 from the Ohio line to Breezewood, figure that out!!), has become so prohibitive, I've started to become more familiar with another way that is very similar in mileage but takes thirty minutes longer in time to make the trip.

It was an uneventful trip with a stop in St.Clairsville, Ohio for lunch, just a quick bite at Love's while getting gas to keep going.

Once I hit the hotel, I called my favorite Aunt Becky and she stopped by to see me at the hotel with my Uncle Terry stopping by after work to see me for a bit.

I ordered some pizza and we ate dinner, they left for home and I slept at the end of a long day.

Thanks to my buddy Derreck for comping the room for me and making the trip much cheaper.

It really was an uneventful trip with the time filled by trips to the standards for food to be brought home for the family and me, but the day before I left Maryland I decided that I wanted to go someplace to look for collectibles for myself and my collector friends, namely Ryan and Mike Oravec.

As is the case with many specialty shops, they keep odd hours and days and I found stores closed Monday and open Tuesday, and vice versa but I found one place that looked very interesting.

The problem was that it was in Canal Fulton, Ohio, about 45 minutes in the opposite direction of Columbus.

Now under ordinary conditions, I would drive to my usual vintage toy spot in the area, Toy Hunters in Mansfield, but area construction seemed to make this very difficult to reach and return from and even though I was alone and under no real-time constraints, that seemed like a real pain.

And again under usual conditions, I would have never driven an extra almost 100 miles round trip to make the person with me go through extra travel and I wouldn't have done that in my vehicle.

BUT, there wasn't another person to bore and it wasn't my vehicle, so off I went in search of "Toys that Time Forgot".

It was fairly easy to find and I was a few minutes early, but on a nice weather day, it was pleasant enough to wait for the store to open and the owner's son came by and spoke to me about the store opening soon.

The store isn't tiny, but with the amount of inventory, the aisles are compact to the point of having to stop and use other directions to avoid running into an item.

There were tons of vintage toys and memorabilia available, but for me, they were either more than I was willing to pay (Mego Teen Titans Speedy and 60s Star Trek and Batman lunchboxes) or didn't quite have what I needed (lots of western television series lunchboxes, but not Wild Wild West) so I came up empty.

However, when I asked about Hasbro WWF wrestlers for Ryan, there were none on the shelves.

But the manager said they recently bought some and hadn't priced them yet.

I called Ryan, who needed Sgt. Slaughter and Sid Justice (Usually known as Sid Vicious) for his collection and the price for them was reasonable enough.

Ryan was especially pleased about Sid, who he has been a fan of since childhood for reasons that I've never able to figure out.

However, the real treat for Ryan was yet to come as I walked and saw a literal wall of vintage board games and saw one of interest for him.

Vince Lombardi's Football, which looked to have been released in either 1968 when Lombardi was out of coaching or 1969 when Lombardi accepted the coaching job for the then-Washington Redskins, appeared to be a simulation game of the time and looked somewhat similar to APBA or Strat O Matic.

I figured Ryan might be interested in it as a Lombardi collectible and when I checked the game out it was missing the AFL league rosters, which is clearly stated that the AFL was included on the box.

The manager gave me ten bucks off and Ryan took it, which for a Lombardi collector made the deal even better.

There is a July sale at the store, so if I am able to return then, I could purchase one of the more pricey items for myself and I had a great time looking at the items that I wasn't interested in buying, but still were nostalgic to me.

I jumped in the car and drove to Westerville, roughly two hours away to pick up Cherie's present and I'll write about that soon.

Everything that I write here is taking much more time than it did before and there are different reasons for that, but I'm going to try to work on that before the weekend and with luck- finish it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cavaliers grab third in NBA Lottery

    The Cleveland Cavaliers managed to move up a little in the NBA lottery and will be picking third in the upcoming draft.

Cleveland would have picked fifth after losing a coin flip to Oklahoma City (both teams finished with the identical record of 22-50) had the draft order been placed in order by the record.

Cleveland moving up to third in what is expected to be the top draft class in years should give the Cavaliers a player that could be a franchise-level player.

Detroit and Houston will select ahead of Cleveland with the Pistons expected to take the top-rated prospect in Oklahoma State wing Cade Cunningham.

Houston's path is a bit less clear, but I would expect the Rockets to select USC center, Evan Mobley as the most likely, but far from a guaranteed selection.

The Rockets have a productive young big man in Christian Wood, who at 25 years of age averaged twenty-one points and just under ten rebounds last season, and the Rockets could attach their interior payload to Wood and take either of the next two players rather than Mobley based on current need.

However, Mobley's abilities for a center aren't nearly as common or as available compared to that of other positions, and unless the Rockets find a way to love another player or find someone that loves Mobley even more, I'd make him the pick for Houston.

That would leave four players remaining that entered the season that was thought of as possible elite-level players. but two have separated themselves from the rest.

The top two are both named Jalen- Green a 6'5 wing that can be used at the small forward position or at shooting guard who played in the NBA's G League last season for the Ignite team and Suggs a 6'4 point guard from Gonzaga.

Green would seem to be the better "Need " pick for Cleveland off the wing and would allow Isaac Okoro to be what he's best at- play defense and roam the floor and use his offense in the open floor off his defensive skills.

Green's skill set gives him the potential for 25 points per game, and when looking at the ceiling in this draft, Green could be first in this draft but I can also say that he could be a huge disappointment as well.

Suggs reminds me a lot of Chris Paul, but Cleveland has invested in two guards in the last three drafts in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland and even though Suggs could be the safest player in this draft, is Koby Altman willing to answer the inevitable questions about how he will find enough time for all three guards and how he expects a lineup with all three to be able to hold its own on the boards and defensively?

The remaining two players are rated as a small step below the top four, but ahead of the remaining players in Jonathan Kuminga, a 6'8 guard that was a teammate of Jalen Green's with the Ignite, and Scottie Barnes, a 6'9' player from Florida State is reported to have the ability to slot in at any defensive position at certain times.

Kuminga was rated higher at the beginning of the season, but his instincts have been questioned as well as his shot and selection although his athletic ability in the open floor is a major plus, and he might be one of those players that takes a few years and suddenly turns it on with one click.

Barnes is lauded for his defensive ability and rebounding but has major questions about his shot and the Cavaliers did select a very similar (but shorter) player to Barnes in Isaac Okoro last season.
Can Cleveland afford to draft virtual non-factors in the offensive game two years in a row?

I'm going to try to do a deeper look at the possible Cavalier choices before the draft on July 29th and I do have some work to do in scouting these players a bit deeper, so hopefully, I can write that up before the draft.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Inoye crushes another, Charlo, Munguia win

   The boxing Saturday had plenty of news in the ring and a very important announcement outside of it, but the star of the day was exactly whom you think it would have been when the day began.

Naoya Inoue used a devastating body attack to knock down Michael Dasmarinas three times with body shots and stop him in the third round to retain his WBA and IBF bantamweight titles in Las Vegas.

While Dasmarinas wasn't a premiere opponent, Inoue disposed of his mandatory challenger from the IBF as great fighters should- as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Inoue quickly figured out that Dasmarinas wasn't able to take his power to the body and began to take him apart with the minimum of effort reducing the chances of a freak cut or injury and allowing Inoue to stay active quicker later this year.

The most interesting part of the evening was seeing WBC champion Nonito Donaire and WBO champion John Riel Casimero both in Las Vegas watching Inoue, while the Showtime card in Houston is announcing that Donaire will be replacing Guillermo Rigondeaux against Casimero in their scheduled August affair.

Inoue decisioned Donaire in 2019's fight of the year and Casimero signed to fight Inoue in April 2020 in a fight that was canceled by the Covid Pandemic, so either fight against Inoue would have appeal.

I often criticize PBC for their manner of delaying big fights with interim bouts that serve little purpose, but give Al Haymon's group credit for this one- they decided to strike quickly and with Donaire reporting no problems from his title win last month, PBC talked Rigondeaux into stepping aside to make a bigger and more exciting title unification fight- And that is good for boxing.

The co-feature saw former WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe defeat Adam Lopez by majority decision in an excellent featherweight fight.

Dogboe won three of the first four rounds on my card, but won only one after that and was hurt in both the ninth and tenth rounds by the more versatile Lopez, who I scored the winner 96-94.

Hopefully, a rematch can be arranged.

Down in Houston at the same time as the Top Rank card, Showtime placed a three-fight card with an expected squash match title defense by WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo against undistinguished challenger Juan Montiel as the main event.

While Charlo dominated Montiel, he didn't get away scot-free either as he suffered the first cut of his career over his right eye and ate far too many left hands from a challenger that should not have landed a fraction of that amount.

I scored Charlo a 119-109 winner, giving Montiel only the eleventh round and the challenger won some fans with his unexpectedly stern effort, but Charlo didn't live up to the hype that surrounds him as he was unable to stop a fighter that sometimes ridiculed Jaime Munguia finished in only two rounds.

Unlike his brother at junior middleweight, who has fought everyone that he possibly could, the larger of the two brothers has fought one top ten fighter in seven fights at the weight (Sergey Dereyvanchenko), and for all of the heat that Devin Haney receives at lightweight for being an "E-Mail" champion, few acknowledge that Charlo received his championship in the same manner.

So, Charlo adds another unimpressive pelt to his wall, shouts another "Lions Only" chant, ignores WBO champion Demetrius Andrade, and calls out IBF champion Gennady Golovkin and WBA titlist Ryota Murata for a fight that will only happen if those fighters will fight on his terms-I.E- his promoter and network.

That happens often in boxing anymore, but few talk the talk and then doesn't walk the walk like Jermall Charlo.

He would be better suited to learn something from his brother- the Lions legacy is earned from the top of the chain defeated in battle, not the amount of lower feeders.

In the co-feature, lightweight Isaac Cruz busted up former WBC junior lightweight champion Francisco Vargas and won a unanimous decision in a fight filled with fouls and inside fighting.

I scored Cruz a 98-92 winner.

Cruz is slowly putting himself into position for a WBA minor title shot against either of two promoted by PBC in Gervonta Davis or Rolando Romero.

A Cruz-Romero fight would be the best to make right now with both fighters being offensive bangers that could make a very exciting fight for PBC and Showtime.

I haven't been able to watch the first fight as Angelo Leo won a close unanimous decision over Aaron Alameda as the ESPN card started late due to other programming on the "Worldwide Leader".

I'll try to watch that one and add thoughts in an Editor's Note.

Earlier in the afternoon, Golden Boy and DAZN offered up two pairings that offered the expected and the unexpected in their afternoon in the West Texas town of El Paso at the Don Haskins Center.

In the main event, top-ranked middleweight Jaime Munguia beat up late substitute Kamil Szeremeta for six rounds when the corner stopped the fight before the seventh could begin.

Munguia looked strong in winning all six rounds, his sometimes wide shots were tightened up a bit compared to past performances, and he seems to be back to a fighter that will live and die with his offense after trying to change some parts of his arsenal with mixed results.

Some fighters can adapt and others are what they are with changes doing more to harm than help and I think Munguia fits into the latter slot more than the former.

Munguia is ranked first by both the WBO (due to their rule that a champion moving up in weight instantly moves to the top of his new division) and the WBC (for what reason I have no idea) but doesn't seem overly interested in challenging either WBC champion Jermall Charlo or WBO beltholder Demetrius Andrade and instead called out Gabriel Rosado (more on that shortly) which didn't bring a lot of excitement to me at all.

So why would Jaime Munguia be calling for Gabriel Rosado of all people?

Rosado, who usually puts on great efforts in defeat, was quite dull in a close loss to Daniel Jacobs and was expected to be the first gatekeeper to fall in front of the impressive "Bek The Bully", Bektemir Melikuziev, a former Olympic silver medalist that had mowed through his first seven opponents, who were stronger than usual for a fighter with such little pro experience.

Rosado seemed to be the perfect choice for Melikuziev to move into title contention and when "The Bully" knocked Rosado down in the first, the road appeared to be far shorter since no one takes Rosado out early.

Melikuziev controlled the second and much of the third until he followed Rosado into a corner only to see Rosado time a perfect right hand that dropped Melikuziev face-first and immediately scored an immense upset for the veteran.

The KO was reminiscent of Juan Manuel Marquez's knockout of Manny Pacquiao and although it's disappointing for Melikusiev, one has to feel good for Rosado, who has come very close to a career-defining win in the past and likely has added some paydays for the future.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored nine points on the day and moved the total to 87-81 on the season.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Boxing Challenge

 The boxing weekend has plenty of fights and important ones as well, and even without Teofimo Lopez's late cancellation of his first defense against George Kambosos, it's still a great weekend in the ring.

One of the best fighters in the world takes care of a mandatory obligation from Las Vegas as Naoya Inoue defends his WBA and IBF bantamweight titles against Michael Dasmarinas of the Phillipines.

Inoue knocked out Jason Moloney in seven in his last fight in October and hopes to move onto unification fight in either a rematch with Nonito Donaire for the WBC title or the winner of John Riel Casimero-Guillermo Rigondeaux's summer match for Casimero's WBO championship.

Dasmarinas isn't well-known or has a track record against top competition, but he does fight out of the Sean Gibbons Knucklehead boxing group and Gibbons often brings lesser-known fighters to pull major surprises, so while an upset is extremely unlikely stranger things have happened.

The co-feature is interesting with former WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe continuing his comeback against rugged Adam Lopez in a featherweight tilt.

Dogboe looked good in taking apart Chris Avalos in eight last July in his first fight since two losses to Emmanuel Navarette, while Lopez has won two straight wins since knocking Oscar Valdez down and being stopped controversially in seven rounds in a loss that looks even better since Valdez's dominating win over Miguel Berchelt.

Over on Showtime from Houston, a three-bout slate is headlined by a squash match with two solid fights on the televised undercard.

WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defends his title against an undeserving challenger in Juan Montiel.

Charlo defeated his first quality challenger at middleweight in his last defense, winning a unanimous decision over Sergey Dereyvenchenko, but this defense is literally a squash match against Montiel, who "earned" this shot with a first-round knockout of a washed-up James Kirkland.

Montiel's other fight against a quality opponent saw him taken out in two by Jaime Munguia, so in my eyes, anything short of an early knockout win by Charlo will be taken as a disappointment.

The co-feature should be an action-filled affair in the lightweight division as big-punching Isaac Cruz faces former WBC junior lightweight champion, Francisco Vargas, in what could be a fight that ends early.

I give Cruz the edge in this one as Vargas has taken plenty of punches in his career and between moving up in weight and Cruz's hard-punching, Vargas looks to be a fighter ready to be taken.

The opening fight is a crossroads fight for two fighters coming off their first losses as Angelo Leo returns after losing his WBO junior featherweight title to Stephen Fulton to battle Aaron Alameda, who lost his last fight challenging then-WBC champion Luis Nery.

This should be a fight that will go the distance with neither fighter possessing a lot of power and it may not be the most exciting fight ever made, but the winner will keep themselves in the title picture with the loser dropping back in the ratings.

The day starts on DAZN out in the West Texas town of El Paso as former WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia faces late replacement Kamil Szeremeta.

Munguia, who despite sitting in the mandatory position in the WBO seems to have little intention of challenging their champion Demetrius Andrade, has had several fights canceled of late and Szeremeta replaces Maciej Sulecki, who dropped out, was replaced, took the fight again, and dropped out again which created the need for Sheremeta's late signature for the fight.

Munguia stopped Tureano Johnson after six rounds in his last fight in which a Munguia uppercut tore off a piece of Johnson's lip and deposited in the front row, but Johnson was starting to come on in the fight and it might have been an interesting second half had Johnson not lost that lip chunk.

The light-punching Sheremeta appears to be perfect for Munguia to look sharp against with Sheremeta's overmatched loss to Gennady Golovkin in seven rounds in his last fight and his style against the taller Munguia makes him tailor-made for Munguia.

The co-feature is also interesting and could be the fight of the day as veteran super middleweight Gabriel Rosado is the first test for one of the most talked-about prospects in boxing- Beketmir "The Bully" Melikuziev.

Rosado usually gives a top effort, but his last fight- a split decision loss to Daniel Jacobs (that I scored a draw) that was so dull it deserved to be forgotten immediately, will be best remembered for ring announcer Jeremiah Gallegos announcing Rosado as the winner and then snatching the football away by correcting himself calling Jacobs the victor.

The Bully has stopped six of his seven opponents and has beaten the type of opponents that fighters with twice his experience would be facing, but while Rosado is a level higher than those opponents, his style seems to be well suited for Melikuziev.

This could be the grand opening for Melikuziev at the world-class level and the stage seems set for a spectacular performance.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 78-72.

WBA/IBF Bantamweight Titles. 12 Rds 
Naoya Inoye vs Michael Dasmarinas
R.L: Inoue KO 4
TRS: Inoue KO 3

Featherweights. 10 Rds
Adam Lopez vs Isaac Dogboe
R.L: Dogboe Split Winner
TRS: Lopez Split Winner

WBC Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Jermall Charlo vs Juan Montiel
R.L: Charlo KO 6
TRS: Charlo KO 3

Lightweights.10 Rds
Isaac Cruz vs Francisco Vargas
R.L: Cruz KO 5
TRS: Cruz KO 8

Junior Featherweights. 10 Rds
Angelo Leo vs Aaron Alameda
Both: Leo Unanimous Decision

Middleweights 12 Rds
Jaime Munguia vs Kazil Szeremeta
R.L: Munguia KO 7
TRS: Munguia KO 5

Super Middleweights. 12 Rds
Gabriel Rosado vs Beketimir Melikuziev
R.L: Melikuziev KO 9
TRS: Melikuziev KO 10

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Stevenson Snoozer, Ponce Impresses

 The boxing weekend didn't look to be all that exciting and it didn't turn out to be, but boxing could have found itself a possible future champion, and on a day that promised so little, that alone is a small victory.

In the biggest fight of the day from Top Rank/ESPN in Las Vegas, Shakur Stevenson dominated unknown Jeremiah Nakathila in winning every round and a unanimous decision, but no one seemed thrilled with Stevenson's tentative performance, and the only positive from the bout was the hope that Stevenson will fight Jamel Herring for Herring's WBO title next unless Herring decides to vacate in order to face Oscar Valdez for Valdez's WBC belt.

Should Herring choose to give up his title to face Valdez, the WBO will either hand Stevenson the title (he won their silly interim title in victory) or force Stevenson to face their top available contender in another untested contender Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov, in what would be the latest of lopsided bouts for Stevenson that the outcome is known before the fighters step into the ring.

Stevenson knocked an off-balance Nakathila late in the fourth round, but Nakathila wasn't seriously troubled and there were no other real chances to finish the fight.

I scored Stevenson a 120-107 winner in a forgettable fight except for the performance of referee Celestino Ruiz, who commented to the fighters "Watch Your Feet" about a dozen times per round.

The styles were awkward as southpaw vs conventional fights often are and in these fights, feet will often get tangled, and it's not easy to keep thing smooth, but Ruiz's non-stop warnings will be the only part of this fight that anyone will remember six months from now about this fight.

In the co-feature, former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champion Jose Pedraza fought well enough in yet another crossroads bout for the veteran to bring to mind Jim Valvano's phrase "Survive and Advance" as he defeated undefeated prospect Julian Rodriguez when Rodriguez's eye was swollen shut at the end of the eighth round.

The fight was closer on the cards than most seemed to see it with all three judges scoring Pedraza ahead 77-75, while I had Pedraza up 78-74 and I wonder if that might have been generous.

Rodriguez fought hard and gave what he had, but he was taking a big jump in opposition against Pedraza and it was apparent from the beginning as Pedraza's right hand smacked Rodriguez around the left eye and never stopped targeting the left side of Rodriguez's face throughout.

Pedraza's win may have placed him into position to fight for one of the titles that Josh Taylor may eventually give up, but Pedraza was calling out another champion after the win- WBA, IBF, and WBO lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez.

I wouldn't have an issue with Lopez-Pedraza down the road as a decent fight placed in between two really strong fights, and Pedraza would be better qualified than most for that type of challenger.

In the day's first fight from Newcastle, England, undefeated Argentine junior welterweight Jeremias Ponce jumped on hometown boxer Lewis Ritson and almost stopped him in the first round with a relentless attack to the body of Ritson that he was never able to shrug off.

Ponce's aggression overwhelmed the tough Ritson and Ritson didn't win a round on my card with only the fourth round even close to being scored for the Briton.

Ponce knocked Ritson down three times and Ritson's father, who is the boxer's head cornerman, threw in the towel after the first knockdown to save his son, but referee Steve Gray chose to ignore the towel and allowed the fight to continue with Ritson scoring two more knockdowns before the not-so merciful ending.

Referees can choose to ignore the corner's surrender if they desire, although they usually do honor the corner's request.

Ponce's performance made him the mandatory contender in the IBF for unified champion Josh Taylor, although he is more likely to fight for an eventual vacated title by Taylor.

In the boxing challenge, I scored three points to Ramon Malpica's two to boost my lead to 78-72. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing weekend sputters along with three fights that aren't going to get anyone too excited other than seeing Shakur Stevenson in action, even against a squash match opponent, before a huge boxing weekend next Saturday.

Stevenson is in Top Rank/ESPN's main event for a WBO interim title, which in the rancid tradition of the WBA isn;t needed as the champion of the WBO (Jamel Herring) has fought more recently than Stevenson has.

Stevenson, who will either face Herring next or will be promoted to full champion status with a win faces unknown Jeremiah Nakathila of Ghana.

Who knows what Nakathila brings with no bouts against good competition and that makes him a wild card, but unknown fighters from Ghana in the past have entered matches with similar resumes' and turned out to be excellent fighters with Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, David Kotey, and recently Isaac Dogboe to name a few.

Nakathila had better be on the championship level to even have a chance against the talented Stevenson, and I'm not saying that he is of that caliber, but there is a track record of fighters from Ghana winning fights as heavy underdogs before.

The co-feature is another crossroads fight for Jose Pedraza, who seems to be fighting in one of those in every fight currently, against undefeated Julian Rodriguez, who will be making his debut against a world class opponent.

Pedraza, the former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champion lost to Jose Zepeda in September 2019, but has won his two fights since then and continues to be a test for any fighter.

Rodriguez, nicknamed "Hammer Hands", hasn't been placed in against soft competition but Pedraza is a step up for the unbeaten prospect.

This is the fight that I'm looking forward to most on the weekend.

DAZN and Matchroom will have a card from the United Kingdom with a junior welterweight title eliminator for the mandatory challenger for Josh Taylor's IBF title.

England's Lewis Ritson faces Argentina's Jeremias Ponce with the winner scheduled to face Taylor in the future, or will be installed in a fight for the vacant title should Taylor decide to move up to the welterweight.

Ritson has won four in a row, including a split decision win over former IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vasquez in his last win, since his only defeat in a split decision loss to Francisco Patera.

The problem for Ritson is that no one, even Ritson or his father, believes that he deserved the decision over the aging Vasquez, and the undefeated Ponce has been highly thought of in his native Argentina, so this could be a spot for an upset.

Ponce has the height and range to outbox Ritson, and Ritson's problem in dealing with Vasquez makes me wonder if Ponce can do the same.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 75-70.

Junior Lightweights.12 Rds
Shakur Stevenson vs Jeremiah Nakathila
R.L: Stevenson KO 7
TRS: Stevenson KO 6

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jose Pedraza vs Julian Rodriguez
Both: Pedraza Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Lewis Ritson vs Jeremias Ponce
R.L: Ritson Unanimous Decision
TRS: Ponce Unanimous Decision

Friday, June 11, 2021

Cleaning out the inbox-Passings

 I continue to catch up on a backlog and it's still taking twice as long to write if not more, but I'm hanging in there and hopefully, it will become smoother and more like the old days (Can a month be the old days?).

So, on that note, let's start with some tributes to some recently passed stars from the world of sports.

Goodbye to Lee Evans at the age of 74.

Evans won two gold medals at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, winning the 400 meters and running the anchor leg for the winning team in the 4 x 400 relays, setting world records in both events.

Evans isn't remembered as often for his Mexico City protest as Tommie Smith and John Carlos, but Evans and his fellow Americans ( silver medalist Larry James and bronze medalist Ron Freeman) wore black berets on the medal podium during the national anthem.

Evans didn't make the 1972 Munich Olympic team in the 400 meters but did make the relay team, but after teammates, Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett were suspended for a past protest for the games the United States couldn't enter a team in the event.

Evans would coach several national teams in different African nations and head the track program at South Alabama after his retirement from the ITA (professional track and field) following its end in 1976.

Goodbye to Mike Marshall at the age of 78.

In 1972, Marshall might have been known more as Jim Bouton's roommate in Seattle and resulting appearance in "Ball Four" than anything he had accomplished in the majors.

Suddenly the light turned on, Marshall won fourteen games for the lousy Expos and would finish fourth in the Cy Young balloting

Marshall would follow up in 1973 by finishing second in Cy voting with 31 saves, and after being peddled to the Dodgers before the 1974 season, Marshall would win the award as the first reliever to win the award for the eventual National League champions with 15 wins, 21 saves, and a major league record 106 appearances.

Marshall's numbers leveled off a bit after 1974, but they didn't fall through the floor either and would save 53 games for the Twins in 1978 and 79.

Marshall claimed he was blackballed from baseball after 1981 and began to tout controversial measures for pitching mechanics that Marshall claimed would save pitchers from arm injuries.

Baseball never gave Marshall a chance to test his theories at the professional level, but some of Marshall's ideas were eventually adopted by major league teams such as frame by frame video work, working with weighted baseballs, and the latest rage in pitching- the spin of the baseball that makes the ball move.

Marshall might not have gotten the credit that he deserved for these advances, but as some of his ideas become more mainstream, Marshall may be getting that credit sometime soon.

Goodbye to Mark Eaton at the age of  64.

Known best for his massive 7'4 frame and wide body, Eaton won the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award twice (1984-85 and 88-89) for the Utah Jazz, where Eaton spent his entire eleven-year career.

Eaton led the league in blocked shots four times and made the all-defensive team on five occasions as arguably the first of what the league now calls a rim-protector for a big body that can block shots and not allow smaller players to drive the lane for easy baskets.

Eaton wasn't a scoring threat as he never averaged more than 9.7 points per game for the Jazz but what he brought to Utah allowed Karl Malone and John Stockton to concentrate on offense with the insurance that Eaton brought the court waiting to make up for defensive deficiencies.

Eaton's 5.6 blocked shot average per game in 1984-85 remains the league record to this day since the NBA began to keep track of the statistic in the 1973-74 season, but what I remember most about Eaton is the trouble that he gave the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on defense.

Eaton's strength was always going to trouble Abdul-Jabbar, who was more of a finesse player than one that depended on a power game, and Eaton was one of the few players that were taller than Kareem (7'4 to 7'2).

It was always fascinating to watch the best offensive big man in basketball history battle against the best defensive center of his era and to watch the small things that only the elite of the game do and can often go unnoticed when watching those players against lesser talents.

Goodbye to Keith Mullings at the age of  53.

Mullings won the WBC junior middleweight title in 1997 with a colossal upset of the division's best fighter at the time in Terry Norris, knocking Norris out in the ninth round.

Mullings had been a mild disappointment as a pro with a 13-3-1 record before losing a surprisingly close split decision to Raul Marquez for Marquez's IBF title in September 1997.

The close loss to Marquez allowed him to receive another title shot in December, again as a heavy underdog, against Terry Norris, who was expected to face Oscar De La Hoya after the expected successful defense against Mullings.

Norris built a large lead on the scorecards, but Mullings hurt Norris in the eighth round and finished off the upset in the ninth to win the WBC title.

Mullings would defend the title once against David Clarlante before losing the final four fights of his career including the majority decision title loss to Javier Castillejo, another title challenge against David Reid, and a decision loss to Hall of Famer Winky Wright.

Goodbye to Kirkland Laing at the age of 66.

Laing was a solid welterweight/junior middleweight at the European level that wasn't quite at the top fifteen level and after losing to future world title contender Colin Jones and 9-7 Reggie Ford, Laing looked to be mere cannon fodder in 1982 for an appearance on ESPN's Saturday Night at the Fights, which was a series that was designed to showcase world-class fighters from several different promoters rather than their usual Top Rank Boxing series, which usually featured fighters either looking to move up in status or fading fighters attempting to hold onto their former level.

Laing was facing the feared Roberto Duran, who was looking for an easy victory after dropping a unanimous decision to Wilfred Benitez in his previous fight in a challenge for Benitez's WBC 154 pound title.

Laing won a split decision in a stunning upset and led to the first of many times that Roberto Duran would be written off as finished in his career.

As for Laing, he would be stopped in ten in his next fight against junior middleweight contender Fred Hutchings and would never again defeat a world-class opponent with losses to former welterweight contender Nino LaRocca and former WBA junior welterweight champion Patrizio Oliva in attempts to return to a higher level. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Cleaning out the inbox

    The inbox could use some sifting through since I haven't done a lot of writing recently.

I'm still struggling with things, but I do see a small amount of progress.

When I do write, it still seems like I have to push myself a little and it feels like every post takes two and three times longer to write but I do see a little progress- even if I'm still not watching a lot of games.

The Athletic writes of newly inducted Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and of Duncan's college career at Wake Forest.

When I was a massive college basketball fan, I had the pleasure of seeing most of Tim Duncan's college career on the various ACC networks, and he became one of my favorite players ever with the classy way that he played the game.

This article focuses on his Wake Forest career and talks to his coaches, including then-head coach Dave Odom along with teammates that include a great story from bench-warming teammate and future actor (including a run on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Marc Blucas.

It also discusses the story of Duncan's recruitment from the Virgin Islands and I remember no one knowing who Duncan was in a recruiting class that would have three players picked in the top five of the NBA draft in Maryland's Joe Smith and North Carolina's Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace.

The San Francisco Chronicle writes of the final meeting in 1995 of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Duke Snider at the Baseball Writers Awards Dinner in New York City.

The final appearance of Mantle, who would die shortly after the dinner, was overshadowed by the unexpectedly emotional speech by Mays, who was never known for emoting well in his public speaking.

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian penned an article on Willie Mays as well, writing of Mays on his 90th birthday.

Kurkjian uses the analogy of comparing Mays to gymnasts like Simone Biles and ballet dancers such as Mikhail Baryshnikov along with Jim Brown and Michael Jordan as players that played with such grace that they were above the game.

I wouldn't disagree at all, but Kurkjian breaks each of the traditional "five tools" down and writes of how Mays fit into each of the five tools by asking fellow Hall of Famers and contemporaries during his career about Mays.

Our final note deals with a "Baron"

Wrestling's Baron Von Raschke wrestled for years as an "evil" German, but a recent documentary tells the story of the Baron from his college days at Nebraska for the Cornhuskers through his years in pro wrestling in a documentary titled "The Claw".

The film has the cooperation of Raschke, who appears in the film throughout, and the Baron appears to be in good health for a gentleman that will turn 81 later this year.

And that is all the people need to know- to quote the Baron's most famous quote from his grappling days.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Ernest Angley

      The Reverend Ernest Angley passed away recently at the age of 99.

Angley was your stereotypical television evangelist with about every stereotype that one would write for a film script involving that industry.

Angley was involved in scandals like many from the televised evangelical world, but the Reverend stands out to me from childhood more than the others from the business- for one reason.

The business of televised religion comes down to one thing- attracting enough donated dollars to buy televised time on smaller independent stations and occasionally an early Sunday morning slot on a larger station.

When you have those dollars, it enables you to stay on the air, do your routine, and keep an often lavish lifestyle running, but getting those dollars often takes some less than scrupulous dealings, and the Rev. Angley's "Healing" didn't exactly ring the "OK" bell with legitimacy.

SO why did Ernest Angley stand out from the bushel of television evangelists from that era?

Pro Wrestling.

You see, in the era of pro wrestling being a one-hour infomercial for a promotion's live house shows, there was only one hour a week for me in my infancy as a fan and it was Saturday at 11:00 AM on WDCA-TV from Washington.

At that time, UHF stations usually programmed local sports (WDCA had the Bullets, Capitals, and ACC Basketball), reruns of old television shows like Star Trek, and the remainder was left for old movies and time buy programs- such as wrestling and various religious programming.

A time buy was basically someone literally purchased an hour of air time and WDCA placed the program on their network at the agreed time.

The station liked those because they didn't have to try to sell advertising and the buyer didn't have to sell their product to the station, pleasing both parties.

I've shared stories about that time and the WWF show in the past but assuming that my dad wasn't getting his laughs by asking for a chore to be done with ten minutes before the show and I had the time to turn the channel (Literally) to the UHF station, the program before pro wrestling was the Rev. Ernest Angley show, so I'd see the last ten minutes of Angley's hour (which like WWF was paid for by the company) and that was quite a trip, dear readers.

The end of Angley's program would feature the good Reverend and his "faith healing" and this would feature people that took better bumps on the platform than Steve King and Victor Mercado would in the next hour.

Angley wobbled out, usually in a white suit, looking like a bizarre mashup of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith (I spent many a North Carolina game in the 80s, yelling at Dean Smith and calling him "Ernest Angley")  and Eddie Munster, and would ask "followers" what their various malady was that ailed them.

Angley would then give a standard pablum and then call the Lord, strike the person, and drive them backward in a Nestea Plunge-type fall where two fellows in suits would catch them in mid-flight.

Angley then would "test" the newly-healed follower and in a miracle, the problem was solved!

I try not to be too hard on these things because they are more carnival sideshow than real religion, but it was hard not to laugh as a kid and it's hard not to be sad today as you just wonder how many poor people have been conned out of their dollars by stunts like these.

When you are exposed to this every week, suffice it to say that many wrestling fans in junior high school were well-schooled in the Ernest Angley impersonation!

But there is one more wrestling connection to the late Reverend- my childhood hero -The Magnificent Muraco loved adding Ernest Angley touches to his promos for the upcoming card at your local area, in my case, the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.

Muraco has admitted in recent interviews that he did this and it wasn't hard to see when the Magnificent One was going into "Angley" mode as he would chant "Can you say Baby" (Angley used that phrase often when he had "healed" someone from deafness and would ask them to repeat the word) and would add some "YEA-HH"'s in the tone of a traveling preacher.

The Reverend has always been thought of as a charlatan by me even forty years ago and despite his passing, I haven't seen anything to cause a re-evaluation of him in my mind.

Still, there are a few phrases to this day, that when I hear them I'll flashback to being twelve years old with the excitement of watching wrestling for that week and the odd little man and his routine before the action began.

Boxing Challenge: DuBois Dusts Dinu

   The boxing challenge was shorthanded this week (But just wait until the challenge in two weeks!) with one fight on Saturday and another on the Sunday undercard of the Mayweather-Paul act.

The Saturday portion was expected to be a mismatch and it was as Daniel DuBois knocked out Bogdan Diu with a single right-hand seconds into the second round.

Dinu was only able to get to all fours before the ten count was tolled and Dinu was fortunate to make it through the first round in a "title fight" in the eyes only of the WBA.

The talented DuBois suffered his first loss in his previous fight to Joe Joyce, which didn't disqualify him from a bright future but did make you laugh at how the WBA thought this was worthy of one of their eighteen titles.

Between DuBois losing his last fight and Dinu losing (by knockout in both) both of his fights against anyone of note (Kubrat Pulev and Jarrell Miller), even for the WBA "interim" ( the third in the line of their AHEM "titles") title, this was ridiculous.

Dinu was perfect to build DuBois's confidence as someone that the young Briton was likely to take out early and look impressive doing it and everything fell into place.

The worst thing for DuBois is now being saddled with one of the lower WBA belts and will fall out of the ratings of the other organizations for doing so.

I always wonder why managers and fighters even worry about the WBA interim title.

The "Regular" is bad enough, but you could look at it as being the number one contender and could eventually receive a shot at the top title, but the interim isn't worth that much, doesn't; attract a contender usually, and it takes you out of contention for any other title.

Supposedly, DuBois will now be in line for "regular" and its champion, the undefeated and non-descript Trevor Bryan.

Bryan's best wins are over natural cruiserweight and color commentator B.J. Flores and washed-up former WBC champion Bermane Stiverne in his last two fights.

The win over Stiverne in January was more entertaining than I thought it would be, but for Stiverne, who had lost three of his last four entering the fight, all three by stoppage, and hadn't won since 2015 to trouble Bryan and last to the eleventh round, makes me wonder if DuBois would have any problems at all with Bryan.

All and all, other than getting DuBois back in the ring after his first loss and injury, this really accomplished nothing at all.

In the boxing challenge, I earned three points to Ramon Malpica's two as I grabbed a bonus point for calling the round that the fight would end in.

I lead the challenge 75-70.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Boxing Challenge

     It's a very light weekend in boxing, so only two fights and neither will be free to watch, so we could have only results.

On Saturday on FiteTV, which is mostly an MMA and pro wrestling channel, will have the return of Daniel DuBois from London.

DuBois, who was looked at as perhaps the next elite heavyweight, was stopped in the tenth round of an excellent fight by countryman Joe Joyce last November when he was counted out on his knees after suffering a broken orbital bone (the same injury recently suffered by Billy Joe Saunders against Canelo Alvarez).

DuBois's return would be of interest in any case but it's really interesting (sarcasm) because the WBA has put one of their minor titles at stake in this despite DuBois losing his last fight and his opponent Bogdan Dinu having been knocked out in both of his defeats (Jarrell Miller and Kubrat Pulev) against top fifty heavyweights.

Dinu has won his last two fights against lesser opponents since the two losses, but is nowhere near title challenger level (not that this title is worth worrying about) and seems to be set up to give DuBois a spectacular return to the ring.

Then you have the PPV with the Floyd Mayweather-Whichever Paul Brother as the main event.

It's not a good undercard after Jean Pascal was hammered for four illegal PED"s in his test before his rematch vs Badou Jack and removed from the fight.

The first Pascal-Jack, won by Pascal by split decision, fight was an action fight and a rematch worth watching, but due to the late replacement in unbeaten and unknown Dervin Collins of Venezuela, Jack's fight is missing from the challenge.

I did place former WBA and IBF junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd's fight at 160 pounds against Luis Arias in the challenge.

Hurd didn't look very good in his return win over Francisco Santana and I wonder if his loss to Julian Williams hasn't damaged him permanently.

That would be too bad as Hurd, at one time, seemed to be the best of the plethora of the PBC junior middleweight crowd, and still would be a very interesting challenger for the winner of the four title unification bout between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano.

Arias is 0-2-1 since his undefeated record was spoiled against tougher opponents and while his loss to Daniel Jacobs is excusable, his timid performance was not.

Since the Jacobs loss, Arias drew with Gabriel Rosado, and even though I had Arias winning close, he managed to make a Gabriel Rosado fight boring and surprisingly lost to Luke Keeler in a dull effort.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 72-68.

Heavyweights. 12 Rds 

Daniel DuBois vs Bogdan Dinu 
R.L: DuBois KO 5
TRS: DuBois KO 2

Middleweights 10 Rds
Jarrett Hurd vs Luis Arias
R.L: Hurd KO 10
TRS: Hurd Unanimous Decision

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Devils stand pat in lottery

    The NHL lottery proved to be as dull of an event as you could have expected as the three teams with the best odds of picking in the top three all managed to stay there and give the "anti-tanking" folks reason to groan.

Short of drawing of one of the top three selections, the New Jersey Devils did as well as could be hoped as they remained in the fourth spot in the draft, despite the most likely scenarios dropping the Devils to either the fifth or sixth position.

New Jersey could use help at almost any position, but the draft seems deep at the top with defensemen and the Devils may be most in need of a younger puck-moving blueliner.

Many rank four defensemen in the top five prospects, so the Devils would be guaranteed one of those players should they go that direction.

Michigan's Owen Power is expected to go first overall with Sweden's Simon Edvinsson, Canada's Brandt Clarke, and Luke Hughes, who has a Michigan commitment.

Clarke is the brother of Graeme Clarke, who New Jersey selected in the third round in the 2019 draft, and spent last season with the then-Binghamton Devils.

Hughes is the younger sibling of Devils center and former top overall pick Jack Hughes.

Should the Devils decide to go center, the best two centers are both Michigan Wolverines in Matthew Beniers and Kent Johnson, but I'd think they would have to fall in love with a center to choose one at four.

Beniers will likely be unavailable as he may the most likely player in the draft to walk into the league and make an impact right away.

I could see the Devils taking a winger though with the best left winger reported to be Sweden's William Eklund, who played on the same line with 2020 first-round pick Alexander Holtz in the Swedish Elite League last season.

The top-rated right-winger in Canada's Dylan Guenther, who is listed as an "elite-level" goal scorer and might make a lot of sense to plug beside Jack Hughes in the long-term with Hughes's passing ability.

I never claim to know hockey prospects as I do football and basketball for their drafts, so I'm not targeting a particular guy at this time, but I would imagine the Devils are going to be in a tough corner if Luke Hughes is on the board.

It's not a pick to make Jack Hughes happy, Luke is highly touted and isn't misplaced as one of the upper five or six players in the draft, but depending on how the draft falls ahead of them New Jersey could have to make a choice between the fourth-best defenseman against the best forward in the draft.

I don't think it'll come to that choice, but if it does it could be a very difficult decision. 

I'll try to look at some videos of the players that could be available for the Devils and offer a thought on who might be the best fit for New Jersey.