Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Jake Paul Experience- Good and Bad for Boxing

      Sunday night's pay-per-view from Cleveland from Showtime that featured YouTube star Jake Paul against former UFC star Tyron Woodley wasn't one that was on my radar.

Although there were two interesting fights on the card with Daniel DuBois appearing in a squash match and talented junior welterweight Montana Love making his first major step against world-class boxers against former IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk, it lacked enough to do a boxing challenge for the card.

The good news? Boxing sells when it has a marketable fighter and for whatever one wants to say about the traveling roadshow that comes with Jake Paul, his true ability as a boxer, and that he hasn't paid his dues from the lower end of a card, one has to admit that he appeals to a certain demographic and he is very marketable to that crowd.

A sellout in Cleveland at the home of the Cavaliers showed that Paul draws a crowd but it does make you wonder what happens ( And I have a pretty good idea of what does) when Paul fights even a decent six-round level pro boxer and what happens to the crowd and pay per view numbers in the fight after he loses?

Will Paul's cache with the buy rate and at the box office continue once people have seen him get his comeuppance? That is your key and once that happens you may have to place a significant fight on the card with Paul possibly even down the card a bit to be able to approach the numbers that are being drawn right now.

An easy take is that Paul's events are bringing new exposure to the sport and it could be true.

However, the added eyes that come to see Jake Paul only matter long-term if they become fans and purchase other events and that only comes if they get hooked on better fighters and fights.

And that comes with better fighters on those cards to be exposed to those new viewers so will the top fighters come on a "Jake Paul card" or will Paul as the established "draw" be willing to be on an undercard of a top fight?

Those questions will need to be answered and shown before Jake Paul's true value to the boxing business beyond his own fights can be truly known.

What's the bad news for boxing?

It's that at a time that boxing cannot make some of its best fights that outside of Canelo Alvarez, it is a tattooed kid from Ohio with no boxing background that is arguably the best draw in the game.

The solution to that is easier said than done using the Tully Blanchard theory of "you put the best against the best" but at a time when the fracture extends beyond the usual promoters and networks through the sanctioning bodies to make the problem even worse than normal.

Money goes where money is and no matter your opinion of Jake Paul as a boxer, his opponents, or as a person for that matter. it would be delusional to deny his influence on the game at the current time.

Boxing has always been a magnet for the occasional freak show ( and don't let the old-timers like me tell you differently) as George Foreman vs five foes in one night, Ed "Too Tall" Jones in his year in boxing, Lyle Alzado facing Muhammad Ali at Mile High Stadium, Eric "Butterbean" Esch's career that actually has the names of both Larry Holmes and wrestling's "Bart Gunn" on his resume' are just a few oddball events in boxing.

Jake Paul is just the latest carny act among many in the history of boxing but he may be the most successful of the non-athlete attempts at the sport.

Paul is making his attempt at perhaps the perfect time for a person from the non-athletic world- the social media age where talking about what a great fighter you are is more important than being one.

And for what it is worth- and this announcement is so boxing. On August 30th Jake Paul tweeted his retirement from boxing.

On his way to another grift, I'm sure...

Monday, August 30, 2021

Cavaliers obtain Lauri Markkanen

   The Cleveland Cavaliers used the sign and trade maneuver to land what I consider to be a mild surprise as the Cavaliers added forward Lauri Markkanen from the Chicago Bulls with Cleveland sending popular veteran big man Larry Nance Jr to Portland and a 2023 second-rounder (previously acquired from Denver) to the Bulls as their portion of the three-way deal that included the Portland Trail Blazers.

Markkannen will receive sixty-seven million over the next four years as part of the new contract that he signed with the Bulls on the condition of trading him to Cleveland.

Markkanen was drafted seventh overall by Minnesota in the 2017 draft after Markkanen played one college season at Arizona but never played for the Timberwolves as he was traded to Chicago as part of a package in a trade for Jimmy Butler.

Markkanen averaged 18.7 points per game in his second season with the Bulls and looked to be developing into a star but his points and minutes on the floor have decreased in each of the last two seasons.

The 24-year-old Finn did improve his shooting last season to career highs in percentage (.480) and from three-point distance (.402) but his points have fallen from 18 two years ago to 14 and then 13 with his rebounding dropping from 9.0 to 6.3 to last season's 5.3.

Larry Nance Jr's loss may be felt more in the locker room and by the fans than on the court and Nance at 28 might be more helpful to a contender as a complementary player than for a rebuilding team like Cleveland.

Nance averaged nine points and six boards last season in thirty-five games due to missing time due to injury but defends the rim well and can extend the floor defensively as well as adding an improved three-point shot last season with a career-high in percentage and attempts.

Now for my take.

I'll miss Larry Nance Jr for his hustle and positive attitude and being a local is always nice to have on your team but even though some fans are screaming "Why not Kevin Love instead", it's easy to say that without considering Love's value (next to none) due to his poor Olympic training camp, his constant injuries and a contract that has proven to be impossible to move.

But at 28 (29 in January) Larry Nance's value is now as he's unlikely to be part of whenever this team makes their next shot at playoff success so I can understand why Nance was moved if disappointed.

Here's the issue- you have just added a seven-footer after drafting Evan Mobley and re-signing Jarrett Allen that gives you very little outside of his shooting.

Markkanen's rebounding has dropped, he's not very good defensively, and it seems that Cleveland either already is thinking about a future without Jarrett Allen or they are considering playing Markkanen at the three, which seems to be ludicrous to even think about.

Add into this conundrum that Kevin Love makes a ton of money, seems to be without a market for a potential trade, through his agent has refused to entertain thoughts of a buyout, doesn't seem to have a path to playing time, and you have what seems to be a real mess in the Cavaliers organization.

I'm not sure that this doesn't come down to a desperate Koby Altman making one last attempt to avoid another awful season that could cost his job at the end of the year.

Considering Markkanen's flaws against the one thing that he does well with the fact that you won't be able to play Markkanen with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen (in my opinion, anyway, they may try it but I don't see how it ends well)  with the fact that they appeared to be bidding against themselves to acquire and what could be an impending disaster with the salary cap soon (check out what could be a thirty win team over the cap at the end of the year with Collin Sexton eligible to be an RFA) to see that this may have not only not solved problems- it may have created more and still didn't address the largest issue- a lack of talent at the wing.

Perhaps Lauri Markkanen will re-establish himself as a coming star and prove to be a bargain for the next four seasons but they are several reasons to think that the Cavaliers may not have improved their team for the price that was paid ( the contract/cap issues more than trading Larry Nance Jr) and that could be bad news for Koby Altman, J.B. Bickerstaff, and a frustrated fan base.

Saturday, August 28, 2021


      The PPM returns for another season and even though the "week Zero" schedule for college football is fairly soft, I still wanted to get the PPM popping and started.

The face of this year's PPM will be Taylor Biscotti of NFL Network, mainly because apparently there are a series of GIFs that Biscotti and fellow NFL Network anchor Kay Adams did in the past.

I thought they looked pretty neat and would fit well with the PPM.

Hopefully, Taylor will pass muster with Fred Landucci, who grumbled every week at PPM time with his problems with the 2020 face of the PPM, Lauren Thompson!

Anyway, Onto a weak week before a huge CFB Thursday and three of the PPM teams in action then.

Illinois 24 Nebraska 21 
UTEP 38 New Mexico State 32

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

  We are still catching up with recent passings with most of the people for this post from the non-sports world.

Goodbye to Ron Popeil at the age of 86.

Popeil is known for his years of huckstering various products through television from his company, Ronco that sold various products that ranged from useful (his various food choppers), unitaskers (Rotisserie grill, pasta maker, and dehydrator/jerky maker) to the absolutely ridiculous ( Mr.Microphone,  Pocket Fisherman, and Spray Paint hair).

Popeil's pitches populated all over late-night television with his various products and selling his latest find as the revolutionary must-have item for the American consumer complete with one of his various catchphrases with the most remembered being "But Wait There's More" for when Popeil tosses in another item into the deal he's making with the viewer/potential buyer.

The spray paint hair from an aerosol can always made me howl with laughter with Popeil covering his bald spot and marveling at how one "couldn't tell the difference" even though he could have looked just as well had he glopped some shoe polish on it!

Still, the carnival barkers like Popeil are slowly changing their form in the digital age and it's certainly different as the old school salesman fade away- I'll miss some of them- even if there will be "no more".

Goodbye to Markie Post at the age of 70.

Post had co-starring roles on "The Fall Guy" with Lee Majors and "Hearts Afire" with John Ritter and Billy Bob Thornton but most people will think of her as "Christine Sullivan" on "Night Court" with Harry Anderson and John Larroquette as the spunky public defender.

Night Court, which recently lost Charlie Robinson from the cast, ranks with Newsradio as underrated classics that never quite got the mainstream acclaim that they deserved and when you rewatch the series, it is the arrival of Markie Post in season three that the show really hit its stride.

After her time on Hearts Afire, Post transitioned into a character actor role with guest appearances in many films and television shows.

Goodbye to Don Everly at the age of 84.

One half of the ground-breaking harmonious brother team known as The Everly Brothers, Don Everly was the surviving brother with Phil passing away in 2014.

Don Everly was the rhythm guitar player of the duo that still holds the record for most top 100 hits (35) for a duo and still remains in second place in top 40 hits (26) for a duo behind only Daryl Hall and John Oates.

The Everly's were among the initial class of inductees for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and many bands of the era after their peak from 1957-61 claim to be largely influenced by the brothers including the Beatles and Beach Boys.

Goodbye to Dominic DeNucci at the age of 89.

A journeyman grappler in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, DeNucci spent most of his career in the WWF in the territory days first as the "friend of Bruno Sammartino" that was good enough to be considered a solid wrestler but often lost to the latest heel to set up the latest challenger to Bruno's championship.

DeNucci would hold the WWWF tag team championships with three partners on two occasions with his first reign saw DeNucci win the championship with partner Victor Rivera, who would leave the territory before the DeNucci/Rivera team could lose the titles.

Pat Barrett would replace Rivera for the remainder of that title reign and DeNucci's final tag team title run was with a young Dino Bravo as his partner.

When I started watching pro wrestling in 1979, DeNucci had begun to transition into being a name enhancement talent like an S.D.Jones where DeNucci would occasionally win on television to keep it known that DeNucci was above the average guy that lost every week but would lose to the heels that were being built to face Bob Backlund or Pedro Morales.

DeNucci would train wrestlers after his retirement and his two most successful trainees were Mick Foley and Shane Douglas.

Goodbye to Jerry Harkness at the age of 81.

The star of the 1963 Loyola Chicago NCAA champions, Harkness was a two-time All-American for the Ramblers and along with Loyola's other four starters played every minute of Loyola's title win in upsetting Cincinnati in overtime.

Harkness would play one season for the Knicks as a second-round draftee and would play for the Indiana Pacers in the first two seasons of the ABA.

Harkness's 92-foot long buzzer-beater in 1967 defeated the Dallas Chaparrals and remains to this day the longest shot ever hit in a professional basketball game in the United States.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Cleaning out the inbox: Passings

 We are still trying to catch up on some passings from the sports world and we will start with a Hockey Hall of Famer.

Goodbye to Tony Esposito at the age of 78.

Esposito spent the majority of his career with the Chicago Blackhawks after playing a little as a backup with the Montreal Canadiens in his first NHL action.

Esposito was claimed by the Blackhawks in the 1969 waiver draft and would win the league's top rookie award for the 1969-70 season.

Esposito would win the Vezina Trophy for the league's top goaltender on three occasions, was named to the league's first or second All-Star team five games, and was one of the two goaltenders on Team Canada in their historic series against the Soviet Union.

Esposito entered the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 and served as the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 90s.

Goodbye to Bobby Bowden at the age of 91.

Bowden won 389 games which were good for tops all-time until the NCAA took twelve wins away for recruiting violations and dropped him behind Joe Paterno.

Bowden is the person that built Florida State into a powerhouse and if you grew up in the late 70s and early 80s, you may remember Florida State rolling up undefeated records as an independent and for a while was thought of as very similar to today's powerhouse teams in the Group of Five conferences.

Building up big records against other independents and whatever big-name teams would give them a shot outside of in-state rivals Florida and Miami, Bowden turned Florida State into a school that likely would have never been invited into the ACC in 1992 into a school that could write its own ticket all due to football.

For all of the good things that Bowden did at Florida State, it was what he did at West Virginia that I think of first and it would have little to do with the Mountaineers on the field.

After the 1970 plane crash that killed the Marshall football team and staff,, Bowden wanted to send the Mountaineers (on a bye week) to Athens, Ohio to play Marshall's final game on their schedule against the Ohio Bobcats but was denied by the NCAA.

As depicted in the film "We Are Marshall", Bowden did help the new staff at Marshall learn the veer offense, which Bowden used in Morgantown and his teams wore cross stickers and MU on their helmets, but I didn't know and Bowden himself stated during the film's release that it was Bowden in the fall of 1969 when he was still the offensive coordinator at West Virginia, that was Marshall's top choice for their head coaching position.

However, Bowden knew that then-WVU head coach Jim Carlen was likely moving to Texas Tech and Bowden had an excellent chance of getting the West Virginia job, which he did with Marshall then tapping their interim coach Rick Tolley as the permanent head coach, which meant it was Tolley not Bowden aboard the ill-fated plane crash.

Goodbye to Dick Schafrath at the age of 84.

A seven-time Pro Bowler at tackle and guard for the Cleveland Browns, Schafrath won a national championship with Ohio State in 1957, was drafted in the second round in 1959, and would win an NFL title with the Browns in 1964.

An offensive lineman that had his Hall of Fame candidacy fall by the wayside. Schafrath turned to a new game in 1986, winning a seat in the Ohio state senate and would keep until 2000 when he decided to step away from the office.

Goodbye to Bill Freehan at the age of 79.

An eleven-time all-star for the Detroit Tigers, Freehan's Hall of Fame candidacy is hurt most by what appear to be average numbers on the surface but a deeper look shows numbers that for a catcher are better than average for the era.

Freehan won the Gold Glove five times, was the American League's best defensive catcher of Freehan's age in setting many defensive catching records that were not broken until years after his retirement.

Freehan hit over twenty homers three times and in my opinion severely underrated.

Goodbye to Lehlo Ledwaba at the age of 49.

Ledwaba won the IBF junior featherweight title in 1999 and defended successfully five times in very impressive fashion.

For his sixth title defense, Ledwaba (from South Africa) was brought to the United States for an HBO fight intended to showcase him to the American audience for the first time as a rising star against Enrique Sanchez.

Sanchez would pull out two weeks before the fight and an unknown underdog named Manny Pacquiao stepped in and stopped Ledwabs in six impressive rounds for the first title of Pacquiao's career.

Ledwaba would go only 3-4 in the final seven fights of his career after the defeat to Pacquiao.

Goodbye to Brian London at the age of 87.

The veteran British heavyweight of the 50s and 60s fought many of the world's best heavyweights of his age and challenged for the heavyweight title twice in losing to Floyd Patterson in 1959 and Muhammad Ali in 1966.

London lost more than he won against the top of the division but he did win a few with wins over future light heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano, Olympic gold medalist Pete Rademacher, and former title challenger Zora Folley.

London was stopped by Floyd Patterson in eleven rounds and by Muhammad Ali in three rounds in two of the eleven stoppage losses in his career.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Ugas ends the Pacquiao era.

    Late replacement and WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas ended the tenure of Manny Pacquiao by a close but unanimous decision in Las Vegas and retained his championship with the victory.

Ugas, a late replacement for WBC and IBF champion Errol Spence after Spence suffered a detached retina, didn't dominate the legend, but he did more than enough to earn the win in this on scores of 115-113 and 116-112 (twice), I agreed with the 115-113 score but that is about as close as I could see the fight possibly being scored.

Ugas used the jab to consistently keep Pacquiao off balance and blunted his trademark ability to hop in and out of the zone to land punches by using the jab.

Ugas landed his right very well against Pacquiao with a right hand that is a hybrid between a looping and overhand to its top effectiveness and Pacquiao seemed to catch it every time that Ugas needed to connect to keep the fight in his favor.

Contrary to many opinions, while I would like to see Manny Pacquiao walk away from the sport now, I'm not sure that he is a completely spent force.

I think fighting only three times in four years and only one in the previous two did not help his skills stay sharpened and Manny at this stage (and he did the same in his win against Keith Thurman) of his career reminds me of Hall of Famer Donald Curry at the end of his career.

Curry became a fighter that could build a lead for seven or eight rounds and the race was then on- could Curry make it to the end of the fight and hold the lead?

Pacquiao has become the same type of fighter and that type of fighter isn't up to the task of defeating the elite of the welterweight division but matched properly Pacquiao can still win some fights against the back of top ten style contenders.

The question is does he want to and does he have to?

The want to portion would depend on his Presidential ambitions in his native Philippines and being able to devote the time needed to get into better shape which seems unlikely at 42.

But the need to? It has been well-known that Pacquiao has dealt with multiple financial issues through the years and one never knows if one of those could pop up again.

While Pacquiao's effort wasn't a stimulating one nor a winning one, it wasn't so terrible that it would eliminate him completely should someone throw enough dollars at him to make it worth his while.

I still don't think that with the nostalgia craze in boxing running well, one could entirely cross out a future Marquez-Pacquiao V or with enough dollars on the line, a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya, or even Floyd Mayweather down the road.

As Ugas, it's pretty clear what his future will be as he most likely will face Spence in a three title unification bout next unless Spence wants a warmup fight in which case Ugas would take one as well.

Ugas still rates below Terence Crawford and Errol Spence in the division but between his win over Pacquiao and split decision loss to Shawn Porter, it's not unfair to list him with Porter and the two rising stars Jaron Ennis and Vergil Ortiz at the level just under the top two.

In the co-feature, faded welterweight veterans Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz squared in a good fight but not as strong as I expected it to with Guerrero winning a close unanimous decision on all cards 96-94.

I agreed with the scoring but the downside is that whichever fighter won will likely be pushed above their pay grade by PBC in the future.

I could easily see Guerrero with a recognizable name and a recent win over another recognizable name in Ortiz being the fighter fed to Spence or Ugas should they need an interim fight before their clash.

It won't be competitive but I'm not sure PBC would really want competitive with bigger dollars on the line down the road.

Wait a second, forget I mentioned that.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored one point to move the season total to 118-104. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing challenge is short this week with Ramon Malpica selecting two fights off tonight's PPV because I, well forgot,.

The main event pits the returning Manny Pacquiao against WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas.

Ugas is a late replacement for WBC/IBF champion Errol Spence, who dropped out due to a detached retina.

Ugas is a solid fighter and not a walkover for Pacquiao who hasn't fought since his win over Keith Thurman two years ago.

Ugas has lost only one fight since 2016 and that was a split decision to Shawn Porter that could have been given to either fighter but lacks wins against anyone above the B level as well.

Still, Pacquiao has fought only twice in the last three years and Ugas is the type of lanky boxer that might give him some problems if Manny has slowed any from his absence at age 42.

In the other fight, it is a battle of aging welterweights as Robert Guerrero faces Victor Ortiz.

Honestly, these are two fighters that fit in the conversation of "Zabbie" eligibility and I still have no interest in seeing them (AGAIN) against top ten competition but this could be a fun fight between two fighters that could slug it out in an action battle.

When push comes to shove for all of each fighter's liabilities, Guerrero has shown heart and grit while Ortiz hasn't always done the same and that might give Guerrero the edge.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 117-103.

WBA Welterweight Title. 12 Rds 
Yordenis Ugas vs Manny Pacquiao
Both: Pacquiao Unanimous Decision

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Robert Guerrero vs Victor Ortiz
R.L: Guerrero KO 4
TRS: Guerrero KO 8

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Beautiful Bobby Eaton

 The death of "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton at the age of 62 brought forth every voice from the world of professional wrestling to give their tribute to the one man in the business that no one ever mentioned negatively.

Bobby Eaton won the world tag team titles (NWA/WCW version) three times with three different partners, winning the championship with Dennis Condrey and Stan Lane under the banner of the Midnight Express and with Arn Anderson.

Eaton's team with Stan Lane held the same promotion's United States tag championships on three different occasions and would hold the World Television Championship, defeating Arn Anderson a few months before Eaton would win the tag team titles with Anderson as part of the Dangerous Alliance.

Known as arguably the best "worker" in the business at his peak, Bobby Eaton was known for his aerial work off the top rope (Eaton was known to come off the top rope during the Midnights matches at the WTBS studios and touch the ceiling to "show" how high he could leap) and his realistic punches that looked like he was knocking the opponents head off but in actuality wasn't even touching them.

Eaton wasn't an aerial star as some wrestlers were with dropkicks and bodypresses, but it was his daredevil work off the top rope that helped make his name as a star with the most notable being the "Alabama Jam" with Eaton leaping into the air and landing with a leg drop onto his opponent.

The Midnight Express was noted as the best heel tag team globally, whether it was Eaton and Condrey or Eaton and Lane during their run from 1983-1990 for both their matches and their interview quality, although Jim Cornette did almost all the speaking for the Midnights.

Their standout matches against great teams such as the Rock N Roll Express, Fantastics, Road Warriors, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson, and countless others have made them the most popular team to the wrestling "smart marks" and only Blanchard and Anderson approaching their ranking as the top of the era historically.

The Midnight Express used their teamwork to shine in their matches and Bobby Eaton was the star of both versions of the team.

That's not to diminish the role played by Dennis Condrey or Stan Lane, but it was their job to set up the spectacular moves by Eaton and allow Eaton to pull off the moves that allowed him to shine.

Which Midnight Express version that you prefer depends on what is more important to you as a wrestling fan- If you prefer a pure old-school heel team then the Condrey and Eaton team could be your favorite with matches that would have a crowd sizzling and seething with hatred.

Should you prefer "workrate" then Eaton and Lane would likely be your preferred team with a catalog of great matches that hold up even to the modern fan.

The double team moves, many of which were created by the wrestlers themselves, were part of what made the Midnights so great, but just as knowing what to do at the right time can make a wrestler great, knowing what not to do at a certain time can be just as important.

Eaton is most remembered for his time with the Midnight Express and Jim Cornette, but his last big run came as part of arguably the greatest collection of talent in a group ever and one that often is forgotten due to the state of WCW at the time in Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance.

It would be as part of the Alliance that Eaton would win his final title in WCW when he teamed with Arn Anderson to win the tag team titles for the final time in his career.
The Alliance consisted of Ravishing Rick Rude, who was at his peak before the back injury that essentially ended his in-ring career, a pre-Stone Cold "Stunning" Steve Austin,  Larry Zbysko, Anderson, and Eaton and not surprisingly was handled poorly by WCW.

Eaton had a brief time as a hilarious mid-card team "The Blue Bloods" with Steven Regal with funny vignettes with Regal "teaching" Eaton manners and how to behave in social situations.
The Blue Bloods would challenge for the titles many times but fail to win them.

After Eaton was replaced on the team by Dave Taylor, Eaton moved down the cards and would finish his time on WCW's lower television shows and wrestle on house shows before leaving the company.
Eaton would become a regular on the independent circuit for years until health matters forced him out of the ring, although he would continue to make appearances for independent promoters/

Bobby Eaton had the knack of being able to look realistic in a business that often makes stars of those that are not and he did so by being a wrestler that not only made himself look strong but his opponents as well.

Eaton's ability to throw a punch well as noted above was top notch but his ability to take one was also above and beyond the abilities of many.

Eaton taking a shot with his long hair flying about, bouncing into a corner or off the mat was renowned for its value with Eaton often rubbing his jaw to emphasize the power of the blow.

The major bumps that Eaton took from opponents also helped stamp him as an elite wrestler of the time as Eaton would take drops and slams that few others would take even if they were capable of taking- which very few were.

The best in the game wanted to work with Bobby Eaton, even with Eaton's status as a tag team wrestler as both Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair took specific lengths to program themselves in television programs with Eaton with Rhodes doing a series of matches on their "World Wide" show that saw Eaton win the first two matches by disqualification and count-out before Rhodes won via pin in a steel cage match that saw Rhodes throw Eaton off the top of the cage to end the series.

And there was the interaction with manager Jim Cornette, complete with inferences that the two were a couple such as Cornette giving Condrey or Lane a high five before their matches before giving Eaton a hug and then a kiss on the cheek.

It was the small touches such as the above note that made the act of the Midnight Express so entertaining and made almost everyone that watched professional wrestling a fan of the threesome- even if many of them hated them at the time!

A final note about Bobby Eaton, who as noted above few spoke of in a negative manner, that I didn't know until recently.

Eaton traveled to his matches with two huge duffel bags that Jim Cornette compared to aircraft carriers, one of which was filled with his ring gear and extras of each of the items that he would need for his match that evening.

The other of the massive bags held everyday items such as towels, socks, toiletries, etc that were available to anyone that may have forgotten an item that they could need along with what Cornette described as a very large plastic bag filled with penny candy.

That not only speaks to the professionalism of Bobby Eaton in wanting to be prepared as possible for a situation but it also speaks of the generosity of the man outside of the ring.

I never met Bobby Eaton but I know people that have (including my nephew Jeff) and they rave about his kindness and gentleness as a person.

Bobby Eaton the wrestler isn't lost- he lives on through videos of his matches available through different avenues.

Bobby Eaton the man is the bigger loss to the world. 

There just aren't that many good people in the world that we can afford to lose many before their time.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Showtime Snoozer

   The boxing weekend continued with cards from Top Rank on ESPN and PBC with Showtime with the main event that might rank among the worst ever and considering that Guillermo Rigondeaux has many of the candidates for that title- that says it all.

Sometimes in boxing programming, you have a card that just doesn't work out the way you planned it and you received next to no action at all.

It was one of those nights for PBC and Showtime from Carson, California as they received two rounds of a lopsided blowout, about fifteen seconds before a headbutt ended a fight, and then a major title fight with premium ramifications turned into a 10,000-meter race.

The WBO bantamweight title between John Riel Casimero and Guillermo Rigondeaux was hoped to be an entertaining battle as Casimero usually makes action fights and Rigondeaux's legs seemed to be slowing in his second to most recent fight against Julio Ceja in what was arguably the only entertaining fight of Rigondeaux's career.

So it wasn't an unreasonable thought to think that this should be at least an average action fight with the potential for more- which meant that fans were served up twelve rounds of Rigondeaux running around the ring and neither fighter landing double-digit punches in any round (which may be a record for a world title fight) in the worst "big" fight that anyone can remember in recent history.

With the live crowd and almost everyone watching at home booing the hell of this mess, fans knew the cards for this one would vary and everyone crossed their fingers that Casimero's attempted aggression would be rewarded so exciting fights like Casimero-Donaire or Casimero-Inoue may be made rather than sleep inducers such Rigondeaux-Donaire II or heavens forbid Rigondeaux-Inoue.

Fortunately, the fans caught a break with Casimero winning a split decision with scores of 117-111 and 116-112 (my score) to overrule a 115-113 tag for Rigondeaux.

Hopefully, Casimero and WBC champion Nonito Donaire can be made next time in what almost certainly will be a war with both fighters having personal grudges against the other.

As for Rigondeaux, I'd like to say at 40 years old we have seen the last of him but don't bet on it.

The co-feature ended in sixteen seconds as featherweights Emanuel Rodriguez and Gary Antonio Russell each moved to the center of the ring, collided skulls, and the fight was called with both fighters dazed and Rodriguez taking the worst of it.

That's about as much as one could say about that.

The two rounds of the opener saw all the action for the televised portion as former WBA bantamweight champion Rau'shee Warren stopped an outclassed Damien Vazquez in two rounds.

Warren knocked down Vazquez twice in the first and once in the second before the merciful ending.

Warren could be in the title picture, should Donaire-Casimero fall through as a potential opponent for either champion.

The card looked good on paper but this is boxing and you just cannot ever take things for granted inside the ring.

Top Rank and ESPN starred a third fight that was compelling for the two fighters not for the minor WBA belt on the line as Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney battled hard after a rematch that ended after a phantom headbutt allowed Franco to escape with a no-contest in a fight that Moloney seemed to be on the way to winning.

The second fight made Moloney the favorite but it was Franco that outworked Moloney in a good not great fight to win a unanimous decision in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Moloney started well but Franco took control winning most of the middle part of the fight.

Moloney rallied late but he was too far behind on the scorecards, all of which agreed with my 116-112 card for Franco.

A huge win for Franco, who might be a good opponent for Naoya Inoue, should Inoue be unable to make unification matches with either Nonito Donaire or John Riel Casimero.

The co-feature saw junior welterweight contender Arnold Barboza dominate veteran Antonio Moran over ten rounds as a stay busy bout for Barboza. who broke the nose of Moran and won the final nine rounds on my card in a 99-91 card.

Barboza will likely be in the mix whenever Josh Taylor vacates his four titles for a vacant title but should Taylor decide to stick around the division for a while Barboza might be a nice opponent for Taylor with both boxers associated with Top Rank.

In the main event on the ESPN+ card, Jason Moloney rebounded from his knockout loss to Naoya Inoue to win a close unanimous decision over Joshua Greer in a crossroads bantamweight fight.

Again as in the main event, this fight was entertaining enough but not outstanding as I saw Moloney as a 96-94 winner.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored six points on the two cards to move our total to 117-103.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Ortiz derails the Mean Machine

    I'm going to divide the boxing recap into two portions since I am in the middle of watching the final few fights over the next few hours.

This post will cover the three fights from the two DAZN cards with the follow-up post covering the ESPN and Showtime cards from Top Rank and PBC respectively.

The main event of the Golden Boy card from Frisco Texas saw one of the two young welterweights that none of the elites of the division want to face stop his best opponent to date as Vergil Ortiz (Jaron Ennis is the other) stopped Egidijus Kavaliauskas in the eighth round with four knockdowns in the final round before referee Lawrence Cole ended the affair.

Ortiz dropped Kavaliauskas in the third round with a straight shot in close but the biggest news in this one was Kavaliauskas hurting Ortiz in the second round.

Give Ortiz credit for stemming the tide and proving some mettle against the power of a top ten welterweight like Kavaliauskas but it may have placed the thought into the minds of the welterweights rated above him that Ortiz can be hurt.

I had Ortiz ahead 68-64 at the time of the stoppage.

Ortiz is the number one rated contender in the WBO to champion Terence Crawford but the WBO has instead forced Crawford to negotiate with their second rated contender Shawn Porter.

I'm not complaining a bit about the prospect of Crawford-Porter, which would be a tremendous battle, but what's the point of being the number one contender if the sanctioning body mandates the champion fighting the number two guy?

I'm not sure what Ortiz does from here.

He could use more experience but Golden Boy doesn't really have any welterweights to test him and even if they did- should Ortiz fight someone that could cost him that number one rating?

What we found out about Vergil Ortiz against Kavaliauskas might be all we know until his eventual title challenge.

In the co-feature, Roger Gutierrez won a split decision over Rene Alvarado to retain the WBA minor title that means anything ( explained here) and win the third fight between the two.

This wasn't as exciting as their previous fighters as both fighters seemed a bit tentative against a fighter that knew them so well. and there were many lulls in the action.

In the end, the taller and heavier punching Gutierrez did just enough pecking and pawing from the outside with his jab to win the split decision officially and on my card 115-113.

Earlier in the afternoon from Eddie Hearn's palatial estate (as they used to say on Batman) in Brentwood England, undefeated light heavyweight Joshua Buatasi stopped a game Ricard Bolotniks in the eleventh round in the type of fight that every young contender needs before stepping to the championship level.

Buatasi dropped Bolotniks down in the sixth round and appeared to be poised to finish the veteran off for a spectacular win but Bolotniks survived the attack and even had a few moments of his own in the next few round before Buatasi concluded the fight in the eleventh with a right hand that sent Bolotniks sprawled along the ropes forcing the ending.

Buatasi lost a point for low blows in the eighth round but I still had him far ahead in the fight after ten rounds at 97-91.

That's exactly the type of middle-range fights that young fighters get experience from when a veteran just won't fall down the first time that they get cracked by a big puncher and I think it'll be the advantage of Buatasi for doing so.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each added three points from the DAZN cards and moved the total to 111-97.

I'll be back with the weekend from Top Rank on ESPN and the snoozer from PBC on Showtime.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Boxing Challenge

   A huge boxing Saturday starts today with four cards across three platforms with a world title and one of the best welterweights in the world in action.

DAZN and Golden Boy are in Frisco, Texas with one of the top welterweights in the world as undefeated Vergil Ortiz meets his toughest foe ever in Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

Ortiz knocked out former WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker in what was his previous toughest opponent in seven rounds, but Kavaliauskas is a legitimate welterweight that unofficially knocked down Terence Crawford before succumbing in nine rounds.

Kavaliauskas is tough and durable, so he should be a stern test for the big banging Texan but should Ortiz take him out there should be little doubt that he would be ready for a championship attempt against Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, or the Yordanis Ugas-Manny Pacquiao victor.

Also on that card is the third match between Roger Gutierrez and Rene Alvarado for the one WBA trinket title that has some legitimacy.

Allow me to explain why.

The WBA's real champion traces back to 2017 and Alberto Machado's upset of then-champion Jezreel Corrales.

Shortly thereafter, the WBA decided to make the winner of Gervonta Davis-Jesus Cuellar (Davis in three) their "super" champion and dropped the actual champion (Machado ) to their regular title.

So, this title from Machado to Andrew Cancio to Rene Alvarado to Roger Gutierrez traces to the true title and gives this minor title the only one with a stated claim.

Gutierrez avenged a seventh-round knockout loss to Alvarado in 2017 with a unanimous decision win in January to win the championship and set their third fight in place.

DAZN also has an afternoon fight from England with former Olympian Joshua Buatasi in a light heavyweight battle against veteran Ricards Bolotniks.

Buatasi has stopped thirteen of his fourteen foes, but Bolotniks is a veteran that is coming off three wins in the Golden Contract tournament in Europe.

Showtime is in Carson California with three interesting bantamweight fights with the main event pitting WBO champion John Riel Casimero defending against former WBA and WBO junior featherweight champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Casimero was scheduled to fight Rigondeaux but then Showtime managed to insert WBC champion Nonito Donaire in place of Rigodeaux for a title unification match,

Donaire then pulled out over VADA testing that Casimero didn't want to do, so Rigondeaux is back in for what is still a solid matchup.

Rigondeaux at 40 years of age doesn't have the magnificent legs of his youth which allowed him to cruise past fighters such as Nonito Donaire easily if not in an exciting manner and he barely squeaked by Liborio Solis by split decision in his last tedious fight.

Casimero is a big puncher and has won his last six fights by knockout so the key may come down to can Rigondeaux move for twelve rounds as he did at his best?

The middle bout may be for a worthless WBA trinket but the fight is legitimately interesting with undefeated Gary Antonio Russell facing former IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has lost his last two fights (only two of his career) but his December loss by split decision to Reymart Gaballo was a terrible decision that brought out the Hamburglar as I had Rodiguez winning by eight points!

Russell is coming off a four-round technical decision win over former WBA champion Juan Carlos Payano and will be matched tough against Rodriguez in a very tough fight to call.

The Showtime opener will pair former WBA champion Rau'Shee Warren against Damian Vasquez.
Warren has won his last two since losing to Nordine Oubaali by decision and should be heavily favored against Vazquez.

ESPN and Top Rank have a card with three intriguing fights from Tulsa Oklahoma from Top Rank.

The main event is the third fight between bantamweight Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney.

Franco upset Moloney via unanimous decision in their first fight, but Moloney seemed to be controlling Franco in the rematch before the fight ended in a no-contest after a supposed headbutt caused the fight to be stopped due to swelling to the eye of Franco.
Replays didn't show a headbutt and despite several replays under Nevada rules, the initial call of a headbutt stood, so the third fight should conclude this matter for good.

Top ten junior welterweight Arnold Barboza stays busy against veteran Antonio Moran.

Barboza enters after his biggest career victory over Alex Saucedo in an exciting fight that ended the career of Saucedo shortly after the battle.

Moran is a solid veteran but has failed in his attempts against world-class fighters losing to Devin Haney and Jose Pedraza, so if Barboza can win impressively he will notch another victory on his resume' as a top ten fighter.

The other fight in the challenge is the other Moloney brother, Jason against Joshua Greer in a crossroads fight that could lead to bigger things for the winner.

Moloney was knocked out in a title attempt against WBA and IBF champion Naoya Inoue in seven rounds last October while Greer seemed to be on his way to a title shot until an upset loss to Mikey Plania and then an eight-round draw against 11-5-1 Edwin Rodriguez.

The loser of this one may be headed to gatekeeper status.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 108-94

Welterweights 12 Rds 
Vergil Ortiz vs Egidijus Kavaliauskas.
R.L: Ortiz KO 7
TRS: Ortiz KO 10

Junior Lightweights. 12 Rds
Roger Gutierrez vs Rene Alvarado
R.L: Alvarado Unanimous Decision
TRS: Draw

WBO Bantamweight Title. 12 Rds
John Riel Casimero vs Guillermo Rigondeaux
Both: Casimero Unanimous Decision

Bantamweights. 12 Rds
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Gary Antonio Russell
R.L: Russell KO 9
TRS: Rodriguez Split Decision

Bantamweights. 10 Rds
Rau'Shee Warren vs Damian Vazquez
R.L: Warren KO 9
TRS: Warren KO 6

Junior Bantamweights. 12 Rds
Joshua Franco vs Andrew Moloney
Both: Moloney Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights 10 Rds
Arnold Barboza vs Antonio Moran
R.L: Barboza KO 7
TRS: Barboza KO 5

Bantamweights. 10 Rds
Jason Moloney vs Joshua Greer
Both: Moloney Unanimous Decision

Light Heavyweights. 12 Rds
Joshua Buatasi vs Richard Bolotniks
R.L: Buatasi KO 5
TRS: Buatasi KO 3

Monday, August 9, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Hamburglar arrives in Minneapolis

    The Saturday night card with three welterweight fights showed one thing- when it comes to boxing in loosely regulated states, nothing should surprise you.

In the main event, undefeated prospect Eimantas Stanionis was in the middle of a surprisingly salty battle with former WBA champion Luis Collazo in the fourth round when their heads collided.
When Collazo fell to the floor with a mild cut and was concussed, it didn't take much to see that this one was over.   

Had the fight lasted less than a minute longer, the ending would have moved to the scorecards but instead, the fight was ruled a no contest. 

That's too bad because even though that Stanionis was controlling the fight, Collazo was landing his share and going all out to make what he said was to be his final fight of a long career a good one.

Collazo stated that this was his final fight afterward, but this is boxing and that can change on a dime.

As for Stanionis, he appears to be ready to face top ten competition and considering the talent that PBC owns at welterweight that could come very soon.

The middle fight was supposed to be the coming-out party for two-time Olympian Gabriel Maestre for another WBA minor title.

Maestre's original opponent, another former Olympian Cody Crowley, dropped out due to Covid-19 and was replaced by Mykal Fox, who had lost in his most recent fight to Lucas Santamaria who fought in the opening fight of the televised portion of the card.

The 6'4 Fox was expected to be broken down by Maestre, a supposed big puncher, but it was Fox the scored the only knockdown of the fight when he connected with a straight left in the second round.

I had Fox a 118-109 winner (10-2 with a knockdown) and it seemed like a formality for the decision for Fox.

Then the decision was announced 114-113  (which had me thinking someone saw this even other than the knockdown),115-112 (uh oh), and then 117-110- All for Maestre, and as I watched and uttered a loud profanity, Cherie (who could care less about boxing) asked: "How do you watch this again and again?"

I don't know dear but this is the worst decision of the year and while the current heat is on judge Gloria Martinez's 117-110 score and on some racist tweets that she has made in the past, where the heat should be is on Martinez's husband Ricardo Rizzo-obvious conflict of interest and Marcos Villegas, Fox's unofficial reporter, reports that a WBA official stood in Maestre's corner.

The WBA is the oldest sanctioning body in boxing and it's also the worst of the four organizations.

They bring nothing of value other than the best title belt and while the other three all have their issues, none of them bring the sewage-like quality of the WBA.

I'm planning a post on the bad points on each of the sanctioning bodies and what can they do to fix them should they have the desire to along with why the WBA is truly the worst of them all.

In a dull opening match, the aforementioned Santamaria won a unanimous decision over former junior welterweight and welterweight champion Devon Alexander.

It was an awkward mix in styles but evenly matched over the first half of the fight before Santamaria controlled the final few rounds to win a boring affair 96-94 on my card.

Alexander's not a totally shot fighter, but he was never a puncher and he's lost that slickness that once made him a champion.

Now he just shuffles forward, throws pitty-pat shots that don't deter the opponent, and might be best suited to consider retirement.

In the boxing challenge, I scored three points to Ramon Malpica's one to extend my lead to 108-94 in the season standings.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Galahad Dominates Dickens for IBF Crown

   In the backyard of Matchroom Boxing leader Eddie Hearn, the rematch between Kid Galahad and James Dickens ended very much as their first fight did in 2013-Galahad controlling the fight, busting Dickens up, and winning via late-round stoppage when the Dickens corner refused to allow their man to come out for the 12th and final round.

The result meant that Dickens lasted exactly one round longer than in their first round, suffered a beating so bad that not even myself, who almost always would say with one round to go why not try for a miracle, could say the corner was wrong in concluding the fight.

The beating that Galahad gave to Dickens was the type of beating that can end in tragedy as a prolonged pounding from an average puncher is far worse neurologically than a more spectacular knockout and with Dickens neither having strong power or shown any indications of landing any miracle bomb, I completely understand why the fight was waved off.

The win gave Galahad the IBF featherweight title that Josh Warrington vacated rather than fight Galahad in a rematch of their 2019 affair that Warrington won a close split decision and could set a match against countryman Leigh Wood, who upset Xu Can last weekend and who lost to Dickens which allowed Dickens to qualify for the vacant title fight.

Galahad would make sense for Wood with both fighting for Matchroom or the winner of the Josh Warrington-Mauricio Lara rematch with both being strong fights for the UK crowd.

Galahad is a fighter that is far from unbeatable but at the same time will give anyone in the division a rough evening because he is solid enough to not make mistakes and avoid firefights against bigger punchers.

As for Dickens, he is clearly a cut below the world-class level and I'm just befuddled after watching Leigh Wood take apart Xu Can on how did Dickens defeat Wood in 2020? 

In the boxing challenge, I scored two points for the Galahad win with Ramon Malpica picking Dickens to win.

I moved my lead to 105-93 in the challenge.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Boxing Challenge: Conlan, McGregor win in Belfast

    Belfast, Northern Ireland was the site for two lower-weight battles that showed two fighters that are ready to test themselves at a higher level of competition after wins over their best foes to date.

In the main event, former Irish Olympian Michael Conlan won a unanimous decision over former IBF junior featherweight champion T.J. Doheny.

It was a workmanlike performance from Conlan, who scored the only knockdown with a fourth-round body shot, but not a spectacular one in winning a WBA minor title.

Conlan was able to bust up Doheny around the eyes with swelling and while Doheny was aggressively trying to land punches, he simply didn't land enough to worry Conlan, who won on scores of 119-108 and two cards of 116-111, which gave more credit to Doheny than I did in scoring it 118-109 for Conlan.

For Conlan, it does give him a minor WBA title, but the WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz hasn't fought in the division in two and a half years and counting and fights for PBC to make that fight unlikely.

WBC champion Gary Russell fights once a year against his mandatory, which Conlan won't be due his worthless WBA title, the other newly crowned WBA minor beltholder Leigh Wood would make sense as would today's winner of the vacant IBF title fight between Kid Galahad and James Dickens but all three of those fighters are promoted by Matchroom

Conlan's best option may be fellow Top Rank promotee, Emanuel Navarette, for his WBO title, but I don't like Conlan's chances in that fight either.

I think Conlan could win a title depending on the champion that he challenges but it also wouldn't surprise me to see him as a Rocky Juarez type- good enough to be a top ten fighter but not good enough to be elite.

In the co-feature, two former amateur stars risked their undefeated records in the bantamweight division as England's Lee McGregor faced France's Vincent LeGrand.

McGregor was slightly favored as the naturally bigger man with LeGrand moving up from flyweight for the fight but it was LeGrand scoring the first knockdown with a second-round combination that seemed to surprise McGregor.

After three rounds, Legrand had built a four-point lead on my card (30-26) and seemed to be controlling the fighter against the larger man.

Then in the final minute of the fourth round, McGregor landed a left hook to LeGrand's body.

LeGrand dropped to a knee, took the ten count after spitting his mouthpiece out and the fight was over.

Body shots are tough to take and you never really know how much a fighter has been deflated from one but it sure didn't appear that LeGrand gave a lot of thought to even trying to continue.

For McGregor, it's a solid win over an undefeated fighter with a strong amateur background but losing the first three rounds and maybe even the fourth up until the conclusion against a smaller fighter does cause a little concern when McGregor starts to fight contenders of his own size.

In the boxing challenge, Ramon Malpica and I each scored three points to move the total to 103-93.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing challenge starts early with a card from Northern Ireland on Friday and then moves to the UK and Minneapolis for Saturday fights.

Friday from Belfast will fill yet another of the WBA bauble belts and a European championship that I am very interested in watching.

I have been a bit disappointed in the pro career of touted former Olympian Michael Conlan, who has bounced between the junior featherweight and featherweight divisions but he'll be fighting for another WBA trinket at featherweight against former IBF junior featherweight champion T.J. Doheny in an all-Irish battle.

Conlan is the bigger puncher, although he's not a huge banger and is the naturally larger man.

Doheny lost his title to Daniel Roman by majority decision in a unification fight in April 2019 but somehow qualifies for this "title" shot after losing an eight-round decision to Ionet Baluta in March 2020- the same Baluta that Conlan defeated by majority decision in his last fight.

The much more interesting fight to me is the co-feature for the European bantamweight title between Lee McGregor and Vincent LeGrand.

Both fighters are undefeated, but England's McGregor is the bigger man as LeGrand has spent most of his career at flyweight.

McGregor stopped Karim Guerfi in one round, which was a solid win at the Euro level and is a stablemate of Josh Taylor and could be an opponent for Naoya Inoue with a win.

LeGrand of France has a strong amateur background and is highly thought of by Vincent Samano, who consistently gives him votes in the TRS boxing rankings.

This one may be the one fight that I'm looking forward to most this week.

Saturday Matchroom and DAZN return to Eddie Hearn's backyard for another fight camp with the main event deciding who owns the vacant IBF featherweight championship as Kid Galahad faces James Dickens in a rematch of their 2013 fight with Galahad stopping Dickens in the tenth round.

Galahad lost a split decision to Josh Warrington for this title in June 2019, but after defeating Claudio Marrero to again become Warrington's mandatory challenger, Warrington decided to vacate the title rather than face Galahad again.

Dickens has won eight fights in a row with the biggest being the fight before last in a majority decision over Leigh Wood, the upset winner last weekend of Xu Can for a WBA minor title.

The winner of this one should almost certainly (Matchroom promotes all three) face Wood in yet another All-British battle.

Fox finishes the boxing weekend Saturday night from Minneapolis with a welterweight fight between Eimantis Stanonis and veteran Luis Collazo, who claims he will be retiring win or lose after the fight.

Collazo has fought seven former or current world champions in his career but at forty years old is a bit past his prime.

Stanonis has been fast-tracked and was very impressive in a win over former world title challenger Thomas Dulorme in April.

Another welterweight fight for another WBA minor title will pit Argentine Gabriel Maestre against late replacement Mykal Fox,

Originally Canadian amateur star Cody Crowley was scheduled to face Mastre but was forced to bow out after testing positive for Covid.

Maestre, a two-time former Olympian, is only 3-0 and is 35 years of age but one of his three wins is a knockout of former contender Diego Chaves.

Fox lost his last fight to Lucas Santamaria and is coming in on fairly short notice but Fox is very tall for a welterweight and will try to use that to his best advantage.

The aforementioned Santamaria will open the card against shopworn former junior welterweight and welterweight champion Devon Alexander.

Alexander is 2-4-1 since losing his IBF title to Shawn Porter in 2013 and hasn't won since 2017, so this is a must-win for Alexander if he wants to go anywhere in his latest comeback.

I lead Ramon Malpica 100-90 in the Boxing challenge,

Featherweights 12 Rds 
Michael Conlan vs T.J Doheny
Both: Conlan Unanimous Decision

Bantamweights 12 Rds
Lee McGregor vs Vincent LeGrand
R.L: McGregor Unanimous Decision
TRS: McGregor Split Decision

Vacant IBF Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Kid Galahad vs James Dickens
R.L: Dickens KO 11
TRS: Galahad KO 8

Welterweights 12 Rds
Eimantis Stanonis vs Luis Collazo
R.L; Stanonis KO 10
TRS: Stanonis Unanimous Decision

Welterweights 12 Rds
Gabriel Maestre vs Mykal Fox
R.L; Maestre KO 5
TRS: Maestre KO 9

Welterweights 10 Rds
Devon Alexander vs Lucas Santamaria
R.L; Alexander Unanimous Decision
TRS: Santamaria Unanimous Decision

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Devils sign Tomas Tatar

  When the New Jersey Devils signed Dougie Hamilton and Jonathan Bernier, Tom Fitzgerald stated that the Devils had one final position that the team planned to upgrade- a forward that could play on either of the top two lines.

Fitzgerald signed Tomas Tatar from the Montreal Canadiens as that forward and while Tatar has been productive, there are a few questions about the veteran winger.

Tatar has scored twenty goals or more in six of his eight seasons with a seventh with 19 but scored only ten last season with Montreal with twenty assists in fifty games for Montreal.

The downside for Montreal's run to the Eastern Conference finals for Tatar?

He played in only five games, finishing with only one assist.

Tatar isn't a bad defensive player according to the hockey metrics (don't ask me), his goal scoring has been consistent, and he's not an ancient player as he turns 31 in December.

Well, it seems that Montreal's coaching staff with head coach Dominque Ducharme had soured on Tatar when they replaced the Claude Julien staff in the middle of last season.

That's not uncommon as sometimes returning players aren't a good fit with new staff as the Devils saw last season with Will Butcher with the Lindy Ruff staff and it also doesn't have to be an attitude issue.

Tatar was coveted by several teams, which shows a lot of teams realize that Tatar was miscast in Montreal, not a malcontent or having fading skills and this may have come down to the New Jersey cap space as Tatar was clearly the best remaining free agent after the initial smoke cleared.

Tatar was signed to a two-year contract worth 4.5 million for each season, so the cost is fair and it could be a very nice bargain for a player that generally can be counted on for twenty to twenty-five goals a season.

The final thing that I really liked about Tatar was his strength in five-on-five play as he scored eight of his ten at even strength and if you add his previous two seasons in Tatar scored thirty-five of his forty-seven were scored at five on five.

I like this signing as it seems to address the team's largest need at the time and not with a choking level contract.

New Jersey also retained right-winger Yegor Sharangovich to a two-year contract for a combined four million.

Sharangovich finished with sixteen goals and fourteen assists in his rookie season last year and will be a restricted free agent after the 2022-23 season. 

Cavaliers re-sign Jarrett Allen

    The Cleveland Cavaliers had a few goals in free agency and the trade market in the off-season to try to improve the team to one that could contend for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

I'm not saying I'm buying that, but a similar idea worked for the Atlanta Hawks last season so anything can happen but the chances of it happening improved when the Cavaliers retained restricted free agent center Jarrett Allen with a five-year contract worth one hundred million dollars.

Allen was essentially stolen as the Cavaliers helped Houston and Brooklyn work with the cap enough to make their James Harden deal and received Allen and the recently traded (to Minnesota) Taurean Prince for their help.

Allen's addition made Andre Drummond superfluous and he established himself as a solid foundational player as he averaged thirteen points and ten rebounds (actually 9.9) in 51 games as a Cavalier.

The 6'10 Allen protects the rim, shoots a high percentage ( 60 percent), runs the floor well, and although he doesn't shoot the three as the modern pivot does, Allen is at least smart enough to know what he doesn't do well and not force shots that he cannot make.

The question was raised before free agency began about the Cavaliers signing Allen and after drafting Evan Mobley from USC third overall, was could you put the two on the floor together at the same time.

I think that they can and the Cavaliers must agree.

Allen's skills as a more conventional (old school) center should allow Mobley, who plays the modern big man game to roam the floor as the power forward using his versatile skill set, so the two should mesh well together.

There are no guarantees that happens but there are few guarantees in any game!

Twenty million is far from inexpensive, but considering the forward steps in Allen's game and that he's only twenty-two, this is a market-value contract, and to re-sign with a bad team, it's fair.

The Cavaliers do have a glut of sorts at four and five with some tweeners that aren't true power forwards or centers with Allen, Mobley, Larry Nance Jr, and the fading Kevin Love, who should be bought out of his remaining contract or risk continuing his divisiveness in the locker room.

Combined with younger players at the end of the bench in Dean Wade and Lamar Stevens, it's not difficult to see that there may not be enough playing time to pass around with the roster in its current form.

The Cavaliers have made a decision on the core group of players that will take them back to the playoffs. Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, and now Jarrett Allen will hopefully be part of the next playoff team.

You may have noticed that I didn't include Collin Sexton in the group and there is a reason for that.

I am saving that for an upcoming post.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Cleaning out the Inbox: Non-Sports Passings

  I am far behind on cleaning out the inbox and have many non-sports passings that I have yet to note.

Goodbye to Gavin McLeod at the age of 90.

Known best for his roles as "Murray Slaughter" on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and as "Captain Merril Stubing" on The Love Boat. McLeod was a fixture on American television throughout the 1970s and mid-1980s.

McLeod was a character actor in television and film before getting his big break in 1970 as the caustic newswriter  Murray Slaughter who delighted in slicing Ted Baxter and Sue Ann Nivens.

McLeod actually auditioned for Ed Asner's role of Lou Grant but he felt that it was a better fit in the role Murray, which he landed.

McLeod never seemed to be a leading man type but was just that with the Love Boat because the stories often centered around the guest stars which made McLeod the glue that held the show together rather than the person the show revolved around.

Goodbye to Charles Grodin at the age of 86.

Grodin's career spanned several decades in films with his best-known leading man role in 1972's The Heartbreak Kid and the role of his career as Jonathan "the Duke" Mardukas in 1988's "Midnight Run" with Robert DeNiro.

Midnight Run is one of those classic films that for its genre' is just about the perfect film and for as great as DeNiro is, it's Grodin in the role of his life that carries the film.

I don't think any actor, even those usually superior to Grodin, could have pulled off the role of the Duke better than Grodin and that's about as high a compliment that can be given.

Goodbye to Ned Beatty at the age of 83.

Beatty is remembered by many for his roles in the 1970s films Network, All the President's Men, Superman-The Movie, and the famous scene in Deliverance where Beatty's character is raped in front of his fellow rafters by a demented mountain man.

Beatty transitioned in the 1980s to more comedic roles in films such as Back to School, The Toy, and my favorite role, as chicken kingpin Clyde Torkel in Stroker Ace, another in the many Burt Reynolds headed films that proved entertaining and strong at the box office if not classically written.

Beatty also was nominated for an Emmy in 1979 for his role as a father of a son killed in Vietnam by American Soldiers in a made for TV film entitled Friendly Fire with Carol Burnett, which went against type for Burnett at a time when Vietnam was still a touchy subject for American television.

Goodbye to Arlene Golonka at the age of 85.

Golonka is perhaps best remembered as "Millie" who was the girlfriend of  "Howard Sprague" during the final season of the Andy Griffith Show and transitioned to the love interest of  Ken Berry's "Sam Jones" during the run of the Griffith spinoff "Mayberry RFD".

To me, Golonka is memorable to her voice work as in Debbie in the 1973 Hanna-Barbera cartoon "Speed Buggy", which is been mentioned by me here on several occasions!

Goodbye to Clarence Williams III at the age of 81.

Williams is best known to generations for two different roles-to an older generation, Williams will always be "Linc" from the ABC series "The Mod Squad" and to a later generation Williams is remembered as Prince's father in the somewhat autobiographical "Purple Rain".

Williams found work as a guesting character actor over the final few decades of his career, but would never reach the heights of Mod Squad, which was a show based under three young undercover detectives used in order to relate better to the "groovy kids" of the time in which Williams was almost 30 years old when the series started playing someone closer to twenty.

Goodbye to Charlie Robinson at the age of 75.

Once again, better known as a character actor in recent years Robinson was a key part of two very funny eighties comedies on NBC- Night Court and Buffalo Bill.

Night Court brought Robinson his biggest acclaim as "Mac" Harry Anderson's wise-cracking court reporter, but Buffalo Bill stands out to this day as one of the top comedies that never made it big.

Robinson's "Newdell" as an intimidating makeup man that was the only person in the studio that the bullying star "Bill Bittinger" would back down from was part of a wonderful ensemble cast that I thought was better than Night Court, which was also very good.


Sunday, August 1, 2021

"Mr.Wonderful" Paul Orndorff

     I still have plenty of passings to catch up on, but a recent one was worthy of a full post in my opinion.

"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff's passing at the age of 71, is yet another loss of professional wrestling's stars of yesterday, but to fans of 1980s wrestling, Paul Orndorff was a special performer even in an era that held arguably the highest number of top grapplers in the history of the business.

Orndoff played college football at the University of Tampa and was drafted in round 12 of the 1973 draft by the New Orleans Saints as a running back.

Paul Orndorff had established himself as a top babyface and heel during stints in the Mid-South territory and on national television on WTBS as part of the Georgia Championship Wrestling promotion, but his top work was yet to come.

In 1983, Orndorff left Georgia as a babyface to move to the WWF as a heel to be managed by the Grand Wizard, who would pass away before Orndorff's debut.

Orndorff would be managed by Roddy Piper after the Wizard's passing as Vince McMahon initially brought Piper in as a manager believing him to be too small to be a main event heel.

Dubbed "Mr.Wonderful" by Piper, Orndorff would challenge Hulk Hogan for Hogan's newly won title in 1984 before one of the more memorable angles of his career in teaming with Piper against Hogan and Mr.T at the first Wrestlemania.

Orndorff would lose that match when Cowboy Bob Orton missed with a cast shot off the top rope and hit Orndorff instead causing him to be pinned.

Orndorff would turn to the fan-favorite side after Piper blamed him for the loss and not Orton which led to a feud with Piper and Orton before Orndorff slid down the cards as a babyface

Orndorff would then make the biggest money of his career when he turned on Hulk Hogan during a televised tag match against John Studd and King Kong Bundy and would lead to six months of huge crowds including an outdoor show in Toronto at Exhibition Stadium that drew over 60,000 fans to the then-home of the Blue Jays and CFL Argonauts.

The blowoff would be a memorable steel cage match on Saturday Night's Main Event where "video evidence" was shown to prove that both men hit the floor leaving the cage at the same time to force the match to continue where Hogan would retain his championship.

Those matches were the last for Orndorff at the top of the card, although he would continue with the WWF for another year and would have two different stints with WCW.

After his WCW time in the ring was complete, Orndoff would work as a road agent and as a trainer at WCW's "Power Plant" training school and would have one final moment behind the scenes as Orndorff beat up the much larger "Vader" (Leon White) in a locker room encounter.

What I liked so much about Paul Orndorff was the intensity and realism that he brought to the ring.

Orndorff came off as a real athlete and as mentioned above, Orndorff's intensity as a heel might have been unmatched by any of his peers.

For all of the theatrics that comes with the world of professional wrestling, the ability to put the fan into a state of  "suspension of disbelief" was one that most in the business wanted to possess.

Paul Orndorff looked like a fellow that was legitimately angry and didn't have any interest in playing along with the show, which wasn't often the case in the oft-cartoonlike WWF in the 80s.

His punches looked strong and I always loved how he kicked and stomped his opponent with such anger and bad intentions.

It was very easy to believe that Paul Orndorff really was pissed off at his opponent, wanted to beat the hell out of him, and that he would like to have the opportunity to pound on those fans that booed him so much!

My two favorite Paul Orndorff matches were not ones that were classic main events but were television "enhancement" matches that symbolized what Paul Orndorff was all about.

The first was in 1984, not long after Orndorff arrived in the WWF.

It was the transition period between the old All-Star Wrestling and the production values that were to come over the next few years and Orndorff is angry about the fans calling him "Paula".

Orndorff is scheduled against Rudy Diamond, a somewhat scrawny preliminary wrestler, and the fans immediately go after Orndorff with the Paula chant.

Orndorff goes into angry mode and Diamond leaves the ring to walk back to the dressing room.

Orndorff talks to the referee a bit and Diamond comes out wearing a black t-shirt with Paula printed on the front.

Orndorff loses his mind and Diamond literally tries to run away, which is something that not even the lowest wrestlers did, and Orndorff hammers Diamond with a back suplex that looks nasty even today as Diamond's neck hit the mat very awkwardly among other moves before easily winning.

This is a contender for my favorite television squash match ever!

It can be found on YouTube here.

The other match is against Lanny Poffo, who was a level above the Rudy Diamonds of the world. but still usually lost on television and the match takes place shortly after Orndorff's turn on Hulk Hogan.

Poffo, complete with 80s perm, in his role as poet, takes the ring announcer's microphone and gives a catchy poem about Orndorff to cheers from the fans.

Then the sounds of "Real American" ring out as Orndorff was using the theme music for Hulk Hogan as he "claimed" that Hogan's theme was written for him and stolen from him by Hogan and here comes Orndorff with manager Bobby Heenan.

Complete with a stoic face that makes even a "smart mark" stay away from him, Orndorff stomps down the aisle and Poffo is in trouble.

Normally, Poffo would offer an offensive move or two in his role as one of the better enhancement talents, but not in this one as Orndorff tears into him as soon as he hits the ring, suplexes him outside the ring in an era where that isn't done very often, almost decapitates him with a clothesline before finishing Poffo off with a piledriver.

The entire match was incredibly effective in having Orndorff get "over" as a heel (and give Poffo credit for doing his job well) and made me at the time wonder "Damn, did Lanny Poffo do something to tick Orndorff off before this match?"- Suspension of disbelief, indeed.

The Orndorff-Poffo match can be found here.

Orndorff wasn't used quite as well in his days in WCW, although he was usually in the upper-middle of the card, and didn't have many world titles matches, although he did hold the television title and the tag team title with Paul Roma as the team named "Pretty Wonderful".

My favorite WCW memory of Orndorff was this almost operatic theme that he used. Hilarious.

Paul Orndorff's ability to seem real was almost unmatched and at his peak, Orndorff was one of the best wrestlers in the world and very few wrestling fans in the 1980s ever forgot what they saw from "Mr.Wonderful in the ring.

Orndorff won't be forgotten.