Saturday, April 30, 2022

Browns trade Troy Hill to Rams

    The Cleveland Browns would use their first draft pick in the third round on a cornerback in Martin Emerson from Mississippi State and the thoughts of many were of a new rule of thumb in today's NFL- One can never have too many cornerbacks.

The Browns had another plan in mind as on the draft's final day, Cleveland traded veteran slot cornerback Troy Hill to the team that they had signed him before the 2021 season in the Los Angeles Rams.

Hill was signed to a two-year contract and played last season as the team's slot corner finishing the season with two sacks (both in the same game against Cincinnati) and thirty-four solo tackles but with the trade of Hill, the drafting of Emerson makes more sense.

With the much younger and cheaper Emerson starting at the slot, the Browns could save a few dollars (Hill will make 1.5 million in 2022) and that could come in handy currently as the team still has Baker Mayfield and his almost nineteen million dollars on their cap until someone decides to help Cleveland by taking even some of his salary off the Browns ledger.

The key will be the ability of Emerson to adjust to the slot after spending his entire college career at Mississippi State on the outside corner position.

Cleveland received a 2023 fifth-round pick in return for Hill and earlier in the draft's final day, traded one of the fourth-rounders acquired from Houston to Minnesota for the Vikings fifth-round pick and a fourth rounder next season.

The trade put Cleveland back into the fifth round and gave the team two picks in next year's draft, where the Browns have traded their first and third-round picks to Houston for DeShaun Watson.

Cleveland will now have the Vikings fourth and Rams fifth in addition to their own picks in that round.

I will be working on brief reviews of the Browns day three picks tonight and tomorrow.   

Browns Select David Bell

     The Cleveland Browns were down to their final third-round selection to find themselves some help at wide receiver and it appears that they did so with the choice of Purdue's David Bell.

This was the compensation selection given to the Browns for the Vikings hiring of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as their general manager and the Browns will receive another pick at the end of the third round in the 2023 draft.

David Bell is a player that I really liked and when I did the Browns Persons of Interest post, I almost used Bell as the pictured player for the piece but I decided on the player that was unlikely to be available in Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks.

At six feet even, Bell doesn't have great speed, which is the difference between the first round and the third round, but otherwise has everything that you would like to see from a young receiver..

Bell's an excellent route runner that has top-notch hands and played against good opposition in the Big Ten with Purdue where Bell won the conference's receiver of the year award in 2021 when Bell caught 93 passes for over one thousand yards and six touchdowns.

Bell is expected to see plenty of playing time and be used in the slot and the inside as Jarvis Landry was used in the past.

Bell's toughness and catching ability make him a very safe pick and Bell should see plenty of playing time as a rookie.

I thought Bell was the best remaining receiver on the board and given Bell's similarities to Jarvis Landry, this could be the final blow in any hopes of Landry returning to the Browns.

I think Bell could be the possession receiver that every quarterback needs and will prove to be a very popular player in Cleveland.

I'm still not sure that I love the Browns trade down from 44 overall with Houston in a deal that brought Cleveland a third-rounder (Martin Emerson) and two fourth-rounders on the draft's final day.

The first of the two picks acquired from the Texans will be the third choice of the round and the Browns also have their own fourth-rounder (118) and the other pick added from Houston was originally Philadelphia's at 124, so the Browns will be quite active early on day three with three of the first eighteen picks.

I have a feeling that unless Andrew Berry loves a particular player with that third pick, Berry could possibly be willing to move that pick along in order to perhaps try to obtain a third-rounder in 2023 after trading their third to Houston in the DeShaun Watson trade.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Browns Select Alex Wright

   The Cleveland Browns addressed the issue with their edge rusher/defensive end with the middle of their three picks in round three with the selection of UAB defensive end Alex Wright.

The issue appears to be that Wright is regarded to have good size, at 6'5 and 271 pounds, and speed but is very raw and Ourlads listed Wright as needing heavy work with strength coaches and with his line coaches with technique.

Wright notched six sacks in his final season in Birmingham with the Blazers, finished his career with twelve and a half sacks, and was named second-team all-Conference USA, which may have been the weakest conference in all of the college football world in 2021.

Wright appears to be a major project with high-end potential for a team that needs immediate help at the rush-end position.

Perhaps the Browns have something in the works in the veteran free-agent market and they better from what they have added this evening.

Browns Select Martin Emerson

  After a trade with the Houston Texans that I'm still scratching my head about the Cleveland Browns used the first of their three third-round selections to take Mississippi State cornerback Martin Emerson.

Cleveland traded their second-round choice to Houston in exchange for Houston's third round and two fourth rounders tomorrow (Houston and Philadelphia).

The drop of twenty spots between the picks saw several players that could have contributed to the Browns at positions of need go off the board and although there were still some wide receivers that could help the Browns still remaining, the defensive line looks awfully low on impact performers and I'm afraid that Andrew Berry may have outsmarted himself on this night.

None of that reflects on Martin Emerson, a 6'1 cornerback from Mississippi State, who looks like the player that will replace Troy Hill or Greedy Williams with both eligible for free agency after the 2022 season.

Emerson is listed by Ourlads as a top 12 cornerback in the draft that can play in several different alignments and likes to hit but doesn't always wrap up on his tackles.

Emerson's ball skills are lacking a bit but his speed and cover skills are fine and he is expected to be a strong cover player on special teams.

Emerson was a second-team all-SEC cornerback and was drafted in the range that he was expected to be selected.

My issue isn't with Martin Emerson, it's with the trade down, and while it seems that Pittsburgh adding George Pickens and Baltimore David Ojabo, both of those teams got better tonight.

As of this writing and with two more third-rounders to be selected, the Browns cannot seem to say the same.

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing challenge lists only two fights this week but the best fight of the weekend is one that has been anticipated for quite a while and will unify two of the four titles in the junior lightweight division.

ESPN/Top Rank will televise the 130-pound unification between the top two boxers in the division as WBC champion Oscar Valdez and WBO king Shakur Stevenson hook it up from Las Vegas.

Valdez barely escaped with his title with a close decision over Robson Conceicao in his last fight but between his PED issues entering that fight and Valdez seems to fight down to the level of his competition (Conceicao is a good fighter but Valdez seemed to take him lighter than he should have) and it's easy to see how an average effort arrived.

Valdez's win over Miguel Berchelt may have looked better when it happened (Berchelt was since knocked out by Jeremiah Nakathila) than it does now but a case can be made that perhaps Berchelt was made a shot fighter by Valdez rather than Valdez simply got to Berchelt first.

Stevenson may be similar to Valdez in one way as he is dominating when motivated by his opponent as he tore up veteran Jamel Herring to win the WBO title in the fight after a snoozer of a decision over Jeremiah Nakathila.

Stevenson is my choice here as Valdez has one chance- get inside and make this an ugly and physical fight and hope that Stevenson wilts under the pressure and even with this strategy Valdez has to start early and carry the pace for the full twelve rounds.

The co-feature on the Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano card is our other challenge fight as veteran junior middleweights Liam Smith and Jessie Vargas meet in a crossroads bout for both fighters.

Smith, a former WBO champion, loses against elite competition (Canelo Alvarez and Jaime Munguia) and if you aren't elite, Smith likely beats you as his only other loss was a decision to Magomed Kurbanov that could have been given to either man.

Vargas, a former WBO welterweight champion, has lost in each of his tries against elite competition (Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao, Mikey Garcia) but always gives a good effort.

This appears to be a closely matched fight which I give a small edge to the naturally larger man in Liam Smith.

Unification WBC and WBO Junior Lightweight Titles. 12 Rds
Oscar Valdez vs Shakur Stevenson
R.L: Stevenson KO 9
TRS & V.S: Stevenson Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 12 Rds
Jessie Vargas vs Liam Smith
All: Smith Unanimous Decision 

Viva Las Vegas Draft Notes

  A few notes on the NFL Draft from Las Vegas and since the Browns haven't made a selection yet, here are a few thoughts on round one of the 2022 selection meeting.

1) It was a bad year to need to draft a young quarterback and it's been a long time since a crop of passers looked this weak.

Only one quarterback was selected in the opening round as Pittsburgh selected hometown product, Kenny Pickett.

Perhaps it was the local aspect that tipped the Steelers hand but Pittsburgh now is committed to a quarterback that threw more touchdowns in his senior season than his previous three combined and did it in a weak (ACC) conference.

I'm not saying I believe that Pickett is a guaranteed bust but Pittsburgh has certainly taken a gamble.

2) Former Browns executive Sashi Brown certainly made his template for drafting clear in his first draft in Baltimore.

Baltimore traded their top receiver in Hollywood Brown and their third-rounder to Arizona for the Cardinals first-rounder, traded down again with Buffalo, and yet I still like both of the players that the Ravens wound up with in Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton and Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum.

Brown's issue in Cleveland wasn't always his constant desire to move up and down the draft, it was his lack of evaluating talent.

Perhaps if Brown leaves that to someone else, Baltimore might still have a chance under his reign.

3) As for the other team in the division, the defending AFC champion Bengals, they came away with a player that should help them immediately with the selection of safety Daxton Hill of Michigan.

Hill can cover (he played some corner in college) yet he is the type of ball coverage safety that the Bengals could use with Jessie Bates as more of a strong safety type.

4) New Orleans and Washington have been two teams that seem to draft Ohio State players often and it made all the sense in the world that New Orleans and Washington would make a trade that resulted in Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave as a Saint.

The Saints traded their third and fourth rounders to Washington to trade up but Olave is the safest bet in this draft at the deepest position.

Olave reminds me a lot of the player that he will be operating opposite of in New Orleans- former Buckeye Michael Thomas.

5) I'm not sure what the Atlanta Falcons are thinking but using their top pick (8th) on USC wide receiver Drake London does make me wonder.

London has great size (6'3) but London injured an ankle that ended his season and while London's speed isn't bad for his size, he's not a burner either and I wonder how much that will affect London.

I know the Falcons passing game badly needed a receiver with the absence of Calvin Ridley but all things considered Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave would have been far safer and despite his knee injury, Jameson Williams would have given Atlanta the electric deep threat that would have been worth gambling on.

6) I wonder about the number of trade-ups for players that didn't seem to make sense.

Detroit certainly needed a talent like Jameson Williams but it cost them their third-rounder and an eighteen spot drop in the second round in their trade with Minnesota.

Williams is a super player but I question players that are dependent on their speed coming off an ACL injury.

It's a risk worth taking for the hapless Lions but they paid a high price.

7) Then the Eagles trade up to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who is the top defensive tackle in the draft but isn't a pass rusher.

Davis will be a hell of a run stuffer and should play in the league for years but seems like the Eagles moved up for a player that they may have gotten at their picks.

8) Trading up comes with risk but then there are the same teams that fall in love with projection rather looking at production along with potential.

Those teams are often the sucker bet- I should know the Browns were one of those teams for decades but the Jacksonville Jaguars are firmly in that group.

Taking a talented but somewhat disappointing player in Travon Walker first overall is risky when Aiden Hutchinson has similar upside as a more productive player, although I'm sure Hutchinson isn't disappointed to be staying home with the Lions.

9) Houston gambled at third with LSU cornerback Derek Stingley over Cincinnati's "Sauce" Gardner.

Stingley's 2019 was tremendous and the talent is elite but Stingley hasn't been the same player in two seasons since and Gardner seems to be more of a sure thing.

I love Stingley's talent but he (and Travyon Walker) have the largest boom or bust quotient in the top ten.

10) The Jets did very well with the two first-rounders that saw them land Gardner and Ohio State's Garrett Wilson to give last season's top pick Zack Wilson a top young target to throw to.

Give the Jets credit as well for decisively moving back into the first round to tab Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson, who was the one player that did slide farther than expected.

11) As for the Browns, both of my pipe dream players were selected in the round (Arkansas WR Treyon Burks 18th to Tennessee and Purdue DE George Karlaftis 30th to Kansas City) but there are a few players that are still available.

Georgia WR George Pickens and Houston DE Logan Hall both would be excellent players at positions of need and I could see Andrew Berry trying to move up to add either if the cost wasn't high.

12) But I would be sorely tempted if Michigan defensive end David Ojabo was still available at 44.

Ojabo would have certainly been a top fifteen pick if not for an Achilles injury and while Cleveland may not receive a lot of production this year from Ojabo, choosing him could pay huge dividends down the road.

If the Browns do have a deal quietly in place with Jadeveon Clowney already, Cleveland could do much worse than a gamble on Ojabo- Especially if Pickens and Hall would be off the board.

13) The NFL Draft is one of my favorite events of the year but it's getting out of control with all the assorted noise around the event.

I'd love to see some network (even a network without the rights to the draft) use a C-Span style broadcast talking about the players, the teams, and skipping all the singing, guest selectors, and pomp and circumstance to cater to the people that just want to talk and listen to football discussions. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Cleveland Browns-Persons of Interest-Defensive Players

   The Cleveland Browns have screaming needs along the defensive line and although the rumor is that Jadeveon Clowney is likely to return, the Browns still need to grab a defensive end to provide another pass rusher to the rotation and the team may be weakest at defensive tackle, so defensive line is certain to be addressed with two or even three players in this draft.

I would prefer that wide receiver to be the choice at 44 for Cleveland but the rumors of a drop of Purdue defensive George Karlaftis are flying everywhere and that would be an excellent stroke of fortune for the Browns.

Karlaftis may not slide out of the first but some mock drafts have him doing so and if he does make it to day two, I could see Andrew Berry moving up to grab a first-round talent as he did last season to select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

Houston's Logan Hall has been a player connected with the Browns as he can play end or tackle but Hall has been rising in late rumors, so I might be surprised to see Hall available at 44.

Hall was likely my guy overall at 44 but it doesn't seem like Hall is likely to be available..

At defensive tackle, some have linked Connecticut's Travis Jones with the Browns and in the third round, I would be fine as a pure run stuffer and Texas A&M's DeMarvin Leal would have added a pass rush up the middle.

Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie looks interesting as a pure edge rusher as does Minnesota's Boye Mafe but could the Browns take a chance on Michigan's David Ojabo?

Ojabo had been connected to the Browns before they traded their number one in the Watson and after Ojabo tore an Achilles in a pre-draft workout.

Ojabo was a likely top fifteen pick before his injury and with his limited football experience and production at Michigan, Ojabo could be a huge star and a potential breakout performer.

Ojabo may not help the Browns immediately but could be a gamble that pays huge dividends.

I also like Kentucky's Josh Paschal as a third-round possibility off the end.

Cleveland could pick a late-round linebacker but I doubt they do.

The Browns could always add depth at cornerback in a league that usually plays three corners.

Clemson's A.C Booth is an interesting corner to watch and I liked what I saw of UTSA's Tariq Woolen when I watched the Roadrunners last year.

Two day three players to watch are Derion Kendrick of Georgia and Cincinnati's Coby Bryant.

The Browns seem to be set at safety but if they want to take some late-round swings- I like Bubba Bolden of Miami, who is very athletic and at worst will be a strong special teamer as would Auburn's Smoke Monday and Iowa's Dane Belton.

I'd love to see the Browns take a shot at a kicker like LSU's Cade York but the Browns might have to use a fourth or even possibly a third-rounder to land him.

If York is off the table, Texas booter Cameron Dicker may be a possibility in the final round or two.

Cleveland Browns: Persons of Interest- Offensive Players

      The Cleveland Browns don't hold a selection in the first round of Thursday's NFL Draft but that doesn't mean that the draft holds no interest for the team or Browns fans with the team holding a second-round pick along with two third-rounders on the draft second day on Friday.

The number one offensive need is clearly wide receiver and even with the addition of Amari Cooper and potentially another veteran after the draft, the Browns still need to add a top-notch young receiver for DeShaun Watson to work with for a few years.

The Browns pick at 44 will almost certainly be a wide receiver, if the team decides to use the pick on the offensive side of the football and I'm in favor of picking another wideout on day three as well.

The two players that could go in the first round but also have a chance of sliding into the second round that I really like are Arkansas's Traylon Burks and Georgia's George Pickens.

Burks didn't test well in his workouts but I love his size (6'2 225) and he reminds me of a bigger Deebo Samuel with the versatility to do lots of things other than receiving.

Pickens is a bigger receiver as well (6'3 195) that has the type of talent that would make him a top fifteen pick but suffered a torn ACL and has had off the field issues including a suspension.

I would say the odds are long that either Burks or Pickens will be available and close to non-existent that both would be available.

Penn State's Jahan Dotson also is a player that I like that is on the borderline on availability at 44.

I love Dotson's hands and ability to go get the football but he can be roughed up a bit and I do have a concern about Dotson getting away from physical corners.

Should the Browns decide to address their defensive line needs in the second round, there are a few players that I like at the third round level.

I like Purdue's David Bell, who like Burks didn't test well on the physical workouts, but just makes plays on the field.

Bell catches the ball well and doesn't go down immediately after the catch but does lack top-notch speed.

Alabama's John Metchie isn't the biggest player but he ranks with the strongest as he can break tackles and isn't afraid to go over the middle.

Baylor's Tyquan Robinson is a burner that could be what the Browns picked Anthony Schwartz to be-

as in a deep threat and I also like Alec Pierce of Cincinnati.

Should the Browns decide to take a tight end with David Njoku still able to move on at the end of the year- I love Ohio State's Jeremy Ruckert, who has all the skills to be a star but in Columbus Ruckert was a secondary receiver on a team surrounded with outstanding talent on the outside.

If you don't believe in Ruckert, take a look at the Buckeyes 2020 bowl win over Clemson and tell me that Ruckert can't be a top-notch tight end.

The Browns should try to choose a tackle on day three just to try to develop depth on the right side of the line as they did last season when they selected James Hudson.

It may come down to what type of developmental player that Cleveland is looking for at the position.

If they like physical tools, Ohio State's Nicholas Petit-Frere or Penn State's Rasheed Walker fit that bill.

If they prefer a mauling, more physical tackle, Minnesota's Daniel Faalele or Illinois's Verderian Lowe could be options.

I doubt the Browns take a center or guard unless they have one as the best player on their board with their final selection.

The same goes for quarterback but if I was looking for someone to keep an eye out for on day three, Miami's D'Eriq King seems to be a good fit for the QB room as the style of play goes and King could also be another gadget player with time at wide receiver when he was with Houston and could even help on special teams.

Cleveland seems pretty solid at running back and in a very weak year for running backs, I think they will pass on tabbing a runner.

A little shorter than I like to do for the draft but time is short.

I am hoping to have time before the draft starts to work on the defensive persons of interest. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox

   Cleaning out the inbox returns with several nuggets that hopefully will catch one's eye for a few minutes of interest!

Mike Oravec sends this ESPN article on Gary Davidson and the World Football League.

Davidson was also involved with the creation of the ABA and WHA but it was the WFL that Davidson was most involved in and served as the league's commissioner.

It's a long article with interesting portions on how and why the Memphis Southmen targeted Paul Warfield, Larry Csonka, and Jim Kiick to poach from the Miami Dolphins, the always hilarious financial stories, the only World Bowl and others...

The Athletic has been working on a series based on football programs that have struggled to reach the level of their previous success.

The Texas Tech article discusses the Red Raider's struggles since the departure of Mike Leach and the three coaches that have tried to win in Lubbock Post-Leach and how they (Tommy Tuberville, Kliff Kingsbury, and Matt Wells), how they managed to not win with Patrick Mahones, and the hopes that Joey McGuire can return to Texas Tech at least a perennial bowl team.

The article on Arkansas might have been even better as it wrote about the Razorback's steep decline from the day that Frank Broyles took the Hogs from the now-defunct Southwest Conference for the trip to the SEC.

One fact that I didn't know and always wondered about was a claim by the now-deceased Broyles that had Arkansas not headed to the SEC and waited for the eventual Big 8 to add four SWC teams (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor) which would have seemed to be a better fit with long-time rivals than the SEC, Arkansas would not have been invited to join the new Big 12.

I didn't know that and it would have sent Arkansas to either an independent or group of five status in the AAC.

While the Razorbacks may have struggled on the field since joining the SEC, the financial coffers swelled by multiples over what they would have received had they decided to pass on the opportunity.

The article on Kansas shows just how easy it is for a program to go south with one or two wrong decisions.

It details how then-athletic director Lew Perkins was determined to fire head coach Mark Mangino, who has been the only coach in the last fifty years to get any kind of momentum going in Lawrence (Mangino actually finished 12-1 and won an Orange Bowl? I still can't believe that a decade and a half later) and hired Turner Gill over Jim Harbaugh, who actually interviewed for the job!

Kansas would later run through Gill, Charlie Weis, David Beaty, and Les Miles before their current hiring of Lance Leipold.

It's a great series and there are other schools written about as well.

The Athletic scores again as Brendan Quinn writes about what it is like for the regular everyday golfer to play at Augusta National during Masters week.

The Masters holds a media lottery each year before the tournament and allows the winner to play the course.

Quinn writes of his round, how the experience felt, and took questions from his readers.

Fred Landucci sends this from the New York Post as columnist Phil Mushnick writes of just badly the analytics crowd is damaging baseball.

I could write about the awful changes to the game that I once loved but Mushnick does a better job and hits all points as the Ivy League invaders that think that they are revolutionizing a game that they are actually slowly choking to death.

ESPN writes of the thirty-year anniversary of the basketball film "White Men Can't Jump", which I haven't seen in years but always enjoyed the many times that I have viewed the film.

The article tells the stories of the casting, filming, and the many bets that were placed during filming on the Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson led cast including the many bets placed on Harrelson's ability to actually dunk and how the bests were actually settled.

We wrap with this Washington Post article on Chiney Ogwumike, who not only plays for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks but spent her off-season this year on ESPN's NBA studio show as an analyst and I was impressed with her performance and besides her future with the Sparks and judging by this article Ogwumike has an excellent head on her shoulders and certainly has a future outside of basketball when and if she chooses to travel that path. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Bandits Broken: Breakers cruise 34-3

  Remember last week when I wrote that opening week wins in brand new leagues can often be deceiving?

Well, after an opening week victory over Pittsburgh, the Tampa Bay Bandits now have questions on which is their true team- the winners from week one or the team that was trounced by the New Orleans Breakers 34-3 at the USFL Hub in Birmingham.

Tampa Bay allowed four sacks and rarely challenged the Breakers in moving the football in a game that I severely question if anyone watched the game at all after halftime.

Tampa Bay will next play Houston next Saturday night.

Bandit Ball

1) This game could have been worse as New Orleans missed a field goal, an extra point, and turned the ball over on downs once.

2) The weather showed one difference between spring football and the fall and this is going to be something to watch as the season moves on- the humidity and heat.

Birmingham Alabama isn't noted for its cool weather or low humidity and you could see on the sideline just how draining the humidity was and how much worse it's going to be as the next eight weeks play out.

At least it will be fair for all eight teams at the same home site but it's going to be interesting to see how the lack of depth with the league's smaller rosters and who profits most late in games as the conditions grow worse.

3) Tampa Bay completed only eleven of twenty-eight passes between Jordan Ta'amu (eight of eighteen) and Brady White (three of ten) for only ninety-six yards between them and each throwing an interception.

Not winning many games with passing games like that!

4)  To be fair to Ta'amu and White, New Orleans sacked them four times and spent as much time in the Bandit backfield as the Tampa Bay running backs.

I'll have to see more games to note if the Breakers pass rush is that dominant or the Bandits offensive line is that terrible but on this afternoon, it was a clear mismatch between the lines of the two teams.

5) And the Breakers' passing game was strong with Kyle Sloter throwing two touchdown passes and Jonathan Adams making a leaping one-handed grab that ranks with anything you will see at higher levels.

Adams was the star with the spectacular catch, finishing with five catches for ninety-three yards but former Ohio State wideout Johnnie Dixon caught a touchdown pass as well.

6) I'm about done with this because it was as big a mismatch as you could imagine from a game with two teams that had played only one previous game.

I still stand by my statement that we still need to see more before getting too decisive on the top teams in a new league this early.

However, after two weeks, only New Orleans and Birmingham have won both of their games and they play each other on Saturday.

Two teams are 2-0, four teams are 1-1, and two are 0-2 so there is plenty to sift through but next week is going to be very important in a ten-game season for potential playoff berths.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Fury Knocks Out Whyte!

  Tyson Fury ended his defense of the WBC heavyweight title against Dillian Whyte exactly as most thought that he would with one punch as Fury crunched Whyte with one right uppercut that knocked him down in the sixth round and even though Whyte would beat the count, his unsteady legs forced the fight to a stop.

Fury won every round on my card, despite Whyte trying to overcome his obvious physical disadvantages and simply was unable to overcome the versatile Fury, who boxed more against Whyte than he did in his two victories over Deontay Wilder.

Whyte did find a bit of success when he was able to push Fury into the ropes but as long as Fury was able to keep the fight into the middle of the ring, Whyte was generally ineffective against the larger champion.

While the knockout was spectacular, the fight wasn't all that thrilling but it's heavyweight boxing so if you receive an explosive ending, it's been a pretty good fight.

Fury once again talked about retirement after the fight, claiming no interest in the Oleksandr Usyk-Anthony Joshua victor but discussing a hybrid exhibition against Francis Ngannou, the heavyweight champion of the UFC, and a potential appearance with the WWE as soon as the summer.

I find it hard to believe that Fury will pass on the dollars against the Usyk-Joshua winner. particularly if it would be against Joshua, but he could decide to take time and avoid any sanctioning body obligations although, with Whyte as his mandatory challenger, that shouldn't be an issue for a while.

As for Dillian Whyte, he'll return to making interesting fights against other top ten-fifteen fighters and should be paid good money to do so.

Whyte has always been an exciting fighter when fighting opponents of his level and especially his size and with a style that isn't afraid to engage, has the power to knock out opponents, and a chin that that can be dented with one punch, so there will be plenty of fights available for Whyte in the future even if not at the championship level...

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 66 Pts (3)

Vince Samano: 56 Pts (1)

Ramon Malpica: 54 Pts (2)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing challenge has only one fight but what a fight it is as Tyson Fury defends his WBC heavyweight title against Dillian Whyte in London at massive Wembley Stadium.

Fury will be fighting someone other than Deontay Wilder for the first time in over two and a half years in Whyte, who has defeated several contenders to reach the mandatory challenger spot but exchanged knockouts with Alexander Povetkin in his two most recent fights.

Whyte seems to be tailor made for Fury, as Whyte will need to chug forward and try to land a roundhouse right as his only real chance at victory, which plays straight into the strengths of the larger and more techinically sound Fury.

At one time, Whyte was a volume puncher that could throw sixty or seventy punches a round and that Dillian Whyte might have been a much stiffer challenge for Tyson Fury.

Instead, we could have a fight with some memorable exchanges with a possible spectacular knockout with plenty of grabbing and holding in between as a favorite tactic of Fury's is to grab the smaller fighter, wear him down by leaning his weight on the opponent until the middle of the fight when Fury begins to speed up the pace.

It should be an interesting fight and it better be for the pay per view price as the undercard might be the least intriguing undercard ever.

That is quite a statement, when you consider how many terrible undercards have been part of pay per view offerings.

WBC Heavyweight Title. 12 Rds 
Tyson Fury vs Dillian Whyte
R.L: Fury KO 8
TRS: Fury KO 6
V.S: Fury Unanimous Decision

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Bandits beat up Maulers 17-3

    Jordan Ta'amu led the Tampa Bay Bandits sixty-eight yards down the field after taking the opening kickoff and when B.J. Emmons crashed into the end zone after covering the final three of those yards, the Bandits had all the points that they would need to defeat the Pittsburgh Maulers in a 17-3 win at the USFL hub in Birmingham.

Ta'amu would throw a touchdown to Jordan Lasley just before halftime and would finish with 185 passing yards and two interceptions.

Tight End Cheyenne O'Grady was the offensive star with eight catches for eighty-nine yards.

The now 1-0 Bandits will next face the New Orleans Breakers on Sunday, who won their first game 23-17 over the Philadelphia Stars.

Bandit Ball

1) So... Why the Bandits?

I've written about the original USFL here before and if you read those posts, I've discussed the various reasons that I rooted for a different team in each of the three seasons of the league.

None of those three (Chicago Blitz, Arizona Wranglers, and Memphis Showboats) were selected for the eight teams to start the new league, so I had to pick a new one.

2) I didn't have a connection to any of the coaching hires so I picked the Bandits for the uniforms which were pretty normal looking and for the old theme song, which I hope someone has the idea of playing all the time if the league ever starts playing games in the city that the teams are named for.

3) Onto the game, which really wasn't all that exciting.
Each new football league lives and dies with the quality of its quarterback play and Jordan Ta'amu looked to be one of the better ones in the league after Ta'amu's impressive five games in the XFL with the St.Louis Battlehawks.

Ta'amu did throw two interceptions but neither were awful throws and the first was a good throw that the Mauler defensive back Arnold Tarpley simply made a better play to get to the football.

4) The Maulers allowed that opening touchdown and yet on their first seven offensive plays, Pittsburgh called running plays.
Those possessions would result in two punts and a failed fourth-down conversion.

5) It seems like the Bandit offense is going to run through tight end Cheyenne O'Grady, who was targeted eleven times.
It's early but there is some chemistry between O'Grady and Jordan Ta'amu.

6) Any time a defense can hold someone to only three points, they've done a good job but Pittsburgh barely threatened other than the field goal and a late-game drive inside the red zone when the Bandits would stop a completion short of the first down.

Pepper Johnson had his team prepared to play and the Bandit defense was dominant.

7) BUT before we get too excited when you look at new leagues, it is very easy to overhype one victory, no matter how strong that win is.

You won't know for a few weeks which team is the best and it could be that team A just happened to draw the weakest team in the league and you just didn't know it at the time.

8) Forgive the late takes on this as I wasn't able to watch the games live and had to wait until the FS1 replay with the caveat of then needing the time to watch!

That's why some of the names are missing from this report, I'll try to do better for the next game against the Breakers!.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Browns extend Denzel Ward

    The Cleveland Browns needed to create some cap space to sign more players and wanted a Pro Bowl performer to have no distractions during the season for a free agency possibility in the next off-season.

All of that made a lot of sense for the Browns to make a move to sign Denzel Ward to a long-term extension now rather than later, so with both parties motivated, Cleveland was able to sign Ward to a new contract that will keep the cornerback with the Browns for five years at a cost of one hundred million with seventy-one million guaranteed.

Ward was the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft, selected with the first-round selection obtained from Houston in the trade that allowed the Texans to move up and draft DeShaun Watson, from Ohio State and grew up in the Cleveland area, so the Browns did have a player that was motivated to work out a deal and stay home.

Still, this was no hometown discount as Ward's contract is the largest ever given to a cornerback, and although "the largest ever" kudos seem to change every day in during the off-season in sports, it does show the confidence that the Browns have in Ward and in their core players with Myles Garrett,  Nick Chubb, DeShaun Watson, and now Ward all signed to long-term extensions.

Ward has appeared in two Pro Bowls in his first four seasons as a Brown and has intercepted ten passes in those four seasons, three of them coming last season with the above photo showing Ward intercepting a pass in Cincinnati and running ninety-nine yards for a touchdown against the Bengals.

Ward is still only twenty-four years old and this contract seems to set him up for spending his prime years of football with the Browns.

Combining Ward with the strong play of 2021 top pick Greg Newsome at the other corner, the Browns should be excellent at arguably the most important position in today's NFL for the next few seasons and if Grant Delpit plays as well as I think I will at safety next season, Cleveland could have one of the best secondaries in the league as soon as next season.

The only concern for me with Denzel Ward's extension could be applied to any player with a new contract- will he stay healthy?

Ward played in fifteen of seventeen games last season and those games were missed due to Covid-19, in what was the best health of his career.

If Ward stays healthy, this is a reasonable contract for a number one cornerback.

By reworking Ward's deal now, the Browns were able to change Ward's hit to the 2022 cap and freed space up for a few eventual signings.

Cleveland will need to sign their draft choices of course and the cap savings could used to bring back Jadeveon Clowney and/or Jarvis Landry at5 a time when the Browns still have almost nineteen million dollars albatross of Baker Mayfield hanging around their neck on the cap.

Hanging on to Mayfield, for the time being, could have hurt the Browns' chances of adding more veterans at a time when veterans still are looking for new homes.

Working with Ward will give the Browns a bit more time to continue to shop for a new home for Mayfield and to do so without having to do so because they are desperate to make space on the cap.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Spence TKO's Ugas

 Errol Spence shined in his latest "can you top this" with WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford as Spence dominated most of his fight with Yordenis Ugas and won the WBA crown held by Ugas when the doctor ruled that Ugas was unable to continue due to a closed right eye in the tenth round in Arlington, Texas.

In the victory, Spence retained his WBC and IBF titles to add to the WBA belt that he won here from Ugas.

Spence never knocked Ugas down but his heavy shots moved the Cuban around the ring and despite a brave effort on the part of Ugas, he committed what seems to be an awful mistake with the decision to stand and slug with the powerful Spence rather than use his physical skills to box Spence from the outside.

Still, for all of the domination by Spence, Ugas did land his share and punches and almost scored the first knockdown against Spence in his career.

Ugas landed a right hand that visibly stunned Spence and knocked his mouthpiece out.

As a jarred Spence looked down for the mouthpiece, the opportunistic Ugas jumped on Spence (very legal) with a combination of punches that sent Spence bouncing off the ropes, which should have been scored a knockdown as the ropes helped Spence remain on his feet.

Ugas attempted to land more punches but the always corrupt/inept Lawrence Cole decided then to rinse the mouthpiece but first walked Spence to the wrong corner before arriving at Spence's corner for the rinse buying Spence a few extra badly needed seconds to get things straight.

By the time action resumed, Spence was back in control of his faculties, and Ugas's best chance of an upset had passed.

Spence pounded Ugas badly in the eighth (two judges would score the round 10-8 for Spence) and the eye swelling began to increase rapidly for the soon-to-be former champion, who was found to have had suffered an orbital fracture around his right eye.

And then after the fight, the words that fight fans have been waiting for years were finally uttered as Spence stated that he wanted Terence Crawford next.

Hopefully, that fight can be made for the fall and once and all decide just which of the two is the true top welterweight of this era.

The preliminary bouts were all fights that were lopsided affairs and if all were right with boxing, the three losers would consider leaving the sport with their best days behind them.

Isaac Cruz rebounded from his close decision loss to Gervonta Davis with a five-round annihilation of washed-up Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Punch resistance has never been a strong suit of Gamboa even at his peak but his chin and legs are finished with this game as Cruz shook the veteran with every punch landed and dropped Gamboa in the second, third, fourth, and fifth rounds, before the fight ended with Gamboa against the ropes in the fifth round.

The fight likely could have been stopped two rounds before and no one would have complained a bit.

Promising lightweight Jose Valenzuela scored the biggest win of his young career with one left hook that sent former WBC junior lightweight champion Francisco Vargas down and out in the first round.

Vargas had taken his share of punishment in some terrific fights but at this stage, Vargas is a spent fuse.

As for Valenzuela, he appears to be a very promising prospect with big things ahead of him.

Welterweight Cody Crowley scored a unanimous decision over shopworn Josesito Lopez in a ten-rounder.

I haven't watched the fight of this writing...

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 63 Pts (7)

Vince Samano: 55 Pts (5)

Ramon Malpica: 52 Pts (6)

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Stanionis holds off Butaev

   Since I'll be at work and unable to see the Showtime/PBC PPV broadcast from Arlington, Texas, I decided to get ahead of the game and write about the two fights that Showtime placed on their air from the undercard along with the main event from DAZN and Matchroom from Manchester, England.

I wrote in the preview that the welterweight pairing for a minor belt but importantly the mandatory position in the WBA for the Spence-Ugas winner between Radzhab Butaev and Eimantas Stanionis couldn't miss as an action fight and it turned out to be exactly that as Stanionis won a split decision to place him in line for tonight's Spence-Ugas victor.

Neither fighter scored a knockdown and neither did a lot of moving around the ring, leading to plenty of action and landed punches.

Stanionis landed more and the slightly harder punches against Butaev, who lost a point in the eleventh round for pushing down on Stanionis' head and still fought well against the stronger fighter.

Stanionis used his jab to get inside and work on Butaev and although it's not quite to this level, the Stanionis jab is a power jab and reminded me of how Gennady Golovkin uses his jab as a weapon not as one to probe or use from a distance.

I thought Stanonis was the winner at 116-111, which agreed with one of the winning cards for Stanionis with the other at 117-110, and was very surprised by the 114-113 card for Butaev which seemed way out of bounds.

It will be interesting to see if the WBA decides to strip the Spence-Ugas winner, should they not fight Stanonis next.

A unification fight against WBO champion Terence Crawford might get another allowance but Stanonis is in the picture and he'll be getting his shot sooner or later.

Junior welterweight prospect Brandun Lee was forced to go the ten round distance for the first time by veteran Zach Ochoa and despite getting hit more than he should in the final few rounds, Lee was able to get some good work in and was never threatened by Ochoa, who started to throw punches way too late to challenge Ochoa.

A nice win for Lee, who still has plenty of work to do before moving up a level in opposition but still looked strong enough going the ten rounds.

My score of 98-92 was in line with one judge with the other two scoring 99-91 for Lee.

No judges were needed in Manchester England with welterweight Conor Benn destroying veteran Chris Van Heerden in two rounds.

Benn and Van Heerden each fought well in the first round with both landing good shots but in the second round, Benn crunched Van Heerden with one right-hand bomb, and a few seconds and a strong flurry later, Van Heerden was crumpled in a corner and the referee saw no need for a count.

Benn's ready for bigger challenges but Matchroom really doesn't have a good fit for him right now, unless they want to massively overpay Terence Crawford to defend his WBO title in England, which wouldn't be a good idea anyway as Benn is nowhere near ready for a fighter of "Bud's" talent.

Benn's next opponent that would make sense would be light-hitting and undefeated Brit Michael McKinson, who has only two knockouts and bored watchers to sleep in McKinson's American debut.

Still, Matchroom has both fighters and McKinson is rated higher in the WBO (3rd to 5th) so a win would be worth something but after the fight, the name Amir Khan emerged as a possibility.

That's an awful idea considering what Khan looked like in his knockout loss to Kell Brook and it could get Khan badly hurt, so here is hoping that idea goes by the wayside.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 56 Pts (4)

Vince Samano: 50 Pts (4)

Ramon Malpica: 46 Pts (4) 

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing weekend is centered around Arlington, Texas, and almost all of the matches in the boxing challenge will be part of the PBC card that will be available on PPV but with two fights for free (somewhat) on Showtime.

The feature fight of the weekend will unify three-quarters of the welterweight championship as WBC and IBF champion Errol Spence will face his WBA counterpart Yordenis Ugas in what finally could remove the final roadblock to WBO top dawg Terence Crawford.

Spence was scheduled to fight Manny Pacquiao last year but in training was discovered to have had a torn retina and dropped out of the fight and was replaced by Ugas, who decisioned Pacquiao and sent the future Hall of Famer into retirement.

Ugas has only lost once since moving to welterweight, a narrow defeat to Shawn Porter that could have been given to either fighter (I scored it even at 114-114) and should give Spence a test.

Spence hasn't scored a knockout since 2018 but he is the better puncher and unless Ugas boxes perfectly or Spence's eye is more affected than is thought, I like Spence by a clear decision.

The fight I'm most excited about is on Showtime before the PPV as a WBA minor title is at stake but more importantly the winner will be ordered to face the winner of Spence-Ugas as Radzhab Butaev fights Eimantas Stanionis in what should be an all-action encounter.

Both fighters are undefeated although Butaev lost a close decision to Alexander Besputin in 2019, which was overturned when Besputin failed a post-fight drug test.

Butaev looked very impressive in his last victory when he stopped Jamal James in nine rounds to take the minor title and give James the first defeat of his career.

Stanionis decisioned divisional gatekeeper Thomas Dulorme last year before a no-contest against aging former champion Luis Collazo in the fourth round in his most recent fight.

Butaev seems to have an advantage in power, Stanionis is the more skilled boxer and was a 2016 Olympian with a better amateur background.

This could be the fight of the evening.

The remainder of the undercard is less than inspiring as Isaac Cruz returns off his close loss to Gervonta Davis to face aging veteran Yuriorkis Gamboa in a lightweight fight.

Hot prospect Jose Valenzuela opposes another veteran on the downside of his career in former junior lightweight champion Francisco Vargas.

Welterweight Cody Crowley upset the IBF's number one contender, Kudatrillo Abdukakhorov in his last fight and faces rugged veteran Josesito Lopez, a longtime staple of PBC fights from 140-154 pounds.

The main event from Manchester, England from Matchroom and DAZN will pit welterweight prospect Conor Benn against veteran Chris Van Heerden.

Benn knocked out former WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algeri in four rounds in his most recent fight while Van Heerden, a former victim of Errol Spence, saw his last fight end in the first round when undefeated contender Jaron "Boots" Ennis and Van Heerden clashed heads and a no-contest was declared.

Boxing Challenge

Unification WBA- WBC & IBF Welterweight Titles. 12 Rds
Yordenis Ugas vs Errol Spence
All: Spence Unanimous Decision

Lightweights. 10 Rds
Isaac Cruz vs Yuriorkis Gamboa
R.L: Cruz KO 8
TRS: Cruz KO 7
V.S: Cruz KO 6

Lightweights.10 Rds
Jose Valenzuela vs Francisco Vargas
R.L: Valenuzela KO 9
TRS: Valenzuela KO 6
V.S: Vargas Unanimous Decision

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Cody Crowley vs Josesito Lopez
R.L: Crowley KO 10
TRS & V.S: Crowley Unanimous Decision

Welterweights.12 Rds
Radzhab Butaev vs Eimantas Stanionis
R.L & TRS: Stanionis Unanimous Decision
V.S: Butaev Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Brandun Lee vs Zach Ochoa
R.L & V.S: Lee Unanimous Decision
TRS: Lee KO 4

Welterweights.12 Rds
Conor Benn vs Chris Van Heerden
R.L: Benn Unanimous Decision
TRS: Benn KO 5
V.S: Benn KO 8 

Young ends Cavaliers season in Play-In Comeback

    One period into the game, the Cleveland Cavaliers appeared to have everything going their way in their play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Scoring thirty-eight points and holding a thirteen-point lead can give teams and fans a large amount of confidence.

And when Atlanta only cut the lead to ten at the half,  it seemed that while the lead wasn't large enough to book your flight to Miami for the playoff yet, everything did point in that direction.

And then Trae Young woke up.

Young tossed 32 of his game-high 38 points in the second half and led Atlanta to a 107-101 comeback win that will see the Hawks in the playoffs against the Miami Heat and Cleveland at home for the postseason.

Lauri Markkanen led the Cavaliers with 27 points, Darius Garland added 21 with Evan Mobley assisting with 18 points.


1) Even after the first quarter and the thirteen point lead, you didn't think the game was over and it was for one reason- The Cavaliers spent much of the second quarter firing up off-balance shots (oftentimes on the drive)  that made you think of a talented youth league team that thought once they had the lead that they could goof off and blew chances to truly put the game out of reach.

2) Then there was Trae Young, who scored only six points in the first half and then a whopping thirty-two in the second.

Young started hitting contested shots from well beyond the three-point line, beating defenders off the dribbles, and was even scoring on baseline layups.

In other words, Cleveland couldn't stop Young, and the only way Atlanta could win happened.

3) Darius Garland finished with 21 points but did it on nine for twenty-seven shooting and kept driving to the hoop, getting caught in traffic against Hawks defenders, and forced off-balance shots.

I've complimented Garland over the last month for developing an alpha dog mentality and I stand by that but if you are going to be the player that is going to carry the load, you need to develop some more moves to the basket- And if you are going to shoot twenty-seven times, you better hit more than nine of them.

4) Lauri Markkanen didn't play well against Brooklyn but he led the team in scoring with 27 points and hit six of ten three-point attempts.

Markkanen can be streaky and I still think his long-term best role will be what Kevin Love is doing now but when he is feeling it, it can be an awesome thing to see.

5) J.B. Bickerstaff played only eight players, and Kevin Love played only ten minutes.

I can understand why Love was idle with Lauri Markkanen playing so well but Isaac Okoro played twenty-two after an awful game against Brooklyn and Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens didn't play at all.

Osman appears to be an especially puzzling decision not to play as maybe his defense could have helped against Bogdan Bogdanovic.

6) Bogdanovic scored nineteen points off Atlanta's bench, which was ten more than Cleveland's bench (Love, Okoro, and Rajon Rondo).

I would like to know what either or both of Osman and Stevens would have added to this game as both are the type of players that can give a team and a crowd an emotional lift with one or two energetic plays- especially in the second half.

7) Cleveland did welcome Jarrett Allen back and Allen played hard, scored eleven points but pulled down just three rebounds.

You could tell the finger affected Allen defensively as he was trying to rebound almost one-handed to avoid contact with his broken finger, and a few times tapped the ball in the direction of a Cavalier rather than grab the ball.

8) The Cavaliers also struggled in moving the ball in the second half and that resulted in not only the desperate drives of Darius Garland but a few shot clock violations as well.

Cleveland is talented but they aren't yet to the point that they can run isolation so often and allow the ball to become stagnant-which is exactly what happened in the second half.

9) You could tell the playoff pressure was hitting a young team in the fourth quarter and while it's not always fair to play that they played scared, it certainly looked like a team that hadn't been in this situation before.

That is why I wanted them to win this game so badly- Even if the Cavaliers dropped four in a row to Miami, the experience gained would have been priceless.

10) Trae Young slammed the ball to the floor and waved goodbye to the crowd as he walked off the floor.

Young had been heckled all game (some of which were less than clean and could be heard on the ESPN broadcast) and I really can't blame him for ribbing the crowd back- especially after the second half that he played.

Sometimes it's best to wait until the game is over or as Kenny Rogers sang in "The Gambler"- "There will be time enough for counting when the dealings done".

11) Awkward stat of the year.

Friday's loss was the eighteenth of the season that Cleveland led by ten points or more at one point in the game.

That is something that will have to be figured out before next season.

12) Trading for Caris LeVert didn't pay the dividends that the Cavaliers and Koby Altman intended for this season but there is always hope for next season and because Altman had the foresight to cover his baselines at a time when the Cavaliers not making the playoffs seemed extremely remote.

Altman added a clause to the trade that didn't seem important at the time but is very important now as if the Cavaliers didn't make the playoffs, Cleveland would retain the first-rounder that seemed destined to move to the Pacers in Indianapolis.

Because of that, the Cavaliers will be in the lottery and while the odds are against them getting higher than fourteenth (Cleveland will either be in the top three or fourteenth as the team with the best record in the lottery), that pick would not be owned by Cleveland at all without some forethought about the worst-case scenario.

13) I am planning to do a season review next week but despite a disappointing ending to the season and final month, you cannot help but be pleased overall.

Entering the season, Cleveland's ceiling appeared to challenge to just slide into the play-in series as the tenth seed, and instead, they won forty-four games to double their win total from the previous season.

The Cavaliers were a fun team for most of the season, outperformed any expectations, and dealt with plenty of adversity.

Evan Mobley has an excellent chance of winning Rookie of the Year and Darius Garland took another step towards stardom in a season to be remembered perhaps as the start of a successful period of future playoff runs.

They aren't perfect and I'll try to write what they need in the season review but this season was a success, even as they fell short of what seemed to be certain to be even more.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Cavaliers vs Hawks-Winner take all.

    It's winner take-all from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland as one team will face the Miami Heat and the other will have their season ended as the ninth-seeded Atlanta Hawks will visit the eighth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Hawks are playing the better basketball at the time and thumped the Charlotte Hornets in Atlanta 132-103 to advance to the final game.

The Cavaliers fell behind the Brooklyn Nets by twenty points at the end of the first quarter and despite playing competitively in the final three periods were unable to catch up to Brooklyn in a 115-108 defeat.

Cleveland had the better record in the regular season by one game (44-38 to 43-39) over Atlanta but it was the Hawks that won the season series between the teams, winning three of the four games with the two games in Cleveland being split between the two.

Cleveland is hoping to return Jarrett Allen for the contest and the team announced that Allen will be taking place in warmups in an attempt to see if the center will attempt to play.

This game is pretty simple to project.

The guard that plays better between Atlanta's Trae Young and Cleveland's Darius Garland will be more likely to win.

Young averaged thirty-one points in his four games against Cleveland this season and the Atlanta offense runs through the former Oklahoma star.

Garland has been the dominant focus of the Cleveland offense over the last month as the team limped into April with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley out of the lineup.

Jarrett Allen's possible return would be a major help for Cleveland and I would think it would be as a defender that would see his largest impact.

Cleveland has had major problems protecting the basket in Allen's absence and the Cavaliers could use Allen in the paint to allow Evan Mobley to defend away from the basket and give a boost to a team that moved from a top ten team defensively to one in the bottom third since Allen's injury.

Atlanta only won sixteen road games this season and the homecourt could be huge for Cleveland.

Atlanta crushed Cleveland in their last meeting last month 131-107 and I can see either team winning this one.

The winner will not have long to celebrate as the victor will travel to Miami for game one of a seven-game series against the top-seeded Miami Heat.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox-Passings

        The passings have come quickly in recent days 
 with many players from my childhood days having sadly passed away.

Goodbye to John Ellis at the age of 73.

Ellis played for three teams from 1969 to 81 with most of his playing time coming with the Indians and Rangers. 

Ellis's best seasons were as an Indian in 1973 and 74 with career highs in homers and RBI with both seasons playing in over one hundred games, which Ellis would do only one other time in his career (1979 Texas).

Ellis was the Indians clubhouse enforcer for Gaylord Perry during Perry's standout years in Cleveland and is remembered for his two-punch knockout of Texas's Lenny Randle as Randle attempted to charge Perry on the mound after getting plunked by Perry.

Goodbye to Joel Horlen at the age of 84.

Horlen was an excellent pitcher that was stuck on weak-hitting White Sox teams that resulted in a career losing record (116-117) despite a career ERA of 3.11.

Horlen spent eleven of his twelve-year career with the White Sox and his numbers from 1964-68 were excellent as he never posted an ERA higher than 2.88, posted a 1.88 in 1964, and led the American League in 1967 with an ERA of 2.08, yet in those five seasons, only in two would Horlen finish with more wins than losses.

Horlen's 1967 season may have been good enough to win the Cy Young had Chicago slipped past Boston for the American League pennant but finished second to Boston's Jim Lonborg with a record of 19-7, the league-leading ERA, and thirteen complete games.

Horlen is the only player in baseball history to win a Pony League world title, a College World Series championship and a World Series.

Goodbye to Rayfield Wright at the age of  76.

The Hall of Fame offensive tackle spent his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys, winning two Super Bowls and making the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams on six occasions.

Wright was an athletic tackle on the right side during an era where the right tackle was more important than left ( as is currently considered more important) as the running game was used much more often and the right tackle was usually the lead blocker on sweeps and runs off tackle.

Goodbye to John Drew at the age of 67.

A two-time All-Star with the Atlanta Hawks, who averaged twenty-one points or more in five of his first seasons in the league, Drew is remembered more for his issues with drugs, which caused Drew to be the first player ever to be "banned for life" for multiple drug violations by then-commissioner David Stern.

It's too bad that's what is remembered about Drew, who was an excellent offensive player and was good enough to be traded for by the Utah Jazz for the third overall pick in the 1982 draft, which Atlanta would use on Dominque Wilkins.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Cavaliers lose in Brooklyn

   The Cleveland Cavaliers had to be perfect in their NBA play-in games against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

They weren't and Kyrie Irving was, at least for a while, as the Nets raced out to a twenty-point lead after the first quarter and held the Cavaliers at bay thereafter in a 115-108 Brooklyn victory.

Darius Garland led Cleveland with 34 points with Evan Mobley dropping in 19 as the top secondary scorer.

Cleveland will now watch tonight to see who wins the 9-10 game between Charlotte and Atlanta as they will welcome the winner to Cleveland Friday night.


1) Kyrie Irving was perfect in the first half as Irving hit all nine of his shots from the floor including a walk-off third pointer and would hit his first three shots in the third quarter on his way to a 34 point, 12 assist evening.

Cleveland simply couldn't stop Irving all evening.

2) Kevin Durant finished with 25 points but every time that the Cavaliers seemed to crawl within distance, Durant would make a huge shot to keep things in line for Brooklyn.

I wrote in the preview that Cleveland's chances to win were dependent on a few factors but one was don't allow Irving and Durant to score between seventy and eighty points.

They combined for sixty-nine.

3) Brooklyn outrebounded Cleveland by just three (43-40) and each team grabbed ten offensive rebounds but it seemed like the big rebounds that Cleveland needed to grab to turn the game just a little more all fell into the hands of the Nets.

4) Lauri Markkanen finished with thirteen points but only four rebounds and just as in the above note about rebounding, it seemed like every time that Markkanen touched a rebound that it deflected off his hands and usually to Brooklyn.

5) Caris LeVert just continues to struggle to fit in the offense.

LeVert finished with twelve points but did it in forty minutes and hit only four of twelve shots.

LeVert seems to struggle without the ball in his hands and yet he isn't a knockdown shooter that could benefit from Darius Garland (or anyone else) driving to the basket and dishing to the wide-open shooter.

Maybe a training camp with the team will help with the chemistry but right now (on the overall) I'm disappointed with what the Cavaliers received in the trade that brought LeVert to Cleveland.

6) Darius Garland is a lead dog and I say that with respect.

Garland knows what needs to happen in a game against a superior team and he isn't afraid to put the load on the back.

I worry that as time goes on Garland could fall into the clear the floor and let me handle it trap but for now, I love the attitude.

7) If the Cavaliers lose Friday night, they will go into the lottery and keep the first-round pick that would go to Indiana as part of the Caris LeVert trade.

If Cleveland wins, the pick will go to the Pacers. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Cavaliers at Nets- Play-In Night.

  The Barclays Center in Brooklyn is the scene for the return of the Cleveland Cavaliers to postseason play, even if the play-in series is technically not postseason play by the official NBA guidelines.

The Cavaliers are heavy underdogs to win the "7-8" game against the Brooklyn Nets for a few reasons that range from little playoff experience except for Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo, the continued absence of Jarrett Allen in the middle, the injury problems, and the biggest- Cleveland doesn't have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on their side.

In addition, despite both teams finishing with a 44-38 record, it is the Nets that are playing their best basketball and the Cavaliers are staggering down the stretch like a two-year-old colt that is running their first race at a mile.

The absence of Jarrett Allen forces Evan Mobley to battle down low against former Cavalier Andre Drummond, rather than use his unique physical dimensions to defend Kevin Durant and give Durant a different look defensively than he is used to seeing.

While Kyrie Irving brings his own skills, Cleveland is able to counter with Darius Garland at the point and the issues with guarding Durant in the void created by the unavailability of Jarrett Allen appeared in the Cavaliers' loss in Brooklyn last week where Cleveland held a five-point lead after three quarters, only to see Durant take command of the game and the Nets ran away to an eleven point win.

Cleveland should be hosting this game had they not played an awful game in losing to an Orlando team headed to the lottery and I'm not sure even home court would have been enough to have lifted the Cavaliers past a Brooklyn team that is better than their record.

Instead, Cleveland travels to Brooklyn and assuming they lose as an eight-point underdog will host the winner of the Hawks-Hornets game on Friday night that will decide the final team to reach the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

You would have to be a super homer to pick the Cavaliers in this one but if it happens this is how.

The Cavaliers don't stop Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving but they don't allow them to score seventy to eight points between the two of them, they do a better job on the boards than in last week's game, and someone steps up with a game well beyond their usual output such as Lauri Markkannen or Kevin Love and then Cleveland could surprise the Nets.

Still, the Cavaliers need to play well, even with a loss.

There is something to be said for momentum Friday for a home game after a good effort on the road against a strong team and conversely, a blowout loss could place the brakes on momentum going into a game against the winner of the other game.

I'm interested to see what happens in Brooklyn.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Fundora stops Lubin

   Showtime's Saturday card may have lacked fights of impact on the undercard but the Las Vegas main event not only produced a challenger at 154 pounds for the winner of Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano, but it was also a tremendous and physical battle that made you wonder how much was taken out of the victor and the defeated for their future fights.

Fundora controlled the fight on the inside against the heavy-hitting Lubin, which would be a surprise if you looked at Fundora and never watched a fight of his previously, and knocked Lubin down in the second round.

Fundora throws tons of punches, isn't afraid to brawl, and with arguably the best nickname in boxing (The Towering Inferno) is just vulnerable enough to make his fights must-watch events.

And it was the vulnerability of Fundora's chin that came into play in the seventh round when Lubin, behind on the scorecards, knocked Fundora down and looked like he had a chance to make a miracle win occur.

Instead, it was Fundora that dominated the eighth and ninth, and with Lubin's face a lumpy mess that looked more like an old-school hockey goalie than a junior middleweight contender, trainer Kevin Cunningham stopped the fight before the start of the tenth round.

I had Fundora leading 86-83 after the entertaining pairing and as noted above, it was the type of fight that may have changed the career of Lubin, who may never be the same fighter again after the pasting that he received, and Fundora didn't escape unscathed despite the victory either.

Fundora should face the Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano winner sometime over the next year or so and will be a difficult opponent for either fighter.

Former WBC junior middleweight champion Tony Harrison looked as good as he had in years in outboxing Sergio Garcia, who fought time to fight and play in the Masters on the same weekend (just kidding) and won an easy unanimous decision.

Garcia tried to attack and slow Harrison down but was never able to achieve consistent success against the slick counterpunches from Harrison, who won for the first time since winning his title over Jermell Charlo (Harrison lost the rematch and drew with Bryant Perrella) and said he was willing to travel to Australia to face Tim Tszyu in his next fight.

I thought Harrison won 98-92 and hopefully will face a tougher foe than Garcia, who lost for the second fight in row after losing to Sebastian Fundora and appears to be a cut below top ten caliber.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 52 Pts (3)

Vince Samano: 46 Pts (0)

Ramon Malpica: 42 Pts (1)

Boxing Challenge: Garcia wins return

     Saturday night's card from DAZN and Golden Boy from San Antonio, Texas may have gotten the desired result in the win column but it didn't answer any of the questions surrounding lightweight star Ryan Garcia, who dominated but didn't dazzle in a unanimous decision victory over Emmanuel Tagoe.

Garcia scored a second-round knockdown that might have been more of a push and hurt Tagoe badly with a right hand in the tenth that saw the Ghanian lucky to survive the round.

Garcia was aggressive and he tried for the knockout throughout the fight but Tagoe moved for most of the fight and Garcia did appear to have some issues in cutting off the ring as well as winging some punches that a better contender than Tagoe might take advantage with counters against an open Garcia.

I scored Garcia an easy victor at 119-108

For his first fight in fifteen months, it was a solid effort against a veteran that wasn't interested in exchanging punches with Garcia and was very mobile but it did make you wonder how Garcia will do against an elite boxer with better skills than Tagoe.

The co-feature was a dull fight as Shane Mosley Jr. scored a surprising majority decision upset over veteran Gabriel Rosado over ten rounds

Mosley dominated with the jab, never allowed Rosado to rough him up on the inside, and outworked the aging veteran, who lost his third in his last four bouts and is 1-4-1 in his last six with the only win his miracle third-round knockout over Beketmir Melikuziev, which he was knocked down and getting pounded before the stunning one-punch ending.

For Mosley, even considering the sliding of form for Rosado, this is the biggest win of his career and I'm sure this will get him more fights in the future against name fighters.

However, I don't think he can hold off stronger fighters or pressure boxers and he seems to be caught in the role of a fringe contender with a memorable moniker.

The other surprise was the scoring with judge Mendez Ramos with an odoriferous card of 95-95.

I had Mosely well ahead at 98-92.

I'll be writing on the Showtime card later today when I have a chance to watch the broadcast.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 49 Pts (1)

Vince Samano: 46 Pts (2)

Ramon Malpica: 41 Pts (1)