Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Browns cut down to 53.

     The Cleveland Browns arrived at cutdown day with few surprises expected and none were delivered as the Browns quietly reached their fifty-three-man limit without releasing a player that would upset anyone.

The bigger point of contention should come Wednesday when waiver claims are awarded as the Browns are expected to be reasonably active with potential claims at wide receiver, tight end, and along the defensive line.

Cleveland could also address depth at offensive tackle and perhaps even at cornerback, according to Zac Jackson of The Athletic and both make sense to me- especially tackle with starting right tackle Jack Conklin returning from a season-ending injury last season and Chris Hubbard as the swing backup attempting a comeback after playing only one game in 2021.

Kevin Stefanski claims he feels "good" about the state of the wide receivers and while the waiver wire or even a potential trade could bring some help to the position, it's not likely to give the group a major boost- at least not right away and perhaps not at all.

I hope to do a preview of the team before their opener against the Carolina Panthers and write more in-depth on the positional groups but outside of Amari Cooper, every Browns receiver is at least one spot higher than they would be on a true contender.

For example, Donovan Peoples-Jones would be the third or fourth receiver on a good team, for the Browns- he is their second.

Rookie David Bell (third-round draft pick) is still learning after missing much of training camp, fellow rookie Michael Woods (sixth-round draft pick)  missed the entire preseason and is likely to be inactive for at least a game or two, and second-year man Anthony Schwartz struggles to catch the football, which is a small problem for a pass catcher.

Most teams may have chalked Schwartz off as a lost cause and cut their losses after spending a third-rounder on him in 2021 but Andrew Berry has proven to be very reluctant to cut players that he has selected in the draft and continues to hope that the speed that Schwartz showed on the track will someday convert on the football field.

Cleveland kept only two tight ends in David Njoku and Harrison Bryant and two veterans with some appeal that were released in O.J. Howard and Chris Herndon would be of interest to me but I think the Browns are more likely to hope that Miller Forristall clears the wire and could be added to the practice squad.

Kevin Stefanski also stated that the team will sign a quarterback to the practice squad after releasing Josh Rosen and keeping Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs as the two rostered passers.

I'll be back tomorrow with news on the Browns additions and corresponding releases when the waiver period ends.

Vin Scully

    The recent passing of Los Angeles Dodgers play-by-play announcer Vin Scully is yet another bang on the drum for the game of baseball and how it moves away from the game I fell in love with long ago.

I promise this won't be a harangue on the game going to hell, I have written and will in the future about all of that.

No, this is more about Vin Scully and the great times of radio when every team had their own unique voice and character.

Even though Scully had been retired for a bit, it was Scully that was the final link to the days of radio's larger importance to baseball and its fans.

Scully is remembered as a California icon but he started with the Dodgers when they were still playing their games in Brooklyn

A radio game, baseball with the downtime and pauses lends itself to the voices and stories that only the best commentators could wind, and as a result, allowed the listener to do other things while listening to a game.

And as good as each announcer for a team could be with their voice stretching across their region and their ardent fans singing their praises, it was almost universal that one stood above all - and he also called games on television- Vin Scully of the Dodgers.

The smooth voice of Vin Scully made even the most fervent Dodger hater (I hated the Dodgers well before I rooted for the Giants) enjoy watching or listening to Dodger broadcasts with the master behind the mike and as with the best dating back to the age of radio- it was the stories that Scully could tell that made him so wonderful to listen to.

Living on the East Coast, I was robbed of listening to Scully every night as I drifted off to sleep but I did have the honor of listening to some of the greats in their areas- Ernie Harwell in Detroit, Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall from Cincinnati, Chuck Thompson and later Jon Miller in Baltimore, when I was very young, Bob Prince in Pittsburgh and his replacement Lanny Frattare, and Herb Score in Cleveland with his various partners through the years, all of whom were part of my childhood and teenage years.

I always imagined then and now, that there was a counterpart to me listening to games in the west listening to Vin Scully with the Dodgers, Dick Enberg with the Angels, Jerry Coleman with the Padres, and Lon Simmons with the Giants doing what I was doing to pass the time while listening to baseball.

Vin Scully was more of a national broadcaster to me growing up as he did NFL games ( It was Scully on the call of Dwight Clark's Catch in the 1981 NFC Championship game in the last NFL game that he would ever call) for CBS and his work on the Masters for the Tiffany network as well before leaving CBS in 1983 to hold the main play by play voice for NBC for Major League Baseball through 1989 when NBC lost the rights to MLB to ironically CBS. 

It was his work on those games for NBC that I remember best with the famous calls but what made Vin Scully perfect for baseball were the fabulous stories that he would tell from thirty-plus years in the game at that time and would be sixty-six years by the time he ended his career with the Dodgers at the end of the 2016 season.

Scully could tell a story in a way that you imagine just sitting around with a father or grandfather talking about their memories of a certain person or event, flowing smoothly through those memories and intertwining them with " a flyball to left, caught by Baker, one down" before returning to the story effortlessly and without feeling that he had to "get his story or catchphrase in"  as so many today seem to feel is so important.

Baseball has always been a radio game more than any other sport and it can be argued that Vin Scully could be the best to ever call a game on the radio. However, that will be questioned by many baseball fans with their own regional favorite.

One thing that is pretty tough for any baseball fan to disagree with is this- It's pretty difficult to hear the name Vin Scully and not come up with a memory and shortly thereafter, a smile...

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Commey-Pedraza battle to draw

   For a crossroads fight between two former champions at a lighter weight class fighting at junior welterweight, most looking at Jose Pedraza and Richard Commey's clash as a crossroads fight with the loser taking a step back in status, the best possible result happened for both fighters as Commey and Pedraza exchanged blows for ten fast-paced rounds before the decision was announced as a draw.

The Tulsa crowd enjoyed the bout that ended with one judge scoring for Pedraza at 97-93, another for Commey 96-94, and the third, agreeing with my scorecard, with a 95-95 tab.

Commey had a small edge in the first half of the fight and looked to be on his way to a win before a Pedraza headbutt badly cut Commey over the left eye, producing a cut that would pour blood for the remainder of the fight and on several occasions would force Commey to paw at the cut in order to clear his vision.

Pedraza's best round was the ninth when he appeared to hurt Commey and he added the tenth on all three cards to pull out the draw.

The biggest question for a potential rematch is- How much did the cut affect Commey as he was the better fighter before the slice and allowed Pedraza to take charge after the cut?

That question would be answered in a rematch and it's one worth considering when you decide on a favorite in such a rematch.

The draw was a very fair result which allows both fighters to survive another day before being moved out to pasture and a rematch would be an excellent avenue for both men to earn another quality payday with similar stakes for the winner and loser.

A worthwhile main event and the type of fight that promoters should try to make more often, especially on lighter boxing weekends as one card can take center stage in the boxing world.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 152 Pts (0) 
Ramon Malpica: 131 Pts (0)
Vince Samano: 120 Pts (0) 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing weekend is light to end August after a heavy load last weekend with only one fight on an ESPN+/Top Rank card from Tulsa Oklahoma as two former world champions battle in a crossroads fight that could result in a higher profile fight for the winner and perhaps a move down the ladder to gateway status for the loser.

Former IBF junior lightweight and WBO lightweight champion Jose Pedraza meets former IBF lightweight beltholder Richard Commey in a junior welterweight tilt scheduled for ten rounds which is a tough fight to call.

Pedraza, who is arguably the biggest name on the resume of Gervonta Davis after Davis took his 130-pound title by seventh-round knockout in 2017, may already have reached gatekeeper status as after his 2018 loss to Vasyl Lomachenko, Pedraza has dropped decisions to the best two fighters he has faced since in Jose Zepeda and in his last fight against Jose Ramirez.

Still, Pedraza defeated prospects and fringe contenders Julian Rodriguez, Antonio Lozada, and Javier Molina since his Lomachenko loss, so a win over Commey would keep him in line for a fight against a contender in the loaded 140-pound division.

Commey has lost two of his last three but can be excused for losing to two of the best around in a 2019 second-round knockout defeat to Teofimo Lopez (and losing his IBF title) and in his last outing a decision loss in December to Vasyl Lomachenko.

In between, Commey looked very good in February 2021 in knocking out Jackson Marinez in six rounds after most believed in Marinez's previous fight he had been robbed against Rolando Romero.

Is it that Commey is still a world-class boxer that ran into two elite greats of the game?

Or is he beginning to drop in status and only the prestige of Lopez and Lomachenko has kept his name in the picture? 

With both fighters in their mid-30s (Commey is 35, Pedraza 33), it's fair to consider them on the back end of their best form but the victor will be in a position for a few more high-level paydays, so the fight is an important one in the Top Rank dominated division.

It's an interesting style clash with Pedraza as a boxer-puncher (leans toward boxer) that likes to fight at long-range with Commey a fighter that likes to attack and is willing to fight on the inside, so one would think that Pedraza has the physical advantages in this one.

You would be wrong for thinking that as Pedraza only owns a half-inch edge in height and it's Commey with the greater reach by a half-inch, so that is an extra wrinkle when trying to choose the winner.

A very interesting fight with plenty on the line for both fighters.

Boxing Challenge

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jose Pedraza vs Richard Commey
Ramon Malpica and Vince Samano: Pedraza Unanimous Decision
TRS: Commey Split Decision


   The PPM returns for another season and another selection for the PPM as our unofficial host.

I've been a Barbara Eden since well dating back to things that I was too young to remember and her recent birthday brought her to mind as this year's host.

Beauty, after all, is ageless and I hope you enjoy Barbara Eden as the face of this year's PPM.

The college season kicks off with a few scattered games in its "Week Zero", so I'll pick some games to get us started.

This year has two replacements in the PPM as we always choose our favorite team from each conference.

Arkansas has replaced LSU in the SEC after Brian Kelly became the coach of the Bayou Bengals and the Pac 12 has always been the most challenging conference to select a team to select from.

Washington was the easy choice with Chris Petersen as their head coach but with Petersen gone for a few years now, I've decided to move to Oregon State as our team in the Pac 12.

I picked four games that are televised and seem reasonably close in talent for the week as none of the TRS teams are in action.

Nebraska 33 Northwestern 31 
Illinois 23 Wyoming 14
UTEP 40 North Texas 30
New Mexico State 29 Nevada 26 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Navarrete retains title, Lipinets pounds Figueroa.

    Saturday was a day with three different fight cards and while the excellent Usyk-Joshua card from Saudi Arabia earned the headlines, both Showtime/PBC and ESPN/Top Rank made their mark on the day as well.

ESPN Plus and Top Rank's main event saw the return of WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete after a ten-month absence and the man once touted as the busiest champion in boxing looked to be suffering from his inactivity as challenger Eduardo Baez seemed to be lightly tapping his way to a potential upset.

I had Baez ahead 49-46 and I might have been generous in giving the champion one round but one left hook to the liver put Baez away in round six and saved the title for Navarrete.

Baez led on two cards (50-45 and 48-47) while judge Pat Russell somehow saw Navarrete leading 49-46,  a scorecard that seems downright nutty.

Along with Navarrete's unusual inactivity, the Mexican champion had problems making weight and he seems to be faced with a choice of either moving up to 130 and a clash with Shakur Stevenson or fighting more often to help him keep in sharp and in shape.

Navarrete's problem with staying at 126 is a lack of big-fight possibilities.

The winner of November's WBA title fight would be unlikely if Leo Santa Cruz (PBC) retains the championship over Leigh Wood (Matchroom), although Navarrete vs Wood could happen if the Englishman pulls a mild upset.

Josh Warrington (IBF and Matchroom) appears to be waiting for a fight vs Wood if he beats Santa Cruz and the mandatory for Navarrete's title is Isaac Dogboe, who has already lost to Navarrete twice in lopsided defeats and no one wants to see a third fight, likely not even Dogboe.

Meanwhile, over on Showtime, PBC's main event turned out to be very predictable but the other two matches on the telecast decided two new world champions in solid battles.

The main event was originally scheduled to be a faceoff of two faded former champions that badly needed a win and preferably an exciting one, in Adrien Broner and Omar Figueroa.

Broner's late exit from the fight brought in former IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets into the fight in his place from the undercard as, since the Covid-19 pandemic, PBC has been very smart in arranging to have suitable replacements on their undercards in the event of a fighter not being available at the last minute.

That has proven to be prescient thinking on this and several other occasions and I applaud their preparation for different scenarios.

However, Figueroa wasn't likely to appreciate it as Lipinets is closer to his prime and a harder puncher than Broner, so Figueroa was facing a tougher opponent for his trouble and was battling back losing to Abel Ramos when he was battered into submission with the fight ending after the sixth round.

That fate was going to be repeated as Lipinets handed Figueroa another beating and forced his corner to stop the fight at the end of the eighth round.

Figueroa might have won the first round but was dropped in the second and took a pounding for the rest of the fight that might have been best suited to end a round or two sooner than it lasted.

Figueroa stated that he was planning on retiring and based on what I've seen in his losses to Ramos and Lipinets, that's a pretty good idea.

Figueroa may not have lived to the early hype of many (including myself) and became a huge star but he did win a world title and that's a pretty decent career even if it wasn't as good as was expected.

Alberto Puello won the WBA title that was relinquished by Josh Taylor via a split decision over hard-luck Batyr Akhmedv in another close fight with awful scoring.

Both fighters landed plenty and although Akhmedov attacked more, Puello didn't run away and did walk forward on some occasions.

I thought Akhmedov nosed the win out 115-113 as did one judge but I would have no issue at all with a Puello triumph-IF someone scored 115-113 for the Dominican Republic native as the fight was extremely tight.

The problem was that the two odd judges saw Puello as the winner at 117-111 and there is simply no way that either fighter in this fight won nine of twelve rounds.

Again, no issues with Puello getting a slight edge- it's the size of the win that is so awful.

It was a great fight and I wouldn't be against a rematch, considering the scoring and the quality of the fight.

In the opener, Hector Luis Garcia won the WBA junior welterweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Roger Gutierrez.

Garcia entered the bout after dominating the flashy and well-thought of Chris Colbert in his last fight, knocking Colbert out of a challenge of Gutierrez, and the WBA, deservedly and surprisingly, installed Garcia in the position previously held by Colbert as the mandatory challenger.

It was truly a tale of two fights- the first eight rounds were dominated by Garcia as Garcia controlled Gutierrez with aggression that wasn't reckless with Gutierrez downright reluctant to move his hands.

Gutierrez's corner was even threatening to stop the fight after eight rounds if Gutierrez didn't start to throw punches.

So to start the ninth, Gutierrez changed his tactics, started to reach Garcia with his right hand and began to bully Garcia to the ropes and forced the younger man to give ground as Gutierrez won the final four rounds on my card but the comeback started far too late in losing on my scorecard 116-112.

On the official cards, Garcia won a little wider with two scores of 117-111 and a 118-110 slate but Gutierrez has to be just sick after seeing how effective he was once he started throwing more punches that he was backing Garcia and had he done so earlier in the fight that he may have retained his title.

Garcia brings one junior lightweight title to PBC, who didn't have a presence in the division other than Chris Colbert entering the year, so this is good for PBC's fighters at 126 and 130, who would have had problems in making a fight with WBC/WBO champion Shakur Stevenson (Top Rank) or IBF king Joe Cordina (Matchroom).

I would think Gary Russell would make some sense as a challenger to Garcia in the PBC fold and would make an interesting fight as well.

Boxing Challenge

TRS; 152 Pts (4)
Ramon Malpica: 131 Pts (5)
Vince Samano: 120 Pts (4) 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Usyk retains title in Joshua rematch

   Oleksandr Usyk survived a rocky ninth round, swept the final three rounds to clinch a split decision win over Anthony Joshua in their rematch, and retained his WBA, IBF, and WBO championships in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Joshua gave a much more spirited effort than in their first bout and after rocking Usyk badly in the ninth seemed on the verge of regaining the championship for a third reign.

However, the Pride of Ukraine wasn't about to allow that to happen as Usyk immediately grabbed control in the tenth round as he hurt Joshua and swept the final three rounds on my scorecard for a 116-112 win.

I thought the fight was close entering the final round and had Joshua won that round, I might have understood a scorecard of a draw but I was surprised to see a 115-113 score for Joshua that was overruled by the two judges giving Usyk the edge at 115-113 and 116-112.

While this fight was far more entertaining than the first affair, I don't think we need a third fight for a while in a similar matter to Deontay Wilder's great attempt in losing his third fight to Tyson Fury.

It was a good fight but Joshua needs to reestablish himself and move on (for now) as Deontay Wilder is doing as well.

Joshua stated that he will be back in the ring in December, which is a good thing to be more active, and while I still think there is lots of money in a Joshua-Wilder clash, I'm dubious of that happening.

After all, if Al Haymon and Eddie Hearn couldn't get this done for the unified heavyweight championship for all of those dollars so close, why should I expect them to agree for smaller, although sizable paydays as contenders?

As for Usyk, the logical next fight would be the unification bout with WBC champion Tyson Fury, who waffles back and forth on his future as most people flip the cool side of the pillow in order to grab attention but is unlikely to turn away the big bucks for a Usyk fight.

I'll say this and I respect the talent and ability of Tyson Fury but I'll be rooting for Oleksandr Usyk in that one for a few reasons- most of which are personal preferences of mine.

Usyk is entertaining yet not clownish and doesn't need the constant attention, it would be a wonderful thing that his home country of Ukraine could use right now, and I would like to move away a bit from the hulking heavyweights that have come into vogue over the last decade or two.

It's an intriguing fight that Fury will be favored in but I still remember that Steve Cunningham knockdown against Fury and Cunningham was a natural cruiserweight as well.

Fury will be the firm favorite and deservedly so with his advantages but this is the first time that he will be facing a fighter with more skills and more experience- Sleep on the chances of Oleksandr Usyk at your own betting peril.

The undercard was very entertaining with two fights that were very close and a former world champion scoring a devastating knockout.

Filip Hrgovic held off the attack of the surprising Zhilei Zhang and became the mandatory challenger in the IBF for Oleksandr Usyk with a close unanimous decision victory.

Zhang scored a flash knockdown in the first round, which made the difference on my card as I thought Zhang earned the nod by a 114-113 score.

The judges disagreed with all scoring for Hrgrovic by scores of 115-112 (x2) and 114-113.

Both fighters were hurt during the fight with Hrgrovic wobbling around the ring in the seventh round and he was fortunate that the round ended when it did.

Hrgovic was cut in the third from the scalp from a headbutt and Zhang ended the fight with heavy bruises and marks around both of his eyes.

Both fighters had their excellent moments and neither fighter could fully keep command of the fight as each landed their share of power punches.

Hrgovic showed some vulnerabilities that he hadn't in the past and Zhang redeemed himself a bit for his lackluster draw with Jerry Forrest in his previous test against better heavyweights.

A fun twelve-rounder and while I'm not sure either is ready for a title shot, the pair meshed for a tight and exciting co-feature.

Former WBA and WBC super middleweight champion Callum Smith moved to the top contender spot in the WBC ratings with a spectacular fourth-round knockout of Mathieu Bauderlique.

Smith lost the first two rounds on my card but in the third began to reach the Frenchman with long right hands.

Smith landed a left early in the fourth round that caused Bauderlique to use his glove to keep him off the floor, which is a knockdown, and shortly after rising, Bauderlique moved into full retreat and attempted to fend off Smith but ate a left hook that sent him to the mat and the fight ended before a count.

Smith is now in a position to eventually challenge WBC/IBF and WBO light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev sometime in 2023 after Beterbiev's WBO mandatory is fulfilled against Great Britain's Anthony Yarde.

Former WBC super middleweight champion Badou Jack won a split decision over formerly undefeated Richard Rivers in an excellent cruiserweight action fight that will be remembered for more than only the action.

The first was the crazy eighth round which lasted for a minute longer than it should have and Jack landed several punishing bombs during that minute on Rivera, which likely gave the edge to Jack for the round and took a lot of energy from Rivera during the final two rounds.

Had the round ended properly, Rivera would have likely gotten the round and the fight would have ended in a majority draw.

Both fighters gave as good as they received and the split decision for Jack was reasonable at 96-94 from two judges with the other scoring 96-94 for Rivera.

I split the difference with a 95-95 scorecard, so my major issue is with the comatose timekeeper, not the scoring.

The other memorable portion of this fight was the commitment to Rivera of his gimmick as Popeye which included wearing the character's hat and pipe during his ring introductions, using Popeye on his waistband, and quickly sliding back into the costume after the fight.

Give credit as this was an entertaining evening of boxing even if the crowd seemed like they were relatively disengaged and not very excitable despite the action.

I will be back next with the Showtime and ESPN action from the weekend as my Sunday fantasy football draft took away my writing time on Sunday.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:148 Pts (5)
Ramon Malpica:126 Pts (5)
Vince Samano:116 Pts (0)

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The recent boxing weekends have been somewhat sparse but this weekend serves a heaping helping of fistic action from three networks and one fight in which the stakes cannot be any higher.

DAZN will carry the biggest bout of the weekend from Saudi Arabia as three of the four heavyweight titles are up for dispute as Oleksandr Usyk attempts to duplicate his upset of Anthony Joshua to win those titles in a rematch.

Usyk outboxed a surprisingly tentative Joshua and surprisingly was able to hurt him as well, badly shaking Joshua in the final round with the Englishman fortunate to hear the final bell.

In the rematch, Usyk still possesses those same skills against the larger Joshia and his boxing IQ may be second to none, so Joshua's best chance may be to return to his early days as a walk them down and stalking bomber and try to back Usyk up in order to land his power punches.

Joshua's safety style since his classic war with Wladimir Klitschko has been successful, but his best chance to grab a victory over Oleksandr Usyk might be to go back to the future, fire away, and hope for the best.

The co-feature will determine the next mandatory for the Usyk-Joshua victor in the IBF as Filip Hrgrovic tackles Zhang Zhilei.

Both Olympic medalists (Hrgovic 2016 Bronze, Zhilei 2008 Bronze) have faced weaker opponents.

Zhang's best opponent was journeyman Jerry Forrest and he was fortunate to receive a draw against Forrest, while Hrgovic has looked strong in mowing down a few names well past their prime such as Eric Molina, Rydell Booker, and Amir Mansour as well as a few European level foes.

Zhang didn't show a great chin against Forrest and I think Hrgrovic will take advantage of that and roll to an impressive win.

Former super middleweight champion Callum Smith continues his comeback at light heavyweight in a WBC eliminator against Mathieu Bauderlique of France.

Smith hasn't fought in almost a year since his initial fight since losing to Canelo Alvarez but he knocked out Lenin Castillo in only two rounds and looked much stronger with the move up in weight.

Bauderlique won a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics and won his biggest fight in his most recent outing in a seventh-round TKO over Igor Milhalkin but was knocked out in one round in his only defeat in 2017.

Former super middleweight champion Badou Jack continues his comeback at light heavyweight since two 2019 losses to Marcus Browne and Jean Pascal against undefeated Richard Rivera.

Jack has won four straight against limited competition and Rivera is an unknown quantity with a 21-0 record and 16 knockouts but six of his last eight opponents had losing records, so this fight could be difficult to know how good Rivera is and at 38, how much does Badou Jack have remaining in his career.

The other title fight on the day is in San Diego from ESPN and Top Rank as WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete defends against Eduardo Baez.

Navarrete, who once was the most active champion in the game, hasn't fought in close to ten months since a strong win over Joet Gonzalez and while he might be the best featherweight in the world, he isn't close to a fight against the top fighters in the division due to promotional issues.

The light-hitting Baez is entering the bout off a majority decision win over Enrique Vivas and a close majority decision loss to top contender Ra'eese Aleem, so he is not an easy mark, but I'm not sure that he has the pop to keep Navarrete at distance

Showtime and PBC will contribute three bouts to the challenge with the main event at junior welterweight between Omar Figueroa and Sergey Lipinets as the main event.

The former IBF champion Lipinets is a late replacement for Adrien Broner and while Lipinets lacks the name value of Broner, his style should mesh with Figueroa for a better fight.

Figueroa has lost his last two fights and looked well past his prime in losing via sixth-round KO to Abel Ramos, while Lipinets was also stopped in six by budding superstar Jaron "Boots" Ennis in his last outing.

I think this could be interesting for a while but Lipinets has more firepower and is the naturally bigger fighter, so I like his chances in this one.

The undercard will have two world title fights with a vacant title filled and another championship that more or less eliminates one of those superfluous WBA titles.

One of the two (soon to be three) junior welterweight titles that were vacated by Josh Taylor will be awarded to the winner of this bout between Alberto Puello and Batyr Akhmedov.

Taylor gave the WBA belt back to the organization rather than battle their mandatory contender the unbeaten and relatively unknown Puello for pennies on the dollar in a fight that next to no one was interested in seeing in a division filled with talented contenders.

Akhmedov is known best for his only loss more than he is for any of his wins, as he seemed to win a decision over Mario Barrios but lost a unanimous decision.

The winner will have a world title but I'm not sure that even with a win that the new champion would rank in the top echelon at 140 pounds.

Based on the Barrios fight, I'd have to give Akhmedov the edge but with so little really known about Puello, who really knows what to expect?

The WBA junior lightweight title is at stake as veteran Roger Gutierrez defends against Hector Garcia in a fight in which Garcia was originally not supposed to be involved.

The first time that Gutierrez was scheduled for this mandated fight, he was slated to face a WBA minor champion in highly pushed Chris Colbert in February as the WBA continues to whittle away its meaningless lesser titles.

Gutierrez was forced to pull out of the fight after testing positive for Covid-19 and Showtime recruited Garcia, who had fought outside of the United States only once, as a late replacement and was expected to make the flashy Colbert look good until the Gutierrez championship shot could be rescheduled.

Instead, Garcia dominated Colbert, knocked him down in the seventh, and made the more heralded fighter literally run for his life in the second half of the bout on his way to an easy and shocking unanimous decision.

The WBA installed Garcia in Colbert's place for the mandatory fight against Gutierrez in a rare occasion for doing the right thing and the big question is this- Did Chris Colbert simply look past Hector Garcia and make Garcia appear better than he is? 

or was that the first salvo of Hector Garcia as a coming star?

The veteran Gutierrez will tell that tale and the winner will have different options with the WBA title.

Should Garcia win, he will be the only PBC champion at the weight (Shakur Stevenson holds the WBC and WBO titles and Joe Cordina is the IBF champion) and would be in a position to fight many of the PBC stars at featherweight that would be moving up (Gary Russell?).

Gutierrez is promoted by Golden Boy and is fighting this mandated fight on a rival network only due to the WBA mandate and could unify with fellow DAZN boxer Cordina in the United Kingdom with the winner moving for a big payday against Shakur Stevenson, who has stated his wish to hold all four junior lightweight titles before an eventual move to lightweight.

Boxing Challenge

WBA/IBF/WBO Heavyweight Titles. 12 Rds 
Oleksandr Usyk vs Anthony Joshua
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Usyk Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Joshua Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights. 12 Rds
Filip Hrgovic vs Zhang Zhilei
R.L: Hrgovic KO 7
TRS: Hrgovic KO 4
V.S: Zhilei Unanimous Decision

Light Heavyweights. 12 Rds
Callum Smith vs Mathieu Bauderlique
R.L: Smith KO 9
TRS: Smith KO 3
V.S: Bauderlique Unanimous Decision

Light Heavyweights.10 Rds
Badou Jack vs Richard Rivera
R.L and TRS: Jack Unanimous Decision
V.S: Rivera Unanimous Decision

WBO Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Emanuel Navarrete vs Eduardo Baez
R.L: Navarrete KO 10
TRS: Navarrete Unanimous Decision
V.S: Navarrete KO 8

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Omar Figueroa vs Sergey Lipinets
R.L and V.S: Lipinets Unanimous Decision
TRS: Lipinets KO 9

Vacant WBA Junior Welterweight Title 12 Rds
Alberto Puello vs Batyr Akhmedov
R.L and TRS: Akhmedov Unanimous Decision
V.S: Puello Unanimous Decision

WBC Junior Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Roger Gutierrez vs Hector Garcia
R.L: Garcia Unanimous Decision
TRS: Garcia KO 10
V.S: Gutierrez Unanimous Decision 

Friday, August 19, 2022

Deshaun Watson suspension adjusted- Finally an agreement!

    DeShaun Watson won't be throwing footballs for the Cleveland Browns until December 4th but working out an agreement for an eleven-game suspension and a five million dollar fine allows Watson to avoid risking losing the NFL's appeal of his original six-game suspension and sitting out the entire 2022 season.

While the media frenzy with Watson will continue likely for a year or more, the one positive of a menu filled with negatives with the entire saga is that for good or bad, the Cleveland Browns now know how long they will be without the player that they paid a ransom for and just how long that the Browns will have to get by with Jacoby Brissett in a season that they expected to contend.

I wrote about this after the six-game suspension, so I'm going to try to stick to the football aspect of this decision and the Browns will almost have to get off to a quick start with Brissett.

Cleveland's first four games are all winnable, with road games in Carolina and Atlanta with home games against the Jets and Pittsburgh, but the Browns will also go through the final seven games during Brissett's tenure that will see home games against the Chargers, New England, Cincinnati, and Tampa Bay with road games against Baltimore, Buffalo, and Miami.

Only Miami would seem to be a game that the Browns would be a strong favorite of that group right now and who knows what will be in store by the time any of those games roll around.

All of those games considered, I'd say the Browns have to be 6-5 or better when Watson returns to the lineup, and the only way that I see that happening is that the Browns win at least three of the four games at the head of the schedule.

I would think that the Browns will be looking for a veteran quarterback that could step in, should Brissett underperform or would be injured, and while I doubt the Browns would write a big check for Jimmy Garrappolo, Cleveland will have to have someone with some experience because if this season comes down to Josh Dobbs as the replacement as the starting quarterback, the season has officially become a disaster.

I'm not saying that a savior or anyone even better than Brissett would be available other than Garroppolo but they have to have enough experience to stem the tide and be better than Dobbs or Josh Rosen, who are both third-stringers/training camp arms essentially.

Who that quarterback could be is open to interpretation but even a veteran (Non-Garroppolo division) isn't likely to be too much of an improvement over Jacoby Brissett, although many could be better than Josh Dobbs.

A bigger question could be what DeShaun Watson is capable of doing on his Week 13 return in Houston (if you think that wasn't somewhat planned, I have a bridge to sell you).

After all, when Watson takes the field that day, he will have missed well over a year and a half and the only game action that he has seen since the 2020 season will have been the three drives that he led last week in the Browns preseason game in Jacksonville.

While I'm not worried about that being an issue over the long term, I do have questions about how long it could take to have Watson return to speed, especially with only six games remaining and the Browns possibly in a situation of playoff panic when Watson returns.

It could take time to return to peak performance and judging from the crowd that greeted him in Jacksonville, it could take some getting used to the amount of abuse and catcalls that will follow Watson wherever he goes for quite a while, if not for the rest of his career.

The Cleveland Browns now know how long they will play without DeShaun Watson.

The question now becomes can they stay close enough to the pack to avoid another lost season?

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox

  Time for another cleaning of the inbox with various articles that catch my eye or are sent to me by others is linked here for your potential reading pleasure.

I stumbled upon this 2017 article in a Facebook group devoted to the ABA from the Duluth Minnesota News Tribune on former ABA star and NBA player John Brisker. 

Brisker has not been seen since 1976 and the urban legend about Brisker is that he moved to Uganda as a mercenary for the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, who eventually killed Brisker.

The article centers on the disappearance of Brisker but devotes more to Brisker's tenure with Seattle, which was disappointing on the floor, and his issues with the recent deceased Sonics coach Bill Russell more than his ABA career I didn't know as much about, and found very interesting.

The Athletic notches the following two notes with the first of the pair looking back at the Florida State football career of former WCW champion Ron Simmons.

Simmons was a two-time All-American as a nose guard for the Seminoles from 1977-80 and finished ninth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 1979 as a junior.

Simmons was the first premiere recruit landed by Bobby Bowden and is known as the player that started the building of a program that would rank among the elite of college football for over three decades before a recent decline.

The article is based on the influence that Bobby Bowden had on Simmons, who had a very rough childhood, and Simmons's football career, although there is a portion on professional wrestling in the article which covers Bowden's memorable cameo on WCW with an inspirational pep talk to Simmons before his upcoming title match against then-champion Lex Luger.

The second of the two from The Athletic deals with the Sun Belt conference which in their recent expansion, didn't go for market size or bigger names but chose to grab schools that fit in their existing footprint, play quality football, and can step into the league with rivalries ready from the get-go.

A conference that once ranked at the bottom of the Group of Five conferences now could be rated at the top in the near future after the AAC loses steam at the end of 2022 when they lose Cincinnati, Houston, and Central Florida.

The additions of Marshall, Southern Mississippi, and Old Dominion from Conference USA and added 1-AA powerhouse James Madison to an already stacked league with strong traditional programs such as Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Troy, and Arkansas State along with recent upstart Coastal Carolina and you have a damn good conference that might be as deep and balanced as any league in the nation.

Add to that the larger amount of regional rivalries and at least one conference is going back to what made so many love college football- balanced competition and plenty of other schools to hate!

ExpertClick.com writes an article on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first toy robot and the person that developed it, Dr. Michael Freeman.

Freeman's first prototype was created in 1973 and it was forty pounds and three feet tall!

Contrast that with the first released robot toy 2-XL  from 1978 in the video below!

We wrap with two articles from The Athletic and the start is another article on former Cardinals and Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, who seems to be revisited by an author every few years and every time seems to have radically revamped his life with a new interest.

This time, Plummer is involved with cultivating mushrooms and not all of those from the "Magic" variety, as the Snake is pushing for mushrooms to help save the world through culinary, medicinal, and help with mental issues as well.

As someone that puts mushrooms in lots of food dishes and has even dabbled in growing them (It was a failure in output but virtually mowed through a massive stump in two years), I found this very interesting.

If only the Snake can find one that tastes great, is fairly inexpensive, and helps with the physical and mental aches and pains!

The other article from the Athletic is an oral history of the Pac-12 Network and what has been widely believed to be the largest failure of the conference-based networks.

The article hits the beginning of the network, the issues with its carriage. most notably with Directv, and a decision that seemed to be a smart one at the start of the network but turned out to be a devastating blow to its success.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Adrian Broner: Why boxing needs to let him go and keep him around

   At one time, it would have been fashionable to poke fun at Adrien Broner for several things.

For one, Broner won titles in four divisions, yet the best fighter that he defeated for a title was Antonio DeMarco.

Broner won several decisions that he didn't deserve (Paulie Malignaggi, Adrian Granados, and his most recent win in February 2021 over Jovanie Santiago), didn't always come into a fight in shape, missed weight on several occasions, and usually offered a profane post-fight interview with claims that he won a fight that he clearly lost.

That's not even counting the out-of-the-ring issues and YouTube videos filled with lighting cigars with one hundred dollar bills with constant problems that made you wince with every new piece of news.

For all of the titles and all the hype from PBC (including from HBO before there was a PBC), Broner was a good boxer, not a great one, and more often than not was more sizzle than steak.

Only one of those title wins was the type of performance (the tenth-round knockout of Antonio DeMarco) that dazzled you, and Broner might have proven more in his defeats to Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter than in any wins.

Broner showed heart in taking a punishing pounding against Maidana, and well behind on the cards against Porter, Broner hung in there and knocked Porter down in the final round.

Broner's chin and guts cannot be questioned but his speed and power always were overrated a bit and his preparation and dedication to the sport were more often than not very much in question.

In the last few years, Broner has been trotted out every year or two to fight a big name (2015 Porter, 2017 Mikey Garcia, and 2019 Manny Pacquiao) , and would say all the right things about being in the best shape of his life and dedicated to the sport), and then wouldn't throw enough punches and be handily handed a decision defeat.

And then there was the February 2021 decision win to Jovanie Santiago that most thought he lost and after a borderline gift, Broner spent the post-fight cursing, talking about his sex life, and talking about everything but why he looked slow and fortunate to win.

Fast forward to the present and yet another Broner comeback against another disappointing once thought to be future star in Omar Figueroa in a Showtime main event.

Broner-Figueroa looked like one of those fights with two faded names pitted against each other and hope that the winner looked good enough to be fed to a younger fighter in need of a former champion and major name on their record.

Today, Broner dropped out of the fight citing "mental health" issues, and forced PBC to lift former IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets from the undercard to face Figueroa, who now will face a better fighter (at this stage) and yet a lesser name.

Broner has pulled this stunt too many times and in the ring, he's just not worth the troubles that follow along with him.

PBC, Showtime, whomever, should decide that they have had enough of Broner in the ring and not book him any further because they cannot depend on him to show up or act like a professional when he does appear.

Enough is enough.

And yet, I feel for Adrien Broner.

Mental Health may be a recent addition to sports vernacular and only now is starting to receive the attention that it deserves in the sports world but its easy to chuckle at fighters such as Broner and Ryan Garcia that seem to be using the term as an excuse for not being at their best or not reaching their contractual obligations when their past shows several setbacks.

Broner has made many mistakes away from boxing that screams mental health issues and it's not difficult to see that he needs help and likely money despite making millions in boxing.

Someone in the game could try to help Broner, perhaps starting him as an assistant trainer, or an English commentator on international broadcasts, or something in the boxing media.

Broner needs something to keep him busy and out of trouble and with his background with PBC and Showtime, there has to be something that someone can try to do to keep him busy, out of the ring but yet involved enough with what he knows best- on the condition that he receives regular treatment for help with his mental well-being.

Oftentimes, these attempts can backfire or be ignored by the person that someone is trying to help but PBC or Showtime could at least try and hope that they can keep him out of the ring and well.

And if that doesn't work, maybe it's time for the promotion that has tolerated this behavior and his issues for so long to cut him loose and minimize their losses.

"The Problem" has his problems, it would be good for him and the sport for him to keep those out of the ring from now on.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Overhand Right

   The overhand right returns after a long absence as we opine on a few recent news from the world of boxing.

I don't usually give too much credit to the WBA but when it's due...

The worst of the four sanctioning bodies recently refused requests from long-reigning champions to delay mandatory bouts against contenders who have been more than patient in waiting for their turn.

WBA featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz hasn't fought at that weight in over three and a half years or defended against a mandatory challenge in four and a half, and despite his promise to fight "regular" champion Leigh Wood to dispose of another WBA regular title, Santa Cruz asked for an exemption to fight newly crowned WBC champion Rey Vargas.

Normally, I'd be all in favor of a unification fight but this clearly was another dodge by Santa Cruz and his promoters, who also promote Vargas and just as importantly do not promote Wood, a Matchroom fighter, in order to keep things in the PBC house.

Considering Santa Cruz's blatant disinterest in the division, it's pretty easy to see what would happen if the WBA would grant the exemption and Santa Cruz would defeat Vargas- rather than fight Wood, Santa Cruz would likely keep his newly won WBC title and vacate the WBA belt.

The WBA's refusal and order for a purse bid for a Santa Cruz-Wood fight was the right thing to do and it forced PBC and Matchroom to work together to get a deal completed.

The camps have come to terms and although the network and date are yet to be decided, the floated date is November 12th or 19th, which is very interesting because those are the two dates that have been rumored as the target for an Errol Spence-Terence Crawford showdown and it seems that Santa Cruz vs Wood could be the co-feature on PPV.

That would be a welcome change to have an important and exciting fight on a PPV card as the secondary fight to a great main event- Good for PBC for placing it there if that is the plan!

The WBA also refused a waiver for their light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol to skip top contender Gilberto Ramirez in favor of another in-house fighter, in this case, Matchroom and Joshua Buatsi as Ramirez is signed with Golden Boy Productions.

While Buatsi is a deserving contender, Ramirez is even more so with a 168-pound title on his resume and wins in two WBA eliminators to secure the top contender spot.

Plus Bivol hasn't made a mandatory defense since a win over Sullivan Barrera in 2018, so he's far overdue for a mandated fight- especially one against the undefeated Ramirez which should be a good matchup between two undefeated fighters with championship backgrounds.

In both cases, the champions might have received their hall passes had they had a better background in being active against their best contenders.

I'm not against either Santa Cruz-Vargas or Bivol-Buatsi, neither is a bad fight at all but the mandated fights are even better with two deserving and patient challengers- Good for the WBA for making these happen.

As for that Errol Spence-Terence Crawford fight, it is rumored to be close to happening and it would likely take place in November in Las Vegas,

The long-anticipated fight between unbeaten welterweight champions had been held up for years by the promotional issues between PBC (Spence) and Crawford's then-promoter Top Rank but since Crawford's agreement with Top Rank ended with his last fight, a win over Shawn Porter, the fight is closer to being signed.

While the winner is likely to vacate the titles and move to 154 pounds, the problems in making Spence-Crawford may return like a bad case of food poisoning with two undefeated young stars that are likely to each collect one of the titles that are vacated in Jaron "Boots" Ennis and Vergil Ortiz.

Ennis is loosely affiliated with PBC and has a commitment to Showtime while Ortiz is promoted by Golden Boy and their broadcaster is DAZN, so I could easily see a few years move by before those two meet in the ring.

Hopefully, we won't have to suffer through another interminable wait before we do.

Josh Taylor has already vacated two of his four unified junior welterweight titles and it seems that he will shortly drop his third.

Taylor has dropped the WBA title rather than fight their undistinguished top contender Alberto Puello and the WBC belt instead of defending against the very deserving Jose Zepeda and soon will drop the IBF championship rather than defend against Jeremiah Ponce.

Ponce has won two stay-busy fights since stepping into the IBF's top contender spot with an impressive tenth-round knockout of favored Lewis Ritson in June 2021 in Ritson's hometown in England but while I like Ponce as a fighter and think he is deserving on ability, in the talent-packed division I'm not sure Ponce's wins are deserving of being in the top ten let alone a mandatory challenger position.

Taylor is keeping the WBO title in order to fight a rematch of his controversial win against Jack Catterall.

The answer to this mess could have been as simple as the three organizations giving Catterall credit for the fight that he deserved to win and installing him as the top contender in all three (along with the WBO) group's ratings and mandating the rematch everyone wants to see but that would take intelligence and cooperation- both traits that are seldom used in boxing.

I'm usually not thrilled with some of the cards that PBC and Fox have placed on PPV rather than on a free platform with the Keith Thurman-Mario Barrios and Luis Ortiz-Charles Martin shows this year alone coming to mind.

While I'm not sure of the price of the event or the need for it to be on PPV at all, the PBC card on Sunday, September 4th is a pretty nice slate.

The main event between former heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz and former title challenger Luis Ortiz could be a boom or bust bout as it could be an exciting slugfest or a clinch-filled bore but it still is an intriguing fight and should the winner do so with a conclusive knockout, it's not out of the question that they could be in position to challenge for a title again.

And the undercard is interesting as well with Isaac Cruz's comeback from his close loss to Gervonta Davis against rugged veteran Eduardo Ramirez in a lightweight eliminator, former champion Abner Mares returning from a multi-year layoff against former title challenger Miguel Flores, and talented prospect Jose Valenzuela battling former WBA junior lightweight champion Jezreel Corrales.

Maybe it should not be a PPV card but credit to PBC for putting together a strong event from the top to bottom.

Boxing Challenge: Lopez returns with Campa KO

     Former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez returned to the ring for the first time since his surprising split decision defeat to George Kambosos as a junior welterweight and knocked out Pedro Campa in the seventh round.

Lopez fended off the perpetually aggressive Campa with aplomb throughout the match, winning every round and nearly closing the left eye of the rugged Mexican, who was fighting in the United States for only the second time.

Lopez knocked Campa down in the seventh with a right jab and overwhelmed Campa along the ropes with a series of right hands to force the referee to step in and end the evening.

I thought Lopez looked good, not great, and for all of his talents- Lopez will have to prove how much the Kambosos loss and various issues took away from him against a better caliber of fighter than Pedro Campa to know for sure.

Lopez invited Golden Boy Promotional head, Oscar De La Hoya, to the fight for a potential Ryan Garcia fight that should it be able to be put together would be a big fight, albeit not nearly as large as it would have been at this time last year.

Given Garcia's history of not being able to make fights and dropping out of fights that have been made, I'd be reluctant to say that I feel strongly that a Garcia-Lopez fight will be able to be signed soon but it would be an interesting fight with Lopez the better-rounded fighter while Garcia is the stronger puncher and with a larger frame that I think is a little better suited to the junior welterweight division.

Top Rank announced during the post-fight interview that Lopez will return to the ring in December on ESPN on Heisman night and while Garcia is an unlikely opponent, Top Rank possesses several contenders in the division that could be a challenge on the next leg of Lopez's comeback.

If I had to pick one of those, I'll guess on Arnold Barboza as a possible foe.

Barboza attended the fight, has called out Lopez in the past, and has fought on the network several times, so would give Lopez a recognizable name as an opponent.

I'd really like that fight and while I think I'd give Lopez a small advantage in a Barboza battle, it's a good enough fight that I wouldn't make Lopez a large favorite.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 143 Pts (2)

Ramon Malpica; 121 Pts (2)

Vince Samano: 116 Pts (1) 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Boxing Challenge

    I haven't been as active this past week due to my vacation, so I hope to use the next few days to catch up on things and get back to a regular routine.

We start with a one-bout boxing challenge Saturday as things are light compared to a loaded next Saturday.

ESPN will showcase the return of former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez for the first time since his title loss to George Kambosos late last year.

Lopez's surprising split decision defeat and title loss to Kambosos is easier to understand after the fight when it was discovered that Lopez suffered from Pneumomediastinum during the fight, a medical issue that could have caused severe damage to Lopez during the battle and perhaps even death under certain circumstances.

All things considered, the performance and even defeat of Lopez look far better in hindsight than it did immediately after the loss to Kambosos.

Lopez makes his return at 140 pounds and enters a junior welterweight division that is packed with champions, future champions, and contenders that could result in several top-notch affairs that Lopez could participate in.

Josh Taylor is still the champion, even after vacating two of his titles( WBA and WBC), and soon could be allowing his IBF title to go away from himself as well, former champions Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis are in the picture, Ryan Garcia claims he will not return to the lightweight division, Jack Catterall will be receiving a rematch vs Josh Taylor after most people believe he defeated Taylor, and that doesn't cover talented contenders such as Jose Zepeda, Subriel Matias, Arnold Barboza, Gary Antuanne Russell and Jeremiah Ponce in a packed division,

With many of those fighters, including Taylor, fighting with Top Rank (Lopez's promoter), Lopez could have a lucrative future with easy fights to make, if he can get by Saturday's fight against Pedro Campa.

Campa has only one defeat in his career but only has fought outside Mexico once and has never fought anyone near the caliber of Lopez.

Teofimo Lopez seems to have everything in place for a spectacular ring return and set himself up for big fights in 2023- all he has to do is take care of business on Saturday night.

Boxing Challenge

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Teofimo Lopez vs Pedro Campa

Ramon Malpica: Lopez KO 5
TRS: Lopez KO 3
Vince Samano: Lopez Unanimous Decision

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Ortiz stops McKinson

     Undefeated welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz returned to the ring from a one-year absence to bully his way through a tough but outclassed Michael McKinson with a ninth-round stoppage in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ortiz hadn't reached the ninth round in his previous wins and he barely made it this time as a body shot sent McKinson to the mat with seconds remaining in the eighth round, which was just enough to allow McKinson to survive the round.

McKinson injured his leg on the knockdown and showed plenty of guts even attempting to continue but the first time Ortiz attacked, McKinson hit the floor again and his corner waved the towel to signal the end of the fight.

The fight played out as expected as the light-hitting McKinson didn't have nearly enough pop in his punches to keep Ortiz away from him and wasn't quick enough to outbox the stronger fighter.

My scorecard had Ortiz far ahead at the end of eight rounds at 79-72.

Give McKinson credit for effort but he was over his head and seems a better fit at the European level than among those of the world-class ilk.

As for Ortiz, he is now rated first in both the WBA and WBO but will be waiting for a while in the WBA as Eimantas Stanonis is ahead of him in their line and that's even before a potential Errol Spence-Terence Crawford unification that would slow things down further.

Should Spence-Crawford fall through, Ortiz could be a good consolation prize for Crawford and while Crawford would be a deserving favorite, Ortiz would be far from outgunned in his first title attempt.

If a title attempt isn't occurring right away, Ortiz would be best served to keep active but I'm not sure what opponent would be available for him.

Perhaps another attempt could be made for rugged veteran David Avanesyan to fight Ortiz or maybe Conor Benn could be convinced to give Ortiz a try, should his catchweight fight fall through against Chris Eubank Jr.

However, the most likely and easiest to make would be an in-house fight against Alexis Rocha, who will give Ortiz a good try but like Michael McKinson, isn't quite in the same league as Vergil Ortiz.

The co-feature saw an upset as Blair Cobbs won a unanimous decision over former WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker after scoring three knockdowns in the first two rounds.

Hooker had a recent passing of a close friend in his personal life and it showed early as Hooker looked unprepared and unmotivated early with Cobbs scoring three knockdowns and Hooker barely making it through the second round.

Cobbs rebounded well from his first loss, a knockout defeat to Alexis Rocha but while Hooker deserves credit for hanging in there and even winning a few rounds after his terrible start, Cobbs was never seriously threatened.

I had Cobbs a 97-90 winner, same as two of the three judges with the other tabbing Cobbs a 96-91 victor.

Hooker may have some excuses for his out-of-the-ring distractions (Hooker also missed weight and had to pay Cobbs a set sum of money for the fight to take place) but he looked very slow and most of his punches were wild and winged punches.

Hooker's next fight could tell the final tale on whether or not he is a shot fighter- it's one thing to lose to Jose Ramirez or Vergil Ortiz, it's another to lose to Blair Cobbs.

Earlier in the day from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Michael Conlan easily won his comeback fight from his final round defeat to Leigh Wood with an easy unanimous decision win over shopworn former three-time title challenge Miguel Marriaga.

Conlan boxed, Marriaga walked around, and although Conlan scored knockdowns in the seventh, eighth, and ninth rounds, none of the knockdowns saw Marriaga hurt, and all of them could have been scored pushes or slips.

Marriaga suddenly burst to life in the final round and even wobbled Conlan a bit but it was the only round that he won and it might make Conlan wonder if he is truly over the loss to Wood.

My score was the same as two judges at 99-88, the other scoring 99-89.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 141 Pts (4)

Ramon Malpica: 119 Pts (4)

Vince Samano: 115 Pts  (4)

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Boxing Challenge

     The boxing weekend is again a bit lighter than usual but there are some crucial matchups with one including the return of a talented young welterweight that only needs increased opposition to prove how good he can be.

Vergil Ortiz returns to the ring in the first time in nearly a year and faces an underwhelming opponent in undefeated Briton Michael McKinson from Fort Worth, Texas on DAZN.

The two were scheduled to fight in March but Ortiz dropped out due to a serious condition (Rhabdomyolysis) and McKinson decisioned late replacement, Alex Martin.

Ortiz has knocked out each of his eighteen opponents. After his most recent victims (former WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker and contender Egid Kavaliauskas), McKinson seems to be a cut below Ortiz's competition of late.

While McKinson's undefeated, he hasn't even fought the best European welterweights. although he does have a win over then-undefeated prospect Chris Kongo and in his twenty-two wins, McKinson only has two knockouts, so it's hard for me to see how McKinson keeps the power punching Ortiz off him for twelve rounds to win a decision.

This fight only plays out one of two ways- either McKinson moves all night and maybe survives to the final bell or he tries to hold off Ortiz and is stopped in the early to middle rounds/

The co-feature will see Maurice Hooker returning for the first time since his loss to Vergil Ortiz in March of 2021 against flashy Blair Cobbs, who suffered his initial defeat last time to Alexis Rocha.

Hooker has lost just twice and both by knockout, however, both were to top-notch fighters in Jose Ramirez and Ortiz.

Alexis Rocha is a nice fighter but he's not to the level of either Ramirez or Ortiz and he stopped Cobbs conclusively in eight rounds, so Hooker should be the clear favorite in this one.

Hooker has the height and reach advantage and seems to be the bigger puncher.

Cobbs has made some interesting fights in his career but I think he is a level below Hooker.

In the other challenge fight, Michael Conlan fights for the first time since his final round knockout loss in what might be the fight of the year to date against Leigh Wood.

Conlan led on all three scorecards of a great fight but couldn't hold off Wood, who landed a right hand that knocked him through the ropes outside the ring, and was out cold before he hit the floor.

Conlan's return from Belfast, Northern Ireland will be streamed on ESPN plus against veteran Miguel Marriaga, who has lost in three title challenges and has lost two of his last three in lopsided fashion.

Marriaga seems to be the perfect comeback opponent for Conlan- a decent name that appears to be a fading fighter isn't going to hurt Conlan and could allow him to gain some confidence after such demoralizing defeat.

Boxing Challenge

Welterweights. 12 Rds 
Vergil Ortiz vs Michael McKinson
Ramon Malpica & Vince Samano: Ortiz KO 6
TRS: Ortiz KO 9

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Maurice Hooker vs Blair Cobbs
R.L: Hooker KO 4
TRS: Hooker KO 6
V.S: Cobbs Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 12 Rds
Michael Conlan vs Miguel Marriaga
R.L: Conlan Unanimous Decision
TRS: Conlan KO 9
V.S: Marriaga Split Decision 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

    The tribute page never stops growing and we are back to honor a few recent persons of note that have left us.

Goodbye to William White at the age of 56.

The former Ohio State Buckeye defensive back spent eleven seasons in the NFL for three teams after being named captain in his senior season of 1987.

White started a Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons in the 1998 season and finished his career with twenty interceptions.

White's son Brendon played four years for Ohio State and was the defensive MVP in the 2019 Rose Bowl win over Washington.

Goodbye to Charles Johnson at the age of 50.

Selected by Pittsburgh in the first round in the 1994 draft, from Colorado, Johnson spent the first five of his nine-year career with the Steelers and seemed to be about to enter elite status in his final season in Pittsburgh, where he caught 65 passes, seven touchdowns (both career highs), finished with over 800 receiving yards and would then sign the largest receiver contract of the following free agency period with the Eagles.

Johnson's numbers in two seasons with the Eagles were disappointing for the expenditure that Philadelphia invested in him. He would play one season each with New England and Buffalo, catching only seventeen passes over that time.

Goodbye to Dwight Smith Sr. at the age of 58.

Smith Sr. the father of former Baltimore and Toronto outfielder Dwight Jr, finished second in the 1989 National League Rookie of the Year voting, finishing second to teammate Jerome Walton for the award after hitting .324 for the NL East champions.

Smith never received that type of playing time again and spent the remainder of his career as a platoon outfielder and pinch-hitter for the Cubs and three other teams, winning a World Series as part of the 1995 Atlanta Braves.

Smith finished his career with a final average of .275 when he retired in 1997.

Goodbye to Lars Tate at the age of 56.

A second-round draft pick by Tampa Bay in 1988, Tate led Georgia in rushing as both a junior and senior before the 1988 draft and would lead the Buccaneers in rushing in both of his seasons with Tampa Bay.

Tate would play in three games for Chicago in 1990, carrying the ball three times for five yards in his final NFL action.

Tate's son Donavam was the third overall pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft by San Diego but never made the major leagues with the Padres. 

Monday, August 1, 2022

DeShaun Watson suspended for six games

  The news finally came down today and the Cleveland Browns gamble on DeShaun Watson will have to wait a little longer to see what the Browns traded for as arbitrator Sue L. Robinson suspended Watson for the first six games of the 2022 season.

Robinson's recommendation isn't final as the league can file an appeal of the suspension within three days in which commissioner Roger Goodell could impose a harsher sentence along the lines of the league's asked for suspension of one year and a fine of multiple million dollars.

Roger Goodell is tucked into a tough corner- retain the suspension and catch the wrath of female fans for the long term.

Overturn and lengthen the Watson suspension and the NFLPA will have a reason to question their agreement to use an arbitrator in these matters.

After all, it does seem to be a waste of time to go through a process to avoid Roger Goodell as the judge and jury, if Goodell can simply override the opinion of the agreed-to neutral arbitrator.

I'm not going to offer an opinion on the correct length of the suspension or even compare it to other cases that Roger Goodell has ruled on in the past but putting my status as a Browns fan aside for a minute, I think the suspension should stay as-is.

I realize that is self-serving but I'll fall back on this-What good does it do to have an independent neutral arbitrator, if you establish that Roger Goodell can still brush their decision aside?

I think I'd say that even if the suspension would not have been Browns-friendly because it just doesn't make sense to have an unbiased party decide and it can then go back to Roger Goodell for his ruling.

The NFLPA would likely file suit should Goodell increase the suspension and there will definitely be long-term ramifications as when the next labor agreement expires at the end of the 2030 season.

I know that's eight years away but that doesn't mean that the next negotiations wouldn't start with one foot in a hole over this as it's more likely than not that DeShaun Watson is still playing in the league at that time.

I'm not sure that we have heard the end of this topic yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The question is who is holding the lantern?