Saturday, December 31, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The final boxing challenge of the year takes place in Tokyo with a junior bantamweight unification battle between WBA champion Joshua Franco and WBO titleholder Kazuto Ioka.

Franco was recently elevated to full WBA champion from a minor titleholder when then champion and current WBC boss Juan Francisco Estrada declined to face Franco in a WBA-mandated clash.

Franco hasn't fought since August 2021 when he won a unanimous decision in the third of his three fights vs Andrew Moloney, while Ioka has fought three times in that time span, with his last fight a decision win over Donnie Nietes, avenging a loss to Nietes in 2018.

Ioka is the smaller fighter and gives away height and reach to Franco but has the hometown advantage and the activity edge as well, so this could go either way.

Boxing Challenge

Unification WBA and WBO Junior Bantamweight Titles. 12 Rds 
Joshua Franco vs Kazuto Ioka

Ramon Malpica: Ioka KO 3
TRS: Ioka Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Franco Unanimous Decision

Friday, December 30, 2022


Due to last week's eye injury and the resulting lack of blog posts, there was no PPM, and lots of bowl games weren't selected.

I include what I would have selected in the NFL if I had the ability to do so.

Last Week: 1-1 
Overall: 143-89


Peach Bowl 
Georgia over Ohio State 31-21

Fiesta Bowl
Michigan over TCU 24-14

Commanders over Browns 24-17
Eagles over Saints 28-14
Chargers over Rams 31-17

Games of the Week
Bengals over Bills 34-31
Patriots over Dolphins 21-13

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas everyone!

Due to an eye injury, I am not available online very often for a few days.

I will explain more when it passed.

Hope everyone enjoys their holiday!

Browns slip against Saints,lose 17-10

    The Cleveland Browns allowed two touchdowns in the third quarter and didn't score a point in the second half as the Browns threw away a would-be victory in their final home game in an icebox-like stadium to the New Orleans Saints 17-10.

Nick Chubb rushed for 92 yards to lead the offense and Amari Cooper caught six passes for seventy-two yards to lead the receivers.

Cleveland drops to 6-9 on the season and will finish the year with two road games in Washington and Pittsburgh.

Brownie Bits

1)  Maybe the ground wasn't covered with snow but the weather was certainly a factor (six degrees and a windchill of fifteen below at kickoff) with the temperature and wind chill.

The game was the third coldest ever played in Cleveland and you would think that the home team would have an advantage over a team that plays in a dome in the Deep South.

2) However, you would be wrong as once the Saints figured out in the second quarter that using running quarterback Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara to pound the football at the Browns run defense was the best way to get back into the game.

After the Saints committed to the running game, they outscored Cleveland 17-0 for the remainder of the game.

3) And there are the weekly Kevin Stefanski play-calling questions.

Early in the fourth quarter after two Nick Chubb runs, the Browns have a third and two on their own thirty-nine.

Considering the conditions and having Nick Chubb on your team, one would think that at least one running play would be in order.

Instead, DeShaun Watson throws two incomplete passes.

Too smart for his own good could be the epitaph on the Kevin Stefanski tenure in Cleveland.

4) The vaunted Cleveland pass rush never got to Andy Dalton and while Dalton threw only fifteen passes, I only remember one time that Myles Garrett (or anyone else) came close to dumping Dalton to the ground.

5) DeShaun Watson threw thirty-one passes (Over twice as many as the Saints tossed) on a day that should have favored what the Browns offensive identity is supposed to be.

No matter the performance of Watson, that's on Kevin Stefanski.

6) Watson didn't dazzle but in this weather very few could do so.

Watson's one interception wasn't a great pass but David Bell couldn't haul it in as it bounced off Bell and into the hands of a nemesis of Browns past- safety Daniel Sorensen, who returned the ball thirty-six yards to the Cleveland fifteen and gave the Saints a short field for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.

7) Watson also didn't receive help from his pass catchers on the final drive when second and third down throws to Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku were both on the money with both receivers failing to bring the ball in for game-tying scores.

Watson was then sacked on the fourth down attempt to end the game.

8) Watson also threw an excellent pass to Amari Cooper in the end zone in the second quarter but Cooper dropped the ball when just as the ball arrived, Cooper slipped on the slick turf and was unable to grab the throw.

It's understandable to have these things happen under the playing conditions but receivers are paid to catch the football.

9) The Browns did make a move earlier this week by signing veteran right tackle Jack Conklin to a three-year contract extension.

The signing of Conklin locks three of the five starters on the offensive line (Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio) into long-term contracts with a looming decision in the off-season for the team to choose whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option of left tackle Jedrick Wills.

10) The Browns were officially eliminated from the playoffs with the defeat.

This took longer than expected as due to an eye injury, I am only able to read/write in short time bursts.

That is also why there was not a PPM this week. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

 Another time to pay our respects to some recent passings of note.

Goodbye to Paul Silas at the age of 79.

Silas, a rebounding and defensive standout for five teams, won three championships in his playing career (two with Boston, one with Seattle) and would be a head coach for four different teams (San Diego, Charlotte/New Orleans, the returning Charlotte Bobcats, and Cleveland).

Silas was a second-round draft pick from Creighton to the then-St.Louis Hawks in 1964.

Silas made the All-Defensive team five teams and made the All-Star team twice as one of the toughest players of his time, finishing his career averaging a near-double double of nine points and nine rebounds per game for his career.

Silas made the playoffs four times as a coach but never moved past the conference semi-finals and was also the first head coach of LeBron James with Cleveland.

Goodbye to Mills Lane at the age of 85.

Best remembered for his catchphrase "Let's Get It ON!" following his center-ring instructions before fights that he officiated, Lane was often the referee in the most significant world championship fights from 1971-1998, officiating over one hundred title bouts.

Lane was more than the best referee in the game as he was an amateur boxing star and lost in the semi-finals at welterweight in the 1960 U.S. Olympic boxing trials.

Lane won ten fights in a row after losing his pro debut as a welterweight before retiring and moving into officiating with his career earning induction into the boxing hall of fame in 2013.

Lane hosted a syndicated television show ("Judge Mills Lane")  that used his legal background as a district attorney and a district judge for three seasons and was the claymation referee for the MTV series "Celebrity Deathmatch" for the four seasons of its run.

Goodbye to Curt Simmons at the age of 93.

A three-time All-Star, Simmons was a part of the group of young players "The Whiz Kids" that surprisingly won the 1950 National League pennant and just as surprisingly never won another championship as a unit.

Simmons was the final surviving player from the 1950 championship Phillies with Simmons finishing 17-8 that season.

Simmons won fourteen games or more five times for Philadelphia in the 1950s. Still, after the Phils released him during the 1960 season, Simmons revitalized his career with the St.Louis Cardinals, winning 43 games from 1962-64, and a career-high eighteen games for the 1964 World Champion Cardinals.

Goodbye to Louis Orr at the age of 64.

A star player at Syracuse in their final seasons before joining the Big East, Orr would play eight years in the NBA, six of those with the New York Knicks, averaging 9.7 points per game for his career.

Orr would later become the head coach at Siena, Bowling Green, and Seton Hall, taking the Pirates to the NCAA tournament twice in his five-season term.

Goodbye to Steve Smoger at the age of 72.

The Hall of Fame referee officiated over two hundred world championship matches and is noted as the most traveled referee in boxing history, although I'm not sure that's officially the case.

Based in Atlantic City, Smoger served as an attorney and judge in his non-boxing life and was one of my favorite referees to watch as he was firm but fair and he didn't attempt to make himself the center of attention as many referees.

He'll be missed.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Martin outclasses Rivera

     The Showtime main event from Las Vegas expected to see two undefeated young lightweights duel in their first major test and it was hard to predict which would emerge victorious.

Instead, the Errol Spence protege' Frank Martin dominated Michel Rivera, knocked him down in the seventh round, and showed that while Martin is a talented boxer, he can punch a bit as well.

Martin won easily by scores of 120-107, 118-109, and 117-110 officially with my scorecard in the range of the officials at 119-108.

Martin's win came in a WBA eliminator, so he should move up in the ratings and with his talent, Martin should be in the center of the fallout when Devin Haney eventually moves to junior welterweight and vacates all four titles.

Frank Martin is going to be a tough out for anyone in the lightweight division and I'm anxious to see him when he makes the next step of the ladder of contention but PBC isn't exactly lightweight-heavy currently.

Other than Gervonta Davis and I can tell you that I have a better chance of winning the Boston Marathon than Gervonta Davis does of facing Frank Martin unless he is forced and Issac Cruz, there are no other threats to Martin on the PBC roster, so I'm hoping that he doesn't stagnate against average opponents over the next year or two.

In the co-feature, undefeated Vladimir Shishkin defeated former IBF super middleweight champion Jose Uzcategui by unanimous decision in an IBF eliminator that will earn Shishkin another eliminator berth in his next fight.

Uzcategui never threatened Shishkin, who outboxed and outpunched the former champion, who has never resembled the one-time "fighter no one wanted to face" after his upset defeat to Caleb Plant in 2019.

Shishkin is a solid all-around fighter that does nothing outstanding but everything well and could pick up a world title at some time in his career, provided that an elite champion doesn't hold the title at the time of his challenge.

The Showtime broadcast mentioned Shishkin as a possibility for minor titleholder David Morrell and I would really like that fight.

It would test both fighters against the best opponent of their career and the winner could make an argument as the number two contender in the division behind the winner of the January David Benavidez-Caleb Plant matchup for unified champion Canelo Alvarez.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 213 Pts (4)
Ramon Malpica: 180 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 165 Pts (0) 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Browns bully by Ravens 13-3

  The Cleveland Browns are mostly playing for pride and for positions, next season and their opponent the Baltimore Ravens are involved in a fight to the finish for the division title entering the Saturday game in Cleveland.

And even though Baltimore was missing Lamar Jackson, the Browns defense still stepped in allowing only three points and the offense was just good enough to get by as Cleveland scored a mild upset over the Ravens by a score of 13-3.

Nick Chubb rushed for 99 yards and DeShaun Watson threw the game's only touchdown to Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Cleveland improved to 6-8 on the season and will host New Orleans next Saturday on Christmas Eve in their final home game of the campaign.

Brownie Bits

1) This is a little different than usual because I missed the entire first quarter due to the length of the Colts' historic loss to the Vikings in overtime.

The Browns game was the middle of a three-game Saturday, all on the NFL Network which forced fans that didn't live in Cleveland or Baltimore ( Washington is considered our local city) to miss the start of the game.

2) A major key in the win was the sudden arrival of Baltimore's potential Hall of Fame kicker Justin Tucker appearing human for a change as Tucker missed one field goal and had another blocked.

Tucker's miss from forty-eight yards was the final play of the first half and his second-half attempt was blocked by Jordan Elliott.

Baltimore gains such a large advantage every week in the kicking game with Tucker that it is a surprise and can be a bit demoralizing to the Ravens when Tucker isn't his usual standout self.

3) The snow that would later blanket the Cleveland area began during this game and fell harder in the second half and entered into play for the Browns kicking game as well.

Cade York was drafted to change the Cleveland kicking woes since Phil Dawson's departure and to narrow the above-mentioned gap between Justin Tucker and the previous Browns kickers.

York missed two of four field goals in this game, one of them an awful shank, and while you can use weather as a reason or excuse for the misses, York was drafted to deal with the weather that inevitably will come in late-season games in Cleveland. (Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh as well).

4) Baltimore was without Lamar Jackson in this game and Tyler Hundley under center didn't have the same zip.

Hundley finished with 138 yards and completed seventeen of thirty passes, which is many more than Baltimore would have liked to have seen him throw.

5) Baltimore received a big day from former Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, who ripped the Browns run defense for 125 yards on only thirteen carries.

Add to Dobbins's total, fifty-five more from Gus Edwards on just seven rushes, and Baltimore's two backs ran for 180 yards on twenty attempts for an average of nine yards a rush.

Andrew Berry may not believe in the value of defensive tackle when he is shopping for personnel but he better grasp the concept in the off-season because if he doesn't, the problem of stopping the run will continue.

6) The Browns defense did manage to bend and not break and even though the two Raven field goal misses hurt Baltimore, forcing them to play from behind and not pound the ball through the run game.

The Browns ended a Baltimore drive with a fourth-down stop and stopped them on the first drive of the game on fourth down.

I thought that was a huge stand as it established that Baltimore wasn't going to out-physical the Cleveland defense and the Browns would fight back.

7) Perhaps the biggest play of the game would occur early in the second half as Baltimore took the kickoff and marched to the Cleveland fifteen.

Tyler Huntley's pass to DeShaun Jackson is taken away from Jackson by Denzel Ward to kill the drive.

If Baltimore punches the ball for six points, the game completely changes as Baltimore would have taken the lead at 10-6 and may have been able to run the football against the Cleveland run defense more often in the half.

8) And then, DeShaun Watson moves the Browns ninety-one yards in twelve plays for the only touchdown that either team would score on the afternoon, ending with a four-yard pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones for the touchdown.

9) With a 13-3 lead to protect, the Browns then force a fumble on the next Baltimore possession, block a Justin Tucker field goal try, and on the final Baltimore try, sack Tyler Huntley twice, both of those sacks by Myles Garrett.

10) For the second straight season, the Browns defense started the season in terrible fashion and finished the season strong after most hopes for the postseason had evaporated.

The question is this- Which is the true Browns defense and have they saved defensive coordinator Joe Woods's job for the second straight year?

As of now, I'd say no but should the Browns dominate each of the final three foes (New Orleans at home, Washington, and Pittsburgh on the road) there could be a chance that Joe Woods could point to the injuries and lack of depth at linebacker combined with Andrew Berry's lack of attention to the defensive tackles to argue that he was handed a short deck.

11) Nick Chubb rushed for 99 yards on the day as the offensive standout and just missed becoming the first back this season to rush for one hundred yards against the Ravens stout defense.

12) I think Kevin Stefanski is doing the right thing with DeShaun Watson in keeping the offense very basic and not throwing too much too soon at the quarterback.

Allow him to use these games to find his sea legs and then open it up next season.

The Browns didn't spend the draft capital that they sent to Houston for Watson to use him as an advanced Jeff Garcia.

I may add more thoughts if I have time to rewatch the game today.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Boxing Challenge

       The boxing year is almost through with this Saturday's Showtime card as the final event of the year with the exception of the New Year's Eve title unification at junior bantamweight title from Japan and the main event is an interesting and somewhat rare bout that you don't see nearly as often as you used to.

It's an eliminator at lightweight for the WBA but the meeting between two undefeated prospects on the verge of becoming championship caliber between Michel Rivera and Frank Martin means perhaps even more than a mere eliminator- it could mean the next generation's next divisional star in the next year or so.

Michel Rivera appears to be the bigger puncher against Frank Martin, who is a smooth boxer that is managed by the three-title welterweight champion Errol Spence.

A southpaw, Martin enters this fight with two very impressive wins over two former fringe contenders, winning a dominant decision over Jackson Marinez and a fourth-round KO of Romero Duno while Rivera has won three decisions in a row since his spectacular eighth-round knockout of Jon Fernandez on Showtime in 2021.

I could see either fighter winning but I lean toward Martin, who seems a little more versatile and might have a bit too much slickness for Rivera.

The co-feature will pit former IBF super middleweight champion Jose Uzcategui against undefeated Vladimir Shishkin in an IBF eliminator.

Uzcategui was once the fighter in the division that no one wanted to face before dropping his title to Caleb Plant by decision in 2019.

Since then, Uzcategui has lost a decision to journeyman Lionel Thompson, has popped for PEDs that ruined a planned fight against David Benavidez, and has three wins over fighters with records of 20-28, 9-4, and 21-19, so those three years since losing his title haven't been good ones for the former champion.

The undefeated Shishkin has struggled to find fights, having fought only thirteen times in his six years as a professional.

Shishkin does hold a win over Sena Agbeko, who is a solid fighter, and a win over former fringe contender DeAndre Ware as his top victories.

If Uzcategui has anything left after a rough few years, this would be the biggest test of Shishkin's career but I'm not sure that is the case and I think Shishkin outboxes Uzcategui in what could be a dull affair.

Boxing Challenge

Lightweights. 12 Rds 
Frank Martin vs Michel Rivera
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Martin Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Rivera Unanimous Decision

Super Middleweights. 12 Rds
Jose Uzcategui vs Vladimir Shishkin
R.L and V.S: Uzcategui Unanimous Decision
TRS: Shishkin Unanimous Decision

Friday, December 16, 2022


The Bowl Season begins and the pro season keeps churning toward the playoffs, playoffs without the Cleveland Browns.

Last Week: 5-0 
Overall: 142-88

Bowl Season

Bahamas Bowl
UAB over Miami Ohio 37-21

Duluth Bowl
UTSA over Troy 45-42

Fenway Bowl
Cincinnati over Louisville 27-21

Las Vegas Bowl
Oregon State over Florida 30-20

Jimmy Kimmel Bowl
Washington State over Fresno State 40-35

Lending Tree Bowl
Southern Mississippi over Rice 28-17

New Mexico Bowl
SMU over BYU 41-36

Frisco Bowl
Boise State over North Texas 27-21

Myrtle Beach Bowl
Marshall over Connecticut 38-24

Potato Bowl
San Jose State over Eastern Michigan 21-14

Boca Raton Bowl
Liberty over Toledo 37-31

New Orleans Bowl
South Alabama over Western Kentucky 42-37

Armed Forces Bowl
Baylor over Air Force 31-28

Ravens over Browns 20-14
Chargers over Titans 27-17
Falcons over Saints 24-21

Games of the Week
Bills over Dolphins 34-28
Lions over Jets 24-21


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Inoue Unifies 118 pound Titles

  Naoya Inoue felt very little retribution from the punches of Paul Butler and gradually wore down the Englishman with punishing bodywork before polishing the final obstacle to unification in the bantamweight division off in the eleventh round in Tokyo.

Butler's offense disappeared after the first few rounds and without the desire to move forward against the bombs of Inoue, the only question became could Butler survive the entire twelve-round distance?

Inoue attempted to make the fight entertaining as Butler retreated including imitating the famous Roy Jones "chicken" stance with both hands behind his back.

Just as it seemed that Butler would possibly last through the twelve rounds, Inoue stepped up his body attack and drove Butler to his knees in a corner.

The referee ended the fight but Butler wasn't threatening to beat the count, so the fight was going to end even if Butler had been given a chance to rise.

The Inoue victory was not only the first in the four-title era to unify the bantamweight division, but the division also was never unified in the three-title generation, and the first fully unified champion at 118  pounds since the WBC stripped Enrique Pinder in 1973.

Inoue will almost definitely vacate his titles and move to junior featherweight but I'm not sure what big fights await him.

Stephen Fulton holds the WBC and WBO titles but plans a move up to featherweight for a Brandon Figueroa rematch and even if not, Fulton fights for PBC which means unless Inoue fought Fulton on Showtime, that fight wouldn't happen.

MJ Akhmadaliev holds the WBA and IBF titles and last I heard, he was affiliated with Matchroom, which makes an Inoue possible as the two companies have worked together in the past but in this case, Akhmadaliev would likely have to fight Inoue on an ESPN platform and would be unlikely to go to Japan to face "The Monster".

While fans would love to see Inoue against either, I'm not sure the money (Fulton) or motivation (either) would be enough to make a match.

The most likely outcome would be that Fulton would vacate his two titles after a Figueroa fight and Inoue would be immediately installed as an entrant in a WBO vacant title fight as a WBO champion that gave up his title.

In the WBO, the top two contenders are both with PBC (Ra'eese Aleem and Luis Nery) and I doubt either would face Inoue for the reason answered above.

The third contender and most likely for Inoue is former IBF junior bantamweight and WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete, who has won two straight since losing his title to John Riel Casimero in 2019.

Tete's chin isn't the best although he may last a few rounds with his height and reach advantage, I'd think that Inoue would likely score an early and spectacular knockout.

I'm hoping for a big 2023 for Naoya Inoue but I have a feeling that we will still remain wanting more than boxing fans receive.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 209 Pts (2)
Ramon Malpica: 178 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 165 Pts (2)

Monday, December 12, 2022

Boxing Challenge

Early in the morning from Tokyo, there will be a unified four-title champion in the bantamweight division for the first time ever as prohibitive favorite Naoya Inoue defends his WBA, WBC, and IBF championship against WBO champion Paul Butler in what can only be considered an anti-climax to Inoue's achievement in unifying the championship.

Inoue added his third title (WBC) when he rolled through the only fighter given a slim chance of defeating him in Nonito Donaire in two rounds in June and has announced that after this fight, he will vacate the titles to move to junior featherweight.

Butler won the vacant WBO title (and the right for a career-high payday to "do the job, "ahem" unify the titles) with a unanimous decision over Jonas Sultan in April.

Butler had several attempts against John Riel Casimero for that title fall through for various reasons before the WBO finally stripped Casimero of the title.

Casimero had a unification bout scheduled against Inoue previously before the fight fell through due to the Covid-19 pandemic and while Casimero may have had only a marginally larger chance to defeat Inoue than Butler, an Inoue-Casimero fight would have been explosive for as long as it lasted.

Butler did hold the IBF title in 2014 with a split decision over countryman Stuart Hall before vacating that title to move down to the junior bantamweight division, losing in eight rounds to champion Zolani Tete and his top opponent since that loss was losing almost every round to Emmanuel Rodriguez in a challenge for the IBF title in 2018.
So is Butler lucky to cash in his title for a career-high purse? 
Or is this the case for a European-level boxer that is in a total mismatch that could see Butler hurt?
Likely, it's both.

Boxing Challenge
Ramon Malpica: Inoue KO 6
TRS: Inoue KO 2
Vince Samano: Inoue KO 7

Boxing Challenge: Lopez dethrones Warrington

   Featherweight Luis Alberto Lopez marched into IBF champion Josh Warrington's home of Leeds, England, and built a lead over the first eight rounds that appeared to be enough to cruise to victory.

And then Warrington began to march through Lopez and won the final four rounds and appeared to have placed the result in doubt- especially with the fight in the champion's hometown.

However, it was Lopez that  squeezed out a majority decision to win the title and return it with him to Mexico and his promoter Top Rank,

I had Lopez surviving the late Warrington push by the same two scores as the judges at 115-113 with the other judges scoring it even at 114.

Lopez against the IBF's third-ranked contender Mauricio Lara would be a guaranteed fight of the year but Lara is behind Kiko Martinez and with Lopez with Top Rank and Lara promoted by Matchroom (Warrington-Lopez saw the two promotions work together due to the mandatory) that fight might not happen until it is mandated.

Lopez-Martinez could be easy to make with both promoted by Matchroom though and the IBF could order Lara-Martinez as an eliminator for the next mandatory.

Whatever it takes to make Lopez-Lara as that pairing seems to be a guaranteed fight of the year candidate.

Don't be surprised if Lopez makes an in-house defense with another European road trip against Top Rank-promoted Michael Conlan in Ireland in a fight that may make him the most immediate money.

As for the former champion, Warrington is now 1-2-1 in his last four fights and the best match that he could have might be against minor champion Leigh Wood, should the WBA finally clean up their featherweight mess with Leo Santa Cruz and Wood.

In Dublin, the aforementioned Michael Conlan blew out former bantamweight title challenger Karim Guerfi in one round of a featherweight event.

It was Conlan's second win since his March loss to Leigh Wood and as I mentioned above, I would not be surprised to Conlan challenge Luis Alberto Lopez sometime next year.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 207 Pts (2) 
Ramon Malpica: 176 Pts (1)
Vince Samano:163 Pts (1) 

Bengals beat Browns 23-10

   The Cleveland Browns defense allowed another big play touchdown in a season filled with big play touchdowns and it was the backbreaker in a 23-10 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals by the Ohio River.

Joe Burrow's third-quarter touchdown pass of forty-five yards to Trenton Irwin moved the Bengals lead to 20-3 and despite a few Browns drives that proved fruitless and their lone touchdown, Cleveland never really challenged Cincinnati enough to truly push them in crunch time.

DeShaun Watson threw for 276 yards and hit David Njoku in the third quarter on a thirteen-yard touchdown pass for the only Cleveland end zone trip with one interception.

Donovan Peoples-Jones caught eight passes for one hundred fourteen yards to lead the Browns' offense.

The loss drops Cleveland to 5-8 and essentially takes them out of any remote playoff contention.

Cleveland will host Baltimore next week on Saturday afternoon to start the final month of the season.

Brownie Bits

1) Kevin Stefanski is catching a lot of heat after this game for various reasons but much of it comes from his mantra of "Accountability" after his team committed nine penalties for ninety-eight yards with several of those being key mistakes.

2) Stefanski drones on every week with these few phrases but as his third year winds down, his version of the Cleveland Browns is slowly degrading into the same undisciplined group with bonehead mistakes galore, and nothing is ever done about it, although Stefanski did show visible emotion toward Tony Fields after Fields roughed Bengals punter Drue Christman on a play that would have seen the Browns start a possession close to their own forty.

3) It was that possession more than any other that showed just how the dumb mistakes have damaged this team.

After stopping the Bengals on their own seventeen and forcing the mentioned punt, Tony Fields then roughed Christman giving the Bengals a first down.

Two plays later, Jadeveon Clowney sacks Joe Burrow but rookie defensive tackle Isaiah Thomas is called for hands to the face, giving the Bengals another first down.

4) The immediate play sees Joe Burrow throw to JaMarr Chase incomplete but Denzel Ward grabs Chase and is called for pass interference, giving Cincinnati thirty-three more yards.

Four plays later Burrow hits Chase for a touchdown and the Bengals had a lead that they would never lose.- All due to three dumb penalties.

5) And then there was the coverage breakdown that ended with Trenton Irwin's touchdown that slammed the door on any real hopes of winning.

I've tried to be patient with Grant Delpit but again it was Delpit biting on Joe Burrow's fake to charge and stop what he thinks is a run.

Instead, Irwin is wide open down the seam for another big chunk touchdown allowed.

6) DeShaun Watson was better this week than he was in Houston and you can see some things in him that Cleveland quarterbacks have lacked since the Eisenhower administration.

You can run him, he moves from the rush well, and he showed accuracy improvement in his second week (26 of 42) as he played from behind all of the game.

It's a work in progress that may not pay dividends until next season but there are more reasons to be encouraged after this game than the win over the Texans.

7) Watson's throw to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the fourth quarter with Bengals rushers hanging all over him showed how special he can be by making that throw.

However, on the next play, Watson overthrew Peoples-Jones for his only interception as a waiting Jessie Bates hauled in the gift interception.

8) I sometimes roll my eyes at Kevin Stefanski's tendency to go for it so often on fourth down and in the first quarter, the Browns had driven to Cincinnati's twenty-five for a fourth and one.

As they did last week in Houston, Stefanski removed DeShaun Watson for Jacoby Brissett for an expected sneak where the larger Brissett has proven to be quite proficient this season.

Instead, Brissett threw to the end zone where Donovan Peoples-Jones had beaten his man but Brissett overthrew him.

Normally, I'd be unhappy with that call but I'm not, and here's why.

9) Years ago when the Browns would use Josh Cribbs, who was known best as a returner but was a quarterback at Kent State, at quarterback when the "Wildcat" formation was the rage in the league, I would tell anyone that would listen that the Browns had to give Cribbs a chance to throw the ball once in a while- if only to gain the respect of defenses by the threat of a pass.

Instead, Cribbs always ran the ball and after a while, defenses didn't even give the pass a chance when Cribbs entered the game and defenses rendered the Wildcat obsolete, without the threat of a pass, it was just a single wing.

By having Brissett throw the football in this situation, the defenses will have to play the Browns honestly the next time they try this and they are likely to succeed.

10) Cincinnatti held Nick Chubb to only thirty-four yards on fourteen carries and with Amari Cooper hampered by injury entering the game (Cooper was held to two catches of the seven passes thrown to him), the Bengals kept the Browns' two biggest weapons from making a difference in the game.

11) The Browns didn't give Denzel Ward very much support from their safeties in Ward's duel with JaMarr Chase and paid the price as Chase finished with ten catches for one hundred nineteen yards.

The lack of support didn't help Ward but for the money that Ward is being paid, it's not unreasonable to expect better coverage for the Browns' top cover man against the Bengals' best receiver.

If this is a matter of JaMarr Chase matching up very well against Denzel Ward, Cleveland will have plenty to worry about twice a year for the next few seasons.

12) The pass rush did its job in the loss with Myles Garrett collecting two sacks (one of those of JaMarr Chase on an option pass) and Jadeveon Clowney had one taken off the board with a penalty.

It was what the Browns have hoped to have seen more often from their talented defensive ends during their two seasons together.

13) And now that the playoff hopes are unofficially sunk, the Browns can color this season a disappointing one, and unless they can receive a final month that shows progress from DeShaun Watson, I'm struggling to come up with anything positive from this season that can give me good feelings entering the off-season. 

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Boxing Challenge: Crawford KO's Avanesyan, Lopez survives Martin

     Terence Crawford showed that thirteen months away from the ring didn't slow his speed or drain his power as he landed a left uppercut and a booming right hand to knock out David Avanesyan in the sixth round to retain his WBO welterweight title in Omaha, Nebraska.

Avanesyan won the first two rounds on my scorecard and like Egid Kavaliauskas a few years ago against Crawford, had some success with backing Crawford up and making him give ground.

However, the class and skills of the champion began to show as the fight moved forward.

Avanesyan had occasional bursts of offense, it was clear that Crawford was setting the challenger up for the finish, and in the sixth round, the trap snapped shut.

While Avanesyan isn't an elite welterweight, he is a solid back end of the top ten contender and it was impressive to see Crawford finish him so quickly and smoothly.

Now as usual the talk returns of Crawford against Errol Spence as it always does after either unbeaten champion dispatches their latest challenger and the only fight that really matters in the welterweight division ( although I'd be okay with Jaron Ennis against either!) continues in boxing limbo.

Supposedly, both parties are optimistic but both were this year and it didn't happen, so with Errol Spence now scheduled to face Keith "One Time Every Three Years" Thurman, it could be summer at the earliest for the superfight to happen.

Oh, Boxing...

ESPN and Top Rank pushed another Heisman evening appearance from New York for former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, who had been spectacular in his previous Heisman night fights on the network, including his second-round KO of Richard Commey to win his first world title.

Lopez doesn't resemble that punishing fighter anymore let alone the one that stunned the world with his upset of Vasyl Lomachenko and he looked very average against Sandor Martin, who took the fight on three weeks' notice to replace Jose Pedraza and on my scorecard did enough to upset Lopez as he did Mikey Garcia last year.

However, despite Martin knocking Lopez down in the second round ( and scoring another knockdown later that was scored a slip), Lopez managed to win a controversial split decision victory that boxing observers are wondering if Lopez's best was left in the ring against Vasyl Lomachenko.

The fight was close (I had Martin ahead 95-94) and I could see Lopez as a winner by the same score but the judges saw Lopez as the winner by tallies of 96-93 and an incredibly terrible 97-92 to override the 95-94 card for Martin.

As in his loss to George Kambosos, who also dropped Lopez, Lopez wades in recklessly against fighters that he expects to overwhelm and gets knocked down by counter right hands that don't hurt him but knock him off-balance and to the floor.

Lopez has been mentioned as a possible opponent for WBO champion Josh Taylor, should he win his rematch with Jack Catterall, or WBC king Regis Prograis but from what I saw against Sandor Martin, I think he would be a deserved underdog against either champion.

As for Martin, this is the second big performance from the Spaniard against a big-name opponent that was expected to overwhelm him, and perhaps it's time to give Martin some credit as a solid contender.

One fighter that did his job to impress was undefeated heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson, who in his first ten-round fight, took out the usually durable Jerry Forrest in only two rounds. 

Forrest did land some counter right hands in the first round but the veteran barely survived the round and Anderson finished him quickly in the second.

A very impressive win for Anderson to stop Forrest, who had finished the distance in recent years against contenders Kubrat Pulev, Michael Hunter, Zhilei Zhang, and Jermaine Franklin, and Anderson is certainly the most promising American heavyweight to come along in years.

I'll be back later with the two fights from Europe in another post.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 205 Pts (5)
Ramon Malpica:175 Pts (5)
Vince Samano: 162 Pts (4)

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Boxing Challenge

   The final big boxing weekend of 2022 starts Saturday with the return of arguably the best fighter in the world as Terence "Bud" Crawford fights for the first time in a year on PPV against David Avanesyan from Crawford's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.

Crawford was hoping to pair his WBO welterweight title against the three others held by Errol Spence in what would have been a superfight but when negotiations failed to work out, Crawford decided to defend against Avanesyan, a solid top ten-fifteen welterweight that is most remembered for his victory over Shane Mosley that ended the career of the Hall of Famer.

Crawford's eleventh-round knockout of Shawn Porter last November was his last ring appearance and should a Spence fight work out for next year, it's a good idea to have some ring work in order to be at his peak.

Over on ESPN in the evening, former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez continues his comeback against Spanish veteran Santor Martin.

Martin will be the second opponent for Lopez since his loss to George Kambosos last year, having knocked out Pedro Campa in seven rounds in August.

Martin is a late replacement for long-time contender Jose Pedraza and is the fighter that surprised Mikey Garcia in what may have been the upset of the year for 2021.

In the co-feature, Top Rank's promising heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson makes his first step towards contender status as Anderson will battle veteran Jerry Forrest in Anderon's first scheduled ten-rounder.

Anderson has knocked out all twelve of his foes and only one (Kingsley Ibeh) has survived past the fourth round.

Forrest lost a close decision to Kubrat Pulev in his last fight and his previous two fights were draws to contenders Michael Hunter and Zhilei Zhang, either of which could have been given to Forrest (especially the Hunter fight) and lost a split decision to Jermaine Franklin, who gave Dillian Whyte fits a few weeks ago.

Forrest has only been stopped once in his career, by Gerald Washington in 2013, so should Anderson take Forrest out, it would be an impressive debut against better competition for the young star.

Earlier in the day, ESPN plus will feature the return of featherweight Michael Conlan, who was leading my pick for fight of the year against Leigh Wood in March before Wood scored a spectacular knockout in the final round driving Conlan outside the ring.

Conlan knocked down veteran Miguel Marriaga three times in his August return but was rocked again in the final round, showing perhaps he hasn't quite gotten past the loss to Wood.

Conlan's opponent, France's Karim Guerfi, is a former bantamweight contender but has been stopped in two of his last four fights.

DAZN is in Leeds, England for the IBF featherweight title tilt as hometown champion Josh Warrington defends against mandatory challenger Luis Alberto Lopez.

Warrington won the IBF title for the second time in his last fight stopping Kiko Martinez although he suffered a broken jaw along the way.

Lopez burst on the scene in 2021 when he busted the career of then-undefeated and hot prospect Gabe Flores and viciously knocked another undefeated prospect in Issac Wood out in seven rounds to earn the mandated title try.

I like Lopez's chances in this one as Mauricio Lara knocked Warrington cold and there are some similarities in styles and power between the two.

Boxing Challenge

WBO Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Terence Crawford vs David Avanesyam
Ramon Malpica: Crawford KO 8
TRS: Crawford KO 11
Vince Samano:  Crawford KO 9

IBF Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Josh Warrington vs Luis Alberto Lopez
R.L: Warrington Unanimous Decision
TRS: Lopez KO 10
V.S: Lopez Split Decision

Jr. Welterweights 12 Rds
Teofimo Lopez vs Sandor Martin
R.L: Lopez KO 4
TRS: Lopez Unanimous Decision
V.S:  Martin Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights. 10 Rds
Jared Anderson vs Jerry Forrest
R.L: Anderson KO 4
TRS: Anderson KO 8
V.S: Anderson KO 6

Featherweights.10 Rds
Michael Conlan vs Karim Guerfi
R.L and TRS: Conlan Unanimous Decision
V.S: Guerfi Unanimous Decision

Friday, December 9, 2022


 Light schedule as the college's prep for the bowl season around the corner and the NFL heading into the run for the postseason.

Last Week: 8-8
Overall: 137-88

Army over Navy 30-19

Bengals over Browns 23-17
Chargers over Dolphins 31-28

Games of the Week
Bills over Jets 32-21
Eagles over Giants 28-17

Things I Think

 I last worked on a Things I Think post a while ago, so I knocked a few thoughts out on a foggy night from the road office.

While I am supportive of college athletes receiving benefits, the craziness that has become the transfer portal is precisely what many were afraid of with the starting of the new rules concerning name, image, and likeness- the transfer portal winding up as the college games version of the NFL's free agent frenzy.

It appears that NIL is ignoring the one rule that was supposed to be intact- NIL was not to use as a recruiting inducement and that's how it is being used.

The only answer I foresee is deciding which is more important to athletes- the NIL money or the ability to transfer immediately and as many times as the player wishes.

Without eliminating one or the other, college football and basketball are in danger of not becoming a renegade culture that only follows the bottom line but one that blatantly flaunts the highest bidder to be true to their school- namely the boosters and organizations that will fill the coffers of their schools to recruit the best and brightest of the players in the transfer portal.

The game has changed from paying unproven high school prospects to paying for proven performers in the portal which is going to give programs and boosters far more bang for their buck.

This is all new to everyone and there are always bumps in any new road but this has to be a solution that is tackled quickly.

The best answer to me is this- Remove unlimited transfers and only allow one transfer with immediate eligibility.

This won't solve the problem completely but it would be a start.

Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has accepted the head coaching position at Tulsa which makes a lot of sense for Wilson as he has Oklahoma connections from his days as a Sooner assistant.

Wilson was doing a good job at Indiana in building the Hoosiers before his departure for treatment of players and there have been no reports of issues with Wilson at Ohio State, so perhaps his second chance will be a successful one with the Golden Hurricane in the AAC.

I wasn't surprised to see Jeff Brohm leave Purdue to return to his alma mater, Louisville as Brohm had hinted through the years that he would be amenable to such an offer but what I am really interested in is where Purdue goes for his replacement.

In the last fifty years, each time that Purdue football has popped up with success it has been with offensive-minded coaches (Jim Young, Joe Tiller, and Brohm)  and it would only make sense to do so again.

The Big 10's new media contract will make even the lowest program more desirable than all but the elite powers from any other conference other than the SEC, so it'll be interesting to see how many dollars are spent on the new head coach.

Three names stand out to me for Purdue, if they are interested.

Wake Forest's Dave Clawson has done an outstanding job and with a midwest background could Purdue interest him enough to return to the heartland?

Another could be former Mississippi State and Florida head coach Dan Mullen.

Mullen may be one of those coaches that thrives more with a program with modest expectations than one with top-level aspirations.

And a real dark horse, although he is not from an offensive background is Jim Leonhard, who recently served as Wisconsin's interim coach.

Purdue could leap in to snare a rival school's legend and create a new rivalry with the Badgers.

I'm writing this, hours after Baker Mayfield's return with the Los Angeles Rams less than a week after being waived by the Carolina Panthers and his leading the Rams to a game-winning ninety-eight-yard drive to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders.

I've been critical of Mayfield for years but last night made me think a bit about what role might be best for him.

I still don't think that a Baker Mayfield-led team can make a championship run but he might be best suited in a position that NFL teams haven't used for years- a fireman.

Fireman used to be the term used for star relief pitchers in the 70s when star relievers would be used at whatever place in the game they were needed and pitch multiple innings rather than the current closer that usually pitches an inning when their team leads.

Perhaps Mayfield could be that for a good team, similar to Don Strock, as the backup that comes off the bench to give a team a spark when its needed?

I think he could be successful if used in that manner as he seems to play better when the expectations and odds are against him, so perhaps that could be an answer to someone getting the best of his abilities.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

Time continues to move on, people leave us every day and we keep trying to pay our respects to those that have recently left us.

Goodbye to Borje Salming at the age of 71.

The hockey Hall of Fame member was the first Swede to be voted into the Hall in 1996 and was named one of the 100 greatest to play the game in 2017.

Salming was the league's first Swedish star when he signed with Toronto before the 1973-74 season and would spend sixteen seasons with the Maple Leafs before finishing his career with one season with the Detroit Red Wings in 1989-90.

Known for his smooth skating, Salming never won a Norris Trophy for the league's best defenseman but finished as the runner-up twice and made the end-of-the-season All-Star first or second team on six occasions.

Salming's number 21 was retired by Toronto and he still holds the franchise record for career assists.

Goodbye to John Hadl at the age of 82.

Hadl won an AFL title in 1963 with the then-San Diego Chargers and was named an AFL All-Star four times before moving to the Rams and Packers in one of the worst trades in football history, that we wrote about recently.

Hadl appeared in three AFL title games with the Chargers and holds an NFL record that will almost certainly never be broken as Hadl is first on the list for tie games for a starting quarterback with nine.

Hadl would also coach the Los Angeles Express for two of the three seasons of the original USFL's existence, leading the Express to the Pacific Division title before losing in the Western Conference championship game to the Arizona Wranglers.

In Jeff Pearlman's recent book on the USFL, "Football for a Buck" Hadl is the subject of a story that involves the Express releasing defensive end Greg Fields and the ensuing fistfight between Hadl and Fields.

Goodbye to Gaylord Perry at the age of  84.

Perry, the long-time master of the spitter, greaser, and any other substance that he would claim would help a baseball, won over three hundred games in his career that spanned eight different teams with his best seasons with the Giants and Indians.

Perry won over twenty games on five occasions with his best season as an Indian in 1972 when Perry finished 24-16 with an ERA of 1.92 winning the first of his two Cy Young awards after being obtained in the off-season from the Giants for lefthander Sam McDowell.

Perry's second Cy Young came after a 21-6 season with San Diego in 1978 at the age of 39 with the first Padres team to finish with a winning record.

Perry wrote a book during his tenure in Cleveland entitled "Me and the Spitter" with all sorts of stories about various ways and items that he could use to move a baseball but "would no longer employ" which was equally about getting batters to think about Perry's routine as much as it was to make a few bucks off the book!

I bet I read that book a hundred times as a kid and remember buying it from another kid one day in school for my lunch money of the day.

One day without lunch was money well spent!

Goodbye to Brad William Henke at the age of 56.

Cherie brought me the news of the passing of Brad William Henke.

Henke was a fourth-round draftee of the New York Giants in 1989 from Arizona but was released in camp before being claimed by the Broncos where he would play his only season.

Henke moved into acting with many roles in film and television with his most famous regular role as a security guard on the Netflix series "Orange is the new Black".

I've never watched that series, so to me his most famous role was "Coover Bennett", one of the Bennett Clan in the FX classic "Justified" in most of the show's second and arguably best season.

Henke also appeared in one episode of "The Office" during its final season as "Frank" a warehouse worker who vandalizes Pam's artwork and she responded by vandalizing his truck, which introduces "Brian" from behind the camera in one of the show's worst ideas.


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Browns take down Texans 27-14

 The long-anticipated Cleveland Browns debut of DeShaun Watson was supposed to cure some offensive ills but it was two defensive touchdowns by Denzel Ward and Tony Fields combined with a Donovan Peoples-Jones punt return for a score that accounted for Cleveland's end zone visits in a 27-14 win over the hapless Houston Texans in Houston.

Watson would finish with only twelve completions from twenty-two throws for 131 yards and threw an interception into the Houston red one to end a scoring threat.

Nick Chubb rushed for eighty yards on seventeen carries and Kareem Hunt added fifty-six yards on nine carries to lead the offense.

Cleveland improved to 5-7 with the victory and will travel down I-71 to visit the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1) The big question was how DeShaun Watson would be treated in his return to Houston and while I'm sure there was some noise made and plenty of comments, they didn't really come across on the television broadcast.

This could be due to the Texans seeming to have poisoned a once-robust fan base into just ambivalence so it will be interesting to see how Watson is treated next week by the Cincinnati crowd.

2) I didn't expect DeShaun Watson to be sharp and he wasn't.

On the interception in the end zone to Jalen Pitre, he had a receiver open (Donovan Peoples-Jones) and instead attempted to squeeze it into Amari Cooper.

Those things will hopefully develop as Watson plays more often, even if the payoff doesn't arrive until next season.

3) On a few plays though, you could see what Watson could bring to the Browns as he scrambled around the pocket, tucked the ball down, and ran for a first down on an eleven-yard dash.

There are some things that Watson will need to work on but the mobility is still there intact.

4) The Browns entered this game with three interceptions in the previous eleven games but picked two passes in this win, including John Johnson's grab on the first offensive play of the game.

Johnson's interception didn't result in any points but it did set the stage for the Browns defense to make big plays throughout the game.

5) It was a big game for second-year linebacker Tony Fields, who forced a fumble that led to a touchdown, recovered a fumble, and grabbed a ball that was deflected by Chase Winovich, running sixteen yards for a touchdown.

Fields saw some action last week against Tampa Bay and could see even more playing time between his play against Houston and a second-half injury to Sione Takitaki that looked somewhat serious.

6) The other touchdown from the defense was really strange as Fields hit a sneaking Kyle Allen at the Houston two, knocking the ball loose, and seemed like no one saw the football except Denzel Ward, who strolled into the end zone untouched early in the third quarter.

7) Cleveland's other touchdown came from Donovan Peoples-Jones, who returned a punt seventy-six yards for the Browns first score late in the first half.

Peoples-Jones's return was the first punt return touchdown dating back to 2015 and Travis Benjamin.

For a team with so many great returners in their history, the Browns have had major issues filling the void since Josh Cribbs other than Travis Benjamin for a short time.

8) I was disappointed when Nick Chubb was tackled for a safety in the first half as Houston's defensive line pushed the Browns offensive line back and Chubb never came close to getting out of the end zone.

Remember that while it is only needed to break the plane of the goal line to score a touchdown, to avoid a safety the ball needs to completely reside outside of the end zone at the time of the tackle.

10) Other than that, the Browns had no problems running the ball against the Texans and Kareem Hunt looked as good as he has been all season on his carries.

11) Houston is the worst team in the league for a reason and the Browns couldn't score an offensive touchdown against them.

DeShaun Watson will need some time to really sharpen his skills and while the offense has been waiting for him as the savior, he isn't likely to be that for this season anyway.

The Browns missed David Njoku and Watson will naturally improve when his tight end is part of the weapons that he has on the field.

I'd still argue that the Browns need to upgrade those targets in the offseason to give Watson the best chance to succeed but that can wait until another time.

DeShaun Watson will face a good team in the Bengals next week and though they have their defensive issues as well, Cincinnati is much better than Houston, and the Browns have had the Bengals number in the last few seasons, so the Bengals will be much more motivated than one would suspect for a game against a 5-7 team.

We won't receive all the answers next week but we will likely get a few and they will go a long way toward the Browns playing for something in the final month of the season or playing out the string as they get a feeling for DeShaun Watson and what he does best in their offense.  

Boxing Challenge: Estrada slips by Gonzalez

   Juan Francisco Estrada sped to a huge lead on the scorecards but Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez took command in the middle rounds to enter the final round with the decision in the balance with the vacant WBC junior bantamweight title to the victor.

But it was Estrada that won the final round and earned him the majority decision, the title, and perhaps most important of all - the two-to-one lead in the series of fights between the two.

In a fight much like their second, Estrada boxed well when able to keep the fight in the center of the ring but as the bout progressed, it was Gonzalez marching forward and putting Estrada on the defensive to win those rounds.

Estrada's win was by scores of 114-114, 115-113 (same as my score), and 116-112 with the latter seeming a bit wide for my taste.

After the fight, both seemed anxious for a fourth encounter, which I'd be fine with although I'd prefer Estrada against the winner of the New Year's Eve unification match between WBA champion Joshua Franco (a title Estrada vacated to fight Gonzalez a third time) and WBO boss Kazuto Ioka.

Many leaned slightly toward Gonzalez in picking this fight as he had looked so impressive in defeating WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez while Estrada looked average in a decision win over Argi Cortes but much like his countryman Juan Manuel Marquez in his fights vs Manny Pacquiao, Estrada is always able to raise his game against Gonzalez to another level and twice it has been good enough to win a razor close decision.

In the co-feature, Julio Cesar Martinez was very fortunate to receive a majority decision win over late replacement Samuel Carmona of Spain.

Carmona stepped in for an injured McWilliams Arroyo and built a lead over the first half of the fight with a cute boxing style that frustrated Martinez and left him following Carmona listlessly around the ring for the first seven or eight rounds.

Carmona appeared to have injured his right hand in the middle rounds and Martinez did win some rounds on aggression but Carmona seemed to put the fight away in the late rounds although the judges didn't agree with Martinez winning by scores of 114-114, 116-112 and a pathetic 117-111.

I scored Carmona a winner at 116-112.

It was the second listless performance in a row for Martinez, who lost to Roman Gonzalez at junior bantamweight earlier this year, and his struggles in this one make me wonder if he would cope well at all in a possible unification fight as rumored against IBF champion Sunny Edwards, who is an excellent boxer and could dance around Martinez all fight long.

As for Carmona, a former Olympian, he fought well and should be heard from more in the flyweight division in the future.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:200 Pts (2)
Ramon Malpica: 170 Pts(1)
Vince Samano:158 Pts (0)

Boxing Challenge: Fury Batters Chisora

 Tyson Fury got what he needed from his WBC heavyweight title defense against Derek Chisora- several rounds of work and a willing opponent to showcase his abilities as Fury won every round against his friend and defeated him via an easy tenth-round knockout when the referee finally ended the brave but limited Chisora's night.

Fury never knocked Chisora down but delivered a steady beating throughout the fight with Chisora offering only a sturdy chin, some pantomime, and an occasional right hand against the much larger Fury.

After the fight, Fury expressed his wish for a title unification fight with WBA, IBF, and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk sometime next year and with Usyk's management owning connections with Top Rank (Fury's co-promoter) with Vasyl Lomachenko among others, I would think this could be an easy fight to sign.

The co-feature saw Daniel DuBois retain his minor title with a third-round knockout of former cruiserweight contender Kevin Lerena that saw five knockdowns in the three rounds of action.

DuBois may have earned the victory but he continued to show that a chin that has been questioned since he was stopped in ten rounds by Joe Joyce will be questioned even more after being dropped three times in the opening round by Lerena.

DuBois appeared ready to concede victory but he somehow survived the round and when Lerena surprisingly didn't pursue his advantage in the second round, DuBois had enough resolve to pull himself together enough to drop Lerena down in the third and battered him along the ropes late in the round to score a second knockdown with the ropes holding Lerena up.

The bell rang to end the round but the referee chose to stop the fight rather than give Lerena the same chance that DuBois had received following the end of the first round.

The downside of fighting a British native in Great Britain I suppose and Lerena may have done this to himself considering his lack of aggression in round two but I thought it was a quick stoppage although DuBois was most likely going to finish the fight in the fourth round anyway.

DuBois may very well be his generation's version of the very popular British heavyweight Frank Bruno.

Like Bruno, DuBois has lots of skills, boxing ability, and can punch with power but his chin will lose him fights that he could be winning and no opponent will ever be out of chances in a fight with DuBois, as his chin could fail him at any time.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:198 Pts (4)
Ramon Malpica; 169 Pts (3)
Vince Samano: 158 Pts (0) 

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing weekend will have the best of its lower weight classes and a defense of the championship of its largest but there is no doubt which of the two has excited boxing fans the most.

On DAZN from Glendale, Arizona, Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez will hook it up for the third time in a series that has more than a title at stake, it's about which man will earn the bragging rights as the best of a generation and perhaps even the best ever of their division.

Gonzalez won a close unanimous decision in their first fight in November 2012 with Estrada returning the favor in March 2021 with a split decision win that many believe Gonzalez deserved.

The fight will also be for the WBC junior bantamweight title that Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez recently vacated, although Estrada still holds the WBC's silly franchise championship and Estrada gave up his WBA title to face Rodriguez rather than defend against their minor beltholder Joshua Franco, who was then promoted to full WBA kingpin.

The third fight has been postponed previously with each fighter canceling due to Covid and while Gonzalez did look far more impressive in his win over WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez than Estrada did in his victory over Argi Cortes but as always in rivalries, the best is brought out of each other when facing their rival.

The co-feature will have Julio Cesar Martinez defending his WBC flyweight title against a late replacement in undefeated Samuel Carmona.

A former Olympian, Carmona steps in for McWilliams Arroyo, who dropped out from a rematch with Martinez from their November 2021 no-contest.

Martinez is fighting for the first time since his decision loss to Roman Gonzalez in March.

The flashier bout for casual fans is on ESPN Plus from London as Tyson Fury defends his WBC heavyweight title against Derek Chisora.

Fury and Chisora have fought twice in the past with Fury winning by a decision in 2011 and stopping Chisora in ten rounds in 2014 with many slamming Chisora as a title challenger at this stage of his career.

I wouldn't go that far.

Champions have the right to an occasional optional defense and Chisora did win over a solid opponent in Kubrat Pulev in his last fight, so he's qualified for that type of defense.

It was okay for Muhammad Ali to defend against Richard Dunn or Jean-Pierre Coopman because he was fighting four times a year and no one expects four defenses a year against the best in the world in all four fights.

The problem is in today's boxing world when fighters fight once or twice a year and an optional defense against a lesser foe are one of those fights.

This is Fury's second fight of the year and had he fought another time previously, I'm not sure that the reaction to his defense against Chisora would have been as harsh as it has been.

The co-feature will pit Daniel DuBois defending his minor title against Kevin Lerena, in his first test since moving up from cruiserweight, where he was considered to be among the division's top fighters.

DuBois crushed Trevor Bryan in four rounds in June while Lerena decisioned heavyweight trialhorse Mariusz Wach in September.

Boxing Challenge

Vacant WBC Junior Bantamweight Title. 12 Rds
Juan Francisco Estrada vs Roman Gonzalez
Ramon Malpica: Gonzalez Split Decision
TRS: Estrada Split Decision
Vince Samano:

WBC Flyweight Title. 12 Rds
Julio Cesar Martinez vs Samuel Carmona
R.L & TRS: Martinez Unanimous Decision

WBC Heavyweight Title. 12 Rds
Tyson Fury vs Derek Chisora
R.L: Fury Unanimous Decision
TRS: Fury KO 8

Heavyweights 12 Rds
Daniel DuBois vs Kevin Lerena
R.L: DuBois KO 9
TRS: DuBois KO 6

Friday, December 2, 2022


 It's college football's league championship weekend, and as usual, at the PPM, I'll select each league title game.

Last Week: 8-9  
Overall: 129-80


Pac 12 
USC over Utah 30-24

Conference USA
UTSA over North Texas 38-31

Big 12
Kansas State over TCU  41-31

Ohio over Toledo 27-24

Sun Belt
Coastal Carolina over Troy 45-35

Georgia over LSU 27-17

Tulane over Central Florida 24-21

Mountain West
Boise State over Fresno State 31-21

Big 10
Michigan over Purdue 36-21

North Carolina over Clemson 39-36

Browns over Texans 24-10
Buccaneers over Saints 23-14
Chargers over Raiders 34-31

Games of the Week
Chiefs over Bengals 41-34
Vikings over Jets 29-24

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The John Hadl Trade

    Former All-Pro quarterback John Hadl passed away at the age of 82 and I'll have more on the career of Hadl in a future Cleaning out the Inbox but this article is about the 1974 trade of Hadl in the middle of the season from the Rams to the Packers, how the Packers paid so much for the aging thirty-four-year-old veteran, why the notion that the Rams built their powerhouse team in the seventies based off that trade is a little flawed, and how the Rams could have done even better with the acquired picks.

The 1974 Green Bay Packers were a team flailing in mediocrity with a record of 3-5 and after sliding back in 1973 after a 1972 season that saw them win the NFC Central (the only season in the seventies that Minnesota didn't win the division), the Packers were desperate for an answer at quarterback as they were using a tandem of Jerry Tagge and Jack Concannon under center.

The Los Angeles Rams were at the beginning of their dominance of the NFC West division, having dethroned the San Francisco 49ers in 1973 as the kings of the division after the 49ers had won the title for the first three seasons of the 1970s with a talented young team that would win the division for the remainder of the decade.

John Hadl was an AFL star with the San Diego Chargers through 1972 and led the Rams to the playoffs in 1973.

Hadl was named to the Pro Bowl but his struggles in 1974 had seen Hadl benched in favor of James Harris with 1973 second-round draftee Ron Jaworski on the roster and at 34, his future seemed dim, at least with the Rams.

A desperate Dan Devine, who would flee Green Bay at the end of the season for the head coaching position at Notre Dame, decided that Hadl was just what Green Bay needed to turn the tide on Devine's rapidly deteriorating Packer tenure and swapped five picks to the Rams for Hadl.

FIVE picks for a benched thirty-four-year-old passer that had thrown five touchdowns and six interceptions in his six games to that point in 1974!

Green Bay sent their first three picks in the 1975 draft and first two in the 1976 selection meeting to Los Angeles for Hadl, who did win his first three games with the Packers, lifting them to a 6-5 record with three games to go and placing them in the wild card chase.

The winning streak included a win over the division bully Vikings at Metropolitan Stadium, so it wasn't a stretch to think at that point that Hadl was worth the price that Devine paid, even if only for the short term.

The high lasted those three weeks as Green Bay lost their final three games to teams that finished with losing records, scoring only nine points in the final two games with Hadl throwing five interceptions with only a single passing touchdown.

It didn't get any better in 1975 as Hadl started thirteen of the Packers fourteen games, threw just six touchdowns, and was intercepted twenty-one times.
Hadl finished his career with the Oilers as a backup to Dan Pastorini in 1976 and 1977.

As for those picks, the Rams would use them on the following players with the legend of the Rams using these choices to build their NFC dominance.

That's not quite true, although they did well enough with them.

In the 1975 draft, the Rams used the three Packers choices to select defensive tackle, Mike Fanning of Notre Dame, in the first round, cornerback Monte Jackson of  San Diego State in the second, and Washington State center Geoff Reece in the third.

Fanning would play ten seasons in the NFL, eight with the Rams, and was a starter for four of those in Los Angeles.

Jackson was named All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in 1976 and 1977, leading the league in interceptions in 1976 with ten.

Jackson was traded to the Raiders after 1977 during a holdout and wasn't the same player in his five years as a Raiders before returning to the Rams for a final season in 1983.

Reece would play one season for the Rams in 1976 after missing his rookie season and would play one season each for the Colts and Seahawks.

In 1976, the first-round pick acquired from the Packers was sent to Detroit as compensation for the Rams signing of wide receiver Ron Jessie, while they selected Texas A&M cornerback Pat Thomas in the second.

Pat Thomas was the best player the Rams obtained as he was a first or second-team All-Pro selection in 1978 and 1980, reached the Pro Bowl in both seasons, and intercepted twenty-six passes in those seven seasons.

The Rams received three players that would start at various times and used one pick for a veteran wide receiver, so I wouldn't say they bombed out with the selections, but could they have done even better with those draft choices?

Let's see.

The two players that stand out that the Rams could have picked in round one instead of Mike Fanning are borderline Hall of Fame candidate, Louis Wright, who Denver took at seventeen, and future All-Pro tight end Russ Francis at sixteen to New England.

Had the Rams taken Wright with that pick, they could have moved in another direction at twenty-eight (then a round-two pick) rather than Jackson, also a cornerback.

Since they had their corner, they could have looked at the defensive line, since they didn't draft Mike Fanning, and two players that had better careers than Fanning were available in the second round.

Defensive Tackle Louie Kelcher would play nine years with the Chargers and one with the 49ers, making three Pro Bowls and winning the defensive player of the year in 1978.

Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean would win the defensive player of the year in 1980, made four Pro Bowls and finished with ninety-two sacks in an eleven-year career.

If the Rams had looked at the best available player in the third round, there were several that had solid NFL careers selected after sixty-one.

Saints defensive end Elois Grooms finished his career with fifty-three sacks, Cowboys linebacker Bob Breunig was selected to three Pro Bowls in a ten-year career with Dallas, defensive back Mike Fuller would spend eight years with the Chargers and Bengals, linebacker Bo Harris would play eight seasons with the Bengals, and after Kansas City acquired Steelers third-round tight end, Walter White, White would catch 163 passes with sixteen touchdowns in five seasons with the Chiefs.

Figuring that the Rams would have signed Ron Jessie and owed compensation to Detroit in any case, I'll skip the potential returns for the 1976 first-rounder.

While Pat Thomas was an excellent cornerback at a high level, Thomas only played seven seasons and the Rams could have selected Randy Cross, who made three Pro Bowls and started for thirteen years for the rival 49ers, 1976 rookie of the year Sammie White, a wide receiver that played ten seasons for the Vikings, or third round linebacker Reggie Williams, who would play thirteen years for the Bengals.

Los Angeles did very well in their return for a past his prime quarterback that was unlikely to play for them again unless an injury happened and only one of their picks could be considered a miss.

However, they could have done better and that is even using those picks on players at similar positions.

It's easy to say with hindsight that a team should have taken player A that had an excellent career but the team in question may not have needed a similar player at that time but when teams select players at similar positions in a particular draft, it's more than fair to criticize those decisions.

Was the John Hadl trade an awful one?
For the Packers, definitely.

For the Rams, it was a good trade but while the Rams drafted decently with the Green Bay picks, their selections from the Packers were far from building a powerhouse as is so often stated.