Monday, February 27, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Jack knocks out Makabu

  In an entertaining fight, former super middleweight champion Badou Jack added the WBC cruiserweight title to a career that also saw him win a minor title at light heavyweight with a final-round knockout of champion Illunga Makabu in the top supporting bout to the Jake Paul-Tommy Fury bout in Saudi Arabia.

Jack was ahead entering the final round and had knocked Makubu down (with a nifty almost somersault to boot) in the fourth and eleventh rounds,

Jack stunned Makabu in the final round and with a staggering champion behind on the scorecards, the referee decided to end the day with a deserved stoppage.

The thirty-nine-old Jack hadn't beaten a world-class opponent since his 2017 knockout at light heavyweight over Nathan Cleverly. 

His three fights following the victory saw a draw with Adonis Stevenson and losses to Jean Pascal and Marcus Browne and even though he had won his five contests since against lesser opponents, he didn't look good doing as he barely escaped his last fight winning a split decision over Richard Rivera.

Off those fights, it wasn't unreasonable to wonder how much Jack had left in his career but he was clearly the stronger and faster fighter against the younger (slightly) Makabu, who I thought lost his last bout to Thabiso Mchunu.

The title win was the best performance for Jack since his draw with Adonis Stevenson and against even the best in the division, he would be an interesting underdog against IBF champ Jai Opetaia, WBO king Lawrence Okolie, or Mairis Breidis.

As for Makabu, he looked very slow and although he attempted to fire back, he seems to be a fighter well past his best days.

Boxing Challenge (Includes the Showtime card)

TRS: 29 Pts (3)
Ramon Malpica: 24 Pts (0)
Vince Samano: 19 Pts ( 4)

Devils obtain Timo Meier!

    I'll be the first to admit that the one thing that I enjoy in life that has suffered the most due to the chaos in my work life over the last four months has been the New Jersey Devils.

I do see a decent amount of Cleveland Cavaliers games since I have league pass (IF I can avoid the final score), even if I don't have time to write about them here, boxing is generally easy to find as I can watch on delay if needed, and my latest addition in Newcastle United (very little coverage here because I just don't know enough about soccer/European football to add much of substance other than Howay Lads!") is easy to follow because usually they play once a week and if they do play twice, it's on a delightful weekday afternoon when I am begging for something to watch!

But it's been the Devils that have suffered the most from my lack of time.

It's not that I don't know what's going on, I read every recap and boxscore and see most highlights, it's just been hard to watch games, which is saddening considering how the team has played this season and is about to make the playoffs with a talented young team coming into its own at second in their division (three points behind Carolina) and fourth in the Eastern Conference.

All of that is down for posterity but I am super jacked for the Devils trade for Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks as the trade deadline nears!

Tom Fitzgerald didn't insist on a signed contract extension for Meier (although the team will be pursuing one) which kept the price for Meier down a bit but does increase the risk should Meier decide to test the free agent meat market as Meier is a restricted free agent following the year.

Meier does have a ten million dollar qualifying offer, so assuming the Devils have to, they will do so and at minimum, the Devils will have Meier for a year and a half.

San Jose will pay half of Meier's remaining salary for this season as well.

Meier was easily the best player available on the trade market and could slot in on either of the Devils top two lines, which are pretty interchangeable and aren't true one and two lines as much as one and one A due to chemistry.

Meier scored 31 goals (13 Power Play) and 21 assists (5 Power Play) in fifty-seven games for the Sharks this season after scoring 35 goals last season for San Jose and is a dominant player on the power play.

Meier averages four and a half shots on goal per game and is a winger that makes his linemates better as he can extend possessions and is known as a play driver.

At 27, he is just entering his prime and there is nothing to dislike about his game, contract, or anything else.

In other words, if you have an issue with Timo Meier, I'd have to wonder either how much you know about hockey or you have to have a bias against Meier or the Devils!

The Devils obtained a few pieces other than Meier in the trade in defensemen Scott Harrington ( one goal and six assists in 28 games for the Sharks) and Santeri Hatakka  (two assists in eight AHL games), left-wing Timur Ibragimov (11 goals and 21 assists for ECHL Wichita), goaltender Zach Emond ( three games for ECHL Wichita) and Colorado's fifth-round pick in the 2024 draft).

Harrington has played most of his career with Columbus but only once (2018-19) has played more than thirty-nine games.

Harrington's a decent skating defenseman and you can play him but his level is anywhere between a third-pairing blueliner to a seventh man that is not always active or stashed in the AHL as their veteran defenseman for needed depth that can be used in the event of injury.

I've read a report or two that think Hatakka could eventually see some NHL action although his ceiling is very similar to that of Scott Harrington's as a back-of-the-pack defenseman and it appears that Ibraginov and Emond were toss-ins to keep the Sharks under the organizational limit for contracts.

Harrington will more than likely join the parent club, Hatakka is likely to report to AHL Albany, and who knows where Ibragimov and Emond will wind up.

New Jersey avoided having to give up any of the players that would have been targeted by the Sharks (or any other team looking to trade) as the team retained Dawson Mercer, Alexander Holtz, Luke Hughes, and Simon Nemec, which makes this team a potential force for years to come, especially if Meier can be signed to an extension.

The Sharks' end of the trade includes former first-round defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin,  defenseman Nikita Okhotiuk, wingers Fabian Zetterlund and Andreas Johnsson, New Jersey's 2023 first-rounder (conditional on the pick not being in the top two choices, which is as likely as Green Arrow finishing out of the money in an archery contest), a 2024 second rounder, which can become a first under playoff conditions and Meier's playing time, and a seventh-round choice in 2024.

While you never want to trade first-rounders, those picks are almost certain to be near the bottom of the round, so I'm fine with that.

The biggest potential loss appears to be Shakir Mukhamadullin, who was thought to be a reach when New Jersey selected him with the final of their three 2020 first-rounders but has developed into a strong prospect in his time since in the KHL with Ufa Salavat Yulavev.

Mukhamadullin currently has six goals with nineteen assists in sixty-seven games with a solid plus sixteen plus-minus and he appears to me to be the player in this trade that the Devils might eventually regret losing, although as regarded as Mukhamadullin is, both Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec are graded as even better prospects.

Nikita Okhotyuk was New Jersey's second-rounder in 2021 and while he doesn't look like a potential top-pairing defenseman, he could be a solid second-pairing player eventually.

Okhotyuk scored a goal in ten games for the Devils this season and two goals with four assists in twenty games for AHL Utica.

Fabian Zetterlund has played well in his rookie season with the Devils, scoring six goals and fourteen assists in his rookie season, and is the player that is likely for Sharks fans to see in the teal and black immediately.

At 23, Zetterlund is a strong shooter and I could see him scoring thirty goals a time or two over his career down the road.

Andreas Johnsson once scored twenty goals in a season and was thought of as a steal when the Devils obtained him in 2020.

Johnsson would only score eighteen goals in two seasons with the Devils, and spent this season in Utica, scoring nine goals in twenty-eight games for the Comets.

Johnsson is still only 28, so I wouldn't be surprised if he could contribute in San Jose but considering his recent play, I wouldn't count on it.

It was fun writing about hockey again and I'm fired to watch more games now when I can!

I'm not sure how much coverage I'll have as much as the Cavaliers, I have to have time to both watch the game and write as well but I'll do the best I can!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Matias stops Ponce

 It might not have quite reached fight of the year level but Subriel Matias's stoppage of Jeremias Ponce to win the vacant IBF junior welterweight title was still a very entertaining five rounds with Ponce unable to answer the bell for the start of round six.

Ponce charged early and controlled the first round with a surprising early attack and the two squared off with bunches of punches landed on each other in rounds two-four, as the two set a tremendous pace and had the fight continued at that rate, we could have seen a fight that would be remembered for years.

As usually happens in these types of give-and-take battles, one of the participants eventually wilts and in this case, it was Ponce as he was knocked down hard late in the fifth round, and while he showed tons of grit in getting up and concluding the round, his corner decided to stop the fight before the start of round six.

I scored the fight even after five rounds at 57-57, giving Ponce three of the five rounds with Matias gaining a point for the knockdown and I think Matias would have had an excellent chance at closing the show had the fight continued into the sixth round.

I think both fighters have futures as action fighters but Matias now has 19 knockouts in as many wins and with his hard punching and sometimes wild style, Matias is likely to provide entertaining fights against almost anyone and Matias should see the best of PBC's fighters in the division and even lightweights moving up as the better fighters in the division are affiliated elsewhere. (Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis, Jack Catterall, and Jose Ramirez fight for others).

PBC does have the somewhat lightly-regarded WBA champion Alberto Puello in their stable and pitting Matias and Puello against each other would unify half the division's titles, so that fight would not only make sense, it would provide extra credibility in a talent-rich division.

The co-feature saw comebacking welterweight Jamal James win a unanimous decision over Alberto Palmetta in a fight that never really seemed to catch fire.

James started well and finished well with Palmetta doing his best work in between.

James had not fought for seventeen months and it showed a little but James will have other fights available against fighters of his level.

I scored James a 97-93 winner, a tad closer than the official cards at 98-92 X2 and 99-91.

In the opener, Elvis Rodriguez won a majority decision over Joseph Adorno with knockdowns in the seventh and tenth.

I haven't watched this one as of this writing but the official scores read 94-94, 96-92, and 97-91 for Rodriguez, who could be in the running for a chance at IBF champion Subriel Matias or WBA king Alberto Puello with the win.

Boxing Challenge

 The boxing weekend leads off with a three-fight card from Minneapolis and Showtime and finish on Sunday with a world title fight on the undercard of the Jake Paul circus on pay-per-view.

The main event could be a sleeper for fight of the year consideration as the final of the three junior welterweight titles vacated by Josh Taylor will be filled as two action fighters hook up as Subriel Matias faces Jeremias Ponce for the IBF championship.

Matias has knocked out each of his eighteen opponents and avenged his only defeat in his last appearance with a ninth-round stoppage of Petros Ananyan.

Ponce possesses the best win of the two with a tenth-round knockout of Lewis Ritson in a 2021 eliminator on the road in Newcastle, England.

Both fighters are straight-ahead offensive fighters and the fighter that backs up may be the loser.

The co-feature pits Jamal James and Alberto Palmetta in a welterweight crossroads fight.

James held a minor title before losing it to Razhab Butaev in nine rounds in October 2021 and hasn't fought since while Palmetta, a former Olympian for Argentina. hasn't fought anyone of note and is an unknown factor.

The show-opener pairs two one-time touted prospects that have disappointed on late with junior welterweights Elvis Rodriguez and Joseph Adorno facing off.

Rodriguez was a Top Rank sensation in the bubble until a surprise loss to Kenneth Sims cost him an undefeated record and his contract with Top Rank.

Rodriguez has won both of his fights with PBC since by knockout, so perhaps his performance is on the upswing or maybe he took Sims a bit too lightly but this is a big fight against Joseph Adorno, who slid by Hugo Roldan by a close decision in his last fight.

Adorno lost by decision last year to then-undefeated Michel Rivera for his only loss and has a draw against Jamaine Ortiz, so he has the ability to trouble Rodriguez.

The winner could slide into contention in the talent-heavy junior welterweight division,

Sunday's Jake Paul-Tommy Fury may be a traveling sideshow but the co-feature is important with a world title at stake.

Illunga Makabu defends his WBC cruiserweight title against former super middleweight and minor light heavyweight champion Badou Jack in what could lead to a lucrative future for the winner.

Jack's form has declined in recent years since a 2018 draw to then-WBC light champion Adonis Stevenson as he lost his next two fights (to Marcus Browne and Jean Pascal) and has since won five fights in a row against lesser opponents.

Makabu won a controversial split decision in January 2022 in Warren, Ohio in what of the weirder pay-per-views and locations you'll ever see over Thabiso Mchunu.

The winner could eventually face Canelo Alvarez or even a big payday against Jake Paul should Paul continue whatever this is that he's doing in boxing.

Boxing Challenge

Vacant IBF Junior Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Subriel Matias vs Jeremias Ponce
Ramon Malpica:
TRS: Ponce Split Decision
Vince Samano: Ponce Unanimous Decision

Welterweights 10 Rds
Jamal James vs Alberto Palmetta
TRS: James Unanimous Decision
V.S: James KO 6

Junior Welteweights 10 Rds
Elvis Rodriguez vs Joseph Adorno
TRS and V.S: Rodriguez Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights 12 Rds
Lewis Ritson vs Ohara Davies
TRS: Ritson Split Decision
V.S:  Davies Unanimous Decision

WBC Cruiserweight Title. 12 Rds
Illunga Makabu vs Badou Jack
TRS: Makabu KO 11
V.S: Jack KO 10 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

TRS Boxing Ratings-Part Two

 Part two of the TRS boxing rating will cover the lightweights down through the junior flyweights.

I have to receive two voters pound-for-pound list, so that will wait until they arrive.

Thanks as always to Ramon Malpica, Vince Samano, John Herndon, C.J. Bruney, and our newest voter- Dan Ramirez for taking the time to send their ratings

Please keep in mind that the votes were gathered before last weekend's fights.

Emanuel Navarrete is rated as a featherweight and junior lightweight since he only recently won his title at 130 and had to decide which title he would retain.

Naoya Inoue has vacated all four of his titles at bantamweight and will move to junior featherweight.
For these ratings, Inoue will be considered a bantamweight since those titles have yet to be claimed in vacant title fights.

Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez has vacated his WBC junior bantamweight title and will be fighting for the vacant WBO flyweight title in April.
For this period, Rodriguez will be considered a junior bantamweight, next time he will be listed as a flyweight.

Kazuto Ioka has vacated his WBO junior bantamweight title to fight a rematch against Joshua Franco after their New Year's Eve draw.
Ioka will remain at the weight.

Junto Nakatani has vacated the WBO flyweight title and will be moving to junior bantamweight.

World Champion: Devin Haney
1: Gervonta Davis 28 Pts
2: Vasyl Lomachenko 25 Pts (Down One)
3: Shakur Stevenson 10 Pts
4: Issac Cruz 7 Pts (Up One)
5: Frank Martin 6 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: George Kambosos, William Zepeda, Ryan Garcia, Jeremiah Nakathila, Gustavo Lemos

Junior Lightweights
1: Shavkat Rahkimov IBF Champion 25 Pts (Up One)
2: Oscar Valdez 24 Pts (Down One)
3; Hector Luis Garcia WBA Champion 19 Pts
4: Joe Cordina 12 Pts (Up One)
5: Emmanuel Navarrete WBO Champion 7 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: O'Shaquie Foster WBC Champion, Lamont Roach 

1: Rey Vargas WBC Champion 21 Pts (Up One)
2: Mauricio Lara WBA Champion 16 Pts (Up One)
3: Luis Alberto Lopez IBF Champion 14 Pts (Unranked)
    Emanuel Navarrete (Down Two)
5: Mark Magsayo 7 Pts (Unranked)
    Leigh Wood (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Josh Warrington, Leo Santa Cruz, Brandon Figueroa

Junior Featherweights
1: Stephen Fulton WBC/WBO Champion 30 Pts
2: Murodjon Akhmadaliev WBA/IBF Champion 24 Pts
3: Ra'esse Aleem 15 Pts
4: Luis Nery 13 Pts
5: Azat Hovannisyan 6 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Takuma Inoue

World Champion: Naoya Inoue
1: Nonito Donaire 25 Pts (Up Two)
2: Emanuel Rodriguez 24 Pts (Unranked)
3: Jason Moloney 20 Pts (Up One)
4: Vincent Astrolabio 7 Pts (Unranked)
5: John Riel Casimero (Down Three) 6 Pts
Also Received Votes: Gary Antonio Russell, Kal Yafai, Reymart Gaballo

Junior Bantamweights
1: Juan Francisco Estrada WBC Champion 29 Pts
2: Roman Gonzalez 22 Pts
3: Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez 12 Pts  (Down One)
4: Fernando Martinez IBF Champion 10 Pts
5: Kazuto Ioka 7 Pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes: Joshua Franco WBA Champion, Junto Nakatani

1: Sunny Edwards IBF Champion 30 Pts (Up Four)
2: Julio Cesar Martinez WBC Champion 23 Pts
3: Artem Dalakian WBA Champion 19 Pts
4: David Jimenez 11 Pts (Unranked)
5: Ricardo Sandoval 5 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Angel Ayala

Junior Flyweights 
1: Kenshito Teraji WBA/WBC Champion 30 Pts (Up One)
2: Jonathan Gonzalez WBO Champion 20 Pts (Up One)
3: Hiroto Kyoguchi 19 Pts (Down Two)
4: Hekkie Budler 10 Pts (Up One)
5: Sivenathi Nontshinga IBF Champion (Unranked) 4 Pts

Thursday, February 23, 2023

TRS Boxing Ratings-Part One

 It's time for the first TRS boxing ratings for 2023.

As usual, part one will cover the heavyweights through the junior welterweights.

Thanks as always to Ramon Malpica, Vince Samano, John Herndon, C.J. Bruney, and our newest voter- Dan Ramirez for taking the time to send their ratings

1: Tyson Fury WBC Champion 30 Pts
2: Oleksandr Usyk WBA/IBF/WBO Champion 24 Pts
3: Deontay Wilder 14 Pts
4: Joe Joyce 12 Pts (Up One)
5: Anthony Joshua 9 Pts (Down One)
Also Received Votes: Andy Ruiz.

1: Jai Opietaia IBF Champion 26 Pts
2: Lawrence Okolie WBO Champion 22 Pts
3: Yuniel Dorticos 16 Pts (Up One)
4: Mairis Breidis 15 Pts (Down One)
5: Illunga Makabu WBC Champion 8 Pts
Also Received Votes: Thabiso Mchunu, Andrew Tabiti

Light Heavyweights
1: Artur Beterbiev WBC/IBF/WBO Champion 27 Pts
    Dmitry Bivol WBA Champion (Up One)
3: Anthony Yarde 11 Pts (Unranked)
4: Gilberto Ramirez 10 Pts (Down One)
    Callum Smith 
Also Received Votes: Joshua Buatsi, Joe Smith

Super Middleweights
World Champion: Canelo Alvarez
1: David Benavidez 30 Pts
2: Caleb Plant 23 Pts
3: John Ryder 14 Pts
4: David Morrell 11 Pts
5: Demetrius Andrade 6 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Christian Mbilli, Anthony Dirrell

1: Gennady Golovkin WBA Champion 22 Pts (Up One)
2: Jermall Charlo WBC Champion 20 Pts (Down One) 
3: Janibek Alimkhanuly WBO Champion 16 Pts (Up Two)
4: Jaime Munguia 14 Pts
5: Carlos Adames 8 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Liam Smith, Ryota Murata, Erislandy Lara, Esquiva Falcao,

Junior Middleweights-
World Champion: Jermell Charlo
1: Sebastian Fundora 30 Pts
2: Tim Tsyzu 20 Pts
3: Brian Castano 15 Pts
4: Tony Harrison 12 Pts (Up One)
5: Erickson Lubin 5 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Magomed Kurbanov, Israil Madrimov, Liam Smith

1: Terence Crawford WBO Champion 27 Pts
    Errol Spence  WBA/WBC/IBF Champion (Up One)
3: Jaron Ennis 17 Pts
4: Vergil Ortiz 10 Pts
5: Eimantis Stanonis 4 Pts (Unranked)
Also Received Votes: Yordenis Ugas, Keith Thurman,

Junior Welterweights
1: Josh Taylor WBO Champion 28 Pts
2: Jack Catterall 21 Pts
3: Regis Prograis WBC Champion 20 Pts
4: Jose Ramirez 7 Pts
5: Gary Antuanne Russell 4 Pts
Also Received Votes: Subriel Matias, Alberto Puello WBA Champion, Arnold Barboza, Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Cavaliers buy out Kevin Love, sign Danny Green

    This isn't breaking news but I did want to offer a few thoughts on the Cavaliers deciding to buy out Kevin Love's remaining contract and sign Danny Green for two million dollars for the remainder of the season.

Green was bought out by Houston after the Rockets traded with the Memphis Grizzlies at the trade deadline and was therefore available,

Green played in three games for Memphis earlier this month, scoring nine points in those three appearances.

Green played thirteen minutes for the Cavaliers in their final game before the All-Star break, scoring three points.

The thirty-five-year-old Green played for Philadelphia last season, averaging 5.9 points in sixty-five games but spent most of his career in San Antonio with the Spurs after Cleveland waived him after playing twenty games as a rookie as the Cavaliers second-round draft choice from North Carolina.

At his best, Green could fill the role that NBA people call a "3 and D" player, hit an occasional long-range shot, and play tough defense but Green isn't being added for his playing contributions as much as for giving a team that doesn't have a lot of playoff experience (especially after buying out Kevin Love) a jolt of that "veteran locker room presence" that the Cavaliers will need in a few months.

Kevin Love came to Cleveland in 2014 as the player that was going to be the third star in the Cavaliers sky when LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland, join Kyrie Irving, and demanded that the team acquire Love, rather than keep the top overall pick in the draft at that time in Andrew Wiggins.

I wondered about the trade at the time, mainly because I really liked Wiggins (who started to turn his career around after joining the Warriors), and I did have concerns about how Love would fit into the third-option position after being the man in Minnesota for his entire career.

Love wasn't the player that finished with the double-digit averages in points and rebounds that he did as a Timberwolf, although he did accomplish that twice in Cleveland, but he wasn't asked to be with James and Irving around.

Instead, he shot more from three-point range as the game changed and even when Cleveland signed him to a huge contract after LeBron James decided to become a Laker, Love never returned to the player that so fiercely hit the boards and that was a major factor in why Cleveland wasn't at least average to mediocre rather than terrible for most of the post-James years until 2021-22.

Love had well-publicized bouts with depression and anxiety and was usually the subject of the odd LeBron James passive-aggressive behaviors, which certainly didn't help Love's confidence or his game.

Kevin Love lost his first season with a first-round elbow injury in the series against Boston and Cavaliers fans insist to this day that had Kelly Olynick not clamped an armbar to end Love's season that the Cavaliers would have won that championship as well as the following season's title.

Love also struggled with his post-James term, never embracing the role of star, even though he was being paid as one. and twice since 2018-19, played twenty-five games or less due to various injuries.

Several times, Love had on-court tantrums during games and had other issues in practices towards teammates and coaches, and Love made more than one trade demand or ultimatum during this time too.

His play was often uninspired and he spent many days as nothing more than a huge drag on the salary cap with a big reputation, all of his requests weren't going to change that Love's numbers weren't matching his salary and no one was going to bust their cap for a disgruntled veteran that spent more time griping than rebounding.

Yet, Love had a comeback story waiting to be written as he accepted the role of instant offense veteran off the bench for the 2021-22 Cavaliers and helped a group of younger players win forty-four games as a leader and as the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

Love averaged thirteen points a game for those Cavaliers, and shot thirty-nine percent from three-point range but couldn't sustain that performance this season, suffering a thumb injury that affected his shooting to under forty percent, dropped the points to just eight points a game, and had deteriorated to the point that Love had fallen out of the rotation in order to give his playing time to Dean Wade.

Love was signed by the Miami Heat and the Heat appear headed to the postseason, perhaps even to face the Cavaliers with Miami's frontcourt offering more playing time to Love to prove that he still deserves playing time for a contender.

I couldn't write a Kevin Love post and not mention what he will always be remembered for by Cavalier fans- "The Stop".

Never a standout defensive player or an overly athletic one, Love found himself guarding the smaller and far quicker Stephen Curry at the end of game seven with the Warriors needing to score to tie the contest.

Love shuffled and stuck to Curry without biting on any fakes for ten seconds or so and Love's tenacity didn't allow Curry to set himself or get off a good shot and when Curry missed with LeBron James grabbing the rebound, Golden State's reign was completed, and Cleveland finally had its elusive world championship.

That's what I'll remember most about Kevin Love, that he stepped up and did what he wasn't normally adept at doing at the time that his team needed him most, and on the biggest stage that a basketball player can play on, Kevin Love made his team better.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Action Packed Saturday # 2

  DAZN's Saturday undercards may have been less than impressive but their main events were top-notch and as mentioned earlier, Mauricio Lara's knockout of Leigh Wood placed a high standard for action.

Golden Boy's main event was more than a WBC eliminator in the junior featherweight division to decide the mandatory challenger to the Stephen Fulton-Naoya Inoue fight winner later this year.

Luis Nery's dance of violence with Azat Hovannisyan may have ended with Nery winning by eleventh-round knockout. Still, the previous ten rounds of combat were memorable enough to make even a disinterested viewer gape their mouth open with amazement.

The two scored only one knockdown, Nery's dropping of Hovannisyan near the end of the tenth round led to the fight's end in the following round but the exchange of blows over those rounds was the type of punches that shorten and take the edge off careers.

I had Nery slightly ahead at 96-93, same as two judges with the third giving Nery a 95-94 lead but I could understand a slight Hovannisyan lead after nine rounds before he was knocked down in the tenth.

Nery opened cuts around Hovannisyan's eyes in the third and fifth rounds with Hovannisyan staggering Nery in the fourth round and I thought Nery could have been in trouble, had he taken a strong follow-up punch.

The ninth round was a particularly savage round with toe to toe exchanges that saw each fighter buzzed during the three minutes but it seemed to sap Hovannisyan more than Nery.

I'm interested to see how much this fight took away from both fighters and I'd be surprised if either was the same at the world-class level.

However, boxing isn't always about what will be, it can be what is and was.

On this night, Luis Nery and Azat Hovannisyan painted a beautiful work of art at the top of the game.

No matter the future, they will always have that.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 26 Pts (3)
Ramon Malpica:24 Pts (1)
Vince Samano: 15 Pts (2)

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Action Packed Saturday-# 1

    DAZN thought that they had the potential for two top-notch battles in the main events of their day/night doubleheader but potential can also be unfulfilled.

However, on this boxing Saturday, the expectations were not only reached, but they were also exceeded and at a time that the streaming service has raised their prices yet again along with placing their elite performers on pay-per-view, that was the right results at a time they were badly needed.

The earlier main event from Nottingham England saw Mauricio Lara strip away the WBA featherweight title away from Leigh Wood via a seventh-round knockout.

Wood had vowed that he would meet the constantly charging Lara in the middle of the ring and lived up to the boast by matching Lara punch for punch but paid a price for his decision in the first round when a clash of heads caused a gash over his left eye that would flow throughout the match.

The momentum swung from one corner to the corner and saw Lara buckle Wood in the second and the champion return the favor in the third before the next three rounds saw each fighter score to the body and head with strong punches.

After six, I had the fight even at 57-57 but the DAZN announcers had Wood building a lead and the judges agreed at 59-55 and 58-56 x2 and I had the feeling that Wood may have been beginning to take a bit of the edge off the usual attacks of Lara.

Then we hit round seven with again both fighters landing but Wood appeared to have a slight edge in the action until with about thirty seconds remaining, both fighters fired left hooks that landed.

However, it was Lara's that was shorter and faster as the hook sent Wood to the floor on his back.

Wood managed to rise and after he rose, there was a small movement in his legs but with under ten seconds remaining and seeming to have his head somewhat clear, Wood had a chance to ride the tide out to at least make it to his corner, although I liked Lara's chances in the eighth if he acted quickly.

Wood wouldn't receive the chance to fend off Lara as his trainer Ben Davison waved the white towel of surrender despite Wood's immediate protests to his corner.

I'm not sure that Wood would have survived the eighth but the decision was well-intended if somewhat misguided as Lara wouldn't have had any time to land more blows on Wood in the seventh.

Wood is contractually owed a rematch if he wants it, which I'm sure that he will, and the stoppage (along with the action) will give Matchroom a hook to promote Wood having a chance to reverse the result.

And it would be an interesting rematch with Wood's success and fighters like Lara often lose their best form overnight and often when not expected, so I'm okay with that, although Eddie Hearn mentioned after the fight that Josh Warrington may want a third fight with Lara with Wood perhaps given step-aside money and a shot at the winner.

I'm not as thrilled with that prospect as Warrington's aggressive style that lacks power forces him to come to Lara and while he can't hurt Lara, he has no choice other than to plow forward and take punishment.

That is punishment that Warrington isn't likely to handle over twelve rounds and I see that as a lopsided fight that Warrington cannot win.

And as good as Wood-Lara was, the evening main event was even better.

Back with that later...

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing weekend is based around DAZN with two excellent main events, one each from the two companies that work with the network.

The biggest takes place in Nottingham, England as Matchroom presents what should be a guaranteed barnburner as Leigh Wood defends the WBA featherweight title against the uber-aggressive Mauricio Lara.

Wood was promoted to full WBA champion when Leo Santa Cruz decided to finally vacate the title, rather than face Wood after sitting on it for close to three years without a defense and is entering the fight on an eleven-month layoff after his final round fight of the year knockout of Michael Conlan.

Lara's biggest win came in 2021 when he ripped through Josh Warrington in nine rounds after Warrington had given up his IBF title for expected bigger fights.

A head clash in the rematch forced a technical draw and Lara has scored two third-round knockouts in stay-busy fights of his own after the Warrington rematch.

Wood's best bet might be to try to outbox Lara and keep Lara on the outside but he might not be strong enough to do that and yet he also might not be strong enough to stand his ground and slug with Lara.

Lara can be outboxed and I wouldn't be surprised to see Wood have success against Lara but something tells me that Lara grinds down a game Wood in the late rounds.

In the evening, Golden Boy takes over with a WBC junior featherweight eliminator that also promises an action battle as former WBC bantamweight and junior featherweight champion Luis Nery is matched with Azat Hovannisyan.

At bantamweight, Nery was receiving votes as a top ten pound-for-pound fighter but his form at 122 pounds hasn't been quite as strong despite winning a world title.

Nery suffered his only loss via seventh-round KO to lose his title to Brandon Figueroa in 2021 and has notched two wins since, a split decision over Carlos Castro and a third-round knockout over David Carmona last October.

Hovannisyan has lost only once since starting his career with two losses in his first eight fights but that was against the best opponent of his career in his only title try against Rey Vargas.

If Nery is close to his past level, this would be all his way but I'm not sure if that Nery still exists, and if his chin has become vulnerable then Hovannisyan has a real chance of pulling a minor upset.

Boxing Challenge

WBA Featherweight Title. 12 Rds 
Leigh Wood vs Mauricio Lara
Ramon Malpica: Lara Unanimous Decision
TRS: Lara KO 10
Vince Samano: Lara KO 6

Junior Featherweights.12 Rds
Luis Nery vs Azat Hovannisyan
R.L and V.S: Hovannisyan Unanimous Decision
TRS: Nery Unanimous Decision 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Foster wins vacant 130 pound title

   A less than thrilling Showtime telecast was headlined by O'Shaquie Foster's unanimous decision victory over WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas in San Antonio to win the vacant WBC junior lightweight championship.

Shakur Stevenson gave up the title when he missed weight before his scheduled defense vs Robson Conceicao last year. While Foster is no Stevenson, he is a solid veteran that will now be a factor in a division that currently lacks a dominant figure.

Foster kept the taller Vargas from establishing his jab and in handing Vargas his first career setback, Foster never allowed Vargas to frustrate him with his awkward style as Vargas had done with his other opponents and Vargas could rarely mount enough offense other than a few of the middle rounds.

Foster won on my card 117-111 and while the official margin varied (119-109, 117-111, and 116-112), there was little doubt that Vargas was outpointed.

While the fight was far from memorable for its action, Foster now joins Emanuel Navarrete (WBO), Shavkat Rakhimov (IBF), and Hector Luis Garcia (WBA) as champions that have various questions to answer as they attempt to establish themselves as the best of the division.

As for Vargas, he'll return to the featherweight division and his WBC title as he will await a mandatory defense against the winner of the Brandon Figueroa-Mark Magsayo in March.

The co-main event was a total mismatch as Mario Barrios dominated every round in stopped Jovanie Santiago in the eighth round.

Santiago wasn't knocked down until the eighth but took a steady battering and never remotely threatened Barrios at all.

The less said about this the better as Barrios will likely pair against someone else in an eliminator while Santiago should return to a role against prospects and fringe contenders as he is badly overmatched against top-caliber opponents.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 23 Pts (3)
Ramon Malpica: 23 Pts (3)
Vince Samano: 13 Pts (2)

Friday, February 10, 2023

Boxing Challenge

  Showtime controls the boxing weekend with a main event that will fill the vacated title for the WBC at junior lightweight that was left empty when Shakur Stevenson failed to make weight against Robson Conceicao.

Current WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas will meet O'Shaquie Foster in San Antonio with Vargas making a decision on which title he will retain should he win.

Vargas won the featherweight crown in his last outing with a mild upset of Mark Magsayo via a split decision in San Antonio last July while Foster has tried to stay busy after his best win over Miguel Roman in 2020 with a ninth-round knockout.

I'm not sure how much action this fight might have as neither man is known for punching power and Foster strikes me as a fighter that hung around (Foster has been a pro for eleven years) long enough to finally have a shot at a title but might be a level below championship caliber.

The co-feature is a welterweight pairing between Mario Barrios and Jovanie Santiago with neither being able to afford a defeat.

Barrios has lost his last two fights, losing by KO to Gervonta Davis and a unanimous decision to Keith Thurman last February but Santiago isn't anywhere near the quality of Davis and Thurman so a loss for Barrios would drop him to non-contender status.

Santiago also has lost his two recent fights to a past-his-prime Adrien Broner and by knockout to Gary Antuanne Russell and isn't quite world-class even at his best.

Still. Santiago won the fight vs Broner on my card, so a win here could save his career as more than an opponent.

Vacant WBC Junior Lightweight Title 12 Rds
Rey Vargas vs O'Shaquie Foster
Ramon Malpica and Vince Samano; Foster Unanimous Decision
TRS: Vargas Unanimous Decision

Welterweights 10 Rds
Mario Barrios vs Jovanie Santiago
R.L: Barrios Unanimous Decison
TRS: Barrios KO 8
V.S:  Santiago Unanimous Decision

One Fight Per Division- Part Three

  The final part of the one-fight one-division series concludes with working our way down from the featherweight through the flyweight divisions.


Leigh Wood-Mauricio Lara winner vs Luis Alberto Lopez-Michael Conlan winner.

Since each of these four fighters can make action battles, Wood-Conlan was my fight of the year for 2022, and these two fights are signed to take place, I'll take the winners and match them in an excellent unification matchup with the winner of Wood-Lara owning the WBA title and the Lopez-Conlan victor controlling the IBF version.

Mix and match as you please because no matter the matchup, you'll have an entertaining fight and a two-title champion.

Junior Featherweight

Stephen Fulton vs Naoya Inoue

This fight is reportedly agreed to and give Fulton, the WBC and WBO champion full credit for crossing promotional lines (Fulton fights for PBC and Inoue is associated with Top Rank) and traveling to Japan to face the feared Inoue, who gave up all four of his bantamweight championships to move to the 122-pound division.

The question is when will the continual rise in weight affect the punching power of Inoue and would it happen against Fulton, arguably the best in the division?

It's a great matchup and one that would be even better if the winner signed to face WBA and IBF champion MJ Akhmadaliev, who also could argue that he is the top boxer in the division.


Nonito Donaire vs Emmanuel Rodriguez

Only the WBC and IBF have announced the fighters that will be involved in their vacancies for the four titles that Naoya Inoue left behind to move to junior featherweight and each of the two has one of the fighters that I'd like to see.

Former multi-division champion Nonito Donaire and former IBF champion Emmanuel Rodriguez have each been knocked out by Inoue yet still are arguably the best fighters remaining in a division cleaned out by the Monster.

Donaire will fight Jason Moloney for the WBC title while Rodriguez will tackle Vincent Astrolabo for the IBF strap and while both of their opponents aren't pushovers, fighting each other would temporarily decide the best in the division.

Junior Bantamweight

Juan Francisco Estrada vs Junto Nakatani

While anyone would be all in on an Estrada-Roman Gonzalez IV, I'm trying to make a fight for the next generation of stars and the fight I would have selected would have been Nakatani, who vacated his WBO flyweight title to move up, against another young star in WBC champion Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez.

However, Rodriguez vacated his title to drop to flyweight, where he has spent most of his career, and fight for the title that Nakatani vacated, stopping a Rodriguez-Nakatani fight for now.

Estrada is unlikely to face a younger star such as Nakatani as Estrada nears the end of his career, and Nakatani is mandated for a WBO shot against his countryman Kazuto Ioka but if the desire was there, both men have connections with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Promotions.


Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez vs Julio Cesar Martinez

This fight seems very likely to be eventually signed with Rodriguez dropping down from 115 pounds, Martinez still holding the WBC title, and both men affiliated with Eddie Hearn, this could be an easy fight to make.

Rodriguez is moving back to his natural weight class after an excellent 2022 that saw him win a title over Carlos Cuadras and defend against former champion Srisiket Sor Rungvisai and Israel Gonzalez.

Martinez has lost a bit of the shine from his star of late with a lopsided loss to Roman Gonzalez, various delays and postponements, a no-contest vs mandatory challenger McWilliams Arroyo, and a dull effort in a majority decision win, that many thought he lost, against late replacement Samuel Carmona.

Martinez could look at a Rodriguez fight as a chance to re-ignite a struggling career, despite still holding a title.

Style-wise, this could be a very strong mesh of styles that could have fight-of-the-year possibilities with Rodriguez seeming to have an edge in class.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

One Fight Per Division-Part Two

 Part two of one fight per division moves to the junior middleweight division and finishes at the junior lightweight limit.

Part three will finish with featherweight through flyweight.

Part One may be found here.

Junior Middleweight

Sebastian Fundora vs Charles Conwell.

Fundora is the top contender and should receive a shot against the winner of unified champion Jermell Charlo's defense against Tim Tszyu, which will happen sometime this year.

 Considering that Charlo rarely fights, Fundora should get his try in 2024.

Fundora's late-round KO of Erickson Lubin last year was a contender for fight of the year and Fundora vs Charlo, Tszyu, or a Lubin rematch all would be good choices but I'm giving someone a chance that deserves it and just might upset the apple cart if he is able to get that chance.

Former Olympian Charles Conwell hasn't signed with any of the major promoters and as a result, hasn't moved as quickly up the ratings as his talent indicates.

Conwell is coming up the hard way and while Fundora will be favored, I'm betting that Conwell has a breakout performance on tap and might foil the best-laid plans for Fundora and PBC.

I doubt that fight happens anytime soon as Fundora would be unlikely to face a fighter of Conwell's quality with a title shot around the corner but should Fundora win in his title fight, he will eventually have to face Charles Conwell.


Jaron Ennis vs Vergil Ortiz

Of course, the fight in the division to be made is Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford for all four belts in the division but until that fight can actually be signed, I'm tired of talking about it.

Ennis vs Ortiz pairs arguably the two biggest punchers in the division, Ennis holds a lesser title with the IBF and Ortiz could win a WBA minor title in the spring with a win over the rugged and undefeated Eimantis Stanonis.

Ennis lost a little shine with a dull yet dominant decision win over Karen Chudkhadzhian in his last fight and should Ortiz defeat Stanonis, that win would be the biggest for either fighter in their career.

Should Errol Spence decide to stay at 154, where his scheduled next fight against Keith Thurman will take place, Ennis will be elevated to IBF champion and the winner of Ortiz-Stanonis will be promoted to WBA champion, so there is no reason for this clash to happen this year.

This would be a bigger fight two years from now than it would be today but it could be just as big in 2025 as Spence-Crawford would be today, these two fighters could be that good.

Junior Welterweight

Josh Taylor-Jack Catterall winner vs Regis Prograis

Taylor was the undisputed champion and bully of the division after unifying titles with close and exciting wins over Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez until February 2022 when Taylor defended his four titles against his WBO mandatory challenger, Jack Catterall.

After twelve rounds that saw Catterall knock down Taylor and most watching thought Catterall deserved the decision, it was Taylor winning a controversial decision that a year later is still disputed.

Taylor was so stung by the criticism that he slowly dropped three of his four titles to fight Catterall again, the rematch has been delayed for various reasons, and is now scheduled for June.

In the meantime, Prograis mowed through the always-tough Jose Zepeda to win the WBC title that Taylor returned and looked so good doing so that many believe that it is Prograis that now is the best fighter at 140 pounds.

Prograis-Taylor would be a rematch of a very good fight with the loser improving since the defeat.

Prograis-Catterall wouldn't be as thrilling but still with high skill and high stakes.

The issue making such a fight is that neither Taylor nor Catterall is allowed into the U.S. due to their promotional connections with Daniel Kinahan, so Prograis would have to again to travel to the U.K, where he lost to Taylor and he may not be willing to do that.


Isaac Cruz vs William Zepeda

The lightweight division is heavy at the top and the top four fighters in the division are scheduled to face each other in the next few months with undisputed champion Devin Haney against Vasyl Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis battling Ryan Garcia as Shakur Stevenson waits in the wings.

Isaac Cruz and William Zepeda (along with Frank Martin) are on the next level of contenders and a Cruz-Zepeda matchup would pair two good punchers that are not shy about throwing plenty of bombs either in a battle of countrymen.

Zepeda is undefeated and won a decision over former junior lightweight champion Joseph Diaz for his best career win while Cruz has crushed his two recent opponents since losing a close decision to Gervonta Davis in the most difficult fight of Davis's career.

I think Cruz hits a little harder and Zepeda is a bit more versatile, so I think Zepeda has the edge if the fight goes the distance.

I doubt that this fight happens anytime soon as Cruz is with PBC and Zepeda works with Golden Boy but it could happen in 2024 if Devin Haney decides to leave the division and with four titles vacant, it's possible that it could happen for a vacant title.

Junior Lightweight

Emmanuel Navarrete vs Oscar Valdez

This fight was scheduled for the vacant WBO title and was canceled when Valdez suffered a back injury in training.

Navarrete won the title by stopping the surprisingly stern Liam Wilson in nine rounds but was knocked down in the fourth and rocked in the sixth, which raises questions about Navarrete's chin against naturally larger boxers.

Valdez was dominated in losing his WBC title to Shakur Stevenson last April and between the back injury and what will be an over-a-year layoff by the time this fight happens, so there are questions to be answered about each combatant.

Both men fight for Top Rank and the fight is planned for later this year.

This series will conclude next time with the featherweight division through the flyweights. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

One Fight Per Division-Part One

 Five fights that I'd like to see is a segment that I've done in the past and I thought this was an excellent time to bring it out of mothballs for this year.

This will be finished in three portions to cover the divisions from heavyweight to flyweight.

These could be world title fights but are also fights that are smaller to be made in the game such as Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk or Errol Spence-Terence Crawford.

Those fights have had plenty of ink on them already, so in no particular order...

Bonus: Alycia Baumgardner-Mikalya Mayer II

I know that I don't often write about the women's side of the sport. I do believe that a few things need to change in order for women's boxing to move closer to equal treatment to male boxing (twelve-round title fights, three-minute rounds, and more knockouts). Still, there may not be a better feud in boxing than Alycia Baumgardner and Mikalya Mayer.

The two met in London last October with sharp words and dislike during the buildup for their 130-pound division that unified three of the four titles and produced an excellent action fight with Baumgardner winning a somewhat controversial split decision that many believed should have been given to Mayer.

I watched this fight live in a hotel room and thought Baumgardner won 96-94 but a month later, I rewatched the bout (without distractions) and gave the nod to Mayer by the same score.

Either way, it was a fight that was exciting and certainly screamed for a rematch but Baumgardner refused to consider one after the fight, although she seems more amenable to it now, and the two continue to jaw at each other with a memorable outside-the-ring confrontation in December at the Estrada-Gonzalez III bout.

It will happen sooner or later but it would be better to have it happen this year.


Deontay Wilder vs Joe Joyce

Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk for the unified title is the fight everyone wants to see but the fight that I'd really love to see pits Deontay Wilder, the biggest puncher in the division, if not boxing against the relentless aggression and granite-like chin of Joe Joyce.

Can Wilder's early-round assault crack the Juggernaut?

Can Joyce force Wilder to box off his back foot and grind him down as he did Daniel DuBois and Joseph Parker?

Neither of these two would be afraid to trade punches and it could be an all-time classic but it would be a difficult bout to sign with Wilder connected to PBC, Joyce with Frank Warren/Top Rank, and Joyce as the WBO's top contender but it would be a memorable fight if it would happen.


Jai Opetaia vs Mairis Briedis II

Briedis, the only fighter to give Oleksandr Usyk a close fight in losing a majority decision in 2018 that I scored a draw, lost his title via upset to Opetaia last July via unanimous decision.

The fight was excellent and Briedis charged down the stretch in the late rounds, breaking Opetaia's jaw in the process.

A rematch would certainly be in order and is the best fight to be made in a weaker division.

Light Heavyweight

Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol

This fight would result in the light heavyweight division being consolidated with Beterbiev's three titles and Bivol's one at stake.

Beterbiev has the perfect record with knockouts in all eighteen of his bouts, while Bivol is undefeated with a boxer-puncher style.

This one seems pretty straightforward, Can Bivol, who was rocked by Joe Smith late in a fight that Bivol dominated, survive twelve rounds of boxing's version of a pressure cooker?

If he does, he likely wins because he'll build a lead on the cards over the first half to two-thirds of the fight.

Can the thirty-eight-year-old Beterbiev break down one of the more talented boxers in the sport?

This one isn't likely, despite both fighters saying they want it -mainly because the purses they will demand aren't likely to be feasible and Bivol has a much larger paycheck waiting for a Canelo Alvarez rematch.

Super Middleweight

David Morrell vs Christian Mbilli

Undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez's biggest fight would be against undefeated David Benavidez, who has signed for a March fight against former IBF champion Caleb Plant.

Should Benavidez win, he's Alvarez's natural opponent but should Plant win, considering his KO loss to Canelo, a potential rematch doesn't excite many fans or think he could reverse the result.

So, I selected this match between undefeated fighters that have yet to be truly tested with PBC's minor beltholder David Morrell against Canada's Christian Mbilli.

Morrell is a talented boxer-puncher against Mbilli, who is a more straight-ahead banger.

Both can punch with Morrell stopping seven of his eight opponents and Mbilli gaining early endings in twenty of his twenty-three fights but Morrell seems more versatile to me and I'd lean his way entering this fight.

This one wouldn't be an easy fight to sign with Morrell with PBC and Mbilli with Canada's Eye of the Tiger, who has a working arrangement with Top Rank and neither would be likely to travel to the other's home base (Morrell Minneapolis, M'billi Montreal) so I don't see this one happening unless the WBA (Morrell's minor title) would mandate a fight between the two.


Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Jaime Munguia

The middleweight division isn't loaded with compelling fights and the few that are handicapped by the reluctance of an aging WBA and IBF champion Gennady Golovkin and a perpetually inactive WBC boss Jermall Charlo to face contenders.

Former WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia has been even more reluctant since moving to middleweight in 2020, fighting squash match after squash match, turning down title opportunities multiple times, and seems uninterested in fighting anyone that could fight back.

WBO champion Janibek Alimkhanuly had assumed the mantle of the fighter that defines High-Risk Low Reward after mowing down recent opponents but looked very average in his first title defense against Denzel Bentley, so an Alimkhanuly-Munguia fight would not only pair two fighters with plenty to prove, it would also be a fan-friendly fight.

This could be made with Munguia rated highly by the WBO, who tried to mandate this fight in December with Munguia turning it down, and the promoters have worked together before (Alimkhanuly Top Rank and Munguia Golden Boy) but Munguia doesn't seem to be interested, which is too bad as the winner would gain a lot from a victory and perhaps the loser would as well assuming the fight is exciting.

The next segment in the series will cover the junior middleweight division down through the junior lightweight division.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Cleaning out the Inbox: Baseball Passings

    The tributes never stop for notables that have recently passed away...

Goodbye to Nate Colbert at the age of 76.

Colbert was the first star of the expansion San Diego Padres after being selected from the Houston Astros in the 1969 expansion draft.

Colbert would be selected to three All-Star teams with San Diego and hit 163 homers in his six seasons as a Padre, hitting thirty-eight homers in both 1970 and 1972.

On August 1, 1972, Colbert set major league records when he finished with five home runs, thirteen RBI, and twenty-two total bases in a two-game San Diego sweep of a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves.

Colbert was traded to Detroit in 1975 but a back injury caused him to struggle through two unproductive seasons before forcing his retirement.

Goodbye to Denny Doyle at the age of 78.

A journeyman second baseman for the Phillies and Angels, Doyle was traded to the Red Sox in June 1975 with the Red Sox in the middle of their American League pennant-winning campaign.

Doyle responded with the best season of his career, hitting .310 for Boston, and had the highest hitting streak of the season with twenty-two games in his streak.

Doyle was the only player on either team in the famous 1975 World Series to hit safely in all seven games but is more remembered for being thrown out at the plate with the bases loaded and no out in the bottom of the ninth of game six.

Fred Lynn's shallow fly to George Foster was the first out but with the screaming crowd, third base coach Don Zimmer's cry of "No No No" was heard by Doyle as "Go Go Go" and Foster threw him out easily at home rather than winning the game for Boston.

Had Doyle scored, the game would have ended and there would have never been the famous Carlton Fisk homer in extra innings.

Goodbye to Frank Thomas at the age of 93.

A three-time All-Star, Thomas hit over twenty homers nine times in a sixteen-year career spent with seven teams and was the top hitter for the expansion 1962 Mets when Thomas hit thirty-four homers with ninety-four RBI.

Thomas is also remembered for his fight in 1964 as a member of the pennant-contending Phillies with rookie of the year Richie Allen during batting practice that ended with Thomas hitting Allen with a bat which resulted in injury to Allen and the release of Thomas by Philadelphia in the midst of the 1964 pennant race.

Goodbye to Gary Peters at the age of 85.

Peters, along with Joel Horlen and Tommy John, gave the Chicago White Sox a three-man top-of-the-rotation that ranked among the best in the American League during the mid to late 1960s for a White Sox that often contended on the backs of their pitching staff.

Peters won the 1963 Rookie of the Year award when he finished 19-8 with an American League-leading 2.33 ERA and then led the AL in wins the following season with twenty.

Peters made two All-Star teams (1964, 67) and led the AL in ERA in 1966 with a 1.98 mark.

Peters would finish his career with Boston from 1970-72, winning thirty-three games over the term for the BoSox.

Goodbye to Sal Bando at the age of 78.

Bando was the third baseman and captain for the three-time World Champion Oakland Athletics in 1972-74 and was part of the initial free agent class after the 1976 season that would see almost all the stars of the A's dynasty leave owner Charlie Finley for other franchises, with Bando signing with Milwaukee for final five years of his career.

Bando made the All-Star team in each of the title years (as well as 1969) and his homers with Oakland were the franchise record until broken by Mark McGwire in the 1990s.

Bando's best season was in 1973 when he hit .287 with 29 homers and 98 RBI.

After retirement, Bando was a part of the NBC Game of the Week broadcasting team in 1982 and would be the general manager of the Brewers from 1991 through 1999.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Navarrete survives Wilson

Emmanuel Navarrete won his third world title Saturday in Glendale Arizona when he stopped Liam Wilson in the ninth round to win the vacant WBO junior lightweight title but it didn't come easily and not without some controversy.

The unheralded Wilson appeared to buckle Navarrete in the first round but I wasn't sure if Navarrete was stung or may have just stumbled with Wilson's feet getting caught up with his own.

That was nothing compared to the surprise that awaited when Wilson smacked Navarrete with a left hook that would shortly result in a knockdown in round four.

The heavy favorite had never been on the floor in his career and as he staggered to his feet, he spat out his mouthpiece and gained plenty of recovery time (up to twenty-seven seconds, according to a protest from Wilson's team) to survive the remaining few seconds in the round.

Wilson pressed Navarrete in the fifth but as the round progressed, Navarrete began to clear his head and Wilson's best chance for a huge upset had passed.

Navarrete did get hit again with a strong left hook in the sixth but controlled the seventh and eighth rounds before the final round with Wilson on his feet but badly hurt and with a nose that was streaming blood before the fight was decided.

Navarrete led on all three cards (77-74 x2 and 76-75), while I had Wilson leading 76-75 at the time of the fight's conclusion.

No one had an issue with the stoppage but plenty had problems with the referee in the fourth round.

The protest will go nowhere as these things usually don't but I wouldn't be surprised if the WBO didn't order a rematch for Wilson.

That's far from a guarantee but a possibility and even though Navarrete emerges with the title, the WBO still has a mess in the division.

Navarrete has 30 days to decide if he will keep the junior lightweight title or return to the featherweight division and keep that crown, Wilson could be in line for a mandated rematch, Oscar Valdez is in the picture as the original and planned future opponent and that's before we touch the number one contender Archie Sharp.

In the junior welterweight co-feature, undefeated contender Arnold Barboza earned the biggest victory of his career with a unanimous decision over former junior lightweight and lightweight champion Jose Pedraza.

No knockdowns scored but the stronger Barboza landed more and hit Pedraza with the stronger punches.

Barboza was the winner at 96-94 x2 and 97-93, while I saw the fight a bit wider at 98-92 for Barboza.

Barboza could be in line for a title shot or even a chance at former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez.

As for Pedraza, he was very game in defeat but he is on the verge of becoming a gatekeeper in the division and soon to be 34, the Sniper's days at the top of the division appear to be passed.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 20 Pts (4) 
Ramon Malpica:20 Pts  (5)
Vince Samano: 11 Pts (1) 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing weekend starts in Glendale Arizona with Top Rank and ESPN offering a title bout that is surrounded by controversy and a co-main event that pairs two top ten fighters in their division.

The main event will offer Emanuel Navarrete moving up to junior lightweight to attempt to claim the WBO 130-pound title that was recently vacated by Shakur Stevenson.

Navarrete is currently the WBO champion at featherweight but is expected to officially turn in that championship after this fight, a fight that he is heavily favored to win over Australia's Liam Wilson.

The controversy is two-scaled as Wilson accused the scales of being rigged with a claim that he was barely under the weight limit and twenty minutes later for the official weigh-in, Wilson made the limit by four pounds.

The inference there is that Navarrete was once again struggling to make weight and this allowed him to do so.

The other controversy is Wilson, who at 14-1 has never fought, let alone beaten a world-class fighter, receiving a shot at the vacant title at all.

At first, the opponent for Navarrete was former featherweight and junior lightweight champion Oscar Valdez, which would have been an excellent action fight between two fighters promoted by Top Rank.

The problem with this is that the WBO's top contender, Archie Sharp of England, wasn't involved at all despite Sharp's claim that he was available for the vacant title match.

Now, if the statement is that Oscar Valdez is a more deserving title challenger than Sharp based on their resume', I'm fine with that statement.

And if you like Navarrete-Valdez better than Navarrete-Sharp as an action fight, I'm fine with that too as Sharp is a more mobile boxer while Valdez would have been more likely to meet Navarrete in the middle of the ring and swap power shots.

However, if Valdez is more deserving via the ratings than Sharp, why is Sharp rated first?

And how can you fill a vacant title without your top contender that claims he is available and ready to participate?

SO when Valdez was injured in training and Sharp stated that he was prepared to step in for the injured Valdez, it appeared that the right thing was going to occur.

Instead, the choice was the third-rated Wilson and Top Rank was announcing that should Navarrete win, his first title defense will be against Valdez, not Sharp.

In boxing as in life, things are often not fair.

The co-feature may not have a championship on the line but two top ten contenders in a loaded division at junior welterweight will slug it out for what could lead to a title shot for the victor.

Undefeated contender Arnold Barboza and former junior lightweight and lightweight champion Jose Pedraza should be an excellent style mix and the winner would be deserving of a title shot or at least an eliminator against another contender.

Barboza has been aiming for a shot at former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez and his constant verbal barbs at Lopez has been cited as the reason that Lopez chose Sandor Martin for his most recent bout rather than Barboza.

Pedraza would be the biggest victory for Barboza, as his most recognizable names currently are a past his prime Mike Alvarado and former title challenger Alex Saucedo.

Pedraza drew with Richard Commey last August and dropped a decision to former WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez in the fight before that but in his previous fight, Pedraza stopped undefeated prospect, Julian Rodriguez in eight rounds.

Boxing Challenge

Vacant WBO Junior Welterweight Title 12 Rds
Emanuel Navarrete vs Liam Wilson
Ramon Malpica: Navarrete KO 9
TRS: Navarrete KO 6
Vince Samano: Wilson Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
R.L and TRS: Barboza Unanimous Decision
V.S:  Barboza KO 9