Friday, March 31, 2023

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing weekend isn't exactly swelling with action but DAZN will offer the return of a former heavyweight champion and ESPN+ will feature an intriguing battle for a vacant world championship in the featherweight division.

DAZN/Matchroom will start Anthony Joshua's comeback from his two defeats to Oleksandr Usyk from London Saturday afternoon and it's not a squash match as Joshua meets once-beaten American Jermaine Franklin.

Franklin suffered his first loss in his last fight against Dillian Whyte via a majority decision ( I scored the fight even) that saw Franklin badly hurt Whyte in round nine.

Joshua certainly is a solid favorite but Franklin isn't a soft touch and should Joshua take Franklin lightly, Franklin is capable of giving Joshua a rough evening.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma on ESPN+/Top Rank will broadcast two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Robiesy Ramirez in his first world title fight as Ramirez tackles former WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe for the WBO featherweight belt vacated by Emmanuel Navarrete.

Ramirez was upset in his career debut but hasn't been beaten since and looked very sharp in his two recent knockout wins over Abraham Nova and Jose Romero while Dogboe has rebounded from his two losses to Emmanuel Navarrete with four wins in a row, including an exciting split decision win over Joet Gonzalez in his last appearance to earn him this shot.

I'd think this fight suits Ramirez perfectly but Dogboe never stops charging forward and if Ramirez shows up with an uninspired effort, I could see Dogboe winning this one on pure aggression.

The co-feature will pair Joet Gonzalez and Jose Vivas in a crossroads featherweight battle.

Gonzalez lost that aforementioned split decision to Isaac Dogboe or he'd be fighting for the WBO title while Vivas has lost against his best two opponents in Ruben Villa and Eduardo Baez and I'm not sure either are the level of Gonzalez.

The winner stays around the top ten of the division and the loser will take a major step back in status.

Boxing Challenge

Heavyweights 12 Rds
Anthony Joshua vs Jermaine Franklin
Ramon Malpica: Joshua KO 7
TRS and Vince Samano: Joshua Unanimous Decision

Vacant WBO Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Robiesy Ramirez vs Isaac Dogboe
R.L and TRS: Ramirez Unanimous Decision
V.S: Ramirez KO 8

Featherweights. 10 Rds
Joet Gonzalez vs Jose Enrique Vivas
All: Gonzalez Unanimous Decision

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Happy Anniversary,Sweet Sixteen!


Sixteen years of doing this on a regular basis.

Think of it this way, if TRS was a real person, it could earn its driver's license today.

I've enjoyed doing what I've done here over those sixteen years through the different stages that have been seen here.

The last five months of my life have taken many things away from me due to the changes in my paying job.

We all have our issues with our job and even in the best situations, there are days that we don't like them very much.

While I'm not currently thrilled with the hours that I am working, the bills still need to be paid, no different than anyone else but the stress has taken away other things, and some of that is the time that I spend here along with watching more closely what I often write about as well.

That has something to do with my decreased output at times at TRS but it's not the entire picture as I've had trouble getting motivated on some topics that I once enjoyed writing about.

However, there are other times that I feel more than excited to spend some time tapping the keyboard with my thoughts along with the same vigor that I've had in the past, so I'm not ready to give up yet.

Thanks to all of my family, friends, and occasional readers for paying attention to what I've thought through these years and I'll try to keep hanging in there for another year!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Ramirez returns, Okolie defends

   There were more fights of interest than only in Las Vegas on Saturday with main events from three platforms on the day, two of those running concurrently with the PBC pay-per-view from Nevada.

ESPN and Top Rank used the main network to broadcast former WBC and WBO junior welterweight boss Jose Ramirez in front of his rabid hometown fan base in Fresno, California in a WBC eliminator against former IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey.

Commey had been thought to be on the downside of a career filled with exciting battles and after a draw against Jose Pedraza, moving up in weight and giving away the hometown crowd to boot, it was easy to see Ramirez as a strong favorite, despite Ramirez being away from the ring for a year.

Instead, Commey gave Ramirez all that he could handle before Ramirez stopped him with a body shot that left Commey on his knees to receive the count of ten in the eleventh round.

Ramirez attempted to make short work of Commey as he sent him around the ring with an attack from the opening bell that contained Commey in a corner and along the ropes in an opening round salvo that seemed to show an early end to the evening.

Ramirez controlled the next few rounds before Commey began to separate from Ramirez by connecting with his jab and landing several straight rights and pulling himself back into the fight on my scorecard.

After ten rounds, the fight was up for grabs and while I had Ramirez up 96-94, Commey looked to be the stronger fighter, and the momentum all belonged to the Ghanian.

However, it was Ramirez that closed the show with a knockdown early in the round that would have likely clinched the bout on the scorecards but to Ramirez's credit, he didn't allow Commey to survive as he chased him down before a crunching left hook to the body that sent Commey to a knee with Commey unable to rise to beat the count.

For Jose Ramirez, who entered the fight answering plenty of questions about why he passed on chances twice to fight for the WBC title, first against Jose Zepeda for the vacant title, and then against Regis Prograis after Prograis won the vacant title with a tenth round knockout of Zepeda, and leaves it with an exciting victory and talks again for a fight against Prograis, which has been rumored for years and for various reasons, has never taken place.

As for Richard Commey, he proved that he still can fight against world-class opponents and while he doesn't have the firepower at 140 pounds as he did at 135, should Commey be able to make the weight in the lightweight division, he might be very competitive in bouts that could divide the titles should Devin Haney defeat Vasyl Lomachenko and move up to the junior welterweight division.

As for the aforementioned Jose Zepeda, he fought for the first time since losing to Regis Prograis in the main event of a DAZN show from Guadalajara, Mexico and honestly, I'm no more sure how the punishment that Zepeda had taken from Prograis as Zepeda won every round (100-90 on all three judges cards and mine) from former Indian Olympian Neeraj Goyat, who spent the entire fight clowning, gesturing and doing about anything that you can name short of landing punches.

The less said about this one, the better as Zepeda still has to show that he's the same fighter as previously and Goyat is someone that I don't have to watch again anytime soon.

Earlier in the day, ProBox picked up the Sky Sports feed from Manchester England and weren't rewarded with an exciting fight as Lawrence Okolie retained his WBO cruiserweight title with a unanimous decision over New Zealand's David Light.

Light was the WBO mandatory challenger and didn't have much luck getting to Okolie, who didn't exactly shine in victory other than an occasional right hand, a jab, and holding.

Lots and lots of holding to the point that Okolie lost a point in round eleven for his grabbing tactics.

Okolie won easily with scores of 119-109, 117-110, and a surprisingly close 116-112.

My score agreed with the middle score of 117-110.

Okolie's defense was his first since signing with Boxxer and leaving Eddie Hearn and Matchroom but his third defense overall and his second uninspiring performance against an opponent that Okolie could have dominated.

Okolie may fight a grudge match next against his fellow Boxxer stablemate Richard Riakporhe and should Okolie stink the joint up in that one, even with a win I'll wonder what Boxxer thinks that they are going to receive for their investment in Okolie.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:42 Pts (5)
Ramon Malpica: 36 Pts (5)
Vince Samano: 28 Pts (2) 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Benavidez batters Plant

   In the lead-up to the super middleweight grudge match between David Benavidez and Caleb Plant, the almost universal thought was that Caleb Plant's only chance to win, he would have to bank the first six rounds and hope to get another round somewhere against the late Benavidez rush to win a close decision.

Plant did well in the early rounds but after the sixth round, he held only a 4-2 lead on my scorecard and I was seeing some cards on Twitter that even had the fight even at 3-3.

Then and there, it was pretty clear that what most people thought entering the fight was going to be accurate- David Benavidez was going to start to break Caleb Plant down, beat him up, and the only question would be if Plant would hear the bell.

Plant lasted the twelve-round distance but took a ferocious beating in the final rounds in doing so as Benavidez kept his minor title by unanimous decision by scores of 115-113, 116-112, and 117-11 in Las Vegas.

I scored Benavidea a 116-112 winner, sweeping the final six rounds of the bout.

Plant showed heart and toughness to achieve that goal but some of that credit could go to referee Kenny Bayless as well, who allowed Plant to grab and hold Benavidez relentlessly and in the eighth round, Plant had been wobbling from Benavidez's right hand, and in danger of being stopped, it was Bayless who stepped in to stop the action to check Plant's forehead.

Plant was ripped open from a clash of heads and provided some impressive bleeding over the final quarter of the fight but a point could be made that without the Bayless interruption that Benavidez may have ended the evening then and there.

Plant gamely battled to the end and deserves credit for that but Benavidez dominated the final three rounds, hurting Plant badly in rounds ten and twelve.

Benavidez naturally called for unified division champion Canelo Alvarez next in the fall and the fight would be a highly anticipated match but Alvarez will have a choice between a rematch of his loss last year to WBA light heavyweight champion  Dmitry Bivol or Benavidez, should he defeat WBO mandatory challenger John Ryder in May as he is heavily favored to do.

If Benavidez isn't the selection, his choice will be whether to take a stay-busy fight against a lower-level contender or risk his shot at Canelo against one of several challenging opponents, all of which are promoted by his promoter, PBC.

Should Benavidez take the more difficult path, he could choose between three undefeated opponents in David Morrell, who like Benavidez holds a minor title in the division, WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, who would move up in weight for that fight, or former WBO junior middleweight and middleweight titleholder Demetrius Andrade, who recently made his first appearance with PBC.

Benavidez would be a solid favorite against any of the three but all three talented boxers would have a considerable chance of pulling the upset.

As for Plant, whom I've been critical of in the past, the loss was his second in three fights, albeit to the best two fighters in the division, and the fight played out similarly to Plant's three biggest fights (his IBF title win over Jose Uzcategui and his two defeats), Plant wins most or all the early rounds and then like a speedy racehorse going a longer distance for the first time, tries desperately to hold onto the lead.

Against solid fighters such as Uzcategui, that tactic is enough to win but against the elite of the division it hasn't been and I'm not sure it would work against the three fighters listed above.

Plant could take a showcase bout in his next fight or maybe one of the three opponents mentioned, any of which I would favor over Plant.

Plant has proven his toughness and ability in his recent defeats but he may simply be a solid contender that isn't up to the task against the best in the world and there's no shame in that.

In the other undercard fights, which I haven't seen yet as I was watching some of the competing cards.

Cody Crowley defeated Abel Ramos in a WBC welterweight eliminator that has been reported to be an excellent fight by majority decision.

Scores for Crowley of 116-112 and 115-113 and even at 114-114.

Jesus Ramos dropped heavily hyped and heavily protected Joey Spencer in the first round and pounded him for the remainder of the junior middleweight ten-rounder before finishing Spencer in a corner with his corner surrendering for him in the seventh round.

Ramos is a possible future star and Spencer is the latest of a boxing idiom- protected fighters are protected for a reason and that reason usually comes on the first occasion that someone fires back.

Chris Colbert won a very controversial unanimous decision over Jose Valenzuela in a lightweight match between two fighters entering the fight after suffering their first loss.

Valenzuela knocked down Colbert in the first round and most seem to believe had the edge but Colbert grabbed the scorecards of all three judges by the same score of 95-94.

I'll be back next time with posting on the other three challenge fights- the main events from ESPN, DAZN, and ProBox.

Boxing Challenge- Only includes the PPV selections

TRS: 37 pts (4)
Ramon Malpica: 31 Pts (3)
Vince Samano: 26 Pts (0) 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Boxing Challenge

  I've commented that I don't think that Saturday's super middleweight battle between David Benavidez and Caleb Plant is big enough to anchor an eighty-dollar pay per view and I stand by that claim but that doesn't mean that I'm not excited about a matchup between the second and third best fighters in the division.

The tired phrase in boxing hype is "these guys don't like each other" but in this fight, they really don't.

Benavidez and Plant have sniped at each other for years and the fight always made sense with both fighters affiliated with PBC but both seemed content to knock off lesser opponents during their title reigns and settle for verbal warfare but with both having a lack of possible foes available to force unified champion Canelo Alvarez to fight them unless they forced their way into a mandatory position, the fight was able to be signed.

Neither have a standout win, Plant's opponent when he won his IBF title was Jose Uzcategui, who showed that his loss to Plant was the start of a fast decline, and his only other major win was his most recent victory, a devastating ninth round KO of faded former WBC champ Anthony Dirrell.

Benavidez knocked Dirrell out in the ninth three years earlier and that's his best win as he's ground down second-level contenders such as Ronald Ellis and J'Leon Love and former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux, who was way past his salad days.

Plant will have to repeat the game plan that upset Uzcategui, use the ring, don't allow Benavidez to set his feet, and build a lead on the cards that he hopes he can hang on for the win.

Remember Uzcategui won the final five rounds against Plant, so Plant's margin of error is slim.

Benavidez should be fine as long as he doesn't fall into Plant's trap of following him around the ring without throwing punches.

The undercard looks to be a trio of competitive and interesting matches, which no matter the promotion isn't something that occurs often.

Cody Crowley faces Abel Ramos in a WBC welterweight eliminator that has the strong favorite.

Crowley upset Kudratillo Abdukakhorov late in 2021 which cost the favored fighter a mandatory title shot against Errol Spence and followed up last April with a decision over veteran battler Josesito Lopez.

Ramos is a cut below a true contender and lost a decision to 12-2 Luke Santamaria in his last fight, yet due to his PBC connections continues to be placed into eliminators and fights vs top fighters despite his record.

Ramos always brings a good effort but Crowley is the better fighter in this one.

Two undefeated prospects square off in a junior middleweight battle that may be lopsided in the ring as Jesus Ramos (related to Abel, maybe this is why Abel keeps receiving good slots?) will face Joey Spencer.

Ramos has shown the possibility of being a top fighter with wins over Brian Mendoza, who main-events a Showtime card against Sebastian Fundora in the near future, and a win over Luke Santamaria to avenge Abel's defeat.

Spencer has been featured (protected) often in prime viewing slots on PBC's shows on Fox against soft competition that he hasn't beaten in an overwhelming manner.

I think this is all Ramos as the more talented fighter is also the more tested fighter and adds up to a Ramos win.

The remaining fight matches two boxers that a year ago at this time were mentioned as potential champions but are now coming in off shocking defeats that weren't even close as Chris Colbert and Jose Valenzuela square off in a lightweight bout.

Colbert held a minor title and was in line for a mandatory title shot against WBA champion Roger Gutierrez before being dominated by Hector Luis Garcia as a heavy favorite (Garcia received the shot and dethroned Gutierrez) in February 2022.

Colbert showed lots of heart in surviving a knockdown and making it to the final bell but he took quite a pounding and the type of pounding that changes careers for the negative.

Valenzuela looked dominating in knocking out former WBC junior lightweight champion Francisco Vargas in one round but was stopped in three by Edwin De Los Santos in a tremendous war that saw both men dropped in the second before De Los Santos finished the fight in the third.

Which fighter enters the fight in a worse condition? The fighter that lasted the distance but took punishment or the fighter that was stopped but in fewer rounds?

The other three challenge fights are the main events from three different platforms.

From Manchester, England in the afternoon in the USA, ProBox has picked up the feed of Lawrence Okolie's WBO cruiserweight title defense against David Light of New Zealand.

Okolie will be making his third title defense against the unbeaten but untested Light and is a heavy favorite to keep his titles.

ProBox can be found on YouTube.

In the evening, former WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez returns from a year's absence against former IBF champion Richard Commey in Ramirez's home base of Fresno, California.

Ramirez decisioned Jose Pedraza in March 2022 while Commey drew with that same Pedraza last August.

Commey had some issues making weight and Ramirez is the naturally larger fighter so everything appears to be favoring Ramirez.

On DAZN from Mexico, junior welterweight contender Jose Zepeda will fight for the first time since he was stopped by Regis Prograis for the then-vacant WBC title.

Zepeda took a lot of punches in the defeat and it's a smart decision to give him what seems to be an easy fight to see where he stands after the Prograis loss.

Neeraj Goyat is the opponent and Goyat won an Olympic bronze medal at the Rio Olympics but hasn't found the same success as a professional, losing three fights against competition that is very questionable.

Boxing Challenge

Super Middleweights. 12 Rds 
David Benavidez vs Caleb Plant
Ramon Malpica and Vince Samano: Plant Unanimous Decision
TRS: Benavidez KO 10

Welterweights 12 Rds
Cody Crowley vs Abel Ramos
R.L & TRS: Crowley Unanimous Decision
V.S: Ramos Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 10 Rds
Jesus Ramos vs Joey Spencer
R.L & TRS: Ramos Unanimous Decision
V.S: Spencer Unanimous Decision

Lightweights.10 rds
Chris Colbert vs Jose Valenzuela
R.L & TRS: Colbert Unanimous Decision
V.S: Valenzuela Unanimous Decision

WBO Cruiserweight Title. 12 Rds
Lawrence Okolie vs David Light
R.L: Okolie KO 9
TRS: Okolie KO 6
V.S: Light KO 8

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Jose Ramirez vs Richard Commey
R.L & V.S: Ramirez KO 8
TRS: Ramirez KO 11

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Jose Zepeda vs Neeraj Goyat
R.L: Zepeda Unanimous Decision
TRS: Zepeda KO 6
V.S: Goyat Unanimous Decision


Browns sign Marquise Goodwin

   The Cleveland Browns returned to a player that they had hosted before a short despite in order to complete their trade with the New York Jets that landed Elijah Moore and placed what may be the final piece into their wide receiver room in signing fleet veteran Marquis Goodwin to a one year contract for undisclosed terms.

The well-traveled Goodwin caught twenty-four passes in his only season with Seattle last season for 387 yards and four touchdowns after his previous stops in Buffalo, San Francisco, and Chicago, in a role similar to how the Browns should use him- as a vertical threat to stretch defenses.

Goodwin will turn thirty-three in mid-season but has barely lost a step from the form that saw him taken from Texas in the third round of 2013 by the Bills after making the 2012 Olympic team as a long jumper and while Goodwin didn't qualify for the Olympics as a sprinter, he did rank third all-time for the fastest forty-yard dash in his combine year.

Goodwin should give the Browns the speed that they have not received from Anthony Schwartz in the two seasons since Schwartz was selected in the third round and it's almost certain that Schwartz's days on the roster are numbered unless he can out-perform Goodwin in training camp.

I suppose the Browns could take another wide receiver in the draft with one of their eight selections but the trade for Elijah Moore and the signing of Goodwin may possibly take the position into day three of the draft.

The Browns will likely keep six and perhaps seven receivers with Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Elijah Moore, and David Bell as locks, the winner of the Goodwin-Schwartz battle (likely Goodwin) as another, and one other receiver (two, if they keep seven) which I would think second-year man Michael Woods would have the edge against Jaheem Grant ( who would have an advantage of winning the return job) or Anthony Schwartz but a drafted rookie would be in the mix as well.

That's certainly an upgraded room in my opinion as I like Elijah Moore's talent very much and Marquis Goodwin adds a dimension that the team has lacked but it's also fair to say that while the group looks to be upgraded, it's not a guarantee by any means.

I like the additions of Moore and Goodwin but I can also see a scenario where either could disappoint.

We'll see if the off-season moves work out but the Browns have tried to address each of their deficiencies with solid acquisitions. 

While I wish the team would have added another proven linebacker rather than gamble on the health of Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki, I cannot complain about what Andrew Berry has done thus far.

Berry has done his best work in dealing with trades in his tenure, while his free agency additions have been a mixed bag, which to be fair is how it works for most teams, and his drafting has left something to desired.

The Browns seem to be improved entering the draft and they needed to be - Andrew Berry, Kevin Stefanski, and a large cast in the front office, and coaching staff have their jobs depending on that improvement.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Cleaning out the Inbox

  The inbox is well overdue for a cleaning that doesn't involve tributes to recent passings, so here are some recent notes from the inbox.

The Athletic writes of the "ghost" of Jim Valvano that hangs over the Wolfpack basketball program thirty years after his passing and forty years after the NCAA championship won by Valvano's "Cardiac Pack".

The article digs deep into the N.C. State tradition, Valvano's successes and failures, the issues with each of his successors with the Wolfpack, and shows how hard it is for a once-proud program to rebound once you hit the depths of a conference.

N.C. State did reach the tournament this season under Kevin Keates, losing by nine points to Creighton in the first round.

SABR is reviewing the career of the late Nate Colbert, who recently passed away and they do it by looking through his various Topps baseball cards.

Colbert's rookie card is in the 1969 set and pictures him without a cap as so many in the 1969 set are shown.

Marvin Miller and the players union told the players in 1968 to not allow Topps photographers to take their pictures until the company would renegotiate their contract with the players for appearing on their cards.

This forced Topps to dig into their archives for pictures without hats of many players that had changed teams since the union-suggested refusal to pose for photographs.

This stance affected the 1969 set as most of the photos back then were taken during the previous season's spring training.

The Louisville Courier-Journal visits the oldest living Kentucky Derby winner, Silver Charm who won the Derby in 1997 and is now twenty-nine years old of age.

Silver Charm also won the Preakness and appeared to be on the verge of winning the Triple Crown but was overtaken deep in the stretch by Touch Gold, losing by three-quarters of a length.

Silver Charm would win the Dubai World Cup in 1998 and currently resides at Old Friends Farm in Kentucky, where he can be visited by the public.

The Athletic scores with an article on the Grimsby Town team that resides in English "soccer"'s league Two but surprised everyone with a run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, one of England's two yearly tournaments.

Grimsby Town's wins included a stunning victory over Southampton, who resides in the Premier League before losing to the Premier League's Brighton Albion & Hove in the quarter-finals.

If you watched the series "Welcome to Wrexham", you may remember that it was Grimsby Town that upset Wrexham and kept the series stars in the National League with Grimsby Town winning promotion to League Two.

We wrap with Smithsonian Magazine's article on Corned Beef and just how much of a connection that really exists with the Irish.

The article discusses why the Irish doesn't care for Corned Beef and just how the link between the two occurred to people outside Ireland.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Browns re-sign Anthony Walker

    Before the Cleveland Browns announced their addition of Elijah Moore from a trade with the New York Jets, the story of the day from Berea was the return of veteran linebacker Anthony Walker on a one-year agreement.

No terms disclosed as of now for the third one-year deal for the former Northwestern Wildcat's return to Cleveland as the likely starting middle/MIKE linebacker unless the Browns unexpectedly sign/draft someone that forces Walker to the bench.

Walker missed most of the season in 2022 when he suffered a season-ending torn quad in a week three win over Pittsburgh but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

Walker is beloved in the locker room and by fans for his high motor and character, so this is a popular return to Cleveland for Walker and it's tough to deny that the Browns run defense turned rancid after losing Walker for the year.

The run defense was affected by the loss of Walker as soon as the following week as the Browns were favored to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta and allowed two hundred and two yards to non-entities Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley, which would set the game plan for the remainder of the season for every Cleveland opponent.

In 2021, Walker's first season as a Brown, Walker finished with 69 solo tackles with 44 assisted in thirteen games, so he's steady but honestly, there are so many linebackers that come and go with the Browns that are tackle accumulators that fantasy owners love but they make those tackles downfield and generally lack impact, although it can be said that their impact is felt a bit more when they are missing from the field.

I wish the Browns had a playmaker at linebacker that could change a game at any time and maybe Jeremiah Owosu-Koramoah might be the guy eventually but guys like Walker are generally easy to find on any given free agent period.

I'm not against bringing back Walker, he's a solid player, a good mentor, well-liked, and isn't going to hurt you for the most part but while he will help against the run, he's a linebacker that will need the defensive tackles in front of him to occupy blockers for Walker to maximize his effectiveness as he's not a defender that runs around or sheds blocks.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Browns drafted a linebacker with one of their third or fourth-round picks with Walker's injury history and Jacob Phillips being a disappointment thus far in his Cleveland term, the Browns could be in the market for a young linebacker to get into the pipeline to learn from a veteran such as Anthony Walker and hopefully step in for him as early as 2024. 

Browns trade for Elijah Moore

 I was preparing to write about the Cleveland Browns re-signing of popular linebacker Anthony Walker (I'll try to write about that move later) when the news cut across the media that Andrew Berry had made his move to attempt to address the wide receiver position via trade and it's a very interesting move with plenty of upside with a question mark as well.

Berry traded the Browns second-round draft pick, number 42 overall, to the New York Jets in return for the Jets third-round choice, number 74 overall, and wide receiver Elijah Moore.

The trade takes the Browns out of the second round but gives them two selections in the third round at 74 and 98, which is a compensation pick near the end of the round.

Those two picks could be combined to move up into the late second round for a particular player or even earlier into the third round, although I would think both third-rounders would be more than the Browns would be willing to pay to move up only a few spots as the pick acquired from the Jets is the twelfth in the round.

The Browns now have eight picks in April's draft with two choices in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds along with their own sixth and seventh-round selections.

As for Elijah Moore, he appears to be exactly what the Browns needed most for their receivers- someone with burning speed (Moore ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine) that can get deep and has the ability to take a short pass and turn it into big plays.

Moore was the Jets second-round selection in 2021 from Mississippi and was a player that I liked a great deal as a potential Brown but the Browns selected Greg Newsome in the first round and Moore was tabbed by the Jets with the second pick of round two.

Moore's infamous "dog-leg" end zone celebration that caused Ole Miss a penalty and missed the extra point to cost the Rebels their rivalry game against Mississippi State among a few other knocks likely made the difference in Moore slipping out of the first-round, which cost him millions.

Moore missed the final five games of his rookie season with an injured quad muscle but in the five games before his injury, Moore caught 34 passes for 459 yards and five touchdowns for a Jets team that won a mere four games and big things were expected for Moore in 2022 with the drafting of Garrett Wilson to team with Moore as the starting wideouts.

However, Moore wasn't used as much in the offense, battled then-offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, and demanded to be traded in mid-season with the Jets ignoring his requests.

Moore finished last season with thirty-seven catches for 446 yards and one touchdown, all of those numbers fewer than in his rookie year when he played in only eleven games compared to sixteen in 2022.

The Jets current courting of Aaron Rodgers and their attempts to add the players that Rodgers wants along with already signing former Rodgers teammate Allen Lazard and signing another free agent in Mecole Hardman earlier today made Moore expendable.

This seems to be a trade that the Browns badly needed to make and gives DeShaun Watson the deep threat that the team lacked last season at an affordable price.

The Browns management has to know that their jobs are on the line this season and doesn't want to be forced to rely on immediate help from their second-round choice, so this trade makes sense as Elijah Moore has shown the ability to be an impact player, even if not on a consistent basis and for the remaining two seasons on his contract Moore will make under two million dollars per year, a very affordable price to pay for a starting wide receiver.

The addition of Moore will move Donovan Peoples-Jones to the third wide receiver, which is a role that he is better suited for and one in which Peoples-Jones should thrive.

There are risks though with Moore as he hasn't shown consistent play other than the five-game span as a rookie, he has shown immaturity at times, and was a bit of a malcontent last season with the Jets, although considering how crazy last season was for the Jets, I can give him a pass for that!

However, when you look at the big picture, the Browns are getting a player with two seasons of experience but still is only 22 and at an extremely team-friendly contract for two years at the cost of dropping thirty-two spots with their first pick in April's draft.

Approaching a season with so much at stake for so many people in the Browns organization, the Browns were going to have to gamble to a certain point on a wide receiver, no matter whether the risk was on maturity, age, injuries, etc, the Browns were going to take a plunge somehow.

Considering the cost, upside, and talent involved, spinning the wheel on Elijah Moore is as reasonable a risk as any other available receiver and could possibly turn out to be the best of them all.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Browns sign Joshua Dobbs

  The Cleveland Browns added a few players that shouldn't dent the starting lineup unless in case of catastrophe but in one of the cases is thought-provoking.

The team returned Joshua Dobbs to the team after the former Tennessee Volunteer spent time with both the Browns and Tennessee Titans in 2022.

Dobbs was the second-string QB behind Jacoby Brissett until the eleven-game suspension of DeShaun Watson concluded, and he was then released by the team.

Dobbs was signed by Tennessee and was forced into the Titan's starting lineup for the final two games of the season, losing both games to playoff teams Dallas and Jacksonville and throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions in the pair.

Dobbs was originally the fourth-round draft pick of Pittsburgh in 2017 and spent his first five seasons with the Steelers before moving to Cleveland last season.

Here's the thought-provoking portion of the show- Dobbs has been signed as the main backup for DeShaun Watson and I'm not sure how to think about that.

On one hand, I like that Dobbs has some similarities in style to Watson and I've always thought that it is smart when teams attempt to carry a backup passer with some of the characteristics of the starter.

I believe that it makes a smoother transition for the team in avoiding a drastic change in type and it helps the backup quarterback enter the lineup with an offense that has been tailored to the starter's strengths, which would be similar to the backup in this particular setup.

But I also wonder if Dobbs is of the caliber to take over a Browns team for an extended period of time and keep them in the hunt?

That doesn't mean that he can't, it means that he has yet to be asked and only time would tell how well he would do.

The Browns added two veterans that should help bulk up the special teams for new ST coach Bubba Ventrone in linebacker Matthew Adams and cornerback Mike Ford.

Adams arrives from Chicago, where he played last season after the first four seasons of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, while Ford spent last year in Atlanta after his first four years with Detroit and Denver.

Ford signed with the Lions in 2018 as an undrafted free agent from Southeast Missouri State and has started nine games in his five-year career.

Ford is brought in as a special teams standout and would be an additional depth piece in the secondary.

Adams was the Colts' seventh-rounder in 2018 from Houston and I remember him as a Cougar as a strong tackler on the college level as a middle linebacker.

Adams started three games last season for the Bears at linebacker but as in the case of Ford, appears to be counted on as a strong special teams performer in Cleveland.

Still, I wouldn't be surprised (depending on the other Browns additions at linebacker) to see Adams receive at least some snaps at linebacker.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

   The tributes continue this time with stars from outside the major four team sports.

Goodbye to Dick Fosbury at the age of 76.

The 1968 Olympic gold medalist at the Mexico City games in the high jump, Fosbury was far more influential in how he won the gold than he was with just a victory.

The "Fosbury Flop" was a radical departure from the technique that most high jumpers used the "straddle method", which saw the jumper leap facing the ground and then lifting each leg over the bar.

Fosbury couldn't master the straddle in high school and naturally began to use his own method, looking up with his upper body crossing the bar first, and then picking his feet last over the bar.

Fosbury progressed enough to finish second in the Oregon state track meet and attended Oregon State University where he was encouraged to return to the straddle method, which he did with little success before returning to his method, which broke the school record in his first meet as a sophomore.

Fosbury would win the NCAA title along with a victory in the Olympic trials before winning the gold in Mexico City with an Olympic record jump of seven feet, four and a quarter inches.

Fosbury would repeat his NCAA title the following year but Fosbury would not attempt a gold medal repeat in 1972 in Munich as after his college eligibility was completed, he would retire from competition.

The Fosbury Flop is recognized as the biggest advance in high jumping and perhaps in the history of track and field.

Goodbye to John Veitch at the age of 77.

The Hall of Fame horse trainer trained four Eclipse Award winners in his career, including Davona Dale, the champion three-year-old filly of 1978 after winning the Filly Triple Crown of the Kentucky Oaks, Black Eyed Susan, and Coaching Club American Oaks.

Veitch would win the second Breeders Cup Classic with Proud Truth but his greatest horse was Alydar, who is remembered for his second-place finishes to Affirmed in each of the 1978 Triple Crown races by smaller and smaller margins.

Alydar was unstoppable in 1978 other than by Affirmed with spectacular wins in the Whitney Handicap and Arlington Classic before winning the 1978 Travers Stakes over Affirmed but only by disqualification.

Veitch was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007

Goodbye to Jerry Jarrett at the age of 80.

Jarrett, the father of Jeff Jarrett, was the long-time owner and promoter of the Memphis wrestling territory and later the original owner of the TNA promotion which still operates today.

Jarrett's Memphis promotion starred about every big-name wrestler that you could name from the 70s and 80s for short or long-term stays but the biggest of the promotion was "The King" Jerry Lawler, who doubled as the part owner of the promotion with Jarrett.

Jarrett's television show that the promotion taped at the studios in Memphis drew phenomenal ratings on its live Saturday morning airing that couldn't even be approached today.

Goodbye to Afternoon Deelites at the age of 30.

A West Virginia-bred by composer Burt Bacharach, Afternoon Deelites was the early favorite for the 1995 Kentucky Derby after a blazing fast win in the final juvenile stakes of 1994, the Hollywood Futurity at a mile and a sixteenth and setting a stakes record that still stands currently.

Afternoon Deelites suffered his first loss in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in a photo finish and would finish eighth in the Kentucky Derby in his next race.

Afternoon Deelites would transition to sprinting and won one graded stakes (Grade III Commonwealth) before retiring to stud, where he would produce twenty-three graded stakes winners.

However, it was a claiming-level gelding named Popcorn Deelites that would be his most famous offspring as Popcorn Deelites would play the role of Seabiscuit in the portions of the film that needed Seabiscuit to be racing.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Browns sign Jordan Akins

      The Cleveland Browns signed their first offensive free agent for 2023 and I'm mildly surprised as the team signed tight end Jordan Akins from the Houston Texans to a two-year contract that could pay Akins as much as 5.2 million dollars.

The soon to be 31-year-old Akins was selected by the Texans in the third round of the 2018 draft from Central Florida and played four seasons for Houston before leaving in 2022 for the New York Giants.

Akins was released by the Giants before the season and returned to the Texans where he caught thirty-seven passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns (a career high) in fifteen games.

Akins came to football late as he signed with the Texas Rangers as their third-round pick in 2010 out of high school as an outfielder but never rose above low A Hickory in four seasons of baseball.

Akins is familiar with DeShaun Watson from their common time in Houston and it's not hard to see that Watson may have had a little bit of influence in pushing for Akins.

At 6'4 and 240 pounds, Akins will give Watson a big red zone target and will likely replace Harrison Bryant as the second tight end behind David Njoku, which makes me wonder about the future of Bryant with the Browns as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Cleaning out the Inbox: Baseball Passings

   I've been well behind on the various items that fill the inbox and as always there are tributes to some that have recently passed.

In this edition, I'm going to stick to the baseball world.

Goodbye to Joe Pepitone at the age of 82.

Once thought to be the next superstar in the New York Yankee dynasty, Joe Pepitone had a good career but was the face of the crumbling of the Yankees after their 1964 American League pennant.

Pepitone made three All-Star teams, won three Gold Gloves, and hit over twenty-six homers five times but is remembered more for his antics away from the diamond as the Yankees moved to the second division in the mid and late 60s.

Pepitone is prominently mentioned in Jim Bouton's book "Ball Four" with some of his wild affairs as well as his own memoir "Joe, You could have made us proud" with even more wild stories.

Pepitone would struggle after leaving New York through three seasons spent with the Astros, Cubs, and Braves before a cameo in Japan ended his career in 1973.

Goodbye to Tim McCarver at the age of 81,

Known by most for his long-time career as a commentator, McCarver was a solid catcher for over twenty years for mostly the Cardinals and Phillies.

McCarver made two All-Star teams and was the catcher for the 1964 and 1967 World Champion Cardinals and spent the latter half of the 1970s with his career thought to be close to finish, McCarver found new life in a second stint as a Phillie when former Cardinal teammate Steve Carlton insisted that the team not only keep McCarver as a backup but play when Carlton pitched rather than the normal starter Bob Boone.

McCarver would move into the television booth for both CBS and Fox nationally as well as calling local games for the Yankees and Mets.

Goodbye to Jesus Alou at the age of 80.

The youngest of the three Alou brothers, Jesus wasn't a power hitter in his career, which lasted from 1963-79 for four teams but was an excellent pinch hitter and the perfect fourth outfielder.

Jesus won two World Series rings with the 1973 and 74 Athletics and will always be a part of baseball history in his rookie season with the Giants as the first trio of brothers to bat in the same inning and later in the year, all three brothers playing in the same outfield.

Goodbye to Albie Pearson at the age of 88.

The 1958 American League Rookie of the Year as a Washington Senator, at 5'5 140 pounds, Pearson was the smallest player in baseball during his career.

Pearson won the ROY with Washington but his best seasons were as part of the expansion Los Angeles Angels, where he made his only All-Star team in 1963 when hitting. 303 for his only season batting over .300.

A back injury forced Pearson into retirement in 1966 and after his career, Pearson would become an ordained minister and would remain involved in ministries for the rest of his life.

Goodbye to Dave Nicholson at the age of 83.

Known for his booming home runs and his bushels of strikeouts, Nicholson was brought to the big leagues by the Orioles in 1960 but spent most of his career with the White Sox, who acquired him as part of the trade that sent Luis Aparicio to Baltimore.

Nicholson hit a career-high twenty-two homers in 1963 but struck out a league-leading 175 times as well.

In 1964, Nicholson blasted a ball that was found across the street from Comiskey Park that cleared the grandstand and was measured at 573 feet in a doubleheader against the Kansas City Athletics that would see Nicholson hit three of his thirteen homers for the season on one day.

Nicholson finished his career with Atlanta in 1967.

An excellent look at Nicholson by Mike Kaszuba on the SABR website can be found here.

Goodbye to John Adams at the age of 71.

Adams was the man that pounded the drum at Cleveland Indians games from 1973 through 2019.

It was Adams that would provide the thump that could be heard over many a broadcast from a seven-eighths empty Cleveland Municipal Stadium and continued up to the pandemic season of 2020, where Adams was invited by the team to drum but Adams didn't feel right until other fans could attend.

Health issues would keep Adams from the ballpark in the two seasons following the pandemic.

Forgotten Superstars: Conrad Dobler

      An all-time favorite of mine passed away recently at the age of 72 in Pueblo Colorado, the self-professed "Dirtiest Player in the Game" Conrad Dobler.

Dobler had struggled with his health in recent years and his family has donated his brain to Boston University for their studies on CTE, a condition that cannot be definitely diagnosed until after death and is often linked to football players and other athletes that deal with contact injuries.

Conrad Dobler was the player that you loved if he played for your team and hated if he didn't and while his tactics on the field with his "questionable tactics" that he often referred to as "exploring a gray area"

Watching Dobler's "highlights" on the occasional NFL Films feature shows him doing one thing- anything in and outside the rulebook to keep his man from getting to the quarterback.

For all of Dobler's behavior on the field. when I would see Dobler speak, I always thought of Dobler embracing the image but not as a pure bad guy.

Instead, Dobler seemed to play the role of a Burt Reynoldsish lovable rogue that left you thinking that this was a pretty good guy that was also a rugged football player.

Dobler was selected as an All-Pro three times and was once referred to by teammate Dan Dierdorf as one of the best pass-blocking guards in the history of the game.

Dobler's feud with Merlin Olsen continued past their playing days with Olsen placing Dobler's name on a tombstone when Olsen was filming his television program "Father Murphy" as an inside joke.

Dobler once said that he caused Olsen to worry more about Dobler than about playing the game, causing Olsen to lose his poise and that's what bothered Olsen the most.

Conrad Dobler's tactics may have been questionable but you cannot deny that he made every team he played for better.

The St.Louis Cardinals won their only two division championships in their twenty-eight years when Conrad Dobler was protecting Jim Hart, the New Orleans Saints had their only .500 season in their first twenty-one seasons with Dobler, and the Buffalo Bills won a division title with Dobler on the offensive line.

After football, Dobler wrote a book "They Call Me Dirty", appeared in several Miller Beer commercials that parodied his on-field image, and would make appearances on the memorabilia show circuit, including signing a helmet in the TRS collection.

Dobler's post-football life wasn't all easy though as he would deal with the brain issues that so many players face, nine knee REPLACEMENTS ( not surgeries-replacements!). When his wife, Joy, fell out of a hammock, she would become a paraplegic requiring round-the-clock care and their combined medical costs would wipe out all of their savings.

Conrad Dobler may have been a controversial figure in football in the 1970s but he certainly was a memorable figure as well.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Browns add DL Depth

  The Cleveland Browns added two defensive linemen to a constantly changing group that should have quite a battle in the summer to earn spots on the Cleveland roster.

Maurice Hurst missed last season with a torn bicep with San Francisco after playing two games for the 49ers in 2021.

Hurst was on the field more often for the Raiders after being selected by the then-Oakland franchise in the fifth round from Michigan in 2018, notching four sacks as a rookie and three and a half in 2019.

Hurst has struggled with injuries since leaving the Raiders, playing in only those two mentioned games, and must be regarded with skepticism regarding his durability. However, assuming that Hurst is able to stay healthy, he could be a valuable part of the rotation.

Trysten Hill split last season with the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys, finishing with a sack in thirteen games ( seven with Dallas, six with Arizona).

The sack is his only solo sack in his four-year career, which started as the Cowboys' second-round selection in 2019 from Central Florida.

Hill never played more than seven games in any of the first three seasons of his career and was released by Dallas mid-season as a disappointment for a high draftee.

Still, Hill has size (6'3 308), is only twenty-five, and wouldn't be the first talented lineman to take a few years to find his way in the league.

Neither Maurice Hurst nor Trysten Hill are the type of players to save a defense but they could prove to be valuable as depth pieces along the line, should either or both make the team.

Browns sign Juan Thornhill

The Cleveland Browns signed an expected starter for their defense for the third day in a row with this signing aimed at their secondary with Kansas City safety Juan Thornhill as the latest addition.

Thornhill has started for the Super Bowl champion since his second-round selection in 2019 from Virginia and finished last season with three interceptions, a sack, and forty-three solo tackles.

Thornhill will start as the free (or deep) safety and will be in the position to run to the ball with his partner Grant Delpit playing as the strong safety, which is more of a run-supporting position.

Thornhill started sixteen games for the Chiefs last season and other than a knee injury that cost him the postseason in 2019, has remained relatively healthy in his four-year career.

Thornhill will replace John Johnson as the Browns starting free safety and if you recall the reaction to the signing of Johnson, they were almost universally positive, and Johnson was a disappointment in his two seasons as a Brown.

Thornhill was signed to a three-year deal worth twenty-one million dollars ( fourteen million guaranteed) which should be around the amount that the Browns hoped to pay for John Johnson's replacement.

Jessie Bates proved to be out of their price range and once Bates was unavailable (signed with the Atlanta Falcons), Thornhill and Taylor Rapp were the two safeties that I hoped the Browns would pursue as I suspected Chauncey Taylor-Johnson would also end as too rich for Cleveland's blood considering that other needs still remained for the team.

Thornhill is thought to be the big-play safety that the Browns have been looking for years to obtain but while I think Thornhill is a fine player and good addition, I'm not sure that he is an elite safety either.

Juan Thornhill should prove to be a solid starter for the Browns, especially if you are able to temper your expectations before getting too excited about his arrival.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Browns sign Dalvin Tomlinson, keep Takitaki

     The Cleveland Browns continued their revamp of their defensive line with the signing of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson to be the bulwark of the interior line for this season.

Tomlinson was signed to a reported 57.5 million over four years with twenty-seven of that total to be guaranteed.

The twenty-nine-year-old Tomlinson played for the Minnesota Vikings in the last two years after spending his first four years in the NFL with the New York Giants, who selected him from Alabama in the second round of the 2017 draft.

Tomlinson finished last season with two and a half sacks with twenty solo tackles in thirteen games for Minnesota, which was the first time in Tomlinson's career that he didn't play every game in a season.

At 6'3 and 325 pounds, Tomlinson provides the ability to stop the run and his thirteen sacks over his career indicate an ability to at least pressure the opposing quarterback, if not take him down.

Tomlinson will be the top man in the Browns defensive tackle rotation and will definitely help what was the weakest position on the entire squad in 2022.

Still, Andrew Berry may not be finished adding to the defensive tackle room as the Browns still could use another tackle and the remainder of the corp could use another player that can step into the rotation immediately.

The Browns currently have returning starter Jordan Elliott, unproven second-year man Perrion Winfrey, disappointing third-year player Tommy Togiai, and mediocre veteran Taven Bryan to choose from as the starter beside Tomlinson and none of those options have to be appealing to Andrew Berry, although Winfrey finished the season strong to give Cleveland hope that he could be a contributor.

Berry will likely add another free agent, although not as expensive and proven as Tomlinson, and perhaps a draft pick to add some depth to the rotation.

Dalvin Tomlinson isn't the total cure to the Browns issues with the interior line but he's a strong start to working towards fixing what was clearly broken last season.

Cleveland also re-signed linebacker Sione Takitaki to a one-year contract worth two and a half million.

Takitaki was in the midst of his best season for the Browns after being moved to middle linebacker after the season-ending injury to Anthony Walker before suffering his own season-ending knee injury in December.

Takitaki will miss some of the early portion of the season but the Browns are hoping to have him back sometime in the middle of the season.

Cleveland may be shopping for a veteran middle linebacker with only former third-round pick Jacob Phillips on the roster with Anthony Walker and Deion Jones eligible for free agency with Walker, who the Browns are reported to be fond of, will miss some of the season as well.

Browns sign Ogbo Okoronkwo, re-sign Ethan Pocic

     The Cleveland Browns read the free agent market and decided to spend their biggest dollars on the defensive line with the signing of defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo from the Houston Texans to provide the pass rush from the opposite end from Myles Garrett.

The three-year contract will be worth twenty-two million dollars, twelve and half of that total guaranteed.

Okoronkwo was drafted by the Rams in 2018 in round five from Oklahoma and played for Los Angeles for four seasons before moving to Houston last season.

Houston started Okoronkwo in the final eight games of the season and Okoronkwo responded with five sacks and finished in the top three in the league in quarterback pressures (Myles Garrett finished fourth) which made him an appealing target to several teams as free agency approached.

Okoronkwo could be a player on the rise with his excellent end to the 2022 season and if the Browns are correct, they may have solved their problems with a pass rush that doesn't include Myles Garrett.

There is some risk involved as Okoronkwo never started a game for the Rams and it's fair to wonder if Okoronkwo is proven enough to feel secure about his production.

Okoronkwo isn't a traditional defensive end, as at 6'2 and 255 pounds his frame doesn't scream run defender and he is more of an edge rusher that the Browns could occasionally mix things up with some snaps as a stand-up outside linebacker.

Still, all things considered, the Browns seem to have done well in signing a possible player that could be improving at 28 at a reasonable cost to help a defensive line that was the largest issue with the defense last season.

The Browns also used some funds that were freed up from restructuring DeShaun Watson's contract to keep center Ethan Pocic in Cleveland with a three-year contract.
Pocic was signed by the Browns before last season to backup Nick Harris but Harris missed the season after suffering a training camp knee injury and Pocic delivered a Pro Bowl-level season.

Pocic was regarded as the best center in the free agent field and the Browns weren't sure they could afford what Pocic could receive elsewhere.

I do wonder what this means for some members of an offensive line that has been heavily invested in their future.

The Browns now have hefty and extensive contracts for four of their five starters with an option decision that will need to be made soon on Jedrick Wills.

Something tells me that one or even two of these five starters will be playing elsewhere in 2024.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Boxing Challenge

 The boxing Saturday was somewhat slim with all three challenge events in as many countries and two continents.

In the biggest bout of the day from Sydney Australia, junior middleweight contender Tim Tszyu dominated former WBC champion Tony Harrison before bludgeoning him with several right hands and uppercuts in round nine before the fight was mercifully stopped by the referee.

Harrison had some success with the jab against Tszyu but that was about all that the veteran could offer against Tszyu's aggression that backed Harrison up and often trapped him along the ropes for long stretches.

Tszyu was the quicker fighter and the harder puncher and other than the first round, it would have been tough to find a round to give to Harrison, as I did on my scorecard which had Tszyu ahead 79-74 after eight rounds.

The victory allows Tszyu to keep his mandatory position for a challenge later this year of unified champion Jermell Charlo, which was originally scheduled for January before it was canceled due to a broken hand suffered in training by Charlo.

Charlo-Tszyu looms as a very interesting fight and while Tszyu will be an underdog, I like his chances.

I thought Charlo lost his first fight with Brian Castano and the second fight was very close before Charlo stopped Castano in the late rounds.

I've never seen Charlo as a dominant fighter like most fully unified champions and still may turn out to be the best of a bunch of similarly talented fighters, so I can see Tsyzu winning the four titles should Charlo be at anything less than his best.

However, an argument can be made that Harrison has seen better days and didn't look impressive in his bouts since losing his title to Charlo, so while Tsyzu's win is the best of his career, it may look better now than it eventually may be.

Earlier in the day in Liverpool, England, super middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco smoothly navigated the toughest test of his career in stopping British veteran Jack Cullen in four rounds.

Cullen fought on even terms in the first two rounds but Pacheco stunned Cullen with a right hand in the third which set the scene for the fourth when Pacheco dumped Cullen to the floor and despite Cullen beating the count, his corner signaled an end for their man.

Pacheco looks to be a very promising prospect in a division that is in need of an exciting young potential star.

In Paris, former Olympic heavyweight gold medalist Tony Yoka suffered his second disappointing defeat in a row, this one a listless split decision loss to former title challenger turned aging journeyman Carlos Takam.

Yoka suffered a cut over his left eye and spent most of the fight on the outside, throwing out a soft jab, and fought very tentatively against Takam, who made the fight by moving forward but never seemed to seriously hurt Yoka, who retreated anyway.

The forty-year-old Takam had slipped to journeyman status in recent fights and his win will likely earn him a few extra paydays against fringe contenders and maybe a better fight against a contender, should one need a stay active fight.

Takam called out Martin Bakole after the fight, which makes a little sense I suppose since it was Bakole that handed Yoka his first loss in the fight before this one.

As for Yoka, this should end any hope of eventual contention as he has adopted a safety-first style to avoid being hit, without the boring effectiveness that can be positive in winning fights.

Instead, Yoka's just plain boring and his future seems very bleak at this time.

I scored Takam a winner at 98-92, which was larger than the official scores of 96-94 for Takam x2 and a terrible card of 96-94 for Yoka.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 33 Pts (2)
Ramon Malpica 28 Pts (3)
Vince Samano 26 Pts (2) 


Saturday, March 11, 2023

Boxing Challenge

 Due to a lack of internet at work last night and tonight, the boxing challenge is Joe Friday- style only.

Junior Middleweights. 12 Rds 
Tim Tszyu vs Tony Harrison
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Tszyu Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Harrison Unanimous Decision.

Super Middleweights. 10 Rds
Diego Pacheco vs Jack Cullen
R.L: Pacheco KO 6
TRS: Pacheco Unanimous Decision
V.S: Pacheco KO 8

Heavyweights 10 Rds
Tony Yoka vs Carlos Takam
R.L: Yoka KO 4
TRS: Yoka Unanimous Decision
V.S: Yoka KO 3

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Cavaliers charge by Boston in OT

    The Cleveland Cavaliers seemed to be on their way to a flat outing and defeat to the visiting Boston Celtics, trailing most of the game and often by double-digits before a run with under four minutes to go put them back in the game.

Cleveland held a brief lead but it was the Celtics with a chance to win with two free throws from Grant Williams and under a second to play.

Williams shoots over eighty percent from the free-throw line, so it seemed that the Cavaliers comeback would be for naught.

However, Williams missed both charity tosses and a Marcus Smart putback attempt failed and would force overtime that would see the shorthanded Celtics run out of energy and allow Cleveland a surprising 118-114 win.

Donovan Mitchell scored forty points and grabbed eleven rebounds with Evan Mobley providing the main support with twenty-five points and seventeen boards to lead the wine (err black) and gold to the win.

Cleveland will travel to Miami for an unusual two-game set against the Heat on Wednesday and Friday, which is followed by an even odder pair of games in Charlotte against the Hornets on Sunday and next Tuesday.


1) While this was a terrific ending for Cleveland in winning a game that they didn't really deserve to win, their play up until the final half of the fourth quarter was less than stellar.

The Cavaliers seemed disinterested at times and as talented as they are, I would hate to see them fall into a trap of thinking that they can turn their play off and on when they think they need it.

2) What makes the game even worse is Boston playing without Jayson Tatum and Al Horford and the Celtics reached town late and were exhausted from a double-overtime loss in New York to the Knicks the evening before.

Under those conditions, the Cavaliers should have never been in this situation.

3) Lamar Stevens didn't enter the game until the fourth quarter with the Cavaliers faltering but Stevens scored eight points and added eight rebounds in his seventeen minutes in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Stevens even hit a three-pointer, which doesn't happen often, and should he develop that shot more consistently, the high-energy forward could find himself as a key contributor off the bench,

4) The win for the Cavaliers was their first over a team with a winning record since February 10 and improved their record in overtime to 7-0.

5) Donovan Mitchell's forty points look even more impressive considering that Mitchell is playing through a finger sprain suffered in Cleveland's blowout win over Detroit last Saturday.

Mitchell hit fourteen of thirty-four shots and while I am certainly not knocking Mitchell by any means, it will be interesting to see how long the finger injury takes to heal and could it affect his shooting while he is playing through the injury,

Monday, March 6, 2023

Hischier hits Arizona in OT!

   The New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier fired a shot off the wing in overtime past Arizona Coyotes goaltender Connor Ingram (27) to give the visiting Devils a 5-4 win over the Coyotes in the NHL's smallest arena.

The Devils led by two goals entering the final period but allowed two goals to Arizona with the game-tying goal with only two minutes remaining in regulation.

Timo Meier scored a goal in his first game as a Devil (32) to lead the New Jersey red-lighters which included two others from Jesper Boqvist (6 & 7) and the other from Damon Severson (5) on the power play.

New Jersey will host Toronto in New Jersey in what will be Timo Meier's home debut.

Hell Raisers

1) Timo Meier played mostly on a line with Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt, on the opposite wing than he played for San Jose.

Meier's goal started the scoring for New Jersey as he slid a backhanded puck off a Dougie Hamilton pass and even more than one goal is the importance of getting that first one so quickly.

2) In every sport, when a big name is acquired and should the player not start quickly, the media and fans start wondering about the player, causing the player stress, and the situation often only worsens.

At least Meier won't have to worry about that!

3) As much as I dislike the shootout, I love four on four overtime hockey!

The ice is wide open, with lots of room to pass, and if I had my way, there would be ten minutes of four-on-four before the shootout kicks in.

If they played ten minutes of four-on-four, there would be fewer shootouts and maybe it would feel a bit more exciting.

4) An example is the game-winner from Nico Hischier, twenty-three seconds into overtime

Hischier is on the wing with a two-on-one with Eric Houla and uses Houla as an option that the Arizona defender cannot afford to allow access to in case of a pass and with the open ice, Hischier can fire an almost uncontested wrister for the game-winner.

5) Dawson Mercer's goal streak ended at eight, which I don't totally mind as it keeps a former Rockie in the team record book and Mercer is added to the record as well,.

Mercer assisted on the Damon Severson power-play goal and had a few good chances for the record breaker but was unable to slam the puck home.

6) I'm not sure how much I like MSG networks not sending their announcers on the road.

Perhaps that was the limitation of the 5,000 seat Mullett Arena for broadcasts and with the different angles of the game that were common, that was the issue.

But if not, it seems that everything is a step behind the action, which isn't the fault of Bill Spaulding and Ken Daneyko, it's only natural for the delay to occur.

7) Writing all of that, I'll never figure out just what the love affair is between Gary Bettman/the league, and Arizona that they receive so many breaks that other cities do not receive.

While Mullett Arena is modern and not rundown, it's still a 5,000-seat arena and you have to wonder if something happened to arenas in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, what Bettman would tolerate from an arena site, if the Flyers asked to play in Hershey for three seasons...

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Figueroa oupoints Magsayo

    Brandon Figueroa outpunched and took advantage of two points deducted from his opponent, Mark Magsayo, for holding to win a unanimous decision in a WBC featherweight eliminator to decide the mandatory challenger for champion Rey Vargas.

Figueroa dominated the second half of the fight other than Magsayo's last attempt to pull the fight from the fire in the final round.

The numbers showed the fight fairly equal but Figueroa outworked Magsayo when the fight was on the line and frustrated him into committing the holding violations as Magsayo tired late.

I thought the fight was closer than the judges at 116-100 (official cards 117-109 x2 and 118-108) but Figueroa was the deserved victor.

Figueroa will now face Rey Vargas for Vargas's WBC title and I like Figueroa's chances of pressuring Vargas, who returns to the weight class after a loss for the vacant 130 pound title to O'Shaquie Foster and will have to drop weight, which for a taller, lankier boxer as Vargas could be a problem.

As for Magsayo, the loss is his second in a row after his upset win over Gary Russell and while he hasn't hurt his career very much with the two defeats, Magsayo might be well-suited to take a confidence builder in his next affair.

In the co-feature, former WBA and IBF junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd dropped his second fight after rising to the middleweight division and this time to the relatively unheralded Armando Resendiz when the fight was stopped before the start of the tenth and final round due to a deep laceration to Hurd's lip.

Hurd vowed before the fight that he was going to return to the aggressive style that won him two titles at 154 pounds and defeated the likes of Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout, and Tony Harrison, and he did that but he was overpowered by Resendiz, who isn't world-class currently and has a loss on his record to the average Marcos Hernandez.

I had Resendiz ahead on my card at 86-83 and I'm sure this win will get him more fights, while Hurd showed some signs of his former style, he might have to return to the junior middleweight division to make any advances.

The other challenge fight was in Newcastle, England in a WBA junior welterweight eliminator as Ohara Davies knocked out Lewis Ritson in the ninth round.

I haven't seen the fight yet but the reports are that Davies scored a spectacular KO.

Boxing Challenge 
TRS: 31 Pts (2)
Ramon Malpica:  25 Pts (1)
Vince Samano: 24 Pts (5)