Monday, July 31, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Bud leaves no doubt.

     After all the questions, the opinions, the barbs of who was ducking who, and who was going to be considered the best of the era, for years between Errol Spence and Terence Crawford in what was considered by almost everyone as a fight that could get either way, the anticipated fight wasn't as much a fight as it was a crowning achievement for a fighter that took many barbs and pokes of disrespect as Terence Crawford retained his WBO welterweight title and added the three championships (WBA, WBC, and IBF) when Crawford stopped Errol Spence in the ninth round with referee Harvey Dock saving Spence from excessive punishment.

Spence had taken plenty of punishment already with cuts around his left eye and both eyes suffering swelling, it was a fair stoppage considering Crawford's status as a finisher and Spence's offense declining by the round.

Spence may have won the first round, which was pretty close, and the third saw both men land their share punches in what was the most action-filled round of the fight but other than those, it was all Terence Crawford as he on all cards and only one judge gave him a single round (the third) other than round one.

Crawford knocked Spence down for the first time in his career in the second round with a one-two combination that was more of a flash knockdown than anything that seriously hurt Spence.

It was a different story as the fight moved on with Crawford beginning to take over in the fourth round as his punches began to sting Spence, who was starting to see the damage to his face build up.

In the seventh, Crawford dropped Spence with a short right and would do so again with another right just before the bell.

Crawford pounded Spence in the eighth before the end would come in round nine with a battered Spence in deep waters before Harvey Dock's final wave.

Give Errol Spence credit, he never quit trying but after his mild success in the third round, Spence wouldn't challenge Crawford again as he walked right into the Crawford jab and just about everything else that Bud threw.

I've seen a few comparisons of this fight.

Steve Kim said it was similar to Bernard Hopkins-Felix Trinidad. and I've seen comps by others to Floyd Mayweather-Diego Corrales and Marco Antonio Barrera-Prince Naseem Hamed but the fight that came to mind for me was this- Muhammad Ali-Ernie Terrell,

Yes, the "What's my name" fight when Ali hammered Terrell relentlessly throughout and wouldn't finish Terrell off so he could batter him for fifteen rounds after Terrell refused in the pre-fight buildup to call Ali by his Muslim name and called him "Cassius Clay".

I don't think Crawford was carrying the brave Spence and he wasn't talking to Spence throughout but every punch that sliced through Spence was intended for Al Haymon and his PBC promotion that had excluded Crawford from graphics as a champion, didn't want to give him the chance to fight Spence, and took shots at Crawford's opponents, while never giving him the chance to face their best, although they did allow Shawn Porter to try Crawford after Porter had been defeated by Spence.

Every jab, every combination was coming at Errol Spence but he was taking the ill intent for Al Haymon, the person most responsible for holding Terence Crawford back despite a spectacular career, and like Ali beating on Ernie Terrell for his arrogance, Crawford was beating on Spence for Al Haymon's sins.

And now perhaps we will see again what seems not to be necessary later in the year.

Spence has the option to have a rematch before the end of the year, however, Crawford can select the division where it would take place, and while Spence, who looked very drawn making 147 would love to see the rematch at 154, and Crawford said he would consider that as he wouldn't have to make that weight either.

I wouldn't do that if I were Crawford, not that I think Spence can turn it around in a rematch but why give him any sort of advantage after a defeat?

Unless- Crawford is getting something in return such as agreeing to fight at junior middleweight in return for a rematch taking place in his home state of Nebraska for example, I'd say it's 147 and make Spence decide if a rematch is worth melting down in weight again.

If Spence decides to forego a rematch, I'm not sure what Crawford has waiting for him.

Bud has been talking smack with unified junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo for years. Still, Charlo is fighting Canelo Alvarez next, and should he lose and decide to go back to junior middleweight, he'll have to fight Tim Tszyu next or drop his undisputed title tag.

Without the titles, I'm not sure Crawford-Charlo is a big draw, and even if everything comes together perfectly, does Al Haymon want to sacrifice another star at the altar of Bud Crawford?

Assuming Crawford stays at 147, the parade of mandatories would have to start soon.

IBF minor champion Jaron "Boots" Ennis is the most intriguing fight of these possibilities but Crawford would be taking a sizable risk for a relatively low financial reward.

WBA minor champion Eimantas Stanionis is a strong fighter and might win a round or two but isn't a match for Crawford.

The WBC has inexplicably rated former WBA and WBC champion Keith Thurman as their number one despite Thurman fighting once in the last four years and that was a decision win over Mario Barrios, who spent most of his career at junior welterweight.

Thurman isn't in Crawford's class but he'll talk a good game and maybe Crawford decides to settle another score if the terms are right.

The top contender for the WBO is Alexis Rocha, who fights for Golden Boy so it might be fairly easy to make but Rocha is overmatched against Crawford and GBP may decide a better road to travel would be waiting for Crawford to move up and then fight for a vacant title against the second rated contender which right now is Canada's Cody Crowley of PBC.

I'm not sure if Terence Crawford will ever have a stage similar to Saturday night's ever again but I'm very sure that Crawford's night and dominance will be remembered for a long time.

I haven't had the time to watch Issac Cruz's split decision win over Giovanni Cabrera or Alejandro Santiago's unanimous decision victory over Nonito Donaire for the WBC bantamweight title.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 128 Pts (4)

Ramon Malpica: 115 Pts (1)

Vince Samano: 89 Pts (0)

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Or it took you long enough!

   The long-anticipated (and some may say a bit overcooked) battle between Errol Spence and Terence Crawford finally sees the bright lights this Saturday and there is more on the line than unifying the four world titles in the welterweight division (three of those titles owned by Spence).

It has even more at stake for the historians as the winner (unless the winner loses the contractually obligated rematch) would make a large step forward as an all-time great.

If Errol Spence grabs the win, despite his career being marred by injuries, Spence will leave the division on an eight-fight winning streak that would have seen him defeat Kell Brook (IBF champion), Lamont Peterson (IBF junior welterweight and minor welterweight champion), Mikey Garcia (WBO feather and junior lightweight, WBC lightweight and IBF junior welterweight champion), Shawn Porter (WBC and IBF welterweight champion), Danny Garcia (WBA and WBO junior welter and WBC welterweight champion) and Yordenis Ugas (WBA welterweight champion) along with Crawford.

Only his win over Carlos Ocampo during that run would stand out as an outlier as a softer opponent and in this era, that achievement would be very rare.

If Terence Crawford emerges victorious, Crawford would leave the division as the first ever boxer to fully unify two divisions in the four-belt era and while his list of victims in the welterweight division isn't nearly as glossy as Spence's list, (other than Shawn Porter) a win over Spence would cement Crawford as the best of the time.

It's a fight that is easy to envision ending in about any manner possible.

Spence walking Crawford down and winning a clear decision, Crawford stunning Spence and finishing him as Crawford is the best fighter in the sport at concluding the evening for a hurt opponent are both possible.

It's just as easy to see Spence using his bigger frame to physically pound on Crawford to score a KO or Crawford brilliantly outboxing the slower Spence on his way to a decision.

Crawford is able to move from a lefthanded stance to a righthanded style easier and smoother than any fighter that I've ever seen and I think that is going to be the difference.

Spence has had a detached retina and it's easier to see Crawford hitting Spence with punches that he can't see than vice versa.

I'm a fan of both fighters and I'll be happy for the victor no matter what but I must admit that I like Crawford a little better and I think he has the edge in what should be a fascinating fight.

Something tells me the effort making the weight one more time is going to take its toll on Spence and Crawford takes over in the second half of the fight,

The undercard will see a world title filled as Nonito Donaire will face Alejandro Santiago for the vacant WBC bantamweight title in the latest of the four titles that Naoya Inoue turned in as he moved up in weight.

This fight was originally scheduled for two weeks ago on a Showtime card but was moved to this night when a few injuries would affect the card.

Donaire hasn't fought since being stopped in two rounds by Inoue in their rematch last June and at forty, it's fair to wonder what Donaire has left but he's still the only fighter that truly pushed Inoue and we just don't know for sure until this fight ends. 
Santiago has won three straight since losing a majority decision to Gary Antonio Russell in 2021.

The final bantamweight title will be filled in a few weeks as Emanuel Rodriguez and  Melvin Lopez will decide the IBF version.

Lightweight contender Isaac Cruz, who gave Gervonta Davis the toughest fight of his career will battle unbeaten Giovanni Cabrera in a rare two organization eliminator (WBA and WBC).

Cruz stopped Eduardo Ramirez in two rounds in his fight, while Cabrera is unbeaten but lacks power (seven KOs in twenty-one wins) and it's hard to see Cabrera keeping Cruz off him.

Cabrera won an easy decision over one-time prospect Gabriel Flores in his last outing but Top Rank still gave him his release after the bout.

Boxing Challenge
WBA/WBC/IBF- WBO Welterweight Title Unification. 12 Rds
Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford
Ramon Malpica; Draw
TRS: Crawford KO 8
Vince Samano: 

Vacant WBC Bantamweight Title. 12 Rds
Nonito Donaire vs Alejandro Santiago
R.L: Donaire KO 5
TRS: Donaire KO 9

Lightweights.12 Rds
Isaac Cruz vs Giovanni Cabrera
R.L: Cruz KO 6
TRS: Cruz KO 5

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Inoue Simply the Best!

     I've written before that occasionally you can watch thirty seconds to a minute of a fight and it becomes crystal clear that one fighter is going to dominate the other, barring a change of tactics.

One of those matchups occurred earlier today in Tokyo Japan after all the pre-fight speculation, previews, and predictions, it was abundantly obvious that Naoya Inoue was going to defeat WBC and WBC junior featherweight champion Stephen Fulton unless Fulton could do anything to change the dynamic.

If Fulton would be unable to do anything to pull that off, the only question would be whether Inoue won by decision or would he be able to stop Fulton?

Fulton was trying his best to repel Inoue but he was unable to establish the jab which in the buildup for the fight was thought to be the tactical edge that Fulton might have, and Inoue used his jab to set up his attack to break down Fulton bit by bit.

Fulton did try his best and the fourth and fifth rounds were relatively close although I scored both for Inoue and Inoue held a 70-63 lead on my card.

There would be no need to score further as Inoue landed a tremendous right hand that reduced Fulton's legs to rubber only to be hit by a left hook that dropped Fulton for the first time in his career.

Fulton showed heart in getting up but he was unable to fend off the charge of Inoue's punches and knocked Fulton down again with the referee stopping the fight without a count.

Impressive is too soft to describe the victory as Inoue stepped up in weight and tore apart the best fighter that the division had to offer with ease, taking his two championships with him.

And pity poor Marlon Tapales, who upset Murodjon Akhmadaliev with a split decision to take his WBA and IBF titles in April, and was brought into the ring for a faceoff with Inoue after the fight.

Tapales, much like Paul Butler last December, will be given the payday of his career for the sacrifice of his titles, and will almost certainly be dismissed by Inoue whenever he chooses to do so.

And after Inoue dispatches Tapales, Inoue is likely to leave the junior featherweight division as he left the bantamweights- with nothing to prove and with all four titles.

That would leave the featherweight division to conquer and again the only question is when Inoue hits that magical invisible weight that his greatness is reduced to merely excellent.

Inoue would be favored against any featherweight champion and none of those fighters other than maybe WBO champion Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner would have even a minimal chance.

WBC king Rey Vargas fights for PBC and unlike Fulton, who also fights for PBC, Vargas doesn't appear likely to gamble on greatness to challenge Inoue.

Vargas is a safety-first boxer and would likely try to run from Inoue for twelve rounds.

The WBA champion, England's Leigh Wood fights for Matchroom and would likely engage Inoue before paying a massive price to do so, should such a fight be arranged.

IBF titleist Luis Alberto Lopez has impressed with his road wins over Josh Warrington to win this title and then defending against Michael Conlan but he doesn't appear to have the all-around game that would trouble Inoue and while WBO standard bearer Robeisy Ramirez has the amateur pedigree and maturing professional game, I wonder if he has the in-ring discipline that it will take to defeat Inoue.

It may be putting the cart well before the horse but I'm not sure that the junior lightweight division has the man to tame the Monster either.

It may be two years away before invading that division would happen but I'd favor Inoue against any of the four champions- Hector Luis Garcia (WBA/PBC) fought well before being stopped by Gervonta Davis but suffered from double-vision in that fight and his status is unknown, WBC (free agent) champion O'Shaquie Foster would likely be meat on Inoue's platter, IBF beltholder Joe Cordina (Matchroom) would meet a fate similar to Leigh Wood in an Inoue challenge, a game attack before being overwhelmed, and either WBO champion Emanuel Navarrete or his August challenger in two-division champion Oscar Valdez would be an exciting opponent for Inoue as well as the best known and with both promoted by Top Rank, would be an easy fight to sign, although both appear to be overmatched by Inoue.

Of course, upsets always are part of the boxing landscape and eventually, some unexpected boxer will take away the zero of Inoue if he fights long enough or moves up in weight too many times.

However for now and for the foreseeable future- Naoya Inoue looks unbeatable and unless the winner of Saturday night's Errol Spence-Terence Crawford battle is incredibly impressive to stake their claim, Inoue is the best fighter in the world.

In the co-feature, Robeisy Ramirez retained his WBO featherweight title with a fifth-round knockout over former Olympic bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu.

Ramirez won the first four rounds over the lanky challenger before busting his face and eye in the fifth before crunching him with a left uppercut that Shimizu did well to get up from but was saved by the referee from taking more punishment.

Boxing Challenge 

TRS: 124 Pts (2)
Ramon Malpica: 114 Pts (5)
Vince Samano: 89 Pts (0)

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing world comes to a halt for a mid-week fight from Tokyo that is one of the best matches that the sport can put together as the unbeaten, three-division champion Naoya "The Monster" Inoue, who most recently held all four titles in the bantamweight division moves up to the junior featherweight division to face the best fighter in the division in the WBC and WBO champion Stephen Fulton.

Fulton owns a huge win to unify his titles over Brandon Figueroa by a close majority decision in 2021 but has fought only once since, dominating former WBA and IBF champion Daniel Roman by an easy unanimous decision.

Fulton's skills rank with the best in boxing and the only flaw is a lack of power with only eight of his twenty-one wins by knockout, so while Fulton is a live underdog here and I give him a chance against Inoue, it's not a stretch to wonder about his layoff and can he hurt Inoue enough to keep the Monster from walking through his punches and breaking him down.

It's also reasonable to wonder if Inoue can catch the smoother boxer and larger man with the type of punches that have devastated everyone that he has faced in three divisions and what happens should Inoue hit Fulton and Fulton takes the best of Inoue well.

Inoue is arguably the best fighter in the world right now but every fighter reaches a wall as they progress through divisions and sooner or later will reach a point where the larger opponents turn a great fighter into a merely very good one and Stephen Fulton is the best test for Inoue at 122 pounds of this theory.

It happens to every great fighter and when you push the wall enough, it will eventually crumble, the question is when does it happen?

In facing Stephen Fulton without a fight at the weight and battling the best of the division, we will know very quickly if Inoue has reached the wall now.

In the co-feature, Robeisy Ramirez defends his WBO featherweight crown for the first time against Satoshi Shimizu of Japan.

Shimizu won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics but as a professional, Shimizu hasn't fought any world-class opponents and Ramirez has steadily improved after a rocky start as a pro with a great performance against Isaac Dogboe in his last fight to win the WBO title that was vacated by Emmanuel Navarrete.

Assuming Ramirez continues to improve, he seems a class above Shimizu.

Boxing Challenge

WBC/WBO Junior Featherweight Titles. 12 Rds 
Stephen Fulton vs Naoya Inoue
Ramon Malpica: Inoue KO 8
TRS: Inoue Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Fulton Unanimous Decision

WBO Featherweight Title. 12 Rds
Robeisy Ramirez vs Satoshi Shimizu
R.L: Ramirez KO 10
TRS: Ramirez Unanimous Decision
V.S: Shimizu Unanimous Decision

Monday, July 24, 2023

Boxing Challenge: The Hamburglar Visits Oklahoma

     The Hamburglar had been on the fringes of a re-appearance in boxing of late with some controversial decisions but he finally was forced to step out of the darkness on Saturday in Shawnee Oklahoma for the main event of a light boxing weekend.

George Kambosos may have been given a majority decision victory in an IBF lightweight title eliminator over Maxi Hughes but he certainly didn't deserve the win and while Kambosos will now be in line to fight for a potentially vacant championship should Devin Haney decide to move to the junior welterweight division, it's certainly fair to begin to wonder if the post-fight excuses by Teofimo Lopez were legitimate concerning Kambosos's upset and perhaps any decent boxer have possibly beaten a weakened Lopez on that night.

The scores and decision will long outlive the actual fight as it wasn't particularly exciting or even interesting but Hughes did more than enough to fend off the ineffective aggression from Kambosos.

I had Hughes clearly ahead 116-112 and some watchers had Hughes with a larger lead than mine before the staggeringly terrible scorecards- 114-114 (I could see this if you stretched to give Kambosos every narrow round but still not good), 115-113 for Kambosos ( terrible) and 117-11 for Kambosos, which might be the worst card I've seen in quite a while.

I feel terrible for Hughes, who did everything that a heavy underdog could do to win and still got hosed out of a career-defining win that would have likely earned him a shot at a vacant world championship.

Kambosos could very well be boxing's one-hit wonder and while it would be premature to write the Australian off entirely, Kambosos has fought so dismally in his three fights since his upset over Teofimo Lopez that it is fair to wonder if he has already passed his best days.

The co-feature saw lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis dominated Francesco Patera to win an easy ten-round decision.

Davis knocked down Patera in the eighth round but Patera battled through to last the ten-round distance.

Davis won by scores of 100-89 times two with my score the same as the final judge of 99-90.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 122 Pts (2) 
Ramon Malpica: 109 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 89 Pts (2)

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Boxing Challenge

    If you thought last weekend's boxing slate was light, you'll really be less than dazzled by this Saturday's with only one card from Top Rank/ESPN to fill the weekend.

The Oklahoma-based card will be worth watching with both affairs waged at 135 pounds.

The main event pits former WBA/IBF/WBO champion George Kambosos in his first fight since losing his titles and subsequent rematch to Devin Haney in an IBF eliminator against Britain's Maxi Hughes.

Kambosos, who was so impressive and game in his upset title-winning victory over Teofimo Lopez, lacked the same fire against Haney and it's fair to wonder if his personal desire has perhaps been drained a bit after two huge purses against Haney and becoming a champion.

Hughes appeared to be a standard European title-level boxer for most of his career but has ripped off seven straight wins over the last three years including wins over former IBF featherweight champion Kid Galahad in his most recent win and another win over former title challenger Jono Carroll.

If Kambosos is still motivated to become a contender again, he's a cut above Hughes but that needs to be proven- not discussed.

The co-feature will match top prospect Keyshawn Davis against another European-level opponent in Francisco (No, I'm not Ken) Patera.

Davis has notched victories over two former title challengers in his last two fights with a ninth-round knockout of Anthony Yigit and a decision over Juan Carlos Burgos, while Patera is a veteran, he's never fought outside of Europe or anyone near the talent of Davis,

Patera hasn't been stopped in any of his three losses, so a Davis stoppage win would be an achievement.

Boxing Challenge

Lightweights. 12 Rds 
George Kambosos vs Maxi Hughes
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Kambosos Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Hughes Unanimous Decision

Lightweights. 10 Rds
Keyshawn Davis vs  Francisco Patera
R.L: Davis KO 3
TRS: Davis KO 8
V.S:  Davis Unanimous Decision

Devils sign Tomas Nosek

    The New Jersey Devils made a quiet free agent signing today when they signed forward Tomas Nosek at one million dollars over his one-year contract. 

Nosek scored seven goals with eleven assists in sixty-six games for the Boston Bruins last season after scoring only three goals in his first season in Boston in 2021-22.

Nosek turns thirty-one in September and played for Las Vegas for four seasons before arriving with the Bruins for his two-season term.

Nosek was very consistent in his seasons with the Golden Knights, scoring seven, eight, eight, and eight goals.

Nosek is noted for his defensive ability and Boston had him active for all seven of their playoff series against Florida, so there is some gain with Nosek as a defensive specialist as a left winger and Nosek has played some center, according to All About The Jersey, and is reported to be pretty strong on faceoffs.

AATJ also notes the sudden jam of players for the third and fourth lines to move around the incumbents Erik Haula, Michael McLeod, Ondrej Palat, and Nathan Bastian.

The Devils traded for Shane Bowers, signed Chris Tierney last week, Nolan Foote is supposedly ready to compete for one of those slots, and Curtis Lazar is returning after he was traded for at the trade deadline along with some other AHL types that will be in camp.

While this gives the Devils loads of depth for the bottom six forward spots, it could stick them in a sport of having some veteran depth at Utica that could be playing at the NHL level in some organizations and could even lead to a few locker room issues.

I don't think that will be the case but one never knows when you are dealing with so many players and so few positions available.

Still, Tomas Nosek has a chance to be a very handy role player to have around, and at a cost that won't break the bank, I wouldn't rail against the signing.

Browns release Perrion Winfrey

  Andrew Berry has been very reluctant to give up on his draft choices but after another legal slip-up, Berry and the Browns were forced to release defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey.

Winfrey appeared to be a steal for Cleveland on 2022 draft day when he slipped to the fourth round and immediately endeared himself to Browns fans with a social media outburst that was more than a bit entertaining!

The former Oklahoma Sooner had various issues in the first half of last season that caused him to be suspended for the early season defeat against the Jets, and would be inactive for three consecutive games during the middle of the season.

However, Winfrey's play picked up in the second half as he started playing as part of the defensive line rotation, seeing around half the snaps per game, and earning his first half-sack of what would be his only season in Cleveland.

Winfrey was in trouble in April with a misdemeanor assault charge that was eventually dropped when Winfrey completed a court-mandated program, and last month was robbed at gunpoint along with Browns cornerback Greg Newsome leaving a bar in Cleveland.

The charge against Winfrey appears to be as a suspect in an aggravated robbery and possible violence towards another woman, who had some video/audio of Winfrey during the incident and placed the Browns into a position of having to give up on Winfrey after considering releasing him after the April incident.

From a football perspective, the Browns had loaded up at defensive tackle in the off-season and while Winfrey was far from a lock to make the team, I was anxious to see what a disciplined teacher like Jim Schwartz might have been able to do with Winfrey.

From a non-football perspective, the Browns had to release Winfrey.

The Cleveland Browns, like it or not, aren't in a position to lose the battle for public opinion as long as they employ DeShaun Watson, and you could have made an excellent argument that Winfrey had already received more than enough chances already before the final incident earlier this week.

Andrew Berry had given Perrion Winfrey chance after chance to show anything that might have shown that he was growing past his previous problems and Winfrey did nothing with any of them.

Now, Winfrey is through in Cleveland, and he's likely through anywhere else as well, or at least for a while to come.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Forgotten Superstars: MIZZ Georgia Hase!

     Last week when I wrote about the MLB draft, I mentioned the Guardians first-round selection Ralphie Velasquez and how the name reminded me of the diminutive gentleman to the left, Ralphie Valladares of the "World Famous Los Angeles T-Birds" of the now defunct Roller Derby and its failed 1989-1990 comeback as RollerGames.

However, that reference reminded me of the greatest personality of Roller Derby and just how good she was at getting heat from the fans.

Georgia Hase managed the Detroit Devils of the original Roller Derby league and "Bad Attitude" of the revamped RollerGames as the main heel manager during the lifespan of the two leagues.

I think so highly of "Mizz" Hase's (That's how the television broadcasts always spelled) ability to infuriate the fans and add to the product that I would rank her just under Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Jim Cornette as "managers" in the realm of  "pre-determined" athletic competition.

Hase played the feminist villain that played to the phobias of the roller derby fan by insinuating that she was a lesbian (I honestly don't know if she was or wasn't in her private life), insisting on being called "Mizz" to play off the women's movement's adaptation of the term "Ms" when spoken to by an interviewer, and generally pulling various tactics that pushed the rulebook to its limits in an effort to defeat those popular T-Birds.  

When you have some experience watching pro wrestling from the time that managers were used, it's easy to pick up on Hase's similarity to Bobby Heenan, especially with the black jumpsuit with the embroidery on the back as seen in the Hase photo above.

Heenan used the same trick to stir up the fans with one version that stated "Bobby Heenan #1" and a lesser-used version "California", which was certain to make Heenan loved as he referenced himself often as hailing from California, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood to place himself above the "Ham and Eggers" as Heenan often referred to wrestling fans.

Hase's use of "Rose" to appear ladylike and classy to an audience that viewed her as neither worked equally well in raising the ire of the skating fans that saw her as neither of those adjectives!

Hase apparently was a skater in the sport before transitioning to the heel manager spot which made her the memorable performer that she was.

I have no doubt that had a wrestling promotion decided to use Hase as their top heel mouthpiece (which would have been way too forward-thinking for the wrestling business) that she could have been a star for that business as well.

The only thing that I would wonder about with Hase in pro wrestling would be her ability to take the big bumps that a wrestling manager needs to take and I'd think that would be unlikely to be an issue with Hase's past taking similar bumps in roller derby.

Georgia Hase passed away in 2015 and unless you remember her from the prime access days of roller derby, it's unlikely that you'll remember her today but she's worth remembering or even checking out on YouTube if you are unfamiliar with her.

If you watch and immediately find yourself thinking "What an obnoxious woman!", "Mizz" Georgia Hase did her job and did it very well. 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Martin escapes

      The boxing weekend lacked a title fight but there were three fights that could affect boxing in the near future as well as down the road.

In the main event from Las Vegas for Showtime and PBC, lightweight contender Frank Martin used a late rally to escape with a narrow but unanimous decision over Artem Harutyunyan.

 Harutyunyan forced Martin's hand a bit with a style that I wouldn't call overly aggressive nor a pure boxing style either, that confused Martin through most of the fight and kept the Texan a step behind.

Martin had his moments, including a big sixth round that saw him stagger Harutyunyan and looked to have the momentum in his direction but Harutyunyan took over instead and had a sizable lead on my card after nine rounds.

Martin's trainer Derrick James thought so too as he exhorted Martin to step up the pace between the ninth and tenth round and Martin responded with some of his best rounds of the fight, sweeping the final three rounds and forcing Harutyunyan to take a knee in the final round.

The knockdown cost Harutyunyan on one scorecard as he would have gotten a draw on one scorecard without it, losing on that 114-113 and on the other two cards 115-112.

I scored Harutyunyan a winner at 114-113 but the fight was very close with several rounds that could have been given to either fighter, so giving Martin the nod is acceptable and reasonable in my opinion.

Still, even in victory, and considering the terrific try by the former Olympic bronze medalist, Harutyunyan, Martin now has some question marks for a potential fight against an elite fighter in the division.

PBC isn't especially strong at 135 pounds, other than Gervonta Davis and maybe Issac Cruz, so it's possible that Martin's outing might make either man more likely to try Martin now than after his dazzling win over Michel Rivera, so this could eventually be a good thing for Martin if he just had a bad night or trouble with a difficult style.

In the co-feature, junior welterweight Elvis Rodriguez scored the biggest win of his career when he stopped former WBC champion Viktor Postol in the seventh round.

The fight was evenly fought through four rounds and Postol was winning the fifth before a Rodriguez right hand late in the round wobbled Postol a bit.

Rodriguez dropped Postol in round six and broke Postol's nose, causing some profuse bleeding.

Postol survived the sixth but Rodriguez poured it on in the seventh with the referee maybe stopping the fight a smidge too soon.

However, Postol wasn't going to turn the fight around and it seemed like a matter of time in any case.

Rodriguez looked much better than he did in his previous fight, a majority decision win over Joseph Adorno, and might be on his way to another improvement in opponent soon.

As for Postol, it was his second loss by stoppage in a row after never having an early loss before and unless he would be satisfied with being a name opponent, might be time to consider retirement.

The other boxing challenge fight was the co-feature from Matchroom/DAZN in Detroit for the pro debut of Olympic gold medalist Andy Cruz, who used his superior skills and speed to dominate trialhorse Juan Carlos Burgos over ten rounds.

Burgos was at one time good enough to fight for a world title and should have won one, drawing against Roman Martinez in a fight he won in my opinion.

But those days are gone and Burgos is just another rugged opponent that good young lightweights face to gain experience with Burgos losing decisions to those fighters as each tries to be the first to stop him.

Cruz was no different than Keyshawn Davis, Mikey Garcia, or Devin Haney, all of who dominated Burgos, and yet couldn't stop him as they settled for dominant unanimous decision victories.

Cruz won every round on two cards and mine at 100-90 as the other card was 98-92 for Cruz, which in its own way is one of the crazier cards this year as I can't find one round for Burgos, no matter how hard I try to.

Cruz is planning on fighting an even better opponent in his second fight and hopes to gain a title fight in his third pro bout.

I'm not sure if that is feasible, especially if Devin Haney stays in the division and holds all four titles but Cruz will have his chances against the better fighters sooner or later and the inevitable fight with Keyshawn Davis, who Cruz defeated multiple times in the amateurs, including for Olympic gold.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 120 Pts (4) 
Ramon Malpica: 107 Pts (0)
Vince Samano: 87 Pts (3)

Friday, July 14, 2023

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing schedule has three shows on Saturday but only three fights for the boxing challenge.

Showtime and PBC moved one of their three fights to the Errol Spence-Terence Crawford undercard as the Nonito Donaire-Alejandro Santiago bout for the vacant WBC bantamweight title will now be contested on July 29th after originally scheduled for the Saturday broadcast.

The main event from Las Vegas will see undefeated lightweight Frank Martin in a WBC eliminator against untested and undefeated Artem Harutyunyan, who fights out of Germany.

The unbeaten Martin dominated fellow unbeaten Michel Rivera in December and the slick-boxing Martin is the lightweight that none of the elites in the division want to face currently.

The winner of this one will be squarely in the middle of the eventual breakup of the lightweight titles, should Devin Haney move to the junior welterweight division.

Harutyunyan won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics for Germany but hasn't beaten anyone of note as a professional and is the epitome of the unknown quantity entering the fight.

The new co-feature will pair prospect, Elvis Rodriguez, against former WBC junior welterweight champion Viktor Postol in a twelve-rounder.

The durable Postol has lost his last two fights, losing on a final round stoppage that was extremely questionable, although Postol was behind on the scorecards, to Gary Antuanne Russell and a close majority decision to Jose Ramirez when Ramirez held the WBC and WBO titles.

At 39, Postol has perhaps lost a step but could have enough to hold off Rodriguez, who was a star of the "pandemic bubble" before being upset by Kenneth Sims, a result that doesn't look as bad now with Sims's recent winning streak.

Rodriguez was released by Top Rank after the Sims loss and has won his last three since signing with PBC including a majority decision over Joseph Adorno, the same Adorno that was dominated last week on Showtime by Edwin De Los Santos, so this should be a test for Rodriguez.

The remaining fight is from Detroit as the co-feature to Alicia Baumgartner's title defense as Matchroom/DAZN's latest marquee signing makes his debut as 2020 Olympic gold medalist Andy Cruz takes on veteran warhorse Juan Carlos Burgos.

Cruz, who defeated hot prospect Keyshawn Davis to win the gold and hold four amateur wins over Davis, is moving to ten rounders to start his career as quickly as possible and by facing Burgos, who lost to Davis by a lopsided unanimous decision, Cruz will immediately make comparisons between himself and the promising Davis.

Boxing Challenge

Lightweights 12 Rds
Frank Martin vs Artem Harutyunyan
Ramon Malpica:
TRS: Martin Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Martin KO 9

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Viktor Postol vs Elvis Rodriguez
TRS: Postol Majority Decision
V.S: Rodriguez Unanimous Decision

Lightweights. 10 Rds
Andy Cruz vs Juan Carlos Burgos
TRS: Cruz Unanimous Decision
V.S: Cruz KO 8

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

MLB Draft and Ralphie

  The recent baseball draft made me think of a time when the baseball draft was a big deal to me and writing about it here.

I so rarely watch baseball anymore that I hardly knew many of the prospects for the draft.

I watched some of the early rounds of the College World Series, so I was familiar with the two stars from LSU (pitcher Paul Skenes and outfielder Dylan Crews), Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford, Wake Forest pitcher Rhett Lowder with a few other names from high schools/junior colleges and that was about the extent of my knowledge.

That saddens me honestly and while I've written before about the perfect storm that took several issues (both large and small) to congeal and create the current malaise, it really hit home yesterday when I had a person send me a message asking about the Guardians (one of the small issues there) first-round pick in California high school catcher Ralphie Velazquez and I had to write back to say not only did I not have an opinion, I had never heard of him.

Now, that's because I didn't do any research to do so and not a knock on Velazquez in any way but it made me wonder just how deep this was for me.

After all, the first thought upon hearing the selection of Velazquez wasn't positional need, financial issues, contract demands, or what other players that Cleveland could have selected, it was this-

My thoughts were of Ralphie Valladares.

Between being a California native and the name Ralphie, my first thoughts were of Valladares, an already ancient star of the "World Famous" Los Angeles T-Birds of Roller Derby when I was a kid.

Valladares was already gray-haired, had a physical look that combined the head and upper body of Fred Flintstone with the height of Barney Rubble and looked more like your local butcher than a star of a sport.

Valladares passed in 1998 at the age of 62, which really shocked me because that meant when I was watching him on television he would have been in his forties and looked like he was sixty even then!

I would have lost money on that bet as I was certain looking at him that he was at least 55 when I saw him skating for the first time!

Valladares was treated like the Babe Ruth of the sport, often coming off the bench for a stunning miraculous performance to somehow lift the T-Birds to another win over the villainous Ms. Georgia Hase and her minions, despite reminding you more of your grandfather's drinking pal than a pro athlete.

Yet when it came to the MLB draft, it was Valladares that I was thinking of and not baseball.

And when I did think of another sport to read or wonder about, it wasn't baseball, it was checking to see if Harvey Barnes of Leicester City (English Premier League) had signed with Newcastle United yet.

I've watched one game from Japan this year and a few innings here and there at my dad's of a few Orioles games as the total sum of the baseball that I've watched this year.

While I don't think I've filled the gap once held by baseball during the summer, I've filled it with a few different things over the rest of the year.

I've really enjoyed learning about the English Premier League and my chosen team, Newcastle United, and would consider writing about them here but I don't know enough about the game to really add anything significant.

I have considered perhaps discussing the occasional signing during the two transfer windows but even then it's not like I know whether a player is a good or poor signing with a few exceptions.

I've enjoyed building my program collection with some additions that I've been very pleased with.

I've also been working on cleaning up some of my toy collections to make them a little easier on the eye as they their display stands.

It's a roundabout way of writing about how baseball may or may not have been replaced for the long term but I've found things to fill the void in the short term.

 I do wonder if I'll ever care the same way again but one never knows what small spark may reignite my interest in baseball, so never say never- just say we'll see.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Ennis rolls over Villa

   The Showtime main event from Atlantic City saw the return of Jaron "Boots" Ennis from more than only a few months away from the ring, it would see the return of the violent Ennis that made him the apple of fans scouting for the next big star after a dominant but hardly dazzling decision win over Karen Chukhadzian to win an interim title earlier this year.

Ennis pounded an incredibly tough and game Roiman Villa for ten rounds before the end that made sense to allow Villa an out from taking the type of punishment that changes lives.

Ennis chopped Villa to the floor in the tenth and the fight quickly ended but hurt Villa multiple times in the fight, most notably in round six when Villa almost dipped to the floor and amazingly kept himself up and even more amazingly survived the round without going down.

Ennis occasionally took a right hand from Villa, so his night wasn't perfect but his offensive game ripped through Villa and had him bleeding from the nose and mouth for most of the battle.

Ennis was able to win the battles on the inside and outside against Villa, who showed a strong chin and toughness to spare but wasn't able to accomplish nearly enough against the formidable offensive toolbox of Ennis. It'll be interesting to see how much this battering took from Villa as often a fighter doesn't recover entirely after punishment like this.

Ennis called out the winner of the Errol Spence-Terence Crawford fight as a possible opponent but there will almost certainly be a rematch and the winner is likely to vacate his titles with Ennis's minor title with the IBF being promoted to the full championship.

A more realistic possibility would be against Eimantas Stanionis, who holds the minor WBA title and had his fight with Vergil Ortiz canceled for the third time earlier this week.

Stanonis fights with PBC ( The Ortiz fight was promoted by Golden Boy due to a purse bid), and a fight with Ennis would be entertaining, easy to make, I think, and could keep two of the titles that Spence or Crawford unify together.

Stanionis needs a fight, Ennis stated he wants to fight again before the end of the year, and with Spence-Crawford II contractually obligated to happen before 2023 ends, Ennis-Stanionis would make a terrific co-feature for the rematch PPV.

You would have to favor Ennis obviously but Stanionis wouldn't be without a chance to win.

The remaining two fights in the boxing challenge both showcased lightweight prospects that won lopsided decisions against overmatched opponents.

On Showtime, Edwin De Los Santos added something to his reputation as a puncher as he calmly outboxed Joseph Adorno in a dull ten-rounder.

Not much to say about this one other than De Los Santos used the jab to control Adorno throughout.

De Los Santos won easily by scores of 100-90 (same as my score) and two judges listed it as 99-91.

On DAZN from Golden Boy, Floyd Schofield was promoted to the main event after the cancellation of the Stanionis-Ortiz bout and dominated journeyman Haskell Rhodes in winning a unanimous decision.

The fight wasn't competitive but Schofield showed more pizzaz in dropping Rhodes twice in the seventh, and once in the eighth before a ninth-round headbutt tore a horizontal cut along Schofield's left cheekbone and allowed Rhodes some time to get himself together enough to last the distance.

Schofield won on all three cards 100-87, the same as mine.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 116 Pts (6) 
Ramon Malpica: 107 Pts (6)
Vince Samano: 84 Pts (6) 

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Pacheco shines again

  The best-known fighters in the super middleweight division include fighters such as unified champion Canelo Alvarez, power-punching David Benavidez, former champion Caleb Plant, and undefeated talents such as David Morrell, Jaime Munguia, and Edgar Berlanga.

All of those men should prepare eventually for another talented boxer to join their ranks as Diego Pacheco looks to have the potential to be as good or better than any of those listed above.

Pacheco's latest victory was a domination of Manuel Gallegos over four rounds that left the referee no choice other than halt the proceedings.

Gallegos entered the fight with one loss and drew in his last fight against talented prospect Richard Vanciclen on a ProBox card and wasn't a pushover for Pacheco on paper but when the fight started, it was clear that these were two different levels of fighters.

Gallegos steadily attempted to crowd Pacheco, who was able to easily sidestep the punches and rip Gallegos with counter shots that bounced off his chin at first but inevitably wore him down.

The end came in the fourth when Pacheco finally dropped Gallegos, who gamely rose and attempted to continue but was ripped with multiple shots along the ropes before the fight was mercifully ended.

One could argue that the stoppage may have been overdue with Gallegos taking punch after punch without a response.

As far as Pacheco, he improves with each higher step in opposition and he seems to be a star in the making.

I don't think Pacheco should fight any of the men that I listed above (other than perhaps Berlanga) quite yet but even now, I think he'd be competitive with any of them and might beat a few ( certainly Berlanga, maybe Munguia, and Plant) if he was matched with them now.

Give Diego Pacheco two or three more fights against opponents that might test him over the next year and he'll be ready for almost any at the top of division.

Pacheco might be that good.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 110 Pts (2)

Ramon Malpica: 101 Pts (2)

Vince Samano: 78 Pts (1)


Friday, July 7, 2023

Boxing Challenge

  Boxing fans have waited a long time for the welterweight showdown between Errol Spence and Terence Crawford that will finally take place on July 29th but this Saturday, the two best young welterweights fight on different cards and there could be a chance that we will be talking about a showdown needing to happen between Jaron "Boots" Ennis and Vergil Ortiz.

The Spence-Crawford winner will vacate the titles and move up in weight and both men will be fighting for minor titles that will be promoted to the world title after titles become vacant.

Ennis already holds the IBF "interim" title. At the same time, Ortiz will face Eimantas Stanionis for Stanionis's WBA "regular" title, so each could hold a world title by the end of the year.

Ortiz has the tougher task against the undefeated Stanionis, who is a rugged mauler capable of winning over Ortiz and grabbing future glory for himself.

Ortiz has stopped every opponent but his battles with Rhabdomyolysis have caused two postponements of this fight and if Stanionis is able to reach Ortiz to the body to rough him up, we really don't know how Ortiz will react to that after his issues.

Ortiz is the bigger puncher and has the better resume' but Stanionis might be the first fighter that is capable of matching the physical strength of Ortiz.

It's a fascinating fight to think about and while Ortiz is a deserved favorite, some oddsmakers may be sleeping on Stanionis's chances.

Stanionis fights for PBC but Golden Boy Promotions won a purse bid for their man Ortiz and will be promoting the fight which will be held in San Antonio.

Editor's Note: Due to another issue with Rhabdomyolysis, Vergil Ortiz has been forced to drop out of his fight against Eimantas Stanionis.

In my opinion, the WBA needs to act quickly to name another opponent for Stanonis for some time in the next two or three months as it's apparent that Vergil Ortiz's health problems, though no fault of his own, have made him undependable to try yet another attempt to make a fight with Stanionis.

It's unfortunate but it's the right thing to do.

The highest-ranking contender in the WBA rankings would be 13-0 Shakram Giyasov followed by former WBA and WBC champion Keith Thurman.

Meanwhile, over on Showtime, Ennis, who had looked devastating in every fight before his last in winning every round of a twelve-round decision over Karen Chukhadzhian to win his minor title, fights Roiman Villa, who had stopped every opponent in his first twenty-four wins (Villa has one loss) before his two most recent wins (and biggest) in upset victories over Janelson Bocachica and in his last time out, a majority decision over Rashidi Ellis.

Villa isn't be taken lightly but he doesn't match the power of Ennis and he certainly isn't going to outbox Ennis and while he is a very credible opponent, he doesn't match up well against Boots.

Each card's co-feature will pit highly touted lightweight prospects as their co-feature.

On DAZN, Golden Boy's speedy Floyd Schofield will take on veteran Haskell Rhodes, while on Showtime, bomber Edwin De Los Santos battles Joseph Adorno.

De Los Santos has fourteen KOs in his fifteen wins ( De Los Santos has one loss, a split decision against undefeated William Foster) and has knocked out two highly thought-of prospects in two and three rounds (Luis Acosta and Jose Valenzuela) in his most recent fights.

Adorno has lost his two biggest fights by decision against Michel Rivera and in his last fight against Elvis Rodriguez and he has a draw against Jamaine Ortiz but other than a close decision win over then-undefeated Hugo Roldan, Adorno lacks a win over anyone of note.

Schofield knocked out Jesus Leon in two rounds last time out and against the veteran Rhodes, he should pass his first test against a veteran, who while losing in each of his step-up fights is still the best opponent in Schofield's short career.

With the late cancellation of Stanionis-Ortiz, I've added the Friday main event on DAZN with their promising super middleweight Diego Pacheco against Manuel Gallegos.

Pacheco looks like a future title contender and defeated former fringe contender Jack Cullen in his last fight while Gallegos battled to an exciting draw in February on the ProBoxTV card against Richard Vansiclen.

Boxing Challenge

Welterweights. 12 Rds 
Jaron Ennis vs Roiman Villa
Ramon Malpica: Ennis KO 9
TRS: Ennis KO 3
Vince Samano: Ennis KO 5

Lightweights. 10 Rds
Floyd Schofield vs Haskell Rhodes
All: Schofield Unanimous Decision

Lightweights 10 Rds
Edwin De Los Santos vs Joseph Adorno
All: De Los Santos Unanimous Decision

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

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Cleaning out the Inbox: Passings

  The tributes never stop for recent persons of note and as always, cleaning out the inbox will offer those tributes/

Goodbye to Ryan Mallett at the age of 35.

Mallett possessed one of the strongest arms that I've seen and after transferring from Michigan after one season, led Arkansas to their best season in years, both before and since, in taking the Razorbacks to the then-BCS, and the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State, where Mallett and the Hogs gave the Buckeyes all that they could want in a 31-26 Ohio State win as Mallett led Arkansas back from a 28-10 halftime deficit before being intercepted inside the OSU twenty with one minute remaining.

Mallett was drafted in the third round by New England in 2011 and would backup Tom Brady for three seasons before being traded to the Texans, where he would start eight games in 2014 and 2015 before being released in mid-season of 2015 and signed by Baltimore, where he would have his biggest NFL game in throwing for 274 yards in an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Mallett would backup Joe Flacco for the next two years in his final NFL action and in recent years, Mallett had served as a high school coach in Arkansas with his first head coaching position in 2022 at White Hall high school, where he finished 4-6.

Goodbye to Nicolas Coster at the age of 89.

The long-time character actor made his biggest splash on soap operas such as "All My Children", "Another World", and "Santa Barbara" but also made many appearances on the main television circuit, in Broadway theatre, and on the big screen in theatres.

Coster's big role in soaps was as "Lionel Lockridge", the heel patriarch of the Lockridge family opposing the Capwell family that held the stars of the daytime drama.

Coster appears in the 1976 classic "All The President's Men" at the beginning of the film as a potential counsel to the Watergate burglars and has two scenes in the courtroom with Robert Redford's character-Bob Woodward.

Coster also held recurring roles as the chief of detectives in the two-season run of "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo" and as "Blair Warner's" big-money father in "The Facts of Life".

Goodbye to Vince Tobin at the age of 79.

The former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals led the Cardinals to their first playoff berth in sixteen years in 1998 and their first playoff win in over fifty years in the same season, when the Cardinals upset Dallas in Texas Stadium before losing to top-seeded Minnesota.

The problem for Tobin was that 1998 was the only winning season in his five years with the Cardinals and he was fired with a 2-5 record in 2000.

Tobin was the defensive coordinator for the 1984 and 1985 USFL champion Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars and took over for Buddy Ryan as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator for seven seasons after Ryan accepted the head coaching position with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tobin's Bears units always ranked at the top of the defensive rankings but were never quite as dominant as they were under Ryan.

Goodbye to Alan Arkin at the age of 89.

Arkin, the father of actors Adam and Matthew, won numerous awards including a Tony, Golden Globe, and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the hilarious 2006 film "Little Miss Sunshine" as a foul-mouthed grandfather on a family trip with his granddaughter on a car trip to a beauty pageant.

Arkin's resume is too long to recite but he collected two more Emmy nominations for his co-starring role in "The Kominsky Method" on Netflix with Michael Douglas in both 2019 and 2020.

Goodbye to Antwyn Echols at the age of 52.

A hard-punching middleweight contender in the middle to late 1990s, Echols challenged Bernard Hopkins for his IBF title, losing a competitive unanimous decision in December 1999 and after winning two fights, earned a rematch with Hopkins in December 2000 that some observers thought Echols was a dark horse to upset Hopkins but was stopped in the tenth round.

Echols bounced back with a memorable battle at super middleweight against another big-banging action fighter in Charles "The Hatchet" Brewer on Showtime in which Brewer knocked Echols down three times in the second round before Echols rebounded to stop Brewer in the following round.

Echols won four more fights before losing a unanimous decision in Australia for the vacant WBA title to Anthony Mundine and won two fights following his loss to Mundine but after those wins, Echols would win just one fight against nineteen losses and three draws over the remainder of his career, suffering knockout losses in the final six fights of his career.

Echols's obituary listed him as the father of twenty-three children, which is just one of those numbers that seem so large that I just cannot process that many children.

It's been rumored that Echols could have even more children, he was asked in a 2013 interview how many children he had, and Echols answered "Twenty-Three, I think".

Monday, July 3, 2023

Cleaning out the Inbox

   It's been far overdue for an inbox cleaning of articles, so let's dump that baby now!

The city of Aurora, Ohio has announced plans to buy the former Geauga Lake amusement park and the forty acres that formerly hosted a Sea World park with plans to renovate the property into a public park with a pool, beach, boating, and other possibilities.

The 4.5 million cost will be paid by the city with 1.3 million of the sum coming from the American Rescue Pan act.

Some structures, such as the Sea World aquarium will be renovated for future uses while others will be demolished for space reasons.

Renovations will begin shortly after all the demolition is completed.

NBC Sports writes of the question of what person actually snapped the famous photo of Secretariat at the wire with the field so far behind him at the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

The image has been attributed for years to Bob Coglianise. Still, the article attempts to flesh out if Coglianise actually took the photo or if one of his employees was responsible for the shot.

Under the rules of photography, any photo taken by an employee can be attributed to the employer, so even if it was not Coglianise that was the photographer for the shot, it's still legally his shot and it's not unethical to do so.

It's an interesting article for the mystery alone.

The Athletic writes of what seems to be a surprising but suddenly inevitable return of the NHL to Atlanta after two previous failures.

The article focuses more on the Thrasher's failure than the first attempt at Atlanta hockey, the Atlanta Flames but also considers the reasons that the area didn't make the Thrashers work and some of the changes in the Atlanta metro area that might finally allow hockey to break through successfully.

WDRB in Louisville lightens things up with a local person that has filled his yard with outdoor toys from the old days of Mcdonald's playlands.

In short, he has created his own McDonaldland with a yard filled with carousels, Officer Big Macs, and Mayor McCheese's.

His grandchildren are quite fortunate to have such great nostalgic items to play with and on since today's kids won't have those experiences!

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Anderson muddles past Martin

  The boxing weekend saw a world title defended and a world title vacancy filled but the big news of the weekend was the struggles of what has been touted as the next great heavyweight in Toledo, Ohio.

Top Rank and most boxing observers, including myself, have been throwing accolades at Jared Anderson and he's looked the part with each knockout win but even to me, I wondered about how he would take a punch after watching veteran Jerry Forrest, the best fighter Anderson has faced, stun Anderson in the first round before Anderson took Forrest out in the second.

Anderson suddenly has questions to answer but yet answered others in his unanimous decision win over former IBF champion Charles Martin.

Anderson won almost every round, winning 99-90 (times two and my score) and 98-91 on the official cards, and knocked Martin down in the third round with a short right hand but there are still a few flaws.

Anderson didn't hurt Martin as Martin got right back up off the mat and it was Martin seriously battering Anderson around the ring in the fifth round and had the prospect badly hurt.

The good news for Anderson was he took punches from Martin well enough to survive and avoid the knockdown.

The bad news for Anderson was that he was so badly rocked by Charles Martin, who wouldn't be confused as a hard puncher with Wilder, Joshua, Fury, or even Usyk, so it's now fair game to wonder just how good is Jared Anderson's chin?

However, Anderson did prove his fortitude because he could have packed it in against Martin, and a pretender would have done just that but Anderson stayed upright, rode out the storm, and won the rest of the rounds.

I'm not quite as sure about Jared Anderson as I had been before this fight but I am pretty sure of this- he's going to grit out as much as he can when he fights the next opponent that battles back.

In Germany, the IBF middleweight title that Gennady Golovkin gave up has a new owner and it's a surprising one as Vincenzo Gualtieri upset Esquiva Falcao by unanimous decision in an ugly and foul-filled affair.

Gualtieri knocked down Falcao in round two and again in round ten, although that knockdown was due to a low blow that the referee errantly called a knockdown.

Falcao was hit low throughout the fight including once in round eight which had the Brazilian writhing in pain on the canvas as the fight was delayed for Falcao to recover.

Falcao did very well in the middle round before the low punch and it seemed to me that the foul took a lot from Falcao (understandably so) as Gualtieri swept the rounds after the foul.

While I wondered about Falcao's chances on the scorecards and they were predictably wide for the hometown fighter at 116-110 (times two ) and 117-111, I had Gualtieri winning by a closer margin at 115-111 (7-5 and two knockdowns), so this wasn't your typical German robbery.

Still, if you want the IBF middleweight title, you better be ready to fight there to get it- and you may want to be prepared to go for the knockout.

On Sunday from South Africa, Sivenathi Nontshinga defended his IBF light flyweight title for the first time with a unanimous decision win over mandatory challenger Regie Suganob.

Nontshinga looked like he was going to build off his exciting title win over Hector Torres when he exploded a huge right hand off Suganob's chin to drop the challenger late in the first round, when Suganob rose from the floor, and the bell rang.

That was pretty much as good as the fight would be as Nontshinga decided to box from the outside and cautiously counterpunch the only occasionally effective charges from Suganob.

Nontshinga won on two cards at 116-111 and the other at 117-110, I scored Nontshinga a 116-111 winner.

It was disappointing to see Nontshinga fight so cautiously after such an exciting introduction to the world scene last year but he retained the title, which is the important thing.

Boxing Challenge 

TRS: 108 Pts (3) 
Ramon Malpica: 99 Pts (3)
Vince Samano: 77 Pts (0) 

Cavaliers acquire Damian Jones

    It's not often in sports that a trade gives one team something and the other team nothing.

Not a player, not cash, and not even future considerations.


That's what the Cleveland Cavaliers gave the Utah Jazz for center Damian Jones.

Nothing, only agreeing to pay Jones's 2.6 million dollar salary was the only return for the Jazz for the 6'11 backup center.

Jones won two NBA titles with Golden State in 2017 and 2018 after the Warriors drafted him at thirtieth overall in the 2016 draft from Vanderbilt.

The twenty-eight-year-old Jones has played for six NBA teams, including two different stints with the Lakers, and was acquired by Utah last February from the Lakers as part of a three-team deal.

Jones averaged 3.5 points and three rebounds between the two teams last season, playing almost sixteen minutes per game in Utah, and eight minutes per game as a Laker.

Jones shot sixty-five percent from the floor as he rarely shoots more than a few feet away from the basket or tries a shot other than slamming the ball through the hoop.

I wouldn't expect much from Jones other than maybe the last big man off the bench and I think this is a case of two teams that work on trades often helping each other out a bit.

Nothing given, nothing gained.

Cavaliers sign Ty Jerome

  The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't finished with their attempt to improve the players around their core after adding Georges Niang and Max Strus as they signed guard Ty Jerome away from the Golden State Warriors to back up Darius Garland at the point.

The two-year agreement is valued at five million for Jerome, best remembered for leading Virginia to the 2019 NCAA championship.

Last season was Jerome's first with the Warriors after spending the previous two seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, playing in forty-five games for Golden State.

Jerome averaged just under seven points a game and three assists in eighteen minutes a game.

Jerome shoots the ball well, shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 38.9 from three-point range last season

Jerome turns twenty-six next week so he should be the fifth guard for Cleveland in a similar role that was played last season by Raul Neto and the one that he played with Golden State, which had him playing between fifteen and twenty minutes a game depending on the roster situation at the time.

I like Jerome, a player that has proven to be effective if used in limited doses, and think he can help the Cavaliers in those situations but I do wonder if they may have overpaid a bit.

I would have thought a player similar to Jerome could have been signed to a one-year contract rather than two, and two and a half million also could have been a bit high but Cleveland clearly liked Jerome and thought the value was locking him up for two seasons.

Cleveland likely has completed their free-agent shopping for their bigger ticket items but I wouldn't be surprised to see them sign a lower-priced backup big man and/or a wing player that can- wait for it, shoot well from the outside.

Back later with the boxing weekend.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Cavaliers add Max Strus, trade Osman, Stevens

  The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't rest on their quest to improve their outside shooting after signing Georges Niang as they participated in a three-way trade that landed them Max Strus, sent Cedi Osman and Lamar Stevens to the San Antonio Spurs, and one future second-rounder to the Spurs and the Miami Heat.

The trade will not be official until July 6.

The twenty-seven-year-old Strus averaged eleven points per game for Miami last season as one of their three-point bombers, shooting forty-one percent from the floor and thirty-five percent on three-pointers.

Strus spent three seasons with Miani after a two-game cameo with the Bulls, who signed him as an undrafted free agent from DePaul and Strus can play either small forward or shooting guard.

Strus saw his shooting percentages drop last year from 2021-22 but he also was playing more in the Heat's rotation, averaging a career-high twenty-eight minutes per game.

Strus made four or more three-pointers twenty-five times for Miami last season and is the type of shooter that excels with the 'catch and shoot' style of getting his shot off quickly, which Cleveland definitely lacked last season.

Cleveland traded their 2030 second-rounder to San Antonio and a 2026 second-rounder acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers will be sent to Miami.

Cedi Osman was an often polarizing player for Cavalier's watchers.

Many liked his energy and athleticism off the bench along with those periods when he would catch fire and explode with a huge offensive output.

Others were frustrated by his inconsistency and occasional defensive lapses.

Osman averaged 8.7 points last season and on an interesting note, Osman shot higher percentages from both the floor and three-point range (45-41 overall, 37-35 from three) than Strus, who has been signed to be a knockdown shooter.

Lamar Stevens is one of those types of players that fans love because of his hustle and work ethic as well as his willingness to do the dirty work along the boards. 

Stevens averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in eighteen minutes of playing time per game and while I like Stevens as a player, his type of players aren't hard to find around the league.

I still will miss Osman and Stevens and I'm not sure that I love this deal.

Strus isn't a bad player but I don't see where he is a sizable upgrade over Osman, let alone Osman and Stevens and two more second-round picks out the door.

I see what the Cavaliers are trying to do in improving the shooting and I really liked the signing of Georges Niang.

However, while I'm not knocking Max Strus, I'm wondering if the Cavaliers haven't swapped one similar player for another here and really didn't upgrade themselves.

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing weekend is light with one significant fight available to be seen live by American viewers but there is a title defense and a vacant title to be filled this weekend as well.

ESPN/Top Rank will pit their future hope in the heavyweight division against his first name opponent as Jared "Big Baby" Anderson goes back to his hometown of Toledo Ohio to face a late replacement in former IBF champion Charles Martin.

Now Martin did hold a heavyweight title for about a long weekend (actually eighty-five days but who's counting) in 2016 and he's been knocked out in two of his three losses (Anthony Joshua and Luis Ortiz) but Martin has a good punch, and Anderson was stunned a bit by Jerry Forrest, who was the first step forward in opponents, in the first round before Anderson burned Forrest in the second, so there is some intrigue here but I don't see this fight going five rounds let alone the scheduled ten.

The remaining two fights aren't on American, well anything, so you might have to scrap around to find these affairs.

The IBF middleweight title that was vacated by Gennady Golovkin will be picked up in Wuppertal Germany as Esquiva Falcao meets Vincenzo Gualtieri for that title.

Falcao was the mandatory challenger for Golovkin but without any interest from potential promoters or media providers, Golovkin wasn't interested in such a fight for a smaller cash payout than he is accustomed to.

Falcao was an Olympic silver medalist- eleven years ago, and other than two fringe contenders in Artur Avakov and Patrice Volny, Falcao hasn't beaten anyone of note in thirty fights without a defeat.

As for Gualtieri, he's unbeaten in twenty fights but has scored only seven knockouts and his resume' of opponents is even softer than Falcao's, which says a lot.

Keep in mind that Germany is notorious for awful judging in favor of their home fighters, so Falcao might be well suited to remember that, and not rely on the scorecards.

In South Africa, Sivenathi Nontshinga defends his IBF junior flyweight title for the first time against Regie Suganob.

Nontshinga won the vacant title with a split-decision win over Hector Torres in Mexico last September in a battle that deserved consideration for the fight of the year.

Suganob earned his title shot with an eight-round technical decision win over undefeated Mark Vicelles.

Boxing Challenge

Heavyweights. 10 Rds
Jared Anderson vs Charles Martin
Ramon Malpica; Anderson KO 3
TRS: Anderson KO 2
Vince Samano:

Vacant IBF Middleweight Title.12 Rds
Esquiva Falcao vs Vincenzo Gualtieri
R.L: Falcao Unanimous Decision
TRS: Falcao KO11
Vince Samano:

IBF Junior Flyweight Title.12 Rds
Sivenathi Nontshinga vs Regie Suganob
R.L and TRS: Nontshinga Unanimous Decision

Cavaliers sign Georges Niang

    The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a position where they will need to add role players through free agency and they moved quickly to sign their first new player with the addition of Georges Niang to a three-year deal worth twenty-six million.

The thirty-year-old Niang spent the last two seasons with Philadelphia after spending the previous four with the Utah Jazz.

Niang entered the league in 2016 as a second-round choice of the Utah Jazz from Iowa State and averaged eight points a game last season in Philadelphia as a three-point specialist off the bench.

Niang shot forty percent from three-point range and played just under twenty minutes per game for the Sixers and he is noted for being a high-energy player for the second unit.

Niang isn't a great defensive player but that is more of his physical limitation than an issue with effort, so that could be an issue in the postseason, should Cleveland reach that point.

Cleveland has a need for pure shooters that can catch and shoot to surround their stars with and Niang is fairly cost-effective as well as costing the Cavaliers nothing as far as current or future assets, so I like this addition for the squad.

Cleveland is reported to be close to completing a trade that could be announced as early as today, so should that come through, I will be back with my thoughts.