Monday, November 27, 2023

Browns bucked in Denver 29-12

 The Cleveland Browns suffered injuries in the second half and continued a disturbing trend with their receivers dropping passes as the Browns were defeated in Denver by the homesteading Broncos 29-12.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw the first touchdown of his career and 134 passing yards before leaving the game in the second half with a concussion from a hit from Denver's Baron Browning.

Jerome Ford rushed for sixty-five yards on nine carries to lead the offense for Cleveland.

Cleveland falls to 7-4 and will play the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1) The biggest issue of all the issues that seem to be piling up is the receivers dropping the ball.

Cleveland dropped five passes in the second half with David Njoku dropping multiple passes for the second week in a row and the most notable drop from Amari Cooper, who dropped a wide-open pass from Dorian Thompson-Robinson on a two-point conversion that would have tied the game in the third quarter.

No matter which of their three current quarterbacks play, the Browns offense isn't good enough to afford the drops from accurate passes.

2) Dorian Thompson-Robinson's stats weren't glittering (14/29 134 yards 1 TD 0 INT) but he was hurt by drops, and he avoided making the mistake that gets you beaten.

I'm not saying Cleveland wins this game before his injury but the Browns were down by only two and hadn't made mistakes to that point.

3) I didn't think the hit by Baron Browning was a dirty hit but it was a penalty.

Browning led with his shoulder which isn't a dirty hit but he did make contact helmet to helmet which as Sam Wyche said on an NFL Films segment " he hit him in the head and that is a penalty".

4) After the injury to Thompson-Robinson, here came P.J. Walker, and while Walker didn't get intercepted, he did almost everything else wrong in completing six of thirteen and getting sacked four times.

I'm not sure of Thompson-Robinson playing next Sunday (I'd bet he won't be ready) and the decision will have to be made early on whether to give Joe Flacco a crash course or try to squeeze one more game out of Walker.

Neither option is overly appealing.

5) The offensive line didn't allow Thompson-Robinson to be sacked but they allowed four sacks of P.J. Walker in a little over a quarter.

Walker isn't a mobile quarterback and Denver was able to rush with abandon because they knew the Browns had to throw but it does cause concern about how the Browns will protect the granite-like Flacco in the pocket.

6) Denver entered the game with the league's worst run defense and considering the circumstances for the Browns, running the ball would have seemed the best plan.

Cleveland had success with Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt combining for eighty-seven yards on sixteen carries but they didn't commit to runs between the tackles often enough and as a result, Denver was able to avoid the big run out of the backfield as only one run was longer than nineteen yards.

7) Kevin Stefanski has done a pretty good job this season (Seattle aside) but twice in this loss, Stefanski's need to be clever cost them.

The first was another cutie package with Harrison Bryant taking snaps on a fourth and one near midfield with Bryant fumbling the ball with the Broncos recovering.

It didn't lead to points for Denver but it did kill a Cleveland drive.

8) And the Stefanski moment that serves as the epitaph for his Browns tenure- starting the fourth quarter and it is the second play for P.J. Walker on a second and seven on the Cleveland forty-one, Denver leads by two.

Stefanski calls a double reverse with Pierre Strong and Elijah Moore which results in a fumble, Denver recovers, and four plays, and eighty-five seconds later, Denver scores a touchdown and the game is essentially over then and there.

Granted P.J. Walker didn't fumble but a play such as that takes timing and precision (and it was the only touch of the game for Pierre Strong while I'm at it), so I don't see how the time was right for such a play call.

It's the biggest black mark on Stefanski, the need to show his brilliance that pops up at the worst possible time.

9) Myles Garrett played much of the game with a shoulder that hung by his side for most of the second half.

Garrett left the stadium with his arm in a sling and is undergoing an MRI today to reveal any possible damage.

It goes without saying that losing Garrett would be a devastating loss that might be the final straw in what the Browns can come back from.

10) Jeremiah Owosu-Koramoah played very well and seemed to be in or around every play, finishing with seven solo tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, and several assisted tackles.

Drafted as the "antidote" for the Browns' problems with Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, JOK is capable of so much when he is healthy and allowed to run to the football, which in the Joe Woods scheme in the past, he wasn't always allowed to do with his responsibilities.

11) Finally, I thought Denver was a tough out with the Broncos' recent run of improved play, playing in Mile High, and with a rookie quarterback, so I'm not totally disappointed by the loss.

The key is now beating the Rams in Los Angeles this Sunday.

The 5-6 Rams have won their last two games, both since Matthew Stafford returned from injury, and are just one game out of the playoffs behind 6-5 Minnesota and Seattle, so they have plenty to play for and won't be an easy win.

The Browns needed to split the two games out West, this one is more important than one may have thought a week or two ago with a home game against the AFC South-leading 8-3 Jacksonville Jaguars following the Rams, a loss in California would drop the Browns to 7-5 and perhaps in full panic mode.

We will see on Sunday. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Benavidez no picnic for Boo Boo

   David Benavidez stamped himself again as the best possible opponent for world super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez when Demetrius Andrade was unable to answer the bell for the start of round seven in their Las Vegas clash.

Andrade started well, outboxing Benavidez in the first two rounds before Benavidez began landing in the third round and dominated thereafter, knocking Andrade down in the fourth with a body shot, and battering a very game Andrade in the fifth and sixth.

With Andrade's right eye starting to swell badly, referee Thomas Taylor asked Andrade to show him something in the upcoming round or he would have to stop the fight, Andrade's corner did the right thing in protecting their fighter by ending the evening for Andrade.

A dominant win for Benavidez and the best of his career in my opinion and Andrade was brave in taking his first defeat, showing more in defeat against the bigger man than he may have in his previous wins.

Benavidez once again called out Canelo Alvarez, who hadn't seemed interested in fighting Benavidez in the past, and I'd be surprised if Alvarez answered that call in his next outing, even though Alvarez still has two more fights scheduled with PBC, the promoter for Benavidez.

Benavidez is bigger, younger, and stronger than Canelo, and a prospective fight between the two reminds me of another all-Mexican battle between Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez, which also ended with the younger, stronger, and faster De La Hoya winning on cuts in four rounds in 1996 and winning the rematch in eight rounds.

Benavidez deserves the shot at Canelo next but if I had to guess who is going to get that chance, that man made his ring return after almost a two-and-a-half year absence in WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, who missed weight by multiple pounds even though he was fighting above his division limit.

Charlo looked better than I expected in winning an easy unanimous decision over the much smaller Jose Benavidez over ten rounds held at a catchweight in the super middleweight division.

Charlo didn't score a knockdown but under the circumstances that's about the only thing to be critical of his outing but remember this- Benavidez is a natural 140-pounder, entered the fight with a record of 1-2-1 over the last five years, and he was knocked out by Terence Crawford, so while Benavidez is a tough customer, this wasn't a quality contender Charlo was beating.

Charlo won by scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92 which was my score.

I haven't seen the other two title fights which saw Subriel Matias stop Shohjahon Ergashev in six to retain his IBF junior welterweight title, and Lamont Roach defeat Hector Luis Garcia by split decision to win the WBA junior lightweight belt.

I did see the YouTube free fight with Michel Rivera winning a close unanimous decision over Sergey Lipinets in a ten-round junior welterweight battle.

I scored Rivera the winner at 96-94.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 177 Pts (3)
Ramon Malpica: 160 Pts (3)
Vince Samano:115 Pts (0)

Buckeyes disappoint in Michigan again 30-24

    A somewhat controversial call and two key turnovers cost the Ohio State Buckeyes as their comeback died inside Michigan territory with under a minute remaining for their third consecutive loss to Michigan, 30-24 in Ann Arbor.

Kyle McCord finished with 271 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, the final of which ended the game as his pass to Marvin Harrison Jr was intercepted by Rod Moore.

Marvin Harrison Jr. finished with five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown to lead the Buckeyes in what may likely be Harrison's final game as a Buckeye.

Ohio State finishes 11-1, losing to Michigan for the third season in a row, and will be selected for a New Year's Day bowl against a soon-to-be-named opponent.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Immediately, the talk from the extreme Buckeye faithful is how Ryan Day must go as some talk is in the air about Day being mentioned as a potential target for the open Texas A&M position.

I disagree.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not happy with the situation but talk of firing Ryan Day is ridiculous.

If Texas A&M wants to pay Day and he wishes to leave, fine but fire him?

Not at all.

2) The play that Ryan Day is being broiled most for is his decision to run over thirty seconds off the clock to wait for a fifty-two-yard field goal try for Jalen Fielding that was missed.

It was a fourth and two and Day had gotten his reputation as an offensive coach for his risk-taking, yet during this game, Day didn't gamble or use his strengths.

This decision didn't swing the game, but it set the narrative that Ohio State would play it conservatively and take very few risks.

3) Kyle McCord's numbers look solid but it can't denied that his two interceptions were the difference in the game.

The first one in the first quarter allowed Michigan a short field to take the first lead of the game and created an environment where Ohio State was chasing points the entire game.

4) The first McCord interception is inexcusable but the final drive's interception is a little easier to defend.

Marvin Harrison Jr. was open on the play and McCord was trying to get him the ball but McCord was hit as he threw and the ball didn't have enough zip to reach Harrison and was intercepted.

McCord could have stepped up into the pocket and perhaps that would have helped make a better throw but he didn't and the rush certainly affected his throw.

5) Ohio State had whispered all season that Ryan Day was holding some things back for this game and that was why the offense had not shown everything that they possessed during the season.

Instead, it was the same vanilla offense and it was the supposed dull team that tried some different things as backup running quarterback Alex Orji appeared under center in the third quarter and took off for a twenty-yard gain, and halfback Donovan Edwards lofted a halfback pass that gained thirty-four yards in the fourth.

6) Why didn't Ohio State do anything to open the game up to best use the one advantage that they clearly owned over Michigan in their skill position players?

We may never really know but if I was guessing, I think Ryan Day didn't truly trust Kyle McCord to play from too far behind and didn't think the risk was worth the reward.

7) TreVeyon Henderson is the type of back that gains a few yards here, a few yards there, and then makes those gains worthwhile because Henderson breaks through with a long run, and in this game, that didn't happen.

Henderson's longest run was for eight yards and finished with sixty yards on nineteen carries and a touchdown.

Henderson did suffer an ankle injury and kudos to him for playing through it but there is little doubt that while the Ohio State running game wasn't awful, it wasn't explosive either.

8)  The Ohio State defense didn't play poorly and when they needed a stop to hold Michigan to three points on their final drive, they did so but Michigan took over seven minutes off the clock, forcing the Buckeyes to use their three-time outs and left only a minute remaining to win the game.

They received points for making the stop eventually but they allowed too many conversions on the drive that could have saved valuable time.

9) The Ohio State special teams haven't been good all season and punter Jesse Mirco wasn't good in Ann Arbor, averaging thirty-six yards on three punts, and zero inside the twenty-yard line.

Special teams coach Parker Fleming might be one of a few changes on the Buckeye staff in the off-season.

10) Marvin Harrison Jr. finished with over 100 receiving yards in a game for the fifteenth time in his Columbus tenure, breaking a tie with David Boston for the most in Ohio State history.

Harrison would be unlikely to play in another Ohio State game unless the path would somehow open u for a trip to the CFP.

11) I've waited this long for the one thing that worked against the Buckeyes that wasn't their own fault.

I thought the second-quarter touchdown pass of twenty-two yards to Roman Wilson from J.J. McCarthy should have been overruled as an interception by Denzel Burke.

Wilson never completed the catch with possession and it was Burke that emerged with the ball.

The referees called it a touchdown on the field and the replay didn't change the call.

I think if this game is in Columbus, it's changed but that's the home-field advantage for you.

That's seven points off the board in a game that you lost by six but that doesn't mean the decision cost the game for Ohio State.

That play was early enough in the game that Ohio State could have overcome it.

12) Ohio State wasn't out-toughed and they weren't out-battled, they just lost a close game.

I'm not sure what changes next year because I'd wager OSU will lose Marvin Harrison, TreVeyon Henderson, and perhaps Emeka Egbuka.

They are in a position to handle receiver losses better than any school in the country, and in ways other than the game-breaking speed, Dallan Hayden might be a better back than TreVeyon Henderson.

I think they have to find someone to run special teams other than Parker Fleming, and the time may be right to consider moving on from Corey Dennis (Urban Meyer's son-in-law) as the quarterbacks coach.

Ryan Day is returning unless Texas A&M throws huge dollars at him and he decides to leave, and so is Kyle McCord, who I just can't see Day not picking as the starter, even if there is a competition announced

The pressure is only going to increase on this program over the next year and with no excuses for next season's game in Columbus, everyone involved with Ohio State football is going to have to look at next season's game as more than a must-win for the season.

It may be a must-win for the future of the program entering a new era in college football. 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Boxing Challenge

     The boxing weekend is all about Las Vegas as Showtime Championship Boxing presents its final pay-per-view and in typical boxing fashion, the card might be the best top to bottom in the history of the network.

In the main event, two undefeated super middleweights face off in what could be each fighter's toughest test and establish again who the top challenger to undisputed world champion Canelo Alvarez truly is, no matter whom Alvarez fights next.

Former WBC champion David Benavidez will meet former WBO junior middleweight and middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade in the main event with a fight that is intriguing, could see a route for either fighter to win, and yet it wouldn't be a surprise for either fighter to win in a laugher.

Benavidez is the bigger man, bigger puncher, and bigger star and none of that could matter against Andrade, who has the ability to outbox Benavidez for twelve rounds and should that happen, do so in a manner that could bore an audience and never receive a shot at Canelo Alvarez any way.

The one thing that we aren't sure about is the chin of Andrade, mainly because he hasn't fought an elite fighter, let alone one with the power of Benavidez. Still, if the chin holds up, Andrade is capable of winning this fight, he will almost certainly have the lead after six rounds but the question is can he hold up against the late-round attack of Benavidez.

In the co-main event, WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo returns after an over two-year absence from the ring against the older brother of David Benavidez, Jose, in an over-the-middleweight limit bout.

Charlo isn't likely to fight at 160 pounds again but chose Benavidez, a natural junior welterweight who lost his two biggest fights against Terence Crawford and Danny Garcia and is 1-2-1 in the last five years.

Charlo can get away with looking a little rusty against Benavidez but he can't look awful or it's going to be difficult selling him in a big fight in his next outing.

The best fight on the card could be for the IBF junior welterweight title as big bombing champion Subriel Matias defends his title against mandatory challenger Shohjahon Ergashev.

Matias won the vacant title earlier this year by a fifth-round knockout over Jeremias Ponce in a pretty action fight lasting only five rounds.

Ergashev is undefeated and looked very good in his last two fights, both in the United States, but I'm not sure any 140-pounder wins a firefight with Matias.

This is the fight that I'm looking forward to watching.

WBA junior lightweight champion Hector Luis Garcia returns to 130 pounds after losing to Gervonta Davis in a lightweight fight against his mandatory challenger Lamont Roach.

Roach lost his previous title attempt in 2019, losing a unanimous decision to then-WBO champion Jamel Herring in what was the only loss in Roach's career, and has won four fights since losing to Herring.

Former IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets will open the card with a fight shown for free on YouTube against Michel Rivera in a ten-rounder.

Lipinets is returning to his best weight after moving to welterweight for a few fights that included a sixth-round knockout loss to Jaron "Boots" Ennis.
Rivera hasn't fought since being dominated in a lightweight crossroads fight by Frank Martin last December and will be making his 140-pound debut.

Super Middleweights. 12 Rds 
David Benavidez vs Demetrius Andrade
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Bemavidez Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano:

Super Middleweights. 10 Rds
Jermall Charlo vs Jose Benavidez
R.L: Benavidez KO 10
TRS: Charlo Unanimous Decision

IBF Junior Welterweight Title.12 Rds
Subriel Matias vs Shojahon Ergashev
R.L: Matias KO 9
TRS: Ergashev Split Decision

WBA Junior Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Hector Luis Garcia vs Lamont Roach
R.L and TRS: Garcia Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Sergey Lipinets vs Michel Rivera
R.L: Lipinets Split Decision
TRS: Lipinets Unanimous Decision

Thursday, November 23, 2023


 The final week of the college football season will decide many of the participants in next week's league championship games and the NFL season starts to roar down the stretch.

Last Week: 12-4 
Overall: 122-51

Ohio State over Michigan 20-16
Texas over Texas Tech 34-27
Bowling Green over Western Michigan 30-21
UTSA over Tulane 34-31
Missouri over Arkansas 29-21
Boise State over Air Force 27-17
Oregon State over Oregon 38-36
Middle Tennessee State over San Houston 32-17
N.C. State over North Carolina 35-32
Appalachian State over Georgia Southern 31-28

Games of the Week
Wisconsin over Minnesota 17-10
Iowa over Nebraska 12-9

Broncos over Browns 17-10
Ravens over Chargers 30-21

Games of the Week
Texans over Jaguars 28-23
Saints over Falcons 23-20


Happy Thanksgiving!

 Hope everyone is able to enjoy their Thanksgiving Day and Weekend!!

I Tell Ya' Herbie

    With the final weekend of the college football regular season set to start, it's time for the last regular season version of I Tell Ya' Herbie.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                              While both Ohio State and Michigan have entered The Game unbeaten several times in the past, and with conference titles and national prestige at stake, this Saturday's clash in Ann Arbor has those and even more.

In fact, this might be the biggest The Game of them all when everything is considered.

 For Ohio State, it's breaking a two-game losing streak, keeps Ryan Day from hearing the name John Cooper with every other sentence or paragraph, and takes some credibility away from the previous two losses considering the sign-stealing scandals at Michigan.

For Michigan, it's all about credibility-lose this game without Jim Harbaugh on the sideline and suddenly it appears that the scandal was legitimate, the "Michigan Men" were so desperate to win that they had to cheat, and there is an asterisk beside the two previous wins and it's almost like Michigan is still on a losing streak.

Plus a loss won't shine well on Jim Harbaugh, even though he won't be there in person, and a loss could mean that this could be the last game that Harbaugh coaches at Michigan.

Toss in a Big Ten title appearance at stake and a likely berth to the CFP ( unless you think offensively challenged Iowa could beat either school) and It's not hyperbole to say this could be the biggest game ever between these two teams and that says it all.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                             Friday's Texas Tech at Texas game will be the final time that these two hook up for a while with Texas leaving for the SEC next year and no future games scheduled between the two.

Tech looks at Texas as more of a rival than vice versa but the games between the two are usually competitive and hard-fought with more than its share of wacky endings.

I'll miss the series and Tech now lacks a true rival to despise.

It will take some time as the new Big 12 doesn't have many schools close to Lubbock and many of its schools are in the same boat with lost rivals.

For now, I'd say the most likely to eventually become the Red Raiders "big game" might be one of their old SWC members TCU, Baylor, or Houston but it is going to take time.

The Chancellor's Spurs trophy which Texas and Texas Tech started in 1996 will reside with the winner until the rivalry will eventually be resumed.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                             The AAC race is coming down to the wire with three schools without a conference loss entering the final game.

Fortunately, the schedule will sift things down to the final two for the league title game next week as two of the teams will play each other on Friday as UTSA visits Tulane.

The winner of that is guaranteed a title game ticket, while 7-0 SMU hosts Navy (5-5 overall), and a Mustang victory would punch their ticket to the title matchup.

I'm not sure who would win a tie-breaker between SMU (if they lose) or the UTSA-Tulane loser but the conference has to be happy with such a race to the finish.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            The other crazy race is in the Big 12 where Texas leads at 7-1 and three schools (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State) are all at 6-2 for the two Big 12 championship game slots.

The two teams that control their own destiny are Texas and Oklahoma State but that's if it stays that way after this week.

If Texas Tech beats Texas and all three 6-2 teams win, which is possible as none of them play each other, the league would have a four-way tie for two spots and I don't know how that tiebreaker would play out.

Without knowing who wins the tiebreaker, Mike Gundy's Cowboys could get into the game with a win but also could win and perhaps not make it in should Texas lose.



Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Cleaning Out the Inbox

     Cleaning out the inbox returns with some various notes and links of interest from around the world!

I was looking at a few articles from the site with their daily cover series and found a few older articles on the site for the inbox.

The first covers the six-year run of the Vancouver Grizzlies before the NBA expansion franchise would move to Memphis. 

The article is pretty extensive and discusses the problems in having players interested in playing in Vancouver, the issues with the Canadian dollar, front-office problems, and the infamous selection of Steve Francis, which proved to be the final blow to the franchise.

The second article looks back at the 50th anniversary of Secretariat's Triple Crown in 1973.

As an avowed fan of Sham as a five-year-old in 1973, I've always disagreed with those who pick Secretariat as the greatest racehorse of all time.

I may concede that his Triple Crown was the most impressive ever (did you know that Sham's second-place finishes in the Derby are still the second faster ever and his Preakness second place is still the fifth fastest ever) but his lack of an older horse career and his defeats both before and after the Crown races work against that claim in my opinion.

The final article, this one from 2020, looks at the life struggles of former Austin Peay and Spirits of St.Louis scorer James "Fly" Williams since ending his basketball career.

Williams, who inspired perhaps the greatest chant ever in sports in his days with the Austin Peay Governors "The Fly is open, let's go Peay!", was at that time serving prison time for running a heroin ring while working as an administrator at a youth rec center.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph isn't a host that appears here very often but the news from that source may be the first but it won't be the last as the Princeton (WV) Whistle Pigs of the Appalachian League announced their decision to go out of business.

The Appalachian League was the entry level for minor league baseball before MLB took over the administration of the minors and dropped the league to a summer league for college players.

I thought at the time that MLB was tossing a bone to the lowest level leagues with summer leagues with college players and was waiting for the lesser product to fail to let them off the hook and give them the ability to say their decision was for the best because "they didn't want it".

Princeton's city and donors decided that with the MLB's demands for park improvements and other investments continuing to rise they had better things to spend their community's dollars on and I can't blame them.

Princeton may have been the first to go but they surely won't be the last.

Hoops Wire and Sam Amico, who I have followed for years with terrific NBA writing, write about the Ron Harper trade thirty-four years after it happened.

The trade is blamed by some Cavaliers fans for taking away any chance of the very good teams of the era to defeat the Michael Jordan-led Bulls by losing the only player that Cleveland possessed that could make Jordan work hard on the defensive end.

I'm torn on whether keeping Harper would have been enough to push Cleveland by Chicago although there is little doubt that the Cavaliers didn't improve themselves in swapping Harper, two first-rounders, and a second-rounder for Danny Ferry and Reggie Williams.

Ferry never approached the hype that accompanied him into the league, although he eventually became a solid role player, and Williams only played thirty-two games in Cleveland before being released.

The Clippers didn't reap gold with their first-rounders from Cleveland in Loy Vaught and Elmore Spencer but Cleveland lost the trade losing Harper at all. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Boxing Challenge: Pacheco knocks out Coceres,Heaney upsets Bentley

    Saturday night in Los Angeles, super middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco overcame a difficult task in veteran Marcelo Coceres when Pacheco delivered a highlight knockout in the ninth round.

Coceres had success in the middle rounds, especially in the fifth round when he stunned Pacheco with a series of hooks but Pacheco gradually took back control of the fight and had a strong eighth round before finishing the fight in the ninth with an uppercut that chopped Coceres down with the Argentine taking the full count.

Pacheco called out Edgar Berlanga after the fight and while both fighters work with Matchroom, I'd be dubious of Berlanga accepting that fight when he could have a higher profile and payday against Jaime Munguia with a better chance of winning.

Pacheco looks like a future champion but he may not receive that opportunity for quite a while.

Earlier Saturday in Manchester, England on ESPN+, a minor upset for the British middleweight title occurred as Nathan Heaney won a majority decision over Denzel Bentley.

The title isn't as important as the shakeup in the world ratings as Bentley was rated highly after his strong effort against WBO champion Janibek Alimkhanuly.

Heaney built a lead on the scorecards as Bentley relied on single punches that didn't damage the underdog as much as expected.

Bentley did make a late charge with Heaney tiring badly in the final rounds but the deficit was too great to overcome with Heaney winning by scores of 117-11, 116-113, and 114-114.

I scored Heaney the winner at 115-113 and with Bentley being rated in the WBO's top ten with Top Rank's working relationship with Frank Warren (Heaney's promoter), I could see an Alimkhanuly challenge for Heaney sometime next year.

In the co-feature, Nick Ball dominated former junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe to win a unanimous decision in a WBC featherweight eliminator.

Ball was the more physical and larger fighter to bully Dogboe in forcing Dogboe to give way, which isn't Dogboe's style and despite trying hard and having his moments, Ball was the clear victor by scores of 119-108, 118-109, and a surprisingly close 116-111.

I scored Ball the winner at 118-109.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 174 Pts (4)
Ramon Malpica: 157 Pts (3)
Vince Samano:  115 Pts (3)

Browns beat Steelers late 13-10

  Dustin Hopkins kicked a thirty-four-yard field goal with two seconds remaining to give the Cleveland Browns a 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Cleveland.

The field goal capped a final drive that started with 1:18 remaining in the game and the Browns with the ball at their own thirty-five-yard line.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 185 yards and an interception but completed four passes on the game-winning drive and Jerome Ford rushed for the Browns only touchdown.

Cleveland improved to 7-3 with the win and will travel to Denver for next week's game against the Broncos.

Brownie Bits

1) The defense controlled a bad Steeler offense for most of the game and stepped up on the next-to-final Steeler possession, which looked like a typical Steelers-Browns game with Pittsburgh pulling the game out.

Pittsburgh started on their own forty-eight and after a first play that gained twelve yards on a Kenny Pickett pass to George Pickens, the Browns forced two incomplete passes and Ogbo Okoronkwo tackled Najee Harris for a loss of five yards to make Pittsburgh punt.

2)  Pittsburgh avoided an early disaster when Myles Garrett tackled Kenny Pickett in what looked like on replay to be a safety.

The ruling was that Pickett got the football out of the end zone but replays showed that had Kevin Stefanski challenged the play, it may have been overruled.

3) Dorian Thompson-Robinson didn't throw for many yards, although more than Kenny Pickett. but his coolness on the final drive allowed the Browns to move down the field quickly but not with desperation.

I'll reserve judgment until I see DTR in a road game or two but he looked far more poised with a week of practice time than he did starting against Baltimore on short notice and did so against an excellent defense.

4) Dorian Thompson-Robinson wasn't helped by an erratic performance from David Njoku, who dropped several passes from the rookie.

Njoku was thrown to fifteen times with the tight end catching seven of those for fifty-six yards and it looks like Njoku is going to be a major security blanket for Thompson-Robinson for the remainder of the season.

5) The Cleveland defense was the standout and other than the seventy-four-yard jaunt by Jaylen Warren, kept the Steelers out of the end zone.

The Steelers did have success running the ball in the second half and that makes me wonder how the defense will be as the season plays out as they wear down.

6) What a game from Ogbo Okoronwko, who finished with a sack and four tackles for loss including the key play mentioned above on Najee Harris.

Okoronwko was expected to be seeing more time opposite Myles Garrett and while his snaps didn't decrease, he did receive a change in role when the Browns were able to acquire Za'Darius Smith.

7) Myles Garrett finished with two sacks to Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt's one on the day in a sub-game within the game that fans of both players and teams always seem to pay attention to when the two teams play.

I've always thought that peak Garrett is a smidge better than peak Watt but Watt reaches those peaks more often throughout the season.

8) The Browns may have lost safety Rodney McLeod for the season as he left the field with a biceps injury.

Those injuries rarely are minor and with the Browns struggling already with injuries at the position to Juan Thornhill, Cleveland could be looking to sign a veteran free agent.

Former Ohio State standout Ronnie Hickman played in McLeod's absence but the Browns may not want to risk playing the rookie as the starter if they can find a viable option.

9) The problem that I see happening for the Browns with Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the current (not always) problem of getting the ball downfield to make the defenses respect more than just short passes.

The Browns didn't complete a pass longer than eighteen yards in the game.

10) The running game didn't produce big numbers against a tough Pittsburgh run defense but it was successful in short yardage in important situations with Kareem Hunt.

It will be important for that to continue against teams that will score more points than the woeful Pittsburgh offense.

11) After the game, the Browns announced the signing of veteran quarterback Joe Flacco to the practice squad and while I suspect Flacco is being counted on as a mentor for Dorian Thompson-Robinson, I wouldn't be surprised to see Flacco start before this season ends.

At 38, Flacco is a statue in the pocket and you have to provide him protection but he hasn't lost his arm strength so I could see the Browns needing a strong arm but I've always been a proponent of backup QBs having similar styles to the starter and Flacco to the Browns quarterbacks are diametrically opposed in styles.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Buckeyes roll over Gophers 37-3

  TreVeyon Henderson rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns to remove the final hurdle from the road to Michigan as the Ohio State Buckeyes completed the home portion of their schedule with a 37-3 pounding of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Kyle McCord threw for two touchdowns and 212 yards in the victory.

Ohio State improved to 11-0 overall and 8-0 in the Big Ten with next Saturday looming as the trip to Michigan with the Big Ten title on the line finally arrives.

Olentangy Offerings

1) First, I wanted to mention missing last week's win over Michigan State.

I started it after the game but didn't finish it and discovered much later in the week that I had yet to.

2) Ohio State led only 13-0 at halftime and while the thirteen against the Gophers may have well been 130, it did make the offense concerns stick around for a while.

3) TreVeyon Henderson has gotten his share of criticism in his Columbus tenure but since his return from injury, there can be no doubt of his importance to the offense.

Henderson may never be a back that grinds it out and moves the chains, but if you prefer a back capable of going the distance with any carry, Henderson might be as good as you'll see in college football.

4) Kyle McCord didn't make mistakes but he didn't install any confidence either in a thirteen-point first half.

McCord missed some receivers and hopefully, he will alleviate any concerns next week.

5) Marvin Harrison Jr. did catch a touchdown pass but finished with only three catches for thirty yards.

I'd say his Heisman hopes took a blow but I still think a huge game vs Michigan might win it for him.

6) Jack Sawyer broke out in the win as he finished with a strip sack, three tackles for loss, and three more solos as well.

Ohio State has been waiting for Sawyer to show his promised results, he may be showing them just in time.

7) Now it's on to Michigan and everything is on the line.

I am hoping to do a preview later this week.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Boxing Challenge

   The boxing weekend saw its biggest stars fight on Thursday but there is still a few interesting fights on Saturday worth keeping tabs on.

Saturday night on DAZN, unbeaten super middleweight Diego Pacheco will meet Marcelo Coceres in Los Angeles in a Matchroom main event.

Pacheco looks the part of being a future star and could be in the title picture sometime next year but will face his toughest opponent in the veteran Coceres.

Coceres is most remembered for his close 2021 decision loss to Edgar Berlanga that saw Coceres knock down Berlanga in the ninth round.

Earlier in the day from London, ESPN+ will offer a doubleheader with the main event in the middleweight division as Denzel Bentley and Nathan Heaney battle for Bentley's English title.

Bentley is the fighter that gave plenty of trouble to WBO champion Janibek Alimkhanuly in the most difficult fight in the champions career and knocked out Kieran Smith in his first fight following the defeat with a right hand that ended the fight without a count in the first round.

Heaney is undefeated but is facing his first fight against world-class opposition.

The semi-main event is a WBC featherweight eliminator between former WBO junior featherweight champion Isaac Dogboe and unbeaten Brit Nick Ball.

Dogboe lost a clear decision to Robeisy Ramirez earlier this season in a WBO title try while Ball knocked out unbeaten Ludumo Lamati in the twelfth round in his only fight this year.

Boxing Challenge

Super Middleweights. 10 Rds
Diego Pacheco vs Marcelo Coceres
Ramon Malpica: Pacheco Unanimous Decision
TRS: Pacheco KO 6
Vince Samano; Pacheco KO 8

Middleweights.12 Rds
Denzel Bentley vs Nathan Heaney
All: Bentley Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 12 Rds
Isaac Dogboe vs Nick Ball
R.L. and TRS: Ball Unanimous Decision
V.S: Ball KO 9


   The PPM is back with the next to last week of regular season play in college and the final week of byes in the NFL.

Last Week: 11-5
Overall: 110-47

Ohio State over Minnesota 35-10
Texas Tech ove Central Florida 31-24
Toledo over Bowling Green 34-21
UTSA over South Florida 31-14
Middle Tennessee State over UTEP 29-21
N.C. State over Virginia Tech 23-16
Georgia Southern over Old Dominion 29-25
Boise State over Utah State 27-17
Oregon State over Washington 37-35
Arkansas over Florida International 32-14

Games of the Week
Utah over Arizona 31-30
Kansas State over Kansas 35-31

Browns over Steelers 17-14
Chargers over Packers 35-27

Games of the Week
Chiefs over Eagles 34-32
Bills over Jets 24-17

Boxing Challenge; Stevenson bores, Junior Lightweights war

  On a rare Thursday night event with elite fighters and two world titles, Las Vegas was the site as ESPN wanted their broadcast partner for boxing, Top Rank, to help with the start of a huge sports weekend in Las Vegas that would culminate in the Formula One race on Saturday.

The stage was set for Shakur Stevenson to continue his rise to stardom with a national audience viewing his attempt to grab the WBC lightweight title vacated by Devon Haney.

Stevenson succeeded in taking the title but didn't win any fans as Stevenson "won" a unanimous decision over Edwin De Los Santos in one of the most boring fights you'll see at the world-class level.

Neither fighter landed double-digit punches in any round, and the pair combined according to Compubox (Boxing's stat-keeping organization) for a combined forty punches, an all-time low for a twelve-round fight in the thirty-eight years of Compubox's existence.

Neither man took any chances and since no one would, the advantage swung to the more skilled fighter, and Stevenson did enough to win under the circumstances.

Stevenson won by scores of 115-113 and 116-112 (x 2), I scored Stevenson the winner at 117-111.

Stevenson didn't take advantage of De Los Santos's reluctance (despite his reputation for power) and Stevenson didn't make anyone scream to see him fight Devin Haney or anyone next time out after such a boring fight.

Stevenson is always going to look better against fighters that attack and at least gamble for a victory, which De Los Santos refused to attempt but neither Devin Haney nor Vasyl Lomachenko are aggressive fighters which makes me wonder if a Stevenson fight against either man would be much more exciting than this fight was, although I'm not sure if any fight could be more boring than this.

Fortunately, the co-feature saved the day as Emanuel Navarrete retained his WBO junior lightweight championship with a majority draw with Robson Conceicao.

Navarrete knocked Conceicao down in the fourth and sixth rounds and those knockdowns would be key in the decision as one judge ruled for Navarrete 114-112 (a draw without the knockdowns) and the remaining two judges even at 113-113 (Conceicao wins without them) as same as my score.

Conceicao managed to slow the usual non-stop attack of Navarrete just enough to reach him with counters and mixed in (especially in the last few rounds) enough right hands to earn the majority draw and perhaps an eventual rematch since the fight was an entertaining one.

It makes sense for Navarrete unless first, he can sign a unification match against WBC champion O'Shaquie Foster, who signed a contract with Top Rank last week.

Conceicao would make sense to face the winner of a Navarrete-Foster match and considering his two defeats to Oscar Valdex and Shakur Stevenson had faded his star a little bit, it seems to me that despite the draw, Conceicao was the biggest winner of the evening.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 170 Pts (2)
Ramon Malpica: 154 Pts (2)
Vince Samano: 112 Pts (2)

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Boxing Challenge

     It's a rare Thursday night in the boxing challenge as Top Rank and ESPN are live from Las Vegas with two title events.

The main event pits Shakur Stevenson, who is trying for his third divisional title in his relatively short career, and Edwin De Los Santos for the WBC lightweight title that Devon Haney placed on hold before his challenge of Regis Prograis for the WBC junior welterweight title next month.

Stevenson impressively stopped Shuichiro Yoshino in six rounds in April for his debut in the division and looked very strong at the weight.

De Los Santos is the opponent in a rare Top Rank vs PBC pairing and has rattled off his four biggest wins since his only loss, a split decision to William Foster in January 2022.

De Los Santos ripped through then-undefeated prospect Jose Valenzuela in September 2022 and won every round in a July unanimous decision win over Joseph Adorno.

De Los Santos accepted the fight after Frank Martin refused to fight Stevenson, turning down his largest career payday and first world title shot due to what he claimed was not enough purse parity between Martin and Stevenson.

De Los Santos is a good puncher (14 of 16 wins via knockout) but he's dealing with an entirely new level of opponent in Stevenson, who can eventually be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.

In the co-feature, exciting WBO junior lightweight champion Emanuel Navarrete defends his title against former title challenger Robson Conceicao.

Navarrete returns after his fan-friendly battle against former champion Oscar Valdez in August with Navarrete winning a unanimous decision.

Conceicao, a former Olympic gold medal winner, has lost just twice, losing a somewhat controversial decision to Oscar Valdez before dropping a much wider decision to Shakur Stevenson last year.

Conceicao could bring an interesting style to face Navarrete, who struggled a bit in being knocked down by Liam Wilson in his fight before the Valdez victory.

Did Navarrete look so good against Valdez because Valdez's style was made for him?

Or was the Wilson win the outlier for Navarrete and just an off-night?

Boxing Challenge

Vacant WBC Lightweight Title 12 Rds
Shakur Stevenson vs Edwin De Los Santos
All; Stevenson Unanimous Decision

WBO Junior Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Emanuel Navarrete vs Robson Conceicao
R.L: Navarrete KO 7
TRS: Navarrete Unanimous Decision
V.S: Conceicao Unanimous Decision

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

DeShaun Watson Out for Year

   Just as DeShaun Watson seemed to be showing signs of the player that the Cleveland Browns traded for, word from the team today stated that Watson had suffered a broken bone in his shoulder and would miss the remainder of the season.

Andrew Berry said that Watson should fully recover from his eventual surgery and be prepared to start the 2024 regular season.

Watson completed all fourteen of his passes in the second half in rallying the Browns to a 33-31 win in Baltimore over the Ravens to improve the team to 6-3 and only a half-game behind Baltimore for first place in the AFC North

Watson exits the season with 1,115 passing yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions in six games. While Watson seemed to be turning the corner just as his year concluded, it's not unfair to say that the Browns still will have questions about the quarterback position entering next season.

Kevin Stefanski announced that rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will be the starter for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

Thompson-Robinson was overmatched in his only start of the year, getting less than an hour's notice of the start with no first-team preparation before throwing three interceptions in a 28-3 defeat against Baltimore.

The hope is that with a week of practice and work with the first team, Thompson-Robinson will be able to improve his performance and help the Browns get by against Pittsburgh, if not the remainder of the season.

The Browns are 6-3 with eight games to go and the schedule isn't overwhelmingly difficult.

Home games against Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Chicago, and the New York Jets and road games against the Los Angeles Rams, Denver, Houston, and Cincinnati.

4-4 against that schedule would make the Browns 10-7 which might get them into the playoffs, 5-3 and 11-6 is highly likely to get them into the postseason.

However, even against the weakest of teams, the Browns can't assume that they will receive even average play at the quarterback position, so none of these games can be guaranteed wins.

While DeShaun Watson has been disappointing, Andrew Berry didn't want to spend money for Jacoby Brissett, thought Dorian Thompson-Robinson could do the job better than Joshua Dobbs (the jury is still out there) before the season, and didn't trade (we don't really know if Berry tried to re-acquire one or both) for Brissett or Dobbs at the trade deadline to have insurance against a Watson injury.

This is the situation that faces the Browns- either an untested day-three rookie QB will have to succeed in an unexpected situation or a veteran quarterback that hasn't proven himself as a starter must come through as an average starter.

Thompson-Robinson can surprise, just last season San Francisco received play from seventh-round rookie Brock Purdy that was good enough to help the 49ers reach the NFC title game but one certainly cannot count on that happening.

No matter what, I can't blame Kevin Stefanski for whatever happens in the final nine games without Watson but I do have blame for Andrew Berry.

It was Berry that was all-in on Dorian Thompson-Robinson's impressive pre-season and he may eventually be right.

For the sake of the Cleveland Browns, he better be. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Browns Rock Ravens 33-31 at the gun!

    Dustin Hopkins connected on a forty-yard field goal on the game's last play to give the Cleveland Browns a stunning come-from-behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore.

The 33-31 win saw the Browns trail from seconds after the game began until the final kick by Hopkins as the Browns constantly hustled and scrapped to make up deficits that multiple times were fourteen points.

DeShaun Watson battled through an ankle injury to complete each of his fourteen second-half passes to lead the comeback.

Jerome Ford rushed for 107 yards and Amari Cooper led the receiver with ninety-eight yards on six catches.

Cleveland improved to 6-3 with the win and moved to within a half-game of the AFC North-leading Ravens.

The Browns will host the also 6-3 Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday in Cleveland.

Brownie Bits

1) The day started poorly when Baltimore Safety Kyle Hamilton blitzed in on DeShaun Watson, tipped Watson's pass into the air and then grabbed it to cruise into the end zone for a touchdown uncontested.

Hamilton is a terrific young safety and I have a feeling that we will see many big plays from Hamilton against the Browns before his career is over.

2) A key play in the game was another fortunate bounce in a season filled with them was the fumble recovery by Wyatt Teller on the game-winning drive on a Baltimore strip sack on DeShaun Watson.

In the past, Baltimore recovers the ball and the game ends. 

3) DeShaun Watson may not have been allowed to go down the field by the Baltimore defense (his longest completion was 28 yards) but especially in the second half, Watson took what was given and put the ball where it needed to be.

That hasn't always been the case for Watson but the short-range accuracy is exactly what the Browns hoped for when they paid a punitive price for him.

4) Dustin Hopkins has been so dependable this season since the Browns acquired him from the Chargers and I actually felt sorry for him when he missed what would have been the game-tying extra point in the fourth quarter.

Trust me, that is not a common feeling from me on Browns kickers and I felt really good for Hopkins when he drilled the game-winner and avoided the goat horns.

5) Greg Newsome's pick-six in the final quarter was the first career interception for the former first-rounder and took some horns off himself for an earlier defensive holding penalty in the end zone that negated an interception that would have ended the drive for Baltimore but instead resulted in a Ravens touchdown.

Considering Newsome was injured for most of the weekend with an uncertain game status, it was quite a game for the Northwestern product.

6) I would be surprised if Denzel Ward was able to play this week after sustaining a neck injury in the first half.

Ward was trying to tackle Ravens receiver Zay Flowers when suddenly tackle Ronnie Stanley charged into the picture and spears Ward helmet-first.

Ward was unable to return after the cheap shot and Stanley is likely to pay a hefty fine after the NFL reviews all the games this week.

7) DeShaun Watson's biggest throw came on the final drive as the Browns faced a second and nineteen on their own twenty-two with Watson firing a dart to Amari Cooper for seventeen yards to bring the Browns to a reasonable third and two situation.

Jerome Ford ran for six yards to gain the first down but a big-time throw from Watson when the team needed it most.

8) James Proche had looked good returning punts last week in his Browns debut but his muffed punt in Baltimore led to the Ravens touchdown in the fourth quarter, so the Browns haven't solved their return problems yet.

9) The Browns grit came through on two occasions in the fourth quarter, one with David Njoku carrying defenders down the field for yardage and on Kareem Hunt's carry on the final drive, the Browns lineman pushed Hunt down the field for several extra yards that brought Dustin Hopkins into field goal range for the game-winning kick.

10) Jordan Elliott blocked a Justin Tucker field goal attempt in the second quarter for the second block of his career.

The other block of his career? Also against Justin Tucker.

11) The Browns defense kept Lamar Jackson under control, sacking him three times, intercepting him twice, and allowing Jackson to throw only one touchdown.

It wasn't easy or even pretty but it was enough to allow Cleveland to crawl back into the game.

12) I thought Baltimore would win a close game and I thought Cleveland had to win both this game and the following week's game against Pittsburgh to have a shot at winning the division due to tiebreakers inside the division as a loss to either would make 3-3 the best mark that Cleveland could have with a split.

The Browns now have a chance to win both and while the 6-3 Steelers are struggling on offense and overachieving a bit, their defense is the real deal as well.

Cleveland needs this game for many reasons, take the Steelers lightly at your own peril.

Saturday, November 11, 2023


   The PPM is back with another football weekend as the college regular season roars down the stretch.

Last Week: 10-6 
Overall: 99-42

Ohio State over Michigan State 41-10
Kansas over Texas Tech 37-34
Bowling Green over Kent State 29-21 
N.C. State over Wake Forest 27-17
Middle Tennessee State over Florida International 30-28
Arkansas over Auburn 28-24
Oregon State over Stanford 41-21
Georgia Southern over Marshall 24-21
Boise State over New Mexico 35-17
UTSA over Rice 34-17

Games of the Week
Michigan over Penn State 27-14
Georgia over Ole Miss 31-24

Ravens over Browns 21-17
Chargers over Lions 31-26

Games of the Week
49ers over Jaguars 24-14
Saints over Vikings 27-21

Friday, November 10, 2023

I Tell Ya' Herbie

Back with more from the college football universe with I Tell Ya' Herbie.

I Tell Ya' Herbie: 

                             Right now, the biggest injustice in the sport isn't Connor Stallions or the other "honorable" Michigan Men involved in their sign-stealing scandal.

It's the NCAA for stubbornly sticking to their bowl ban for undefeated James Madison for moving up to 1-A and daring to go unbeaten thus far.

The Dukes still have to win have to win home games against UConn and Appalachian State along with a road trip to Coastal Carolina but if they finish unbeaten and things fall right with one loss teams such as the AAC's Tulane and the Mountain West's Air Force and Fresno State, the NCAA needs to do the right thing by an unbeaten team and say no adjustment time needed and allow the Dukes to take the automatic bid to the New Years Day bowl in its final year.

It's the right thing to do.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                             The most interesting conference race at this stage might be in the AAC mentioned above with three undefeated teams at 5-0 in the league (Tulane, SMU, and UTSA) and a 4-1 team lurking behind the three leaders in Memphis.

And sadly with each team with three games to play, there are only two scheduled between the four with SMU traveling to Memphis and UTSA visiting Tulane.

It's too bad there isn't more interaction between the four down the stretch.

I Tell Ya' Herbie;

                             The most anticipated game of this week has to be Michigan traveling to State College for the first test of note for the third-ranked and scandal-scarred Wolverines this season.

While Michigan has steamrolled all opponents, their best wins have been over Rutgers and UNLV, neither of whom would be confused with the sport's powerhouses.

Penn State failed their big test in Columbus but their best wins are better than those of Michigan to date with wins over West Virginia and Iowa.

This one is in State College, so Michigan's first test will be away from home, and considering the sign-stealing scandal, the crowd will be especially strong against the Wolverines.

This may be Drew Allar's last chance to score a career-changing win this season but from what I saw in Columbus, even at home this game may be more advanced than he can handle.

I Tell Ya' Herbie:

                            The coach of the year in the Big 12 might be Mike Gundy for the rally-saving season for his Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The Cowboys have won five straight since losing to South Alabama at home and Iowa State on the road with wins over Kansas, Kansas State, and most importantly to them, the final (for now) Bedlam against Oklahoma which gives Oklahoma State final bragging rights and may have knocked the Sooners out of the Big 12 championship game.

Gundy has moved from the hot seat to the possible coach of the year and should the Cowboys win out against Central Florida (4-5), Houston (4-5), and BYU (5-4), it will be Oklahoma State as the Sooner State's representative in the league title game.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Boxing Challenge

  Since time is short from the weekend wrap-up, here is a just-the-facts recap for the boxing challenge and keeping the points straight.

IBF Junior Lightweight champion Joe Cordina retained his title in Monte Carlo over Edward Vazquez by majority decision.

Official scores of 116-112 twice for Cordina and the third judge scoring 114-114.

My score was 114-114.

Adrien Curiel upset Sivenathi Nothshinga with a devastating right hand in the second round to stop Nothshings and win the IBF light flyweight title on the Cordina-Vazquez undercard.

In Lake Tahoe, heavyweight Efe Ajagba stopped Australia's Joe Goodall in four rounds, while undefeated lightweight contender Raymond Muratalla was very impressive in stopping the previously unbeaten Diego Torres in eight rounds.

In Miami, Noel Mikaelian stopped Illunga Makabu in three rounds to win the WBC cruiserweight title that was vacated by Badou Jack.

Mikaelin knocked Makabu down in the second and third before the fight was ended.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 168 Pts (7)
Ramon Malpica: 152 Pts (4)
Vince Samano: 110 Pts (1)  

Browns whitewash Cardinals 27-0

  DeShaun Watson threw two touchdown passes in his return to the lineup and Amari Cooper finished with 139 yards receiving as the Cleveland Browns stomped the Arizona Cardinals 27-0 in Cleveland.

The Browns defense allowed only fifty-eight total yards to the Arizona offense, sacked Clayton Tune seven times, and intercepted the rookie twice in a complete demolition of the Cardinal offense.

Cleveland improved to 5-3 with the win and will travel to Baltimore to face the 6-2 Ravens in what will be a vital game for tiebreakers inside the division.

This is shorter than usual since I was away on Monday and Tuesday, and this is now old news.

Brownie Bits

1) DeShaun Watson struggled at first but he was sharper as the game moved on and his fifty-nine-yard dart to Amari Cooper was the type of throw that the Browns hoped they would see from Watson.

It's a bit away from the day that I could truly say this is the player that they traded for and he is consistently at that level but this was a flash of hope.

2) The Cardinals are a bad football team with only one win and starting a quarterback that had never taken an NFL snap, so the Browns should have been impressive in victory but this was a domination that good teams do to bad teams.

This is how it should be done but that doesn't mean that they deserve little credit for doing so.

3) The wide receiver position is still a worry to me as other than Amari Cooper, the wideouts caught only three passes (two to Elijah Moore, one to Cedric Tillman) for a combined seventeen yards.

4) The defense's seven sacks was a strong outing but it seemed like it could have been even more as the pass rush was bothering Clayton Tune with every dropback.

5) Dalvin Tomlinson was signed to shore up an interior defensive line that was abused consistently last season and he has done so.

Tomlinson finished this game with two and a half sacks and in my opinion, is playing at a Pro Bowl level thus far this season.

Tomlinson is responsible for the improved play of Jordan Elliott this season as he occupies two blockers and allows Elliott to deal with just one with Elliott stepping up his play to the highest of his career.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Ohio State defeats Rutgers 35-16

   Kyle McCord threw three touchdown passes, two to Marvin Harrison Jr. as the Ohio State Buckeyes used a strong second half to rally past Rutgers 35-16 in New Jersey.

Rutgers led at the half 9-7 on three field goals and drove down the field to start the second half before Josh Proctor smashed into Rutgers' Kyle Monangai forcing the pass into the air where Jordan Hancock plucked it and ran ninety-three yards for a touchdown and the lead.

Rutgers hung around for a while but their upset chances were never close after the Hancock score.

TreVeyon Henderson finished with 128 rushing yards and 80 receiving yards to lead Ohio State, who improved to 9-0, 6-0 in the Big Ten, and will host hapless Michigan State next Saturday night in Columbus.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Another stout day for the Ohio State defense in allowing only one touchdown and sixteen points overall.

2) Rutgers did have some success running the ball and used the tactic of using the ground attack to shorten the game,

Rutgers led in time of possession thirty-five to twenty-five but once the game became a two-score game in the third quarter, Rutgers was forced to throw and that is not a strength.

3) Give Rutgers some credit, they had a plan, struck with it as long as possible, and in the end didn't have the ammo to slug it out with OSU but Greg Schiano is doing a good job with the Scarlet Knights. While Rutgers may never be a power, they could be a mid-level team under Schiano.

4) Ohio State pulled a bizarre fake punt run by Jesse Mirco that was dropped short of a first down.

What really made the call a strange one was that Mirco usually runs a bit to the right before he kicks but on this play, Mirco moved to the left which tipped off the fake.

5) Kyle McCord did throw the three touchdowns but the yardage was only 189 yards and he threw an awful second-quarter interception.

6) Marvin Harrison Jr. caught just four passes for twenty-five yards but two of those were for scores.

Rutgers made it the focus of their game plan to take Marv. Jr out of the game and they did that but you can't take them all out as...

7) TreVeyon Henderson was the leading rusher and receiver, finishing with 208 yards of total offense

Henderson gives the Buckeyes something that their other backs don't and when he is healthy, defenses have to respect the short pass out of the backfield.

8) Rutgers moved the ball better than expected but they would score just one touchdown.

The goal line stand late in the first half was key in not allowing Rutgers to be too high entering halftime and even those Rutgers rushed for over 200 yards, the defense didn't have a bad day.

9) The key play was Josh Proctor's wipeout that caused the ball to hang into the air to be grabbed by Jordan Hancock for a drive that ended a scoring threat and gave Ohio State the lead.

Hancock has played well this year and deserved a big play and Proctor left the game after the hit but will hopefully return next week.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Boxing Challenge

    The boxing weekend isn't star-studded but there are three world titles on the table, a heavyweight on the fringes of contention, and a world-class lightweight on the rise, all in action.

Monte Carlo will be the site for the two initial title affairs on a Matchroom/DAZN card.

In the main event, Wales's Joe Cordina will defend his IBF junior lightweight title against Edward Vazquez.

Cordina won that title for a second time when he earned a split decision over Shavkat Rahkimov in April in a terrific fight while Vazquez is a light hitter with only three knockouts in his fifteen wins but his most impressive fight was his only loss when he lost a controversial split decision to the talented Raymond Ford in 2022.

Vazquez has won four fights since the Ford loss and might be a live underdog against Cordina.

Should Cordina successfully defend the title, his next outing could be a unification fight against WBC champion O'Shaquie Foster early next year.

In the co-feature, Sivenathi Nothshinga will defend his IBF junior flyweight title against Adrian Curiel.

Nothshinga looked sensational in winning the title in a fight of the year candidate in September 2022 over Hector Flores but won a dreadfully tedious decision in July over Regie Suganob to take some of the glitter off his title-winning effort.

Curiel is a journeyman from Mexico receiving his first title shot and has stopped only four of his twenty-three victims, so who really knows what he will bring to the fight.

ESPN+ and Top Rank are live in the evening with two contenders attempting to keep winning streaks alive to move up the ladder.

In the main event, heavyweight Efe Ajagba will meet Joe Goodall in a ten-rounder.

Ajagba was last seen winning by disqualification in four rounds when Zhan Kossobutsky continued to hit Ajagba low and has won three straight since his only loss to Frank Sanchez in October 2021.

Australian Joe Goodall knocked out Stephan Shaw in six rounds on a July card and was a decorated amateur, so he isn't a pushover despite Ajabga having the edge as a professional.

Raymond Muratalla continues his move towards the top of the lightweight division as he faces Diego Torres in the co-feature.

Muratalla looked very impressive in a two-round blowout of solid former title challenge Jeremiah Nakathila in May and shows signs of being a top boxer at 135 pounds.

Torres has stopped seventeen of his eighteen foes and hasn't lost but will be making his first fight outside of Mexico and is a bit of an unknown factor.

Don King Promotions pops his head out with a card from the seldom active promoter from Miami with a main event for the WBC cruiserweight title vacated by Badou Jack.

Former champion Illunga Makabu, who lost the title to Jack, battles Noel Mikaelyan for the crown.

Makabu was stopped by Jack in the final round in February and won a controversial decision in 2022 to Thabiso Mchunu, so he is a fighter on the decline while Mikaelyan has fought only three times in the five years since his controversial title attempt in the World Boxing Super Series in which he lost to Mairis Briedis, none against even fringe contenders.

Boxing Challenge

IBF Junior Lightweight Title. 12 Rds 
Joe Cordina vs Edward Vazquez
Ramon Malpica & TRS: Cordina Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Vazquez Unanimous Decision

IBF Junior Flyweight Title. 12 Rds
Sivenathi Nothshinga  vs Adrian Curiel
R.L & TRS: Nothshinga Unanimous Decision
V.S: Curiel Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights. 10 Rds
Efe Ajgaba vs Joe Goodall
R.L: Ajgaba KO 9
TRS: Ajgaba KO 7
V.S: Goodall Unanimous Decision

Lightweights. 10 Rds
Raymond Muratalla vs Diego Torres
R.L: Muratalla Unanimous Decision
TRS: Muratalla KO 8
V.S: Torres KO 6

Vacant WBC Cruiserweight Title. 12 Rds
Noel Mikaelian vs Illunga Makabu
R.L: Makabu KO 7
TRS: Mikaelian Split Decision
V.S: Makabu Unanimous Decision

Cavaliers lose Tournament Opener in Indy

   The Cleveland Cavaliers offense showed up late for their first outing in the new "NBA In-Season Tournament" in Indianapolis against the Pacers, trailing by seventeen points at halftime.

The Cavaliers would make a valiant comeback in the second half and pushed the Pacers to the wire before falling short in a 121-116 loss.

Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points to lead the now 2-4 Cavaliers, who will face Golden State on Sunday evening in Cleveland.


1) Yes, this was the Cavaliers' first game in the new NBA In-Season Tournament, an idea of league commissioner Adam Silver to emulate what European soccer leagues do in their seasons.

While I don't hate the concept, I don't see anything special about it either.

2) The reason it isn't special because it's not exactly what is done in the European soccer tournaments.

Those leagues involve all the lower levels so you can have multiple times every year, a smaller league team playing a top team.

Imagine if the Hagerstown Suns drew the New York Yankees in a tournament and depending on the blind draw, the Yankees coming to Municipal Stadium?
That can happen in those tournaments and it's missing in the NBA version.

3) The only way to approach that would be to integrate the G-League teams, maybe some teams from Europe, and (although I don't think this would be possible) a few college teams.

That would be the only way to bring the underdog aspect to the tournament and give it more value than a bunch of specially tagged regular-season games with a trophy at the end.

4) While I don't love the tournament, there isn't anything to be griping about either.

Well, except for one thing- the special courts made for each team are just blinding.

Most are terrible in these super bright team colors with what looks like a runway strip down the middle of the court which the NBA states is supposed to symbolize the road to Las Vegas where the finals of the tournament will be.

Indiana's blue and yellow was very loud and hard to watch and I saw that Philadephia's red (who the Cavaliers will play in the tournament) looked really bad.

5) Jarrett Allen made his season debut against the Pacers, scoring ten points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Allen's minutes are being limited and he played just twenty-one minutes as the team gradually rounds Allen into full-time shape.

Sorry, I spent more time on the tournament than on the game but Ohio State is starting shortly and I need to wrap this up.