Sunday, April 28, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Ramirez beats Barthelemy, Ortiz needs just one

     Golden Boy Promotion's card Saturday night card from Fresno California may not have delivered many surprises but did offer some good action and may have made some 140-pound contenders look closely at a chance to face a former champion who could be ripe for the picking.

In the main event, former WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez was successful in his first fight under the GBP banner in winning a unanimous decision over former IBF junior lightweight and lightweight Rances Barthelemy.

The road wasn't all smooth for Ramirez, who appeared to be knocked down in the third round but referee Jack Reiss called it a shove (it looked like a knockdown to me) and after hitting the floor, Barthelemy landed several punches to the downed Ramirez.

In fairness, it should have been called a knockdown and then deducted a point from Barthelemy for hitting Ramirez while down but if neither were called, I'm okay with the round as a one-point round.

Barthelemy hurt Ramirez again late in the fourth round but was unable to follow up

 Ramirez would take command and he would slow down Barthelemy down severely over the second half of the fight.

The judges gave Ramirez the edge on the scorecards with scores of 119-109 twice and 118-110.

I had Ramirez as the winner 117-111 however Ramirez may have lost a step and while I would still think he's of world title contention status, I think he may have become a cut below the level of the division champions, Teofmo Lopez, Devin Haney, Isaac Cruz, and Subriel Matias.

The co-feature looked like a mismatch entering the fight and Vergil Ortiz ended it quickly as Ortiz ripped one body shot that downed Thomas Dulorme for the count in the first round in their junior middleweight ten-rounder.

The best thing to say about this one is that Ortiz sustained no damage that might delay his anticipated fight with Tim Tsyzu in August.

Dulorme, a one-time world title challenger, lost his fifth in his last seven outings and might be suited to think about ending his ring career.

The first fight saw Oscar Duarte rebound from his loss to Ryan Garcia to stop former junior lightweight champion Joseph Diaz in the ninth round.

Diaz landed his share of punches in the first few rounds but the stronger Duarte pounded Diaz from the fifth round forward and the referee made the right decision in stopping the fight with Diaz taking blows along the ropes.

I had Duarte slightly ahead after eight rounds at 78-76 but Diaz hadn't won a round since the fourth and it made little sense to continue the fight.

For Duarte, it's a feather in his cap as he was the first man to stop Diaz and it should help him receive more fights while for Diaz, who tried his best, it's time for him, like Thomas Dulorme, to consider ending a solid career.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 56 Pts (5)
TRS: 55 Pts (5)
Vince Samano: 28 Pts  (5) 

Cavaliers go cold in Game Four defeat

    The Cleveland Cavaliers had to feel good about their nine-point halftime lead in game four of their Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series against the Orlando Magic.

That was as good as they would feel as the Cavaliers were outscored in the third quarter by Orlando's Franz Wagner alone (12-10) and by his team (37-10) as Orlando easily defeated Cleveland 112-89 to tie the series at two games per team.

Jarrett Allen led Cleveland with twenty-one points.

Game five will be in Cleveland on Tuesday night.


1) I'm not a member of the fire J.B. Bickerstaff club as so many have been in the last three seasons but I have to say this, if the Cavaliers lose this series, it's time for Bickerstaff to go.

Cleveland had legitimate excuses for last year's loss to the Knicks.

Those reasons do not exist for this series.

2) Donovan Mitchell scored eighteen points in the first half and zero in the second half.


I don't care about the circumstances (Mitchell only received four shots), your best player cannot. I repeat- cannot play an entire quarter and finish scoreless.

3) The Cavaliers scored with 5:26 remaining in the third quarter and would not score again until the 10:40 mark in the fourth.

Seven minutes without a point in a playoff game.

4) Only fifteen points from the Cavaliers non-starters and none higher than Caris LeVert's five.

One would think in a blowout, someone would have accumulated some points in garbage time.

5) Cleveland's forty-seven percent shooting is respectable but they were only four of seventeen from three-point range.

The upgrades that were supposed to bring improved outside shooting for this time of the season have not come through thus far.

6) Orlando outrebounded Cleveland 43-29 but the crazy number for the Cavaliers?
TWO offensive rebounds.

I'd think more than two would fall into your hands without moving!

7) Finally, I'm not ready to panic.


The home team has won each game by big margins and now that this is a best-of-three series, Cleveland still hosts two of those three.

I would be mildly disappointed to win the series in seven games but not nearly as disappointed as the organization would be by losing the series because if that happens, there will be many changes on the horizon- for personnel on and off the court.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Browns select Jowon Briggs

   The Cleveland Browns used their final pick of the 2024 draft and the second of their two seventh-rounders on Cincinnati defensive tackle Jowon Briggs.

Briggs started in all five years in college football, two with Virginia and three after transferring to Cincinnati, finishing last season with two sacks.

Briggs appears to be a bit undersized at 6'1 but weighs 313 pounds, so it's possible that he can get past the lack of height.

Briggs had an excellent combine where he showed up bigger than expected and ran a faster time as well.

Briggs is better against the run than as a pass rusher and his tape doesn't really stand out in any particular area,

Briggs doesn't appear to have the potential to be more than a depth player but it's interesting that the Browns have invested three draft picks on defensive tackles in the last two drafts- 2023 third-round Siaki Ika, second-rounder Michael Hall, and Briggs.

I'm not sure the Browns can afford to carry all three of Ika, Hall, and Briggs and if they do, that would be bad news for one of Shelby Harris, Quinton Jefferson, or Maurice Hurst ( I think Dalvin Tomlinson is untouchable at this point) but you build depth through competition and arguably there is no better place to have depth than along either of the lines.

I'll be writing a wrap-up of the draft later this week after I catch up on the Cavaliers' awful loss in Orlando along with a road trip post. 

Browns select Myles Harden

   Andrew Berry has never finished a draft without selecting a cornerback and he didn't start a trend in the 2024 draft when the Browns selected Myles Harden of South Dakota with the first of the team's two seventh-round picks.

The 5'11 Harden was one of the stronger cornerbacks at the combine and is reported to be best suited for a zone defense with his strength allowing him to play well against the run.

Harden has been mentioned as someone who could be a nice fit as a nickel corner or moved to safety with his strong hitting ability.

Harden doesn't have top speed and might be vulnerable to the deep throw along with only finishing with one interception last season.

The best part of the drafting under Andrew Berry has been drafting corners having chosen Greg Newsome, Martin Emerson, and maybe another good one in the 2023 draft with Cameron Mitchell.

It's going to be tough for Harden to make the team but not impossible and he'll have to beat Khalef Haillassie, who the Browns claimed from Kansas City last season to make the squad but Harden has the big corner style and aggressive players sometimes find a spot on teams.

A very interesting selection from a team that loves their cornerbacks.

Browns select Nathaniel Watson

     I have written about my lukewarm feelings about the Browns linebackers except for Jeremiah Owosu-Koahmoah and how I hoped that the Browns would draft a linebacker in this draft.

Cleveland grabbed one in round six in Mississippi State's Nathaniel Watson who may not be an explosive playmaker but is gonna roll up tackles against the run and help immediately on special teams.

Watson was named the 2023 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, which generally isn't given to players from Mississippi State, and at 6'2, 233 pounds, Watson is your old-school thumper at linebacker.

Watson led the SEC in tackles and finished tied for the lead in sacks (ten) with Alabama's Dallas Turner, who was the first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the draft.

Watson is regarded as a two-down linebacker as his strength isn't his pass coverage, although it's not out of the question that he could eventually become average against the pass.

Watson tackles well and showed some blitzing ability with Mississippi State but was a sixth-year senior due to the Covid pandemic, so he was older than most of the competition last year.

Watson might be a special teams asset but he'll have to prove that as he didn't play on the coverage teams in Starkville.

Watson seems to have the upside of a solid stay-at-home linebacker who could have a chance of eventually starting and might develop into a veteran leader.

At worst. I think he'll be a backup and special teamer.

I really like this pick and think Watson has a decent chance of making the roster.

Back later with looks at the two players selected in round seven. 

Browns select Jamari Thrash

    I waited most of the afternoon for the Cleveland Browns to make their fifth-round selection and as I watched linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. of Clemson continue to be available, I was starting to gain hope that the Browns would add the speedy linebacker.

Alas, with the pick before Cleveland, the Philadelphia Eagles, the same team that drafted Trotter Sr, plucked him from the board, disappointing me almost as much as the second half of Game Four between the Cavaliers and Magic.

The Browns then decided to add to the wide receiver group with the choice of Jamari Thrash of Louisville.

Thrash played his first three seasons at Georgia State before transferring for his final season to Louisville.

It's always fair to wonder about how a player who has success at the Group of Five level will adjust to the Power Five level but Thrash performed well with the Cardinals.

Thrash caught sixty-three passes for over eight hundred yards and six touchdowns in his only season in Louisville and the six-foot Thrash has earned raves for his route-running ability.

The biggest question has been his size but I've seen conflicting reports on his speed and athleticism.

Some have mentioned Thrash as a big play threat that can do damage on deep passes and others have listed his speed and athletic ability as average and question if he can get open against NFL secondaries.

Thrash isn't going to be a likely upgrade being a fifth-round pick but few were paying attention last year for Puca Nacua in the fifth round last season and Nacua made a huge impact as a rookie, so it's not out of the question for Thrash.

Thrash will battle David Bell and Michael Woods for a spot on the roster and it'll be a tough fight to find a roster spot, but it isn't impossible.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Browns select Zac Zinter

    I thought the Cleveland Browns were about to grab a first-round talent or address defensive speed, as I was all in on Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin or Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

Well, the Browns surprised me. not by passing on those players but with the player that they chose in Michigan guard Zac Zinter.

Zinter is the lineman who badly broke his leg last season in Michigan's win over Ohio State and I'm not sure about his physical status currently.

The 6'6, 309-pound Zinter is a line mover in the run game as one would expect for a Michigan lineman but has been mentioned as an average pass blocker.

When you see how the game is more and more about throwing the football, I'm a bit leery of linemen who project to be average in pass protection.

The Browns are paying big money to their starting guards, Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, and at their age (Bitonio is 33, and Teller turns 30 during the season), it's not unreasonable to plan for the future that could see Bitonio retire or Teller become a cap casualty.

However, the team continues to say they are "all in" and talk about the narrowing window of contention, and rather than pick a player who would have a chance to contribute immediately, the selection is a backup guard who is coming off an injury?

It's not really a knock on Zinter as a player, I think the Browns reached a little bit here on a non-position of need, and without a fourth-round pick, they could have done better in this situation.

The Browns have four picks on the final day of the draft, the Eagles fifth, their own sixth, and their own and Tennessee's seventh-round selections.

Browns select Michael Hall

     The Cleveland Browns may have wanted to move down in the second round but whether an offer was enticing enough to move down or not, the Browns kept the pick to select Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Hall with the fifty-fourth pick overall.

I liked wide receiver and defensive tackles as the two positions that I thought the Browns could target with their top pick and there are a few wide receivers still available but only Hall remained of the defensive tackles that I hoped were a possibility after a few picks before Hall saw Ma'ason Smith and Kris Jenkins selected by other teams.

The 6'2, 290-pound defensive tackle brings an intriguing skill set to the Browns interior defensive line with pass-rush skills against the middle of the offensive line.

Hall blasts off the football and is very agile for a defensive tackle but isn't quite a traditional run-stuffing defensive tackle, so there are questions about Hall being a multiple down lineman rather than a pass-rushing specialist.

It is concerning for a player with Hall's skills that he finished with only 1.5 sacks last season but he could be a player who flourishes in one one-on-one blocking situations with teams more concerned with the outside rush from Myles Garrett and company.

I am pleased with the selection of Michael Hall and I think the Browns did well here, especially if they can address wideout, tight end, or linebacker with their third-round pick.

Browns on the clock

   After a first night of the NFL Draft that saw a jaw-dropping SIX quarterbacks selected in the first twelve picks, the Cleveland Browns might be in a position to add a player with their second-round pick at number fifty-four overall that could help immediately.

Andrew Berry is known for loving his trade downs, so this could make the pick even more valuable than usual and allow Berry to add an additional third-rounder or fourth-rounder.

The Browns lack a fourth-rounder and I would be surprised if Berry doesn't trade down from either the second-rounder or their third-rounder at eighty-five.

I would prefer to see the Browns add another weapon that could help DeShaun Watson with so many receivers that may have been first-rounders in other drafts and even though my guy Xavier Worthy left the board late in round one, there are plenty available, so one might be sitting for the Browns to grab.

I really like Oregon's Troy Franklin and Florida State's Keon Coleman most but I didn't mention Georgia's Ladd McConkey, who I didn't think would be available for Cleveland, who would be fine as well.

If it is equal among the three, I think I'd take Franklin.

If all of those three are gone and the Browns trade down slightly, Michigan's Roman Wilson, Western Kentucky's Malachi Corley, and North Carolina's Dez Walker would also be players that could be very helpful as well.

If the Browns decide to pass on the receiver, I think they are going to target the defensive line with LSU's Maason Smith, Ohio State's Michael Hall, and Michigan's Kris Jenkins each making sense.

Smith and Hall have the potential to provide pass rush up the middle, while Jenkins is more of your basic run-stuffer who has a lower floor but might be a ten-year NFL player.

While those are the deepest spots at positions of need, and I don't think he'll fall more than a few spots into the second round, I wouldn't complain a bit about the Browns finding a way to land Iowa corner Cooper DeJean, who would allow the team to perhaps allow Greg Newsome to leave after 2024 and would add both return skills and a bit of offensive gimmickry as well.

I'd love to add Clemson's Jeremiah Trotter Jr in the third round to help the linebacking speed but the Browns' attempt for linebackers other than Jeremiah Owosu-Koahmoah under Andrew Berry haven't been loaded with successes, so they might be reluctant to select a linebacker there.

I'll be back tonight with a few words on whomever the Browns draft along with a look at day three!

Boxing Challenge

  The boxing weekend is all in Fresno, California with a DAZN/Golden Boy card with three fights in the boxing challenge.

In the main event, former WBC and WBO junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez makes his debut for Golden Boy in a twelve-round title eliminator against Rances Barthelemy, who crosses over from PBC for this fight.

Ramirez has fought only twice since his close decision loss to Josh Taylor in 2021 and not at all since his eleventh-round knockout of Richard Commey last March.

Barthelemy, a former beltholder at junior lightweight and lightweight, hasn't fought since last March either and has been known for his boring fights, most notably his 2019 draw with Robert Easter. which is my choice for the worst fight of the last twenty or so years.

Barthelemy's boxing style may have some success against Ramirez but I have my doubts that he's strong enough to hold Ramirez off and his reluctance to engage could make yet another dull affair.

Unbeaten Vergil Ortiz continues to shake off the issues of inactivity with a ten-rounder against Thomas Dulorme.

Ortiz stopped Frederic Lawson in one round in a fight more noted for the early stoppage by referee Tony Weeks than Ortiz's attack but Ortiz has signed for an August fight against Tim Tszyu in what could be a tremendous fight assuming he defeats Dulorme, who hasn't fought in two and a half years, was stopped in one round by Jaron "Boots" Ennis and has lost his last three fights and is 1-4-1 in his last six fights.

I'd bet this one ends early.

The remaining fight is a junior welterweight ten-rounder between Oscar Duarte and Joseph Diaz, both fighters who badly need a win.

Duarte had his moments against Ryan Garcia in December before being stopped in the eighth round while Diaz has lost four of his last five but two were by split decision and in his February split decision loss to Jerry Campos, Diaz lost a point in the fifth round for throwing Campos to the canvas.

Had that point not been deducted, Diaz would have been given a draw.

Boxing Challenge

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds 
Jose Ramirez vs Rances Barthelemy
Ramon Malpica: Ramirez KO 9
TRS and Vince Samano: Ramirez Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 10 Rds
Vergil Ortiz vs Thomas Dulorme
R.L: Ortiz KO 3
TRS: Ortiz KO 2
V.S: Ortiz KO 5

Junior Welterweights 10 Rds
Joseph Diaz vs Oscar Duarte
R.L: Duarte KO 10
TRS and V.S: Duarte Unanimous Decision

Cavaliers confounded by Magic in Game Three loss

  I've thought from the beginning that the Cleveland Cavaliers would win their series against the Orlando Magic in five or six games.

I also thought if there was one game that Orlando would almost certainly win it would be game three, with a pumped-up Magic squad grabbing their return to Orlando and not letting the game go behind an excited crowd.

 I did not foresee Orlando leading by thirty-five points at the end of three quarters and handing Cleveland a 121-83 defeat that was the largest in Cavaliers history in the postseason.

Only three Cavaliers finished in double-figures in scoring with Jarrett Allen leading with fifteen points in the setback. Hopefully, the loss is only an aberration for the Cavaliers before game four on Saturday afternoon in Orlando.

I'm not going too in-depth for this loss because, after halftime, I was flipping back and forth between the game and the NFL Draft, and as Orlando lengthened the lead, I watched less and less but I will say this- Cleveland lost some of the luster that they gained at home in the first two games.

Orlando was the more physical team adding Wendell Carter to their starting lineup, outrebounding Cleveland by nineteen, and sending Jalen Suggs to guard Donovan Mitchell to hound the Cavaliers' alpha dog.

Cleveland signed Max Strus and Georges Niang in the off-season to increase their shooting (especially from three-point land) and have helped next to nil as the pair are a combined three for twenty-four in the series.

I am betting that this will be written off as a bad night and that may be the case but the Cavaliers will have much to prove Saturday in game four- both in how they play and the attitude that they bring to the arena.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Cleveland Browns Draft Preview

   The Cleveland Browns will make their final installment on the DeShaun Watson trade in the 2024 draft as they have sent their first and fourth-rounders to the Houston Texans, so the Browns have just six picks in the draft (only four of those their own) to add young and cost-affordable players.

I would not be surprised at all to see Andrew Berry and the Browns trade down in either the second or third rounds to add a pick in the fourth round, where they do not currently own a choice.

I wrote in the "Persons of Interest" series that the Browns didn't have a glaring need but they did have a few positions that could use improvement.

This puts the Browns in a position of taking the "best player available", although there are a few spots that may have priority over others.

Here are the Browns selections: 

Round 2: (54)

Round 3: (85)

Round 5: (156) Via Philadelphia thru Arizona

Round 6: (206)

Round 7: (227) Via Tennessee

Round 7: (243) 

The Browns could have their best chance of obtaining a potential impact player if they drafted a wide receiver where there is a decent chance that one of a deep crop of pass catchers could fall to them with their second-rounder with the fifty-fourth overall choice.

I would love to see the Browns add some more speed at linebacker and I definitely could like another defensive lineman, preferably a defensive tackle if all things were equal.

I would also think the Browns could address offensive tackle and tight end with tackle the position that they could draft a player that they wouldn't have to expect to play right away.

I would like to see a tight end that can catch passes drafted to replace the departed Harrison Bryant as the backups Jordan Akins and Giovanni Ricci are blockers more than pass catchers.

Should the Browns not address this issue and David Njoku would miss a substantial amount of time, the Browns would lose a major part of their passing game, so I believe they do need to use a day three pick at tight end.

I attempted a mock draft on a simulator with the Browns using their picks and taking offers from teams in trade.

This link expires in a week, so I'll summarize with this- I made five trades moving down and added picks in 2025 in the third round, three picks in the fourth round, five in the fifth round, and one in the sixth.

Now that's pretty unrealistic in the real world but for fun, here are the players that I picked with the picks and the picks acquired through trades as well

61) Maason Smith DT LSU 
85) Jeremiah Trotter Jr. LB Clemson
86) Jalen McMillan WR Washington
133) Will Shipley RB Clemson
189) Jaheim Bell TE Florida State
204) Ethan Driskell T Marshall
206) Josh Newton CB TCU
227) Joe Milton QB Tennessee
243) Josh Proctor S Ohio State
247) Kamal Hadden CB Tennessee
249) Quan'Tez Stiggers CB Toronto Argonauts

That type of haul that started with the few picks that the Browns have would be a pipe dream, but in the dream world, it was fun to do and I'd think the Browns would be happy with my work.

The only disappointing part was missing out on an impact wide receiver but otherwise, I would be thrilled with the talent and picks to play with for the 2025 draft.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Cleveland Browns- Persons of Interest- Defense

    The Cleveland Browns defense last season was a strength (at least until the debacle in Houston) but team-building never stops, so there will be newcomers coming in to support the established players.

The Browns improved their defense against the run last season with the signings of veterans Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris at defensive tackle and they hope 2023 third-rounder Siaki Ika will step up this season but the Browns lost Jordan Elliott in free agency, so it would make sense for another interior lineman.

Three players have been connected to the Browns, should they address this early in the draft: LSU's Maason Smith, Ohio State's Michael Hall, and Michigan's Kris Jenkins.

Smith has the best tools, Hall is the best pass rusher, and Jenkins appears to have the highest floor of the three, so any would make sense.

If the Browns look at the position on day three, Gabe Hall of Baylor is a high-effort player who could develop into a rotational tackle.

Looking at the defensive end/edge rusher position, Cleveland would likely use late-round picks and toolsy rushers like Mississippi's Cedric Johnson and Texas Tech's Myles Cole are the types of high-reward players that could be a possibility.

The Browns don't seem to value linebackers as much as other positions but the success of Jeremiah Owosu-Koahmoah may have changed that a little.

I was a big fan of Jeremiah Trotter version one in his days with the Eagles and Jeremiah Jr is my favorite linebacker in this draft.

Trotter Jr. has many of the skills of JOK, runs to the ball, has great agility, and possesses the speed and tackling ability to be a three-down linebacker.

I'd love to see Andrew Berry grab Trotter. Jr on day two and watch JOK and Trotter run down ball carriers together as a pair!

Some prefer Michigan's Junior Colson (I don't) to Trotter but I still wouldn't be sad to see Colson with the Browns, and Ohio State's Steele Chambers is still learning the position and would be an immediate demon on special teams.

Andrew Berry loves to take at least one cornerback in each draft and for the flaws in his drafts, Berry has been successful with his selections at the position.

Assuming the Browns would decide to tab a cornerback on day two, the two that I really like that could be available are Max Melton of Rutgers and Khyree Jackson of Oregon.

Jackson is the larger of the two at 6'3 and projects as a classic outside corner while the 5'11 Melton is the more versatile of the two with the ability to play in or out of the slot and as the nickel corner as well.

A day three corner that I am high on is Tennessee's Kamaal Hadden, who missed half of the 2023 season with a shoulder injury just as he was earning attention for his play.

Hadden would be an interesting selection if his shoulder has healed as would Penn State's Kalen King, who looked like a first-rounder in 2022 before struggles last season in State College.

The Browns returned Grant Delpit and Juan Thornhill as starting safeties, re-signed Rodney McLeod, and received help from undrafted free agent Ronnie Hickman.

Cleveland could go back to that well if Ohio State safety Josh Proctor isn't drafted as Proctor would be a special teams contributor.

Another intriguing safety is Air Force's Trey Taylor, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back and happens to be the cousin of long-time Browns nemesis Ed Reed.

If I have time, I'd like to post a brief preview- But in case I do not have that time, the following list shows the Browns draft picks by round and overall draft selection.

Round 2: (54)

Round 3: (85)

Round 5: (156) Via Philadelphia thru Arizona

Round 6: (206)

Round 7: (227) Via Tennessee

Round 7: (243) 

Cleveland Browns: Persons of Interest- Offense

  The 2024 draft will be the final one that the Cleveland Browns' lack a first-round selection the team makes the final installment of their payment to the Houston Texans for DeShaun Watson.

On offense, the Browns could make an argument that every position could use an upgrade through the draft but none that stands out as an immediate need.

The Browns certainly wouldn't pick a quarterback on days one (through a trade-up) or two but depending on the team's feeling for last year's fifth-round selection Dorian Thompson-Robinson, might be persuaded to pick another passer on day three.

If I were going to take a flyer, it would probably be Tennessee's Joe Milton, who has uncommon arm strength but Milton was a mixed bag in college so that should keep him available by day three.

Milton has the raw skills to become an NFL QB and sitting for a few years would be very good for Milton.

I also like Florida State's Jordan Travis on day three, who is still recovering from a late-season leg injury and might be able to be stashed on IR for some of the season.

The Browns signed Nyheim Hines to help in the passing games and Don'ta Foreman to replace Kareem Hunt as the short yardage horse but I'm still not convinced in Jerome Ford as the every down back and while everyone hopes for a return of Nick Chubb who resembles the one before his second knee injury, the Browns can't count on that, so I would love to see the Browns add a running back at some stage of the draft.

Again, I doubt the Browns take a back on day two but I think it's very likely that they add one on the third day of the draft.

The running back that I like most for the Browns at that point is Clemson's Will Shipley, who catches the ball well and can be used in all aspects of the running game.

Shipley isn't the biggest back and that will make him a day-three pick but he reminds me of Christian McCaffrey a little in that putting the ball in his hands makes things happen.

I'm really high on Shipley and I do have some fears that he will end up with a division rival and kill the Browns in multiple areas.

I'm not sure if Notre Dame's Audric Estime' lasts until round four but he might and he has lead running back potential for a team that may be in the market for a team that could need a lead dog before long.

I also like Wisconsin's Braylon Allen as more of a bruising back or Marshall's Rasheen Ali as a player who could be a standout that few are speaking of.

Even with the trade to acquire Jerry Jeudy, I still think the Browns are one player light at wide receiver and in a deep draft, could attack the position as early as day two.

The player that I love who could be long gone or fall to the Browns is Xavier Worthy of Texas, the fastest player in the draft.

Worthy would give this team the deep threat that hasn't been in Cleveland since Josh Gordon and for a deep threat, Worthy isn't afraid of contact.

I don't think Worthy drops that far but if he's there- he's my guy.

There are others that I'd be thrilled to see if Worthy is off the board by the Browns second-round pick, led by Florida State's Keon Coleman, who at 6'3 can go get the football and help in the red zone, Michigan's gritty Roman Wilson, Oregon's talented Troy Franklin, and Florida's Ricky Piersall.

In most seasons all of those might not be available but there are many wideouts with first and second-round grades, one will slip to the Browns.

If Cleveland decides to wait until the next level to make a choice, South Carolina's Xavier Legette, Western Kentucky's Malachi Corley (Who many have connected to the Browns), and North Carolina's Dez Walker would be acceptable options.

The loss of Harrison Bryant might be larger than the Browns think if they don't address the tight end position.

After David Njoku, the position is light and injuries can happen at any time.

Ohio State's Cade Stover is the natural choice for the Browns but I also like Penn State's Theo Johnson, who is huge at 6'6, 260 pounds from a school that churns out quality tight ends.

Iowa's Erick All would be a consideration but he has suffered from injuries and carries some risk.

The Browns seem set along the offensive line but Jedrick Wills could be a free agent after 2024 and Jack Conklin's injuries and age make him a candidate to retire unexpectedly, so the Browns could grab a tackle on day two.

Assuming the top tackles are gone, the player I like is Houston's Patrick Paul, who at 6'7, 331 pounds brings an athletic frame with traits that aren't exactly common.

Paul would be a player who could learn for a year and then be prepared to start if Wills and/or Conklin leave.

Notre Dame's Blake Fisher and Washington's Roger Rosengarten would be solid picks in rounds three or four and a development late-round dart on Marshall's Ethan Driskell on tools alone (6'8 320) would make sense.

I will be working on the defensive persons of interest and hope to have it ready later today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Cavaliers Bedevil Magic in First Two Games

   The Cleveland Cavaliers struggled to the finish of the NBA regular season but have looked very sharp in winning their first two games at home in the Eastern Conference first-round matchup against the fifth-seeded Orlando Magic.

I missed game one due to my road trip (I'll be writing on that sometime next week), in which Cleveland won 97-83 behind thirty Donovan Mitchell points but I did watch Monday's 96-86 triumph to give Cleveland two games to nil advantage.

Cleveland dominated the first quarter in building a twelve-point lead and thereafter all they had to do was keep Orlando even the remainder of the way to post the win.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with twenty-three points with Jarrett Allen contributing sixteen points and twenty rebounds in the victory.

Cleveland will travel to Orlando for games three and four on Thursday and Saturday nights.


1) The Cavaliers were favored in this series because the Magic are in the situation that Cleveland was in last season.

It was Cleveland who other than Donovan Mitchell needed the playoff experience from their young stars last season in their five-game loss to the Knicks, and Orlando requires the same "been there" in this series.

2) Part of learning about postseason basketball is learning how the physical play is turned up in the postseason.

Cleveland was bullied by New York last season and in the first two games, the Cavaliers are pushing around the Magic.

Can Cleveland do that if they move forward? Time will tell.

3) It's been defense-dominating for Cleveland as they held Orlando to 32 percent shooting in game one and 36 in the second game.

Orlando's young players haven't had the open shots or easy transition hoops that you can find in the regular season and the Cleveland defense has controlled this series in the two games.

4) Jarrett Allen received plenty of criticism in last season's playoffs for soft play but in the first two games against Orlando, he's combined for thirty-eight rebounds and has been the dominant frontcourt player in the series.

5) Orlando is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league and Cleveland has held them to only seventeen of seventy-two from outside the arc.

Cleveland isn't burning the nets from the outside but they aren't that awful!

Boxing Challenge: Garcia surprises Haney!

    Few people including myself gave Ryan Garcia much of a chance against Devin Haney after his antics since the fight was signed, even less when he missed weight by over three pounds (which turned the fight into a non-title welterweight pairing rather than for Haney's WBC junior welterweight belt), and even less than those expectations when he drained a large bottle of alcohol at the weigh-in.

However, this is boxing and anything can happen, so Garcia surprised everyone by knocking down Hnaey in the seventh, tenth, and eleventh rounds, and winning a shocking majority decision. 

Garcia staggered Haney in the first and may have finished Haney off in the seventh after dropping him but two possible knockdowns weren't counted, Garcia was penalized a point for hitting on the break, and there was an added stop in the action when a cameraman entered the ring thinking the round was completed with a minute remaining.

The problem was that on my card if you take away the knockdown rounds and round one, round eight was the only other round that Garcia had a case for winning.

I thought Haney won seven of the twelve rounds, which is how I scored the fight 112-112 with the poor decision by referee Harvey Dock to dock (pun intended) the point in the seventh costing Garcia the fight on my card and one judges as well with the two majority cards going to Garcia 115-109 and 114-110.

Garcia was the faster fighter and landed his left hook consistently but his lack of conditioning cost him in the close rounds in my opinion to allow Haney to squeeze out a few rounds that Garcia might have grabbed in better shape.

Still, it was phenomenal for Garcia to fight so well under the circumstances, and credit him for winning the fight.

However, he did miss weight by over three pounds, pounds that Haney made, and now I would have questions about Garcia making weight for any signed fight, let alone one for a championship since he isn't sorrowful about missing weight, he's reveling in his achievement and now will have no incentive to try in the future.

The fight reminded me of the Jose Luis Castillo-Diego Corrales rematch of arguably the greatest fight ever where Castillo badly missed weight, Corrales made the weight and took a piece of Castillo's purse before the much stronger Castillo, who didn't weaken himself to hit the scale, knocked Corrales out in four.

In the case of Castillo-Corrales II and Garcia-Haney, there will always be an asterisk around those wins despite excellent performances as the question that will forever be unanswered is this- Could they have fought so well had they made weight or at least been forced to try?

Some are complaining about the WBC decision to allow Haney to keep his title despite the defeat.

I'm not.

Garcia missed weight, Haney made it, and then it was agreed to allow the fight to take place as a welterweight match-up, that makes it a non-title fight and the result should have nothing to do with Haney keeping his title, he lost over the weight, that's why there are weight classes, and should he wish to fight at 140 pounds (Garcia announced plans to move to 147 pounds), it's reasonable to see Haney remain as champion.

Garcia didn't seem interested in a rematch with Haney or the man who defeated him in Gervonta Davis and even at 147, I don't see much for him in big fights with Terence Crawford moving to 154 pounds and not wanting any part of the IBF champion Jaron "Boots" Ennis.

Garcia may wait for more of the stars at 140 pounds to move to 147 and he can make lots of money against lesser contenders as he waits for the big fight.

Haney will need to re-establish himself after the loss and his marketability may have taken a hit after the loss but I'm not sure that's fair.

We ask our stars not to be boring (as in Shakur Stevenson), and yet when they abandon their best style to be more entertaining as Haney did and make a better fight with a loss, we shuffle them aside.

Boxing fans and writers often want things both ways and in the case of Devin Haney, I'm not sure that's fair quite yet.

I was away on the weekend on a trip (I'll be writing about it in the coming days), so I haven't seen the complete undercard.

I have seen the best fight on the undercard with David Jimenez upsetting John "Scrappy Ramirez for a minor junior bantamweight title by unanimous decision of 117-11 x2 and 116-112.

I picked Ramirez even though I liked Jimenez's chances because Ramirez was better connected and I thought that may make the difference in a close fight.

Glad the judges got the right result as Jimenez's only loss was controversial in losing a decision to then-WBA flyweight champion Artem Dalakian.

I also watched Sergey Dereyvanchenko's unanimous win over durable trialhorse Vaughn Alexander in a super middleweight ten-rounder.

Dereyvanchenko floored Alexander in the eighth round for the fights only knockdown with a body shot.

Talented junior middleweight Charles Conwell dominated veteran Nathaniel Gallimore in his return to the ring after a long absence.

Conwell won every round before the referee ended the fight in round six, which was an excellent decision on his part.

Conwell is the mandatory contender in the WBC ratings and will be a tough out for whoever has to take him on.

I have not seen the co-feature but many are howling about the split decision that was given to 140-pound contender Arnold Barboza over Great Britain's Sean McComb.

Barboza's scores were 97-93 and 96-94 with the more popular score for McComb at 98-92.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 51 Pts (6)
TRS: 50 pts (4)
Vince Samano: 23 Pts (3) 

Friday, April 19, 2024

Boxing Challenge

  Before I begin, I apologize for not writing often over the last two weeks.

I haven't been "feeling it" with boxing having a slow period, having next to zero interest in baseball, and a few personal (not mine) issues that have contributed to some downtime.

I have been keeping track of some things for the inbox and passings and I suspect next week may explode with some Browns-related posts for next week's NFL Draft.

The card underneath the Devin Haney-Ryan Garcia main event isn't the most compelling that I've ever seen but to have some fights in the challenge, I've decided to add them to the selections.

The Haney-Garcia main event originally signed for Haney's WBC junior welterweight title has been filled with bizarre behavior from Garca and there is a legitimate case that Garcia shouldn't be allowed to fight, especially after he missed weight by three pounds, refusing to attempt to lose the weight with the fight only continuing after Garcia agreed to pay Haney a reported 1.5 million for a "fine" for the missed weight.

In all honesty, Ryan Garcia's actions and behavior have put his career on the line.

Should he lose in lethargic fashion, which seems very possible considering his recent behavior, his previous defeat against his only top opponent (a loss to Gervonta Davis in which some criticized Garcia for quitting), and a lack of top fighters on his resume other than Luke Campbell and a much smaller Javier Fortuna, Ryan Garcia could be finished as a top attraction with a loss, assuming it is a non-competitive defeat.

The undercard is uninspiring with junior welterweight contender Arnold Barboza in the co-feature against Sean McComb.

Barboza was slated for the card as an insurance policy in the event Ryan Garcia was unable to participate and if Garcia found his way to the ring, Barboza didn't want to be matched too harshly as he had to prepare for three possible opponents.

McComb was stopped in his only loss to Gavin Gwynne and appears to be overmatched against Barboza.

The best fight on the card will be for a minor junior bantamweight title with John "Scrappy" Ramirez against David Jimenez.

Ramirez is an exciting fighter and Jimenez's one loss was a controversial decision loss for the WBA flyweight title to then-champion Artem Dalakian, so this one should be a good matchup.

Junior middleweight contender Charles Conwell has been inactive of late but returns to the ring in his first fight with Golden Boy against veteran trialhorse Nathaniel Gallimore.

Gallimore is usually durable but isn't quite world-class and serves the purpose of getting Conwell some much-needed ring work.

Veteran super middleweight contender Sergey Dereyvanchenko fights for the first time since his fight of the year loss to Jaime Munguia last June against journeyman Vaughn Alexander.

Dereyvanchenko, the Oba Carr of his generation as the best fighter not to win a world title, shouldn't have trouble defeating Alexander, who like Nathaniel Gallimore is very durable but overmatched against better opponents.

Boxing Challenge

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Devin Haney vs Ryan Garcia
Ramon Malpica: Haney Unanimous Decision
TRS: Haney KO 7
Vince Samano: Garcia KO 8

Junior Welterweights. 10 Rds
Arnold Barboza vs Sean McComb
R.L and TRS: Barboza Unanimous Decision
V.S: Barboza KO 7

Junior Bantamweights. 12 Rds
John Ramirez vs David Jimenez
R.L: Jimenez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Ramirez Split Decision
V.S: Ramirez Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 10 Rds
Charles Conwell vs Nathaniel Gallimore
All: Conwell Unanimous Decision

Super Middleweights. 10 Rds
Sergey Derevyvanchenko vs Vaughn Alexander
R.L and TRS: Dereyvanchenko Unanimous Decision
V.S;  Alexander Unanimous Decision

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Hitchins survives Lemos

     I haven't had time to write this week or even watch boxing but I need to keep the challenge updated.

In the only fight I have watched, Richardson Hitchins won a controversial unanimous decision over Gustavo Lemos in a junior welterweight eliminator.

Hitchins has been razzed by me in the past for his less-than-electric efforts and he was more entertaining in this fight but I thought Lemos was the busier fighter, hurt Hitchins badly in the eighth round and he was the better fighter over the last half of the fight.

I scored Lemoa the winner with a score of 116-112 but the judges disagreed with two scoring for Hitchins 115-113 and the other an amazingly terrible 117-111.

I haven't watched Diego Pacheco's unanimous decision win over Shawn McCalman, who I thought was overmatched but fought well according to reports.

I also missed (because no one has this available) Bahkram Murtazaliev's eleventh-round knockout of Jack Culcay in Germany to win the vacant IBF junior middleweight title.

Boxing Challenge

TRS: 46 Pts (4) 
Ramon Malpica: 45 Pts (4)
Vince Samano: 20 Pts (4)

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Boxing Challenge

     After an overstuffed boxing weekend last week, the plate is far smaller for this week with only three fights for the challenge.

DAZN/Matchroom has two of the fights from their Las Vegas card with one bout as a title eliminator and the other involving one of the top young fighters in the sport. 

The main event is an IBF junior welterweight eliminator between unbeaten Richardson Hitchins and Gustavo Lemos.

Lemos will be fighting for the first time outside of Argentina and will be fighting for the second time since his only name win in a fifth-round knockout of former featherweight champion Lee Selby.

Hitchins earned his biggest win in his last outing in a dominant unanimous decision win over former world title challenger Jose Zepeda.

Hitchins has only seven knockouts and isn't noted for his exciting fights, so unless Lemos is the latest Argentine to aggressively hunt down boxers (like Lucas Matthysse or Marcos Maidana to name two), this could be a dull distance fight.

The co-feature will showcase one of the best young fighters in the game with super middleweight Diego Pacheco, who has the look of a future star, against unbeaten Shawn McCalman.

McCalman's record is filled with non-entities from the Midwest circuit and he has only seven knockouts in his fifteen wins.

On paper, this is an absolute mismatch and Pacheco will decide whether he wishes to end this early or get a few rounds of work for the night.

Germany is the site of the remaining challenge fight as the final of the four junior middleweight titles removed from Jermell Charlo will receive a new owner as Bahkram Murtazaliev will meet Jack Culcay for the vacant IBF championship.

Murtazaliev, who seemingly has been the mandatory challenger since the Nixon Administration, had spent the last few years receiving step-aside dollars from PBC for allowing Charlo to fight in more lucrative fights which is nice work if you can get it but hasn't fought anyone of world-class ability.

Culcay is a solid fighter at the European level but has been defeated in all three of his fights when attempting to step up his opposition against Maciej Sulecki, Sergey Dereyvanchenko, and Demetrius Andrade.

Boxing Challenge

Vacant IBF Junior Middleweight Title. 12 Rds 
Bahkram Murtazaliev vs Jack Culcay
All; Murtazaliev Unanimous Decision

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds
Richardson Hitchins vs Gustavo Lemos
TRS and V.S: Hitchins Unanimous Decision
R.L: Hitchins KO 6

Super Middleweights. 12 Rds
Diego Pacheco vs Shawn McCalman
R.L: Pacheco KO 9
TRS: Pacheco KO 3
V.S: Pacheco Unanimous Decision

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Cleaning out the Inbox

     We return with another cleaning of the inbox with a few articles of interest.

Last month was the 50th anniversary of the arguably the greatest college basketball game ever and Sports Illustrated talked to some of the terrific players involved for their memories of the 1974 ACC Tournament final between N.C. State and Maryland.

Some may say the 1992 Duke-Kentucky game was better and the ending unquestionably was more memorable but the Wolfpack's 103-100 win still holds the top spot in my opinion.

Two Hundred and Three points were scored in the era that lacked either a shot clock or the three-point shot with three players selected in the first round of the 1974 draft ( State's Tom Burleson Maryland's Tom McMillen and Len Elmore), and the top overall picks in the 1975 draft (David Thompson) and 1976 (John Lucas) as well as three other with shorter pro careers (N.C. State's Monte Towe and Maryland's Mo Howard and Tom Roy) and another who would have a long career as a major league pitcher (N.C. State's Tim Stoddard).

The one scar on the game and it's speculatory, what happens if this game is outside of the 'neutral' floor for State, who shot twenty-six free throws to Maryland's eight during the game.

The Athletic writes about the history of the NIT and how to deal with the problems of players not wanting to play in the tournament (like in football's bowl games) to prepare for the NBA draft.

The NIT removed their mandate this season that a regular season conference champion that lost in its conference tournament and didn't receive an NCAA bid in an attempt to fend off a bid by Fox Sports to start their own postseason with a sixteen-team bracket with the Big Ten, Big Twelve, and Big East each receiving two automatic positions.

That decision bought the NIT one year as Fox announced this weekend that they would be creating such a tournament for next season, so hopefully the NIT will return the small conference regular season champions to their tournament as they deserve.

The Athletic also writes about how the Columbus Blue Jackets have become the most inept franchise in hockey.

I have to be honest, I didn't realize the Blue Jackets were that awful, and while I knew they were nothing to be excited about in their history, I didn't realize they were THAT bad!

And while the smoking gun was the draft selection in 2005 of Gilbert Brule over Anze Kopitat, the funniest is the story told about 2008 first-rounder Nikita Filatov, who scored a whopping six NHL goals, who offered this when his coaches tried to show him better ways to follow up at the net.

"Filly don't do rebounds".

I love this and think I might try this at my job when asked to do something I don't like- "Shawn don't do...." I'm sure it will go over extremely well!

Another story from The Athletic follows former Giants minor league pitcher John Gavin as he deals with life after baseball.

It's a very interesting article to see how athletes transition into the real world and it's easy to have some sympathy for what players go through after sports.

We wrap with Vanity Fair's cover article on one of my favorite actresses, Anne Hathaway, 

It's an interesting piece on the actress, how she prepared for roles, how she entered the profession, dealing with social media, and several other topics to boot.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Browns sign Justin Hardee

 The Cleveland Browns needed a special teams replacement after the team lost Mike Ford to the Houston Texans and it seems they have found him in Cleveland native Justin Hardee.

Hardee played for the New York Jets over the last three seasons after starting his career in New Orleans from 2017-2020 and made the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in 2022 as a Jet.

Hardee just turned thirty and until last season was listed on the roster as a wide receiver before moving to defensive back before 2023.

Hardee played in eleven games last season for the Jets, exclusively on the special teams units, so he isn't a player that occasionally sees time in the secondary like Mike Ford was used last year.

While signing a special teams standout was expected after the defection of Ford to Houston, I'm mildly surprised that the Browns didn't sign someone who would be able to play on the field in a few situations, which it doesn't seem that they would be able to do with Hardee.

I'm not disappointed with Hardee, just a little surprised.

And another reason for this?

The recent changes to kickoff for next season have to be on the minds of every team and the Browns are no exception signing proven special teams standouts will hopefully address the new rule.

However, without any data, it's not a guarantee that players who played well on kickoffs (the same rules for punts remain) under the previous rules will maintain their effectiveness, although it is very possible, so the Browns (and others) may continue to dip into the pool of players to upgrade the special teams units. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Wardley and Clarke go to battle!

   It may not have received the attention of the first Amazon card from PBC and in the United States, it might not have even gotten the media that Gilberto Ramirez's cruiserweight title-winning fight gathered but on Sunday from London, Peacock streamed a heavyweight slugfest that had to be seen to be believed as unbeaten big men, Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke battled to a draw after twelve rounds that only left those who saw wanting more.

Wardley retained his British and British Commonwealth titles with the draw, which isn't as important in the big picture but could still be an added incentive for the possible rematch.

The judges scored the fight 114-113 for Wardley, 115-112 for Clarke, and even at 113-113 each.

Wardley fought most of the fight through a cut on his nose that would require stitches after the fight and it seemed that he was going to end the fight early when a right hand in round five sent Clarke careening into a corner and after a follow-up volley, sent Clarke to the floor for what would be the only knockdown of the fight.

Fortunately for Clarke, the round was near its end and he saw the end of the round but after Clarke lost another point for low blows in the seventh round, Clarke fell well behind on my card.

The Olympic bronze medalist wasn't finished though and throughout the second half of the battle,  Clarke landed the harder punches with Wardley tiring badly, and at times, it looked like Wardley was the fighter running out of time.

Wardley responded with his share of right hands but Clarke was getting the better of the exchanges and was banking the rounds to tighten the scorecards.

Wardley's right eye was nearly closed with the ringside doctor taking a look during the tenth round to check his vision . Clarke was the stronger fighter in the tenth before Wardley changed the momentum with a strong round eleven that made me wonder if either fighter would last to the final bell.

Both fighters landed well in the final round but Clarke landed more often and it was Wardley who was fortunate to last the distance and somehow stayed on his feet, which enabled him to receive the draw by not losing a point for a knockdown.

I scored Wardley the winner 114-112 with the knockdown and point deduction making the difference.

When you consider the knockdown and point loss, I have a hard time seeing how you score Clarke the winner by three points as the judge that voted for Clarke did but the fight was close and exciting with a rematch having a great deal of appeal.

Possibly, that could happen but it's also possible that each man could use an interim bout before they would face each other again.

Clarke is the older fighter (32) and needs to be moved faster than Wardley (29), so a speedy rematch might be more important for him.

A rematch is certainly welcomed but it will have a high standard to meet to be as memorable as the one held last Sunday.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Fundora upsets Tsyzu in bloody battle

      The initial PBC card on Amazon ended with an entertaining upset that saw both men spill blood and temporarily stick a cog in a fight that was anticipated for later this year as Sebastian Fundora won the WBO and the vacant WBC junior middleweight titles from Tim Tszyu in Las Vegas by a split decision.

Tszyu was doing well in the first two rounds before an errant elbow that was just short of Dusty Rhodes from Fundora split Tsyzu open on the forehead/hairline, causing impressive bleeding that would impair Tszyu's vision for the rest of the fight.

Fundora battled through an injury of his own, a broken nose sustained early in the affair, and Fundora, who had been noted in the past for not using his physical gifts (6'6 height and eighty-inch reach) showed ring smarts by using them and hitting Tsyzu at will with his jab,

I scored the fight even at 114-114 with the judge's votes going to Fundora at 116-112 and 115-113 and a dissenter for Tsyzu at 116-112.

I'd be all for a rematch when you consider the carnage done by the bionic elbow but it was Errol Spence who was brought into the ring to challenge Fundora after the fight, which is ironic when you consider that a Tsyzu victory had been rumored to have earned him a mega-fight with Spence's conqueror Terence Crawford.

Arguably the least deserving and least popular champion in recent memory was dethroned in the co-feature as Isaac Cruz won the WBA junior welterweight title from Rolando Romero by an eighth-round knockout.

Cruz won every round, hurt Romero badly in the first and seventh rounds, and finished him in the eighth.

The amazing thing about this fight is that one judge somehow had Romero leading!

While this is the first world title for Cruz, his promoters (PBC) aren't loaded in the 140-pound division but it would be fair if someone (PBC or the WBA) took care of Ismael Barroso, who dominated Romero before losing on a ridiculous stoppage by Tony Weeks, and while Romero was sidelined with a back injury, won the interim title with a first-round KO of Ohara Davies.

Barroso was supposed to be first in line for Romero's return but somehow PBC was able to place Cruz first in line.

I'd favor Cruz over Barroso but it is time to do the right thing.

Erislandy Lara retained his WBA middleweight title with a second-round KO of Michael Zerafa in another bout that really accomplished nothing other than keeping a title with Lara.

The less written about this the better.

Serhii Bohachuk won a lesser title by unanimous decision over Brian Mendoza in a fight that Bohachuk controlled and the always gritty Mendoza showed guts and heart.

Bohachuk was originally scheduled to face Sebastian Fundora for the full WBC title but in the mess created by Keith Thurman's departure, was dropped to fight for the minor title.

Bohachuk will be waiting a while for his promised chance to win that title as Fundora will either face Tim Tsyzu in a rematch or possibly Errol Spence next and perhaps even both before Bohachuk gets his chance.

I scored Bohachuk a winner 117-111, which was the same as two judges with the other scoring 118-110.

In fights that I haven't had time to watch yet on a crowded Holiday weekend.

Julio Cesar Martinez retained his WBC flyweight title by majority decision over Angel Cordova.

Gilberto Ramirez won the WBA cruiserweight title over Arsen Goulamarian by unanimous decision.

Alexis Rocha stopped Fredric Lawson when Lawson's corner stopped the fight at the end of round seven.

I'll try to be back later with some thoughts on the heavyweight battle from London which ended in a draw, so those results are included in the boxing challenge totals.

Boxing Challenge

TRS:42 Pts (10)
Ramon Malpica: 41 Pts (9) 
Vince Samano: 16 Pts (1)