Saturday, May 25, 2024

Boxing Challenge

       Only one fight in the boxing challenge this week but it's one that has not only implications in the junior welterweight division,  a long-delayed rematch of a controversial decision, and two guys that have a seething dislike of each other.

Josh Taylor had become the undisputed champion after a win over Jose Ramirez and was a solid resident of the pound-for-pound top ten.

Jack Catterall was the mandatory challenger from the WBO but had only one notable win, a unanimous decision over countryman Ohara Davies, and had shown few signs of power or at least any at the world-class level, so it was understandable that Taylor was the heavy favorite in their 2022 fight.

This being boxing, it was perfectly natural when Catterall outboxed, outlanded Taylor throughout the fight, and even knocked him down in the eighth round on his way to a surprising upset win.

Of course, Taylor escaped with a split decision (114-111, which I still don't see how that could be and 113-112 for Taylor and 113-112 for Catterall), and British boxing fans and media raged about the verdict.

Stung by the reception of social media about his win, Taylor signed for a Catterall rematch but a knee injury caused a postponement and the WBO insisted that despite Catterall being their mandatory and the controversy of the first fight it should be Teofimo Lopez getting the next shot at Taylor.

Taylor lost his title to Lopez soundly and combined with the "win" over Catterall has caused many to consider him as a fighter on the decline.

Catterall has only fought twice since the Taylor fight, winning a decision in his last outing over faded former standout Jorge Linares but he seems to be the fighter with the most to lose and yet the one that is in top form.

I'm not saying that this will be an action-packed affair but it should prove to be an intriguing one with a vibe of "don't be surprised by anything that could happen"

Boxing Challenge

Junior Welterweights. 12 Rds 
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall
Ramon Malpica: Catterall Unanimous Decision
TRS: Catterall Split Decision
Vince Samano: Catterall KO 10

Friday, May 24, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Opetaia outlasts Briedis, Cacace stuns Cordina

      The undercard for the Oleksandr Usyk-Tyson Fury main event was interesting with a world title back where it should have been all along, a surprising new world champion, a developing heavyweight contender, and what will hopefully be goodbye to a once-great fighter.

Jai Opietaia won back the IBF cruiserweight title that was stupidly stripped from him and repeated his 2022 win over Mairis Breidis by unanimous decision.

The fight wasn't quite as good as their first fight in action but it was similar with both fighters marking up the other, Opietaia building a large lead, and staving off the late rush by Briedis, who hurt Opietaia twice in the final few rounds.

Opietaia won the decision at 117-11 and two scores of 116-112, which was a little wider than my score of 115-113 for Opietaia.

In the upset of the day, underdog Anthony Carace stopped Joe Cordina in the eighth round to win the IBF junior lightweight title.

The win wasn't without controversy as in the third round, the referee yelled "break" and Cordina stopped fighting.

Carace didn't, cracking Cordina with a right hand and would send him to the canvas later in the round.

The fight was all Carace after that round as Cordia could not bounce back from the knockdown.

The punch did take a little of the shine of the surprising win for Carace.

Heavyweight Agit Kabayel continues to cement his reputation as a heavyweight contender as Kabayel dominated previously unbeaten Frank Sanchez and took him out in the seventh round with a body shot.

The normally smooth-boxing Sanchez clearly had knee issues from the start of the fight made him a sitting duck for Kabayel, who pressured Sanchez into submission.

Sergey Kovalev is at the end of his career as he lost almost every round to the unheralded Robin Safar and was knocked down in the final round in spectacular fashion.

Give Kovalev credit for getting up and avoiding the knockout but he's finished as a fighter, so continuing to box will only make things worse.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 75 Pts (4)

TRS: 63 Pts (3)

Vince Samano: 41 Pts ( 7)

Monday, May 20, 2024

Boxing Challenge-Berinchyk surprises Navarrete

     The ESPN boxing card from San Diego saw two upsets with one new champion and another simply biding his time before stepping forward to collect his belt.

In the main event, Denis Berinchyk surprised heavy favorite Emanuel Navarrete with a split decision to win the vacant WBO lightweight title in a fight that wasn't nearly as active as one expects from a Navarrete fight.

Berinchyk countered the wild punches of Navarrete more effectively than Navarrete's opponents in the lighter-weight divisions and it was Berinchyk who dominated the late rounds of the fight surprising Navarrete who has usually been the stronger fighter in the waning rounds in the past.

Navarrete was slower than usual and he may have been sluggish at the higher weight enabling Berinchyk to do just enough to earn a split decision with scores of 116-112 and 115-113 to counter a dissenting card of 116-112 for Navarrete.

Berinchyk might be headed for WBC champion Shakur Stevenson next while Navarrete could return to the junior lightweight division and defend the WBO title that he still holds in that division or stay at lightweight, where he will need to improve his efforts if he expects to contend for a championship.

In the co-feature, Brian Norman turned in the best outing of his career in busting up Giovanni Santillan's face before dropping him twice and finishing him off in round ten,

Norman had not been overly impressive in his unbeaten career against less-than-strong opposition and Santillan looked very strong in his six-round crushing of Alexis Rocha, costing Rocha his top ranking in the WBO.

Santillan started strong and looked to be bullying Norman before Norman established his respect in the fourth round and began to steadily beat up Santillan, cutting him on both sides of his face which would cover both combatants in blood.

Norman hurt Santillan in the ninth and perhaps the Santillan corner could have stopped the fight but allowed their fighter to come out for the tenth where Norman knocked Santillan down and the referee could have ended things then and there but kept things going which resulted with Norman landing an uppercut for the final knockdown with the fight finally concluding.

With the win, Norman wins the WBO interim welterweight title, which normally means nothing but Norman will become the full champion when Terence Crawford officially leaves the division.

I'll be writing on the Usyk-Fury undercard in my next post.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Usyk dethrones Fury!

     It was an action-filled Saturday in the boxing universe with several upsets, new champions crowned, and maybe even a new addition to the all-time greats of the sport.

In the biggest bout of the day, Oleksandr Usyk unified the world heavyweight title by adding the WBC title to his three others with a split decision win over previously unbeaten Tyson Fury.

Fury won most of the first half of the fight before Usyk began to change the narrative in round seven and in round eight, Usyk exploded with a series of punches that sent Fury reeling around the ring in a daze that had referee Mark Nelson stopped the fight, I don't think there would have been a large controversy.

Fury was able to get up from the knockdown with the round closing after Fury rose and give the Englishman credit for getting himself together between rounds.

Fury wouldn't win a round on my card thereafter but he fought competitively and had his moments against Usyk, who nonetheless had the advantage in the final rounds.

The scorecards were for Usyk 115-112 (my score and the score that seems to be the most common), 114-113 (meaning without the knockdown, it would have finished as a draw), and 114-113 for Fury (which I disagree with but if you gave everything close to Fury, I can see it).

Usyk will be the undisputed champion for days or a week if he's lucky as the IBF will demand Usyk defend against their top contender Filip Hrgovic, which Usyk is unlikely to do as the two fighters agreed to a two-fight series when the contracts were signed.

I suppose it's possible that Hrgovic could take step-aside money but it's unlikely and the most likely scenario is that Hrgovic's fight against Daniel DuBois on June 1 will be for the vacant IBF title.

DuBois was stopped last year in a title try against Usyk, so a DuBois win will make things even more ridiculous.

One question on Oleksandr Usyk is whether or not this win qualifies him as an all-time great.

Perhaps not as an all-time great heavyweight but as an all-time great fighter- yes.

A fully undisputed title at cruiserweight followed by an undisputed championship at heavyweights with wins over the best of each division except for Deontay Wilder makes an excellent statement for Usyk's greatness.

Usyk's boxing skills along with his underrated punch definitely rate him as an all-time great and now that he has added Tyson Fury to his record pushes him up the ladder of greatness.

I have some things to do so the remainder of the weekend recap will have to wait until I have more time.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Boxing Challenge

  Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will be the site for the unification of the four heavyweight titles (for a few weeks anyway)  as WBC champion Tyson Fury and WBA, IBF, and WBO king Oleksandr Usyk will face off in a long-awaited matchup.

Fury looked average in winning a close split decision over Francis Ngannou but Fury looked out of shape for that fight and looked physically prepared for the rematch.

Usyk weighed heavier than I expected (223) but looked in shape as well.

Tyson Fury has all the physical advantages in this fight and I could see him laying on Usyk to wear him down but Usyk is the more talented fighter of the two with tremendous skills.

The adage in boxing is that a great big man always beats a great little man but what if you don't think Tyson Fury is a great big man?

Maybe Fury is just a very good big man and that depends on how highly you rate Deontay Wilder.

Wilder ranks with the best punchers in heavyweight history but he isn't a great fighter if you take Wilder from the Fury resume', you are left with a boring win over an aging Wladimir Klitschko and a win over perennial contender Dillian Whyte as his best wins.

Usyk, like Evander Holyfield before him, has the talent to beat very good heavyweights despite a smaller frame but failed against larger heavyweights such as Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe who could approach his skill level.

So, again I ask- Is Tyson Fury a great heavyweight or a very good one?

Today, we will find out.

The co-feature is one that I am excited about as Jai Opetaia faces Mairis Breidis for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title that Opetaia won in their first fight and was stupidly stripped of when Breidis suffered a training injury for their rematch, Opetaia asked for permission to fight a replacement that Breidis had no issues with since he couldn't fight and the IBF stripped Opetaia for not fighting Breidis.

I gave myself a headache typing that!

Their first fight was great with Opetaia building a lead to survive a broken jaw and a late-round Breidis rally to win a tight unanimous decision.

Breidis hasn't fought in almost two years since their first fight and he's now thirty-nine years old, so this points towards the younger Opetaia but remember Breidis is the only fighter to give Oleksandr Usyk a close fight in losing a majority decision in 2018, so if he is capable of that type of performance at this age, he could reverse the original result.

Joe Cordina defends his IBF junior lightweight title against Anthony Cacace.

Cordina was fortunate to retain his title by majority decision over Edward Vazquez in his last outing but Cacace's lone defeat was to his best opponent Martin Ward.

Former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev continues a comeback at cruiserweight against undefeated Robin Safar.

Kovalev has fought only once since his 2019 knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez but looked good in his 2022 decision win over Tervel Pulev.

Safar is unbeaten but untested, so he's a question mark entering this one.

An intriguing heavyweight fight between unbeaten contenders pairs Agit Kabayel and Frank Sanchez.

Kabayel posted the biggest win of his career in December when he dropped Arslanbek Makhmudov three times and finished him in the fourth round.

Sanchez's style isn't always fan-friendly but it's very effective and top heavyweights aren't anxious to deal with him, so the winner will take a leap forward in someone's ratings.

In the evening from San Diego, ESPN/Top Rank will fill one title immediately and another eventually.

In the main event, Emanuel Navarrete and Denis Baranchyk will meet for the WBO lightweight title vacated by Devin Haney.

Navarrete still holds the WBO junior lightweight title, which he will likely vacate with a win, fought to a majority draw last November against Robson Conceicao, and is always involved in great fights.

Baranchyk is an unbeaten former Olympic silver medalist but with only nine knockouts in his eighteen wins, he might need to be a better puncher who could take advantage of Navarrete's chin, which saw him survive against Liam Wilson only through a generous referee.

The co-feature is for a minor welterweight title between Giovanni Santillan and Brian Norman but means more in the larger picture as the WBO will promote the winner to the full champion once Terence Crawford officially moves to 154 pounds.

Santillan ripped through the WBO's number-one contender, Alexis Rocha, in six rounds last October and took Rocha's place at the top of the organization's ratings.

Norman hasn't lost and has a strong amateur record but his resume' is weak and I have a feeling that he may not take the best shot either.

Boxing Challenge

Unification World Heavyweight Title 
Oleksandr Usyk vs Tyson Fury
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Usyk Split Decision
Vince Samano: Fury Unanimous Decision

Vacant IBF Cruiserweight Title. 12 Rds
Jai Opetaia vs Mairis Breidis
R.L: Opetaia KO 6
TRS: Opetaia KO 10
V.S: Opetaia Unanimous Decision

IBF Junior Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Joe Cordina vs Anthony Cacace
R.L: Cordina Unanimous Decision
TRS: Cordina KO 9
V.S.: Cacace Unanimous Decision

Heavyweights.12 Rds
Agit Kabayel vs Frank Sanchez
R.L: Sanchez KO 5
TRS: Sanchez Unanimous Decision
V.S: Kabayel Unanimous Decision

Cruiserweights. 10 Rds
Sergey Kovalev vs Robin Safar
R.L and V.S: Safar KO 8
TRS: Kovalev Unanimous Decision

Vacant WBO Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Emanuel Navarrete vs Denis Baranchyk
R.L: Navarrete KO 9
TRS: Navarrete Unanimous Decision
V.S: Barnachyk Unanimous Decision

Welterweights. 12 Rds
Giovanni Santillan vs Brian Norman
R.L and TRS: Santillan Unanimous Decision
V.S: Norman Unanimous Decision

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Cavaliers season ends in Boston

      The already undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers received more bad news before game five of their series against the Boston Celtics when Caris LeVert was unable to play.

There would have been every reason to expect the Celtics to win going away.

Instead, the ailing Cavaliers pushed Boston all of the game before falling 113-98 and losing the series four games to one.

Evan Mobley led Cleveland with thirty-three points with Marcus Morris as the main support with twenty-five points as a substitute.


1) Evan Mobley was required to step up and Mobley did just that with his thirty-three points and fifteen of twenty-three shooting.

There have been times that I've wondered about Mobley and he might be a player who might not live up to his potential.

Mobley showed his capabilities in this game and he may be a player that may need to be a focus of the offense to thrive.

2) Cleveland received a surprising game from Marcus Morris, who shot ten of thirteen from the floor with five three-pointers.

Morris helped Cleveland stay close in a game they had little business playing competitively.

3) While Evan Mobley stepped up when the Cavaliers needed him most, Darius Garland didn't, making only four of seventeen shots and a mere eleven points.

Garland's game seemed composed of rushes to the hoop, finding a Celtic waiting there, and then tossing up a desperate heave to hope for the best.

4) I hate to keep harping on the lack of production from Georges Niang but he was crowed about by the Cavaliers when they acquired him as a key in improving the outside shooting in the playoffs.

Niang attempted three shots, all from the three-point distance, missed all three, and played only eight minutes for a team with nine healthy players.

5) Sam Merrill, on the other hand. did provide some long-distance help, hitting three of his five attempts.

I know Merrill is a defensive liability but he can shoot it and he can help this team in that area.

6) I plan on a Cavaliers wrap-up if I can make the time but the Cavaliers have three major questions.

Should they keep J.B. Bickerstaff as head coach?

How will the Donovan Mitchell situation play out?

And does this team need to make a move with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley in the same frontcourt?

The answers to all of these will be coming in the future.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Undermanned Cavaliers drop Game Four

      The Cleveland Cavaliers didn't have Jarrett Allen for game four of their series with the Boston Celtics.

Allen's absence was known entering the game but wasn't known was Donovan Mitchell's unavailability, which placed the Cavaliers as a distinct underdog.

The Cavaliers hung with the Celtics and made Boston work hard throughout the game but it wasn't enough in a 109-102 loss.

Darius Garland led Cleveland with thirty points with Caris LeVert and Evan Mobley each adding nineteen in support.

Boston is one win away from the series victory and they will attempt to close the Cavaliers out on Wednesday in Boston.


1) The smoking gun in this game?

The officiating.

Boston shot twenty-four free throws, making twenty-one, while the Cavaliers would attempt only seven, connecting on five.

That's a large discrepancy.

2) That ties into the inside game where without Allen, the Cavaliers outscored Boston 42-38 but despite those moves to the basket, the referees seldom blew the whistle.

I'd think that more than seven free throws should have been shot under those conditions.

3)  The referees didn't have anything to do with the Cavaliers being bullied in the rebounding column with Boston winning that battle by sixteen.

Yes, I know they are missing Jarrett Allen but that margin is far too large to overcome with an undermanned squad.

4) Darius Garland's night was excellent but as the main scoring option, Garland is at his best, I still wonder if Garland's game is adaptable enough to work with Donovan Mitchell on a title contender.

Garland hit twelve of twenty-seven attempts on the evening, four of those from three-point distance.

5) Donovan Mitchell's calf strain is no joke and those injuries can take a while to completely heal.

I'd be surprised if Mitchell can play in game five and even more surprised if Mitchell produces a normal stat line, should he play.

6) Give the Cavaliers and the coaching staff credit, considering everything involved, the Cavaliers gave a good accounting for themselves on a night that it could be excused if they had taken a walloping.

Cleveland played hard, tough, and through questionable officiating to give Boston a good run- I'm okay with it.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Lomachenko Stops Kambosos

        Vasyl Lomachenko returned after a year's layoff and didn't look to have lost a step as Lomachenko traveled to Perth, Australia to dominate former undisputed lightweight champion George Kambosos before stopping Kambosos in the eleventh round to win the vacant IBF lightweight title.

Kambosos never was able to figure out Lomachenko, who was more aggressive than he had been in recent bouts and looked very sharp.

Lomachenko knocked Kambosos down in the eleventh with a body shot and after Kambosos gamely rose, was returned to the floor from more Lomachenko bodywork with the Kambosos corner tossing in the towel to end the match.

Lomachenko will likely face either of the two Top Rank promoted champions in his next fight either WBC champion Shakur Stevenson or the winner of the vacant WBO title match between Emnanuel Navarette and Denis Barnachyk.

Kambosos may have seen his best days behind him and I'm not sure that he'll have another title shot again.

In the co-feature, Pedro Guevara won a minor junior bantamweight title with a split decision over Australia's Andrew Moloney.

Moloney dominated the first half of the fight but Guevara's bodywork earned him the back half and the decision with two scores of 115-113 (same as mine) with the other going to Moloney 106-103.

In Mexico, Rocky Hernandez rebounded from his final round KO loss to O'Shaquie Foster with a seventh round stoppage of Daniel Lugo.

Lugo had Hernandez in big trouble in the third round but was unable to finish Hernandez, who closed the show in the seventh.

In England, middleweight Denzel Bentley destroyed Danny Dignum in two round in a crossroads fight between victims of Janibek Alimkhanuly.

Bentley scored three knockdowns in round two for the victory.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 71 Pts (6)
TRS:63 Pts (4)
Vince Samano: 34 Pts (3)

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Cavaliers drop Game Three to Boston

     The Boston Celtics rebounded from their poor shooting in game two while the Cleveland Cavaliers could not continue their run from the outside and the Celtics regained control of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series with a 106-93 win in Cleveland to take a two games to one lead.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with thirty-three points in the defeat.

Game four will be in Cleveland on Monday night.


1) Give the Cavaliers credit for not completely folding in the second half as they continued to scrap back from a deficit that was as large as twenty-three points in the second half.

Cleveland got to within nine points three times and once could have cut the lead to seven but a Darius Garland fast break drive rolled in and out and the Celtics charged down the court to nail a three for a five-point swing.

2)  Donovan Mitchell kept the Cavaliers within shouting distance in the first half with twenty-three of his thirty-three but left the game before its conclusion with stiffness in his nagging knee.

The game was decided, why add wear and tear.

3) Dean Wade returned to the floor after a long absence and hit a three-pointer with his first attempt.

Wade finished with five points in seventeen minutes and might be a candidate for more minutes in game four.

4) Darius Garland's struggles continued with a six for fifteen shooting night.

I like Garland, I do.

He won me over after an atrocious rookie season but I don't think that he is a contender's second-best threat.

Cleveland may have to decide if they can find a better number two scorer or if they think Evan Mobley can develop into one because Garland isn't suited in that role or at least not behind Donovan Mitchell.

5) Should the Cavaliers lose this series and I think they will, the biggest "What If" might be the absence of Jarrett Allen, who along with Evan Mobley might have been able to take advantage of the one weakness of the Celtics, their interior defense and slam the ball inside on them.

Allen's injury to his ribs has to be painful (rib injuries always are) but some members of the Cleveland media are starting to question the length of time that Allen has missed.

Saturday's game was the sixth consecutive game that Allen was unavailable and my question isn't questioning why Allen isn't playing, it is that perhaps the Cavaliers and/or Allen may not have realized the injury was as serious as it has turned out to be.  

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Boxing Challenge

     The biggest bout this weekend hails from Perth, Australia as former multiple division champion Vasyl Lomachenko faces former world lightweight champion George Kambosos for the vacant IBF lightweight title.

Lomachenko hasn't fought since his close decision loss to Devin Haney last year many believe he won, while Kambosos arguably could be on a three-fight losing streak but received charitable judging in his most recent fight against Maxi Hughes with very few believing Kambosos deserved the decision.

Lomachenko should be favored and should he return as the same fighter that almost defeated Devin Haney, he should easily outbox Kambosos even on the road in Australia,

The co-feature is for a minor junior bantamweight title as Andrew Moloney faces Pedro Guevara.

Moloney is fighting for the second time since his knockout loss to Junto Nakatani, which was in the running for 2023's KO of the year.

The well-traveled Guevara has lost three times in bids for world titles and lacks an elite win at the world-class level.

In Mexico from DAZN, Rocky Hernandez attempts to rebound from being three minutes away from a world title and losing in the final round to WBC junior lightweight champion O'Shaquie Foster against Daniel Lugo.

Lugo drew with Mauricio Lara in his last fight at featherweight and against the always-aggressive Hernandez, should make an action battle.

In London, two fighters with defeats to WBO and IBF middleweight champion Janibek Alimkhanuly meet at a career crossroads for each.

Denzel Bentley gave Alimkhnauly his toughest career fight and appeared to be a fighter on the improving side but lost a decision to Nathan Heaney last November and looked awful doing so.

Danny Dignum was stopped in two rounds in June 2022 by Alimkhanuly and has notched only two wins since both against non-entitites.

The winner keeps their career hopes alive while the loser will take a large step back.

Boxing Challenge

Vacant IBF Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Vasyl Lomachenko vs George Kambosos
All: Lomachenko Unanimous Decision

Junior Bantamweights. 12 Rds
Andrew Moloney vs Pedro Guevara
Ramon Malpica; Guevara Split Decision
TRS: Moloney Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Guevara Unanimous Decision

Junior Lightweights. 12 Rds
Rocky Hernandez vs Daniel Lugo
R.L: Hernandez KO 8
TRS: Hernandez KO 10
V.S: Lugo Unanimous Decision

Middleweights. 12 Rds
Denzel Bentley vs Danny Dignum
All; Bentley Unanimous Decision

Friday, May 10, 2024

Cavaliers rout Celtics in Boston!

     The Cleveland Cavaliers took advantage of some awful shooting from the Boston Celtics and earned a surprising 118-94 victory in Boston in game two of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finasls.

The Cavaliers were led by Donovan Mitchell's twenty-nine points and Evan Mobley's twenty-one in a victory that tied the series at one game apiece.

The series swings to Cleveland for game three on Saturday evening.


1)  I have to admit, I was completely caught off guard by this win.

I thought Cleveland would win one game in the series but I didn't figure that victory would come in Boston.

I still think Boston will win the series but I'll change my prediction from Celtics in five to Celtics in six,

2) Evan Mobley played his best game of the season, finishing with twenty-one points, ten rebounds, and five assists but just as important was how he accomplished those numbers.

Mobley played with an aggressiveness that has been lacking at times in his career and if he can repeat this more often, his career and Cleveland will be better for it.

3) Key stat: Cleveland 13/28 from three point range, Boston 8/35.

When the team that is the better shooting team has that type of night, it's not a night that will bode well.

4) The game was tied at the half with Cleveland outscoring Boston 36-24 in the third quarter and you could see Boston's frustration with their shots not falling.

The huge deficit was rolled up in garbage time but the game was won in the third.

5) Boston never seemed to change their strategy with their poor shooting, they stubbornly continued to jack up threes and hoped things would change.

There is something to be said for self-confidence but to not try any other tactics seemed to be an error for me.

6) Boston's Derrick White scored twenty-five in game one, but only ten in game two and shot one of eight from three.

7) Cleveland did receive bench help from Caris LeVert who popped in twenty-one points as a reserve.

LeVert will be key in the series with his status as the main offensive threat off the bench.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Cavaliers clouted by Celtics in Game One

     The Cleveland Cavaliers received help from Donovan Mitchell in game one of their Eastern Conference Semi-Final series against the Boston Celtics but it wasn't enough as the heavily favored Celtics continued their playoff roll as they defeated Cleveland 120-95 in Boston.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with thirty-three points with Evan Mobley contributing seventeen points and thirteen rebounds in the defeat.

Game two will be in Boston on Thursday night.


1) Boston is the top-scoring team in the league and is the second-best defensively, so this is a tough draw for the Cavaliers.

If they win one game (more than Miami did in the first round), I would consider it a success.

2) The Cavaliers are a good defensive squad but this Celtics team made them look slow and steps behind as their passing to the open man is stellar.

They remind me a little of the Mark Price-era Cavaliers as they move the ball around rather than clear out for one player and even though the Celtics have some stars, it's more than one player involved.

3) Cleveland shot a lousy twenty-six percent from three-point range and continued a trend that held strong through the Orlando series.

If Cleveland doesn't start improving from three, any chance of an upset is history.

4) Max Strus and Georges Niang were brought into Cleveland to improve this issue, yet they continue to struggle.

Strus and Niang were a combined one of seven from long-range.

5) Donovan Mitchell scored all of his points in the first three quarters but considering that the fourth was essentially garbage time, it's understandable how that happened.

6) Evan Mobley played well offensively, hitting eight of twelve shots with his thirteen rebounds but there is no question that Jarrett Allen is missed down low.

Will Allen's return allow the Cavaliers to rally in the series?

Maybe but if he doesn't return soon, the chances are even worse.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Inoue survives knockdown

        "The Monster" was dented in the initial round by Luis Nery's left hook that knocked down Naoya Inoue in the first round for the first time in his career.

But Inoue responded with a left hook of his own in the second round that dropped Nery to the canvas and while Nery had his moments, Inoue dominated after the first round, added another knockdown in the fifth before finishing Nery in the sixth with a right hand that sprawled the challenger across the bottom rope to retain all four junior featherweight titles.

Nery, a former WBC bantamweight and junior featherweight champion, came with his best effort and landed his share of left hooks but Inoue was too fast and out of Nery's league, which says a lot as Nery received some consideration for top ten pound for pound a few years ago and entered the fight with only one loss since (a ninth-round knockout loss to Brandon Figueroa).

Naoya Inoue is just too good and is expected to face Australia's Sam Goodman in a fall fight that will count as one of Inoue's mandatory defenses.

In the co-feature, Yoshiki Takei completed the Japanese takeover of the bantamweight division with a unanimous decision win over Jason Moloney to take Moloney's WBO title.

All four of the titles in the 118-pound division now reside in the land of the Rising Sun with four different champions.

Takei lost a point in the second round for a low blow but controlled Moloney for most of the fight, although Moloney hurt Takei badly late in the final round, and had there been a round thirteen, Moloney may have been able to stop Takei but alas that round never occurred.

Takei won on the cards by scores of 116-111 times two and 117-110, my scorecard read 116-111.

WBA bantamweight champion Takuma Inoue retained his title by a unanimous decision over Sho Ishida but like his brother later in the evening, was knocked down in the first round.

Ishida did well early and seemed to be walking Inoue down but a busted nose that bled throughout the fight hampered the challenger.

The scorecards for Inoue were 118-109 times two and 116-111, while my card read 117-110.

In the cards opener, Seigo Yuri Akai retained his WBA flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Taku Kuwahara, who lost the second fight of his career, both to Akai.

Akai's winning scorecards were 118-110 and 117-111 times two with the latter score the same as my card.

There isn't a boxing challenge for this as I didn't have time to work on a preview or even post selections and I don't think it's fair for the competition to have me knowing my picks without putting them up on the site.

I wouldn't cheat but it removes any controversy.

Mitchell carries Cleveland to Game Seven win!

      Donovan Mitchell may not be shooting well from the outside and you can tell that his ailing left knee is sheer misery to play through but no one can doubt Mitchell's desire or will to win as for the second game in a row, Mitchell placed the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back and like his drives to the hoop with defenders all over him, carried them across the line to a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic in game seven of their Eastern Conference Quarter-Final.

The win gave the Cavaliers a four-to-three series victory, the franchise's first in thirty years that lacked LeBron James on the roster.

Mitchell finished with thirty-nine points to lead Cleveland to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, where they will meet the top-seeded Boston Celtics with game one on Tuesday in Boston.


1) Donovan Mitchell's 89 combined points in games six and seven is the second-highest in NBA history behind only Allen Iverson's ninety points in games six and seven in 2001.

2) Cleveland trailed by ten at halftime and by as many as eighteen points in the first half.

According to the NBA, Cleveland's comeback is the largest in a game seven since the league started keeping play-by-play charts in the 1997-98 season.

3) Donovan Mitchell's shooting wasn't tremendous (11 of 27) but what Mitchell did do was bull to the basket and force Orlando to foul him.

Mitchell went to the free throw line seventeen times and drained fifteen of the freebies.

It's the sign of a maturing player and leader when he realizes his shooting is off and moves to the next tactic to keep his team in the game.

4) Cleveland finally received some help from the reserves as Caris LeVert woke up to score fifteen points and long-ranger bomber Sam Merrill hit two three-pointers among his eight points in eleven minutes.

Cleveland will need even more bench help against Boston.

5) Evan Mobley finished with eleven points and sixteen rebounds in forty-one minutes of play on a gimpy ankle.

With the absence of Jarrett Allen, Mobley is forced into a more traditional big man's game and it doesn't fit his game nearly as much as it does Allen but he managed to give Cleveland what they needed on the interior.

6) Paolo Banchero almost matched Donovan Mitchell as Banchero finished with thirty-eight points.

Banchero hit only ten of twenty-eight shots but like Mitchell, Banchero pushed the ball to the basket and drew fouls as Banchero shot eighteen free throws.

7) Franz Wagner was full of vinegar in game five in Cleveland, taunting the fans and acting like a wrestling heel.

When the Magic needed it most, Wagner came up empty as he finished with eight points on one for fifteen shooting.

8) I really don't like that the NBA doesn't re-seed at the end of the first round as the NHL does.

I hate giving Gary Bettman's bunch credit but re-seeding does benefit the top seed.

For example, sixth-seeded Indiana upset third-seeded Milwaukee in the first round, and yet the Pacers will play the second-seeded New York Knicks (winners over Philadelphia) rather than the top-seeded Celtics (winners over Miami).

So the second seed receives an easier opponent (by record) than the first seed under the current bracket system and while I've never been a Boston fan, it's not fair to them after finishing with the conference's top record.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Canelo beats Munguia

     Canelo Alvarez gained his revenge over Oscar De La Hoya by dominating Jaime Munguia and flooring him in the fourth round on the way to a unanimous decision.

I thought Munguia was doing very well until the fourth-round knockdown and I didn't give a round to him after that, although he never quit trying and landed an occasional right hand.

The judges scored for Alvarez by 117-110, 116-111, and a surprisingly tight 115-112.

I scored the fight 117-110 for Alvarez, who again seems to be blowing off the fight that fans want most against David Benavidez, and instead appears to be headed for a Mexico vs Puerto Rico matchup against Edgar Berlanga, who doesn't really deserve it or is close to ready for Canelo but looking at potential opponents in the division, there isn't anyone better qualified that Alvarez hasn't already defeated.

So as much as I am non-plussed for Canelo-Berlanga ( and I think it won't do well on PPV unless a strong undercard is added)  I don't see a contender that would bring a better challenge or a higher PPV buy rate than Berlanga, so I guess we are stuck with that fight.

As for Munguia, he fought bravely in his first defeat and he showed heart in getting up from the uppercut that floored him in the fourth round.

I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Munguia.

I haven't had time to watch the rest of the card yet, so here are the results and boxing challenge standings.

Mario Barrios defeated Fabian Maidana by unanimous decision in a welterweight match.

Eimantas Stanionis defeated Gabriel Maestre by unanimous decision in a welterweight battle.

Brandon Figueroa stopped Jessie Magdaleno in round nine in a featherweight tilt.

And from Japan

Ryosuke Nishida defeated Emmanuel Rodriguez by unanimous decision to win the IBF Bantamweight Title.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 65 Pts (9)

TRS: 59 Pts  (5) 
Vince Samano: 31 Pts (3) 

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Mitchell's explosion not enough in Game Six

      Donovan Mitchell played exactly as you hope a superstar would in game six of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals and put the team on his back to attempt to carry them forward.

It wasn't enough as Mitchell received no support other than Darius Garland and the Cavaliers lost to the Orlando Magic 103-96 in Orlando.

Mitchell finished with fifty points and Garland added twenty-one with everyone else offering next to nothing.

Game seven will determine which team advances to meet the New York Knicks and will take place in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon at one o'clock.


1)  Donovan Mitchell gave the Cavaliers exactly what a team expects from a superstar with his fifty-point evening and keeping the Cavaliers in a game that without Mitchell, they would have had no chance of competing.

The fifty-point evening ranks as the second-highest for the Cavaliers in their postseason history.

2) Mitchell left the game briefly in the quarter and you could clearly see that Mitchell is favoring his left knee which has bothered him for much of the season.

One cannot question Donovan Mitchell's heart considering the circumstances under which he is playing but it's not unfair to wonder if Mitchell's knee will be able to keep him in top form for Sunday's game seven.

3) Mitchell and Darius Garland shot often (fifty-three attempts between them) but they had to without any help from the remainder of the lineup as only Max Strus hit double-figures in scoring with a measly ten.

4) Jarrett Allen missed his second straight game with a rib injury and Evan Mobley turned his ankle in the second quarter, which limited his effectiveness (three points, seven rebounds), although he toughed it out for thirty-four minutes.

Cleveland's interior game was non-existent and consisted of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland taking the ball to the hoop.

5) Cleveland is receiving nothing from their bench as J.B. Bickerstaff continues to shuffle in a desperate effort to have any help at all.

Georges Niang hit only one of five shots in eleven minutes, Caris LeVert finished with one point and missed his only attempt, and Isaac Okoro finished with only four points in twenty-four minutes.

All of those players are being paid sizable amounts and aren't producing.

6) The Cavaliers tried to capitalize on the strong game-five outing by Marcus Morris by giving the veteran the start in game six.

Morris scored only two points on one for seven shooting in twenty-seven minutes of playing time although he did grab seven rebounds.

7) Considering the lack of help that Donovan Mitchell received and if the Cavaliers happen to lose game seven, I might think the Cavaliers may have to show Mitchell that they are willing to make changes that could include head coach or trades.

Cleveland's draft material is lacking since they had to trade three first-rounders to land Mitchell, and it might be difficult to land significant improvements to the roster.

A win would solve a lot as the Cavaliers winning a series would be a step forward and would help sell Mitchell that the team is moving forward.

A defeat could be more than just the end of the season.

It could be far more impactful than only that. 

Boxing Challenge

      The boxing Saturday takes place in Las Vegas as Canelo Alvarez defends his undisputed super middleweight title against hard-punching Jaime Munguia in a bout filled with pre-fight venom from Alvarez not towards Munguia but towards Munguia's current and Alvarez's former promoter Oscar De La Hoya.

Alvarez decisioned then-undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo in a fight more noted by the timid outing by Charlo than anything Canelo did offensively.

Munguia stopped John Ryder in nine rounds in January, something Alvarez couldn't do in an easy decision win last year over Ryder.

The taller Munguia is willing to trade with Canelo and he may build a lead on the scorecards to the middle rounds but I think Canelo will catch Munguia and score a stoppage in the final third of the fight.

And then, it'll be interesting to see how Canelo and Oscar get along at the press conference!

The undercard will see two minor welterweight titles at stake and while the titles are minor, victories will eventually see the winner promoted to the full title when Terence Crawford officially vacates those titles.

In one bout, Mario Barrios "defends" against Fabian Maidana, the younger brother of the more accomplished Marcos Maidana.

Barrios, who has used his PBC connections to somehow be a welterweight title champion, despite being knocked out by lightweight Gervonta Davis and owning the proud achievement of being the only fighter in this decade to lose to Keith Thurman, did notch his biggest win last September when he defeated former welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas.

The undefeated Maidana is also untested with only one really recognizable name on his record, Andrei Klimov, whom Maidana stopped in seven rounds.

If Maidana has some of the talents of his older brother, this could be interesting.

The other minor title will pit Eivantis Stanionis against Gabriel Maestre.

Stanionis won his 'title' in a great fight via split decision over Radzhab Butaev in April 2002 but hasn't fought since, mainly because three times his scheduled defense against Vergil Ortiz was canceled due to physical issues, twice by Ortiz, once by Stanionis.

Maestre is a two-time former Olympian, who was best known for his "win" over Mykal Fox that was so awful that American boxing commissions threatened the WBA with withdrawing their approval of their sanctioning body.

Since then Maestre stopped shot former champion Devon Alexander after the third round and in his biggest win knocked out highly touted Travon Marshall in front of Marshall's home crowd in two rounds last August.

Rumor has it that should Crawford relinquish his championships PBC could pair the winners for an instant unified champion in the division.

Brandon Figueroa defends his minor featherweight title against Jessie Magdaleno in a fight that should be interesting with a pair of styles that should make the fight exciting.

Both fighters are former junior featherweight champions but the younger Figueroa is in better form with his win over Mark Magsayo in his last fight and his only loss a debatable decision loss to Stephen Fulton.

Magdaleno lost his last fight by decision to now-WBA champion Raymond Ford and Ford knocked down Magdaleno twice in that loss.

The other challenge fight comes from Japan as Emmanuel Rodriguez defends his IBF bantamweight title against Ryosuke Nishida.

Rodriguez will be making his first defense after winning the vacant title last August over Melvin Lopez.

The 9-0 Nishida has been moved quickly to a title shot and holds a win over former champion Daigo Higa on his resume'.

Boxing Challenge

World Super Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Canelo Alvarez vs Jaime Munguia
Ramon Malpica; Alvarez KO 9
TRS: Alvarez KO 8
Vince Samano: Munguia KO 11

Welterweights.12 Rds
Eimantas Stanionis vs Gabriel Maestre
R.L and TRS: Stanionis Unanimous Decision
V.S: Maestre KO 9

Welterweights. 12 Rds
Mario Barrios vs Fabian Maidana
R.L: Barrios Unanimous Decision
TRS and V.S: Maidana Unanimous Decision

Featherweights. 12 Rds
Brandon Figueroa vs Jessie Magdaleno
R.L: Figueroa KO 7
TRS: Figueroa KO 11
V.S: Figueroa Unanimous Decision

IBF Bantamweight Title. 12 Rds
Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Ryosuke Nishida
R.L and V.S: Nishida Unanimous Decision
TRS: Rodriguez Unanimous Decision 

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Mobley rejects Magic, Cavaliers win Game Five

      Evan Mobley blocked the driving shot of Orlando's Franz Wagner with six seconds to go to allow the Cleveland Cavaliers to stagger away with a 104-103 victory in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals and a 3-2 lead in the series.

Mobley's block and two ensuing Donovan Mitchell free throws salted the game away although Pablo Banchero nailed a three-pointer to cut the final margin to one point.

Mitchell led Cleveland with twenty-eight points, Darius Garland added twenty-three, and Evan Mobley finished with fourteen points and thirteen rebounds.

Game six will be in Orlando on Friday night.

A Cleveland win ends the series, while an Orlando win extends the series to game seven, which would be on Sunday in Cleveland,


1) The Cavaliers announced before the game that Jarrett Allen would miss the game with bruised ribs, which cost them their big man inside and allowed Orlando to take the ball to the hoop without Cleveland's best rim protector.

2) Evan Mobley did a fine job in Allen's place and the game-saving block was such a brilliant play on Mobley's part.

Mobley blocked Franz Wagner's shot with his left hand rather than with his stronger right hand because if Mobley had reached across to attempt the block with that hand, he surely would have fouled Wagner.

3) Donovan Mitchell scored fourteen points in the fourth quarter, nine of those from the free throw line,.

Mitchell is clearly bothered by a nagging left knee problem and it's affecting his play as he shot nine of twenty-three from the floor with only one basket from three-point lane.

4) Give Mitchell credit for clutch play as he connected on nine of ten from the free throw line and the two key freebies after Mobley's block were important to lock up the game, even more so when Paolo Banchero hit a three-pointer at the end of the game.

Had Mitchell made only one of the two shots, the Banchero three-pointer would have tied the game.

5) Max Strus played his best game of the series, finishing with sixteen points and hitting four three-pointers.

6) Darius Garland also played his best game of the series as he scored twenty-three points, many of them in the first half.

If Cleveland has a chance of closing this series in six games, it will be from a major contribution from Garland.

7) Paolo Banchero finished the night as the game's leading scorer with thirty-nine points, finishing fourteen of twenty-four shooting, and the former top overall pick in 2022 was clearly the best player on the floor.

Banchero is a bit more of an outside shooter but his game is what I'm sure Cleveland hopes to see from Evan Mobley as Mobley progresses.