Sunday, June 30, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Bam cuts down Estrada!

      Saturday's WBC junior bantamweight title event from Phoenix was considered a passing of the torch from aging champion Juan Francisco Estrada to rising star Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez.

If that was the case, consider the torch transferred as Rodriguez stamped himself as a pound-for-pound star with a seventh-round knockout that left Estrada writhing in pain in an exciting, yet somewhat one-sided fight.

The first two rounds were evenly fought with both fighters landing heavy artillery but Rodriguez hurt Estrada in the third and fifth and sent him to the floor in the fourth round.

Rodriguez seemed to be ready for the kill but it was Estrada scoring a sixth-round knockdown with a counterpunch and I thought Estrada was winning the seventh round when out of nowhere, Bam slammed a left hook to the liver that made Estrada quiver on the mat for the fight-ending KO.

The talk after the fight was the scorecards as one card had Rodriguez ahead 58-54, another even and the third with Estrada up by one point.

If you gave Estrada the first two rounds (questionable but plausible) I could see an even fight after six with Estrada getting rounds one and two, Rodriguez three and five, Rodriguez a 10-8 round for the fourth, and Estrada a 10-8 round for the sixth.

I split the first two rounds, so my card was 57-55 for Rodriguez.

I've heard this was a two-fight deal, so there could be a rematch, which would be fine by me but I don't see the result changing but Rodriguez has a co-manager (Teiiken) based in Japan, and the WBA and IBF titles in the division will be unified a week from Monday as Kazuto Ioka (WBA) and Fernando Martinez (IBF) face-off.

Bam against the winner or WBO champion Kosei Tanaka could be easy fights to make and should he face them in Japan, the money would be even larger.

The exposure in Japan would help Rodriguez should he decide to build towards a fight that was being mentioned as an eventual dream fight against the undisputed world junior featherweight champion Naoya "The Monster" Inoue.

I haven't watched the co-feature with Sunny Edwards winning by a unanimous decision over Adrien Curiel after nine rounds when a clash of heads opened up a long vertical gash on the face of Edwards.

Edwards's victory in a flyweight eliminator should result in the former champion receiving a chance to win another title soon.

In Miami, WBO junior welterweight king Teofimo Lopez dominated but did not dazzle in winning a unanimous decision over Canadian Steve Claggett.

Claggett's face-first style was expected to be the antidote for a lackluster effort against boxer Jamaine Ortiz but while Lopez dominated, he never hurt Claggett and failed for the fourth time in as many fights to stop a fighter at junior welterweight.

The scores for Lopez were 120-108 X 2 and 119-109, I scored the fight 120-108.

Here are my thoughts- Teofimo Lopez is a little overrated or at least his power is a bit overrated.

And while Lopez is still an excellent fighter with a top-notch victory over Vasyl Lomachenko, his win over Josh Taylor isn't as impressive as thought immediately after his victory as Taylor lost to Jack Catterall after losing to Lopez and most think he lost to Catterall before his loss to Lopez.

There is a legitimate argument to be made that Josh Taylor was somewhat overrated too by his WBSS victories as his biggest wins (Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez) haven't aged well.

Teofimo Lopez is clearly an excellent fighter who might be lacking the special something at 140 pounds, with two fights that he was fortunate to get the duke (Sandor Martin and Jamaine Ortiz), the Taylor win, and this one over Claggett at the weight.

It may be that Lopez needs big challenges to force the best out of himself and I wouldn't count him out against anyone but the questions are beginning to accumulate for the second time in his career, can he battle them successfully again?

In the co-feature former WBO featherweight champion Robeisy Ramirez earned his rematch with Rafael Espinoza for that title with a seventh-round knockout over overmatched Brandon Benitez.

Ramirez ended the fight with a crunching left uppercut after winning every round against the battered Benitez.

The Espinoza-Ramirez fall rematch is anticipated after their awesome first battle.

Friday in Washington D.C., Lamont Roach dominated Feargal McCrory on his way to an eighth-round knockout to retain his WBA junior lightweight.

Roach isn't known as a puncher but he dropped McCrory three times (twice in round four) and when Roach stepped up the pace in the eighth, McCrory's corner ended the evening for their man.

Boxing Challenge 
Ramon Malpica: 97 Pts (6)
TRS:84 Pts (8)
Vince Samano: 49 Pts (1)

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Devils trade John Marino to Utah

   I hadn't planned on writing about the New Jersey Devils on the second day of the NHL Draft since they lacked a second-round pick but the Devils and Tom Fitzgerald moved into the second round by trading defenseman John Marino and their fifth-round selection (153 overall) to the Utah Hockey Club (formerly the Arizona Coyotes) for Utah's second-rounder (49th overall) and Edmonton's second-round pick in 2025.

The twenty-seven-year-old Marino has played five seasons in the NHL, the last two with the Devils, and scored four goals with twenty-one assists in seventy-five games, finishing with a minus-six plus-minus rating.

New Jersey seemed ready to move Marino and needed to do so quickly as Marino's contract activated a no-trade clause on Monday, July 1, so the Devils needed to move during the draft.

When you consider the Devils were borderline desperate to deal Marino due to the deadline, New Jersey should consider themselves fortunate to receive two second-round picks.

The Devils have been connected to Carolina free agent defenseman Brett Pesce and removing Marino from the cap could make a signing of Pesce more likely with the additional space.

New Jersey used the second-round selection acquired from Utah to select a goaltender, Mikhail Yegorov of Russia, who played his junior hockey with the Omaha Lancers last season.

Yegorov's goals allowed average was .896 and a save percentage of .892 but Omaha was a terrible team last season, finishing last in the league, so that could have something to do with stats that aren't a standout.

At 6'5, Yegorov should cover the net well and was ranked as the top North American-based netminder in the draft.

Yegorov is the second goaltender selected in the draft behind only Ilya Nabokov, who was selected by Colorado with the thirty-eighth pick.

Devils draft Anton Silayev

     The New Jersey Devils hope to have made their final high draft pick for quite a while with the selection of Russian defenseman Anton Silayev with the tenth overall pick.

Silayev turned eighteen in April and spent last season in Russia's KHL, regarded as the second-best league in the world, playing in sixty-three games, scoring three goals with eight assists for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.

Nice numbers for a seventeen-year-old defenseman (he turned eighteen after the season) and the comparison used most for Silayev has been Zdeno Chara and Victor Hedman.

Chara only played seventy seasons in the NHL, and Hedman is one of the better defensemen in the league.

Those comparisons make sense with Silayev's frame (6'7  207 pounds) giving him plenty of room to fill out as he matures and he is reported to be an excellent skater for his size and isn't afraid to be rough in the trenches.

Silayev slipped a little in the draft, (looking back through mock drafts Silayev appeared as high as three and rarely below seven) and the Devils may have been fortunate that he did.

Perhaps some teams didn't want to wait for Silayev to arrive as he is under contract with Torpedo for two more seasons before he comes to New Jersey, and that could have been a factor in his slight drop in round one.

New Jersey has two excellent young defenders with different styles than Silayev in Luke Hughes (an offensive puck-mover) and Simon Nemec ( a well-rounded two-way defenseman), so drafting a big physical defender that should complement Hughes and Nemec's game looks to be an excellent addition to the New Jersey system in the coming years.

Boxing Challenge

   Saturday's boxing action features two world title fights, one bout between former champions, and another with a former champion who needs a win to force a rematch to regain his title.

The pairing that is even on paper is from Matchroom/DAZN in Phoenix as legendary veteran Juan Francisco Estrada defends his WBC junior bantamweight belt against unbeaten former champion Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez.

Rodriguez vacated the title to drop to flyweight where he won the IBF and WBO titles, unifying those titles in his last fight, breaking down smooth boxing Sunny Edwards in nine rounds.

Estrada hasn't fought since winning the title by a majority decision in his rubber match against Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez in December 2022 and it's fair to wonder what the thirty-four-year-old future Hall of Famer will bring to this fight against a younger competitor.

It has all the makings of a screenplay, the aging gunfighter attempting to make one final stand against a younger and faster future star attempting to use his opponent's career to build his own.

Everything points to Bam Rodriguez but I'm not counting out "Gallo" Estrada.

Sunny Edwards returns from his loss to Rodriguez in the co-feature against Adrien Curiel in a flyweight pairing of former champions in need of a victory.

Edwards defended his IBF flyweight title four times before losing to Rodriguez but took a surprising amount of punishment in that fight, while Curiel was an undistinguished fighter before winning the WBC light flyweight title from Sivenathi Nontshinga via second-round knockout before losing the rematch by unanimous decision.

Miami is the site of a Top Rank/ESPN with Teofimo Lopez in the main event against Canada's Steve Claggett.

The erratic Lopez's performances range from brilliance in wins over Vasyl Lomachenko and Josh Taylor to dull in close victories that he may not have deserved against Sandor Martin and Jamaine Ortiz.

Lopez will likely look spectacular against the moderately talented Claggett, who has been specifically chosen to come forward, make Lopez look strong, and fall spectacularly.

I'd rate this one as a lopsided mismatch and really doesn't deserve to be called a title fight.

The co-feature doesn't look any better as former WBO featherweight champion Robeisy Ramirez returns from his defeat against Rafael Espinoza against Brandon Benitez.

Ramirez is trying to stay sharp for a scheduled fall rematch against Espinoza and Benitez doesn't look like he will stand in the way, as Benitez has only one win over a recognizable opponent- former minor titleholder Xu Can.

Not a very exciting night from Top Rank.

Boxing Challenge

WBC Junior Bantamweight Title. 12 Rds 
Juan Francisco Estrada vs Jesse "Bam" Rodriguez
Ramon Malpica and TRS: Rodriguez Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Estrada Unanimous Decision

Flyweights. 12 Rds
Sunny Edwards vs Adrien Curiel
R.L and TRS: Edwards Unanimous Decision
V.S: Curiel Unanimous Decision

WBO Junior Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Teofimo Lopez vs Steve Claggett
R.L: Lopez KO 8
TRS: Lopez KO 6
V.S: Claggett Unanimous Decision

Featherweights.10 Rds
Robeisy Ramirez vs Brandon Benitez
R.L: Ramirez Unanimous Decision
TRS: Ramirez KO 7
V.S: Benitez Unanimous Decision

Friday, June 28, 2024

Boxing Challenge

 Friday night will see Washington D.C. as the site as Lamont Roach defends his WBA junior lightweight title for the first time in his hometown against Feargal McCrory of Ireland.

Roach won the title last November from Hector Luis Garcia by split decision when he floored Garcia in the final round, making the difference between a split decision and a draw.

The unbeaten McCrory has faced below-average competition and who really knows what he brings against Roach but when fighters select opponents for a homecoming event, they usually don't go after the toughest test.

The fight can be seen for free on the ProBox app or the ProBox channel on YouTube.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica and TRS: Roach Unanimous Decision

Vince Samano:

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Road Trip: Have you ever seen the rain?

     Waking up early on day two outside of Davenport, Iowa, I snapped a few photos of the mighty Mississippi before our day driving across Iowa, making a few stops on the way before our arrival in Omaha.

Our first stop was recommended by Ryan and didn't take us that long to arrive at the Iowa 80 truck stop, advertised as the world's largest. 

Iowa 80 is big and with plenty of food and shopping options, there is almost anything that you may need while traveling available at Iowa 80.

A few days before the trip as I was planning the route, I discovered the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library is almost directly off the exit.

 While I had plans to visit two libraries on the trip, the Hoover Library wasn't one of them.

However, if it was that easy to find, I added it loosely to the day's schedule.

It was that easy, so we made the call to make a visit to West Branch, Iowa.

Entering the library, you can drive around a local park on the library grounds, visit the grave of the former President and First Lady, and walk through a grassy area that is a reconstruction of the prairie that Hoover grew up with as a young man.

The library was filled with displays, a theatre to watch a short film, and seemed to be recently renovated with wide open spaces and modern decor.

The gift shop at the Hoover Library is by the entrance/exit area and we stopped there for a few trinkets, including one that I thought was really neat.

There was a small passport-like booklet for the Presidental Libraries that I purchased and a small foam fishing bobber (fishing was a passion for the former President),

I can't say no to cool fidget items and since the Hoover Library was the first I ever visited, I thought it would be cool to have as I visited others.

The Hoover Library was the pleasant surprise of our trip as it was much better than I had anticipated.

The drive across Iowa continued with our next stop at an antique mall that Ryan highly recommended, The Brass Armadillo in Des Moines.

The Brass Armadillo features lots of collectible items in huge stores and I thought the Des Moines location was their only one but they are in six cities in the Midwest and West.

We wouldn't be finished with the Brass Armadillo on the trip but on this one, I bought three programs, a 1977 Ohio State at Iowa football, a 1980 NCAA Mideast Regional basketball, and a 1969 Philadelphia Eagles at St.Louis Cardinals for the collection.

The local radar showed severe thunderstorms in the area and a tornado watch, so we tried to outrun the storm and we had success for a while.

However, eventually, we had to get off the interstate and into a McDonald's parking lot where I must admit it was a little scary with the van rocking from the high winds, seeing items tossed into the air, and hearing the tornado warning sirens, which is unsettling when you aren't used to it.

Once things had cleared a little, we got back on the road, and after a half hour or so, we had cleared the storm as we were driving west, it was later that we saw the tornado destroying the town of Glenville, Iowa, a town that we had passed earlier in the day.

I feel very fortunate even now that we dodged that storm.

We stayed on the road until we found Omaha and met Ryan and his family for dinner at a local Chinese buffet.

The dinner was nice, and then we found our hotel home, which Ryan graciously provided for us, for the next eight days at a Home 2 Suites in Omaha, located a short distance from Ryan's home.

I'm going to write about the places that we saw on the trip but some of the trip may be condensed for time and space.

I may do one or two posts on the various foods that we ate rather than try to remember every meal on a particular day.

I'll continue this series soon when I have time! 

Cavaliers select Jaylon Tyson


     The Cleveland Cavaliers made their final first-round selection that they can't lose or see changed for quite a while in yesterday's NBA Draft with the selection of California small forward Jaylon Tyson as the twentieth overall choice. 

The Cavaliers do not own their draft choices in 2025 and 2027 and Utah has the option to switch with Cleveland in 2026 and 2028, should the Cavaliers' selection become higher than the pick owned by the Jazz as part of the trade that acquired Donovan Mitchell.

That makes what would normally be a small news story about a choice from the back third of the first round of more importance than usual for the Cavaliers, who are still  building a title contender.

The first thing you notice about Jaylon Tyson is that he played for three schools in three college seasons.

That's unusual but it will not be over time as more and more college players move from school to school due to weakened transfer regulations and the rules for NIL (name, image, and likeness) become mainstream.

Tyson played one year each for Texas, Texas Tech, and then California before declaring for the draft, playing eight games for Texas before transferring to Texas Tech, which was his original commitment coming out of high school.

At Tech, Tyson averaged ten points a game before transferring due to being the subject of racial remarks by former Tech coach Mark Adams.

Tyson averaged nineteen points and six rebounds for the Calfornia Golden Bears last year, shooting forty-six percent overall and thirty-six percent from three-point distance.

The 6'6 Tyson is regarded as a player that can hit the open shot (on a team that never seems to have enough players that can do that) and he is noted as a player that can drive and create but isn't graded as outstanding in any of those areas.

Tyson is said to be weak on defense, so if you combine Tyson's offense and defense, Tyson is the opposite of incumbent wing, Isaac Okoro.

Tyson's workout for the Cavaliers was reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as extremely impressive  and played a key role in the Cavaliers deciding to select him.

I don't watch college basketball as much as I used to, so I can't claim an innate feeling on Jaylon Tyson but it does seem that Tyson has the offensive game that the Cavaliers are looking for.

Plus Tyson's coach at California was former NBAer Mark Madsen and new head coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant with Golden State (Cal-Berkeley is also in the Bay Area) likely has some knowledge of Tyson and Tyson has some preparation advantages that other players would not have.

Picking at this portion of the draft will never bring a player certain to succeed but Jaylon Tyson has a chance to help the Cavaliers immediately as part of their second unit and contribute as a role player this season.

Cleveland doesn't have a second round pick in today's half of the draft, should they make a move to pick a player or make a trade, I'll be sure to write!

Monday, June 24, 2024

Cavaliers hire Kenny Atkinson

     The Cleveland Cavaliers have decided on their new head coach and there is a question about the decision.

Cleveland's choice is Kenny Atkinson, formerly the head coach for the Brooklyn Nets, who has spent the last three seasons as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

Atkinson had been mentioned as a considered candidate but was thought to be behind New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego for the job.

Rumors are flying that Borrego was the choice of Koby Altman before Atkinson's interview which included owner Dan Gilbert.

Atkinson became the choice of Gilbert following the interview and it is also rumored that Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo gave a glowing recommendation to Gilbert.

To Dan Gilbert, a recommendation from Tom Izzo is as good as he could get, if Izzo did offer that recommendation, it's easy to see how Kenny Atkinson became the selection for the position.

Atkinson coached Brooklyn for four seasons, finishing with a record of 118-190 and only one winning season in 2018-19 when the Nets finished 42-40 and made the playoffs, losing in the first round in five games to Philadelphia.

Atkinson had issues coaching superstars such as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn but coached two former Nets now in Cleveland (Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert) both players were very positive about hiring Atkinson.

Atkinson is an offensive coach who will add things that he learned at Golden State and his system is ball movement-oriented, which Donovan Mitchell is reputed to enjoy.

Mitchell, who may be getting his max extension offer shortly, has reportedly approved the decision to hire Atkinson.

I don't really have an opinion on Atkinson vs Borrego, I would have been fine with either but I will admit to a little uneasiness for one reason- Dan Gilbert.

When Dan Gilbert gets involved in decisions, his track record reeks of failure.

It was Dan Gilbert who made the decision to hire David Blatt and John Beilein with neither man succeeding in Cleveland.

Dan Gilbert has made this decision for head coach and with his team at a crossroads, he'll need to get this one right or realize that his meddling in basketball matters needs to stop.

Road Trip: Getting There

     My trip to Omaha with Cherie was the longest trip that I've ever taken and the longest time that I've ever been away from home at one time as well.

I decided to leave at 4 AM or so but since I couldn't sleep, we left town at 2:30 with the plan in mind to make a few stops in particular and see how far we could drive before we began to tire.

The planned first stop was a return to Jungle Jim's International Market, which I've written about in the past as a grocery store/market where one could spend multiple hours shopping, especially if you aren't a regular shopper at Jungle Jim's.

Jungle Jim's caters to not only the local area but also foods from around the world and has to be seen to be truly believed.

Cherie and I spent two hours there buying things for friends, hot sauces for me, and items for our hotel such as snacks and drinks with a special gift for Posey.

If you are ever in the Cincinnati area, check out one of their two locations!

We stopped at their suburban store in Fairfield because Cherie had discovered a toy store there a few months ago and it was only a few stoplights down the highway.

I had timed things so we wouldn't have to kill a lot of time when the Toy Dept. opened at eleven o'clock and things were on track but we had passed a Roosters restaurant after we got off at our exit.

I had raved to Cherie about Roosters since my last visit to Ohio and their delicious chicken, so we doubled back to beat the lunch rush and then travel to the Toy Dept.

Based mostly in Ohio and Kentucky (there is one store each in Indiana and West Virginia), Roosters allows you to pick two sauces to spin your chicken and my sandwich (Hot and Garlic sauce), and just as in my last visit, I was very pleased.

Cherie enjoyed hers as well and noted the picture by our table of one of her favorite TV shows "WKRP in Cincinnati!

We stopped by the Toy Dept. next and surprisingly I didn't buy anything!

The store was large and filled with items but only one figure (1980's Super Powers DeSaad) was needed for the collection and even though the price was fair, it wasn't a steal and I didn't want to start the trip tossing money around unless it was a bargain!

Our next stop was Knightstown, Indiana for an anticipated visit!

Hoosiers is one of my favorite films and might get the nod as my choice for best sports drama ever, so when I discovered that the home gym for the "Hickory Huskers" was open to the public, it was an easy choice for a visit.

Knightstown is a small town and Hoosiers Gym's architecture looks very regal and distinctive of its time (1921) and rolling through Knightstown gave the feel of "Norman Dale" heading into Hickory.

Walking into the building gave me the feel of stepping into the film and a very nice gentleman (I really wish I could remember his name) told me that the gym was closed after one of his high school years in 1966.

He asked if we would like a tour and we were happy to see the gym, locker room, and the famous door that Gene Hackman walked through before Hickory's first game and uttered "Welcome to Indiana basketball".

We were told several stories about the renovation of the gym, how often it is used (over 100 times per year), the tradition that sees teams that play on the floor leave a signed jersey, and how the team picture that ends the film was possessed by someone from the film for many years before the gym was asked if it would be interested in having it.

The tour was almost completed and another person came into the building, so we thanked our host and I decided to try to redeem myself for a lousy job of shooting at the Basketball Hall of Fame (I'm not sure I made a shot that wasn't a layup) with a better outing at the Hoosier Gym.

I was having a blast when I nailed my first shot, and almost hit my second before a bad miss on my third.

I started thinking about ending the day but instead, I hit my next two and started feeling a little rhythm going before Cherie signaled she needed a drink and it's always a good thing to finish on a made shot!

I'll take my three for five happily!

We stopped in the gift area before we left with Cherie getting a Hickory Husker T-shirt (I loved the design, too bad not in my size) and I bought a Hoosier Gym mini-basketball.

If you love the film or even just basketball, I highly recommend Hoosier Gym.

The plan was to drive as far as we could and stop when I was tired, we moved across Indiana and through Illinois and decided to try a Holiday Inn inside the Illinois-Iowa line.

The clerk was very kind in finding us a room that overlooked the Mississippi River, which Cherie adored looking at through the window, and it was very pleasant to watch the barges move down the river.

We both enjoyed the hotel so much that we remarked that if we ever made this trip again, we were hopeful that we could stay there again.

I'm going to try to tell the remainder of the story in installments when I can because this post took a decent amount of time to write but I'm looking forward to writing more about the road.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Boxing Challenger: Espinoza stops Chirino,Undercard theft

       Top Rank's Friday night card from Las Vegas on ESPN+ saw a title retained and a contender moving towards a title shot win a decision that he didn't deserve after missing weight before the fight.

Rafael Espinoza made the first defense of his WBO featherweight title a successful one as Espinoza knocked Sergio Chirino down three times before the referee stopped the fight in the fourth round.

Chirino was knocked down in the waning moments of both the first and second rounds but Espinoza didn't have enough time to finish the job in either round.

That wasn't the case in the fourth after another knockdown with the referee waving the bout off.

Espinoza came into prominence in the fight that made him a champion as an unknown challenger to then-champion Robeisy Ramirez and rallied from a knockdown to drop Ramirez in the final round to win the title by majority decision in a great battle.

The original plan was for an immediate rematch but Espinoza requested making an optional defense first and should Ramirez defeat Brandon Benitez next Saturday, the rematch will be scheduled in the fall.

The travesty was in the co-feature as undefeated junior lightweight contender Andres Cortes missed weight at the weigh-in and then after being outpunched by veteran Abraham Nova, was given an unpopular unanimous decision.

Nova threw more, landed more, and was the better fighter, all of which wasn't enough for the judges who somehow scored Cortes the winner 97-93 x2 and 96-94.

Nova's best round was the ninth, when he threw over one hundred punches and backed Cortes into a corner, and blasted away but one judge scored the round for Cortes anyway.

Cortes called out division champions after the fight but between blowing the scales and winning such a controversial decision, I'd think a Nova rematch would be a better idea.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 91 Pts (3)
TRS: 76 Pts (4)
Vince Samano: 48 Pts (2) 

Friday, June 21, 2024

Boxing Challenge

      Due to time constraints, tonight's ESPN+ card for the boxing challenge is picks only.

WBO Featherweight Title. 12 Rds 
Rafael Espinoza vs Sergio Chirino
Ramon Malpica: Espinoza Unanimous Decision
TRS: Espinoza KO 10
Vince Samano: Chirino Unanimous Decision

Junior Lightweights. 10 Rds
Andres Cortes vs Abraham Nova
All; Cortes Unanimous Decision

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Devils trade for Jacob Markstrom

       The New Jersey Devils had one major positional weakness to fix before the team could legitimately look at their 2023-24 backslide as an aberration and look forward to potential contention in 2024-25.

Tom Fitzgerald moved to the player that was targeted at the trade deadline and was unable to land but this time, Fitzgerald landed his man as the Devils acquired goaltender Jacob Markstrom from the Calgary Flames to cure the Devils issues in net.

New Jersey traded young defenseman Kevin Bahl and the Devils 2025 first-round draft pick to Calgary for Markstrom, which seems to be a pretty good price for a quality goaltender.

Markstrom turns thirty-five during the upcoming season and played well for a non-playoff team last year winning twenty-three of forty-eight games with a 2.78 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

Markstrom was incredible in 2021-22, finishing second in the voting for the Vezina Trophy but tailed off badly in 2022-23 before bouncing back last season.

It's a bit concerning at his age that perhaps Markstrom could be inconsistent, so the Devils are hoping that Markstrom has returned to form and 2022-23 was simply an off year.

New Jersey will use veteran Jake Allen, who the Devils were able to acquire at last year's trade deadline as the backup, going with a two-veteran group after last year's disaster with younger goaltenders Akira Schmid and Nico Daws as the backups to Vitek Vanacek.

Markstrom is under contract for two more seasons and Calgary will be paying for thirty percent of Markstrom's salary, helping the Devils with cap space.

The Devils also retained their first-rounder this season (tenth overall) by sending their 2025 first-rounder and there is added protection as the Devils would keep the pick in the event of the choice falling in the top ten.

The Devils traded Kevin Bahl to Calgary and the twenty-three-year-old defenseman played in all eighty-two games last season, scoring one goal with ten assists and finished with a plus one Plus/Minus.

Bahl has the size (6'6 230 pounds) to be a solid stay-at-home blueliner but his play was inconsistent in his first full season in the league and the Devils are solid at defense in both veterans and young players, so I can understand why Bahl was the selection to move to Calgary.

I can't be disappointed with what the Devils gave up for Jacob Markstrom.

They kept a top-ten pick, and protected their 2025 from the top ten, and while I like Kevin Bahl, I would have been more disappointed with losing other young players.

At thirty-four, Jacob Markstrom is not going to solve the Devils problems over the long term but hopefully, Markstrom can bridge the gap to an eventual long haul mainstay.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Benavidez wins, Upsets abound

       In Satirday's co-feature from the PBC card in Las Vegas, David Benavidez won a unanimous decision over Oleksandr Gvozdyk in his debut in the light heavyweight division.

Benavidez was solid and workmanlike in the easy victory over the former WBC champion but never dazed Gvozdyk and despite winning a minor title, Benavidez may be better suited (and he said he is considering this at the post-fight press conference) returning to super middleweight for the time being and hoping Canelo Alvarez will eventually decide to face him.

Benavidez won on scorecards of 119-109, 117-111, and 116-112, my score agreeing with the middle score.

In two fights that I have yet to watch, one title was retained and an undefeated contender was surprised with his first loss.

Carlos Adames retained his WBC middleweight title with a unanimous decision over Terrell Gausha.

Adames doesn't really have a big fight in the division, so look for Adames to have a few of these fights against Gausha types that aren't quite good enough to win a title.

Scores of 119-11 and 118-110 times two for Adames.

Gary Antuanne Russell was a big favorite to win a minor junior welterweight title against former WBA champ Alberto Puello and set himself up for bigger things in the future.

Instead, Puello survived an eighth-round holding deduction to pull a surprise split decision win for the minor title.

Russell has all the talent in the world but like his brother and trainer, former WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell, he doesn't fight more than once a year, and at the top level fighting that infrequently will eventually cost you in sharpness.

Scores for Puello were 114-113 and 115-112 and for Russell 118-109.

PBC and boxing observers have been glowing in their reviews on middleweight prospect Elijah Garcia and his potential but Garcia hit a roadblock in his fight against veteran Kyrone Davis, with Davis winning a deserved but surprising split decision.

Davis couldn't miss with his right hand and while Garcia was persistent with his aggression, Davis held serve until the final two rounds when Garcia rallied and perhaps if this fight were a twelve-rounder, Garcia could have snatched victory.

Scores for Davis at 97-93 x2 (same as mine) with an awful score for Garcia of 98-92, which is beyond terrible in my opinion.

In Puerto Rico, a huge upset occurred as Australia's Liam Paro upset Subriel Matias in the homecoming fight for Matias and took away the IBF junior welterweight title.

Paro lost a point in the seventh round for hitting behind the head and while Paro's move, jab, and grab offense wasn't exciting, it was very effective against Matias, who rallied down the stretch but ran out of time.

Scores for Paro 116-111 and 115-112 x2, I had it closer for Paro 114-113.

In London from Boxxer/Peacock, Chris Billam-Smith avenged his only loss and retained his WBO cruiserweight title with a unanimous decision outdoors at the home field of Crystal Palace.

This fight wasn't as exciting as their first fight and Riakporhe didn't throw enough punches to overcome the more active Billam-Smith.

Riakporhe lost a point in the final round for headbutting but that had no effect on the scorecards- all for Billiam-Smith 116-111 (same as mine) and 115-112.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 88 Pts (8)

TRS: 72 Pts (4)

Vince Samano: 46 Pts (3)

Monday, June 17, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Davis Flattens Martin


    The boxing weekend was centered in Las Vegas for the latest Amazon/PBC pay per view and while the card saw two upsets, the fights at the top of the slate played out as expected.

Frank Martin boxed well at the start of the fight but slowly became more stationary and when you are in punching range of Gervonta Davis, a fighter is always in the danger zone.

I had Martin slightly ahead at 67-66 after seven rounds but he wouldn't see another scored round as Davis landed a crunching uppercut followed by a left that knocked Martin down and out in round eight for the conclusive ending.

Davis retained his WBA lightweight title with the knockout and he called out the remaining three champions in the division after the win.

WBC champion Shakur Stevenson becomes a promotional free agent after his next fight which would be the biggest fight but would Stevenson accept the likely B-side payday for such a fight?

IBF champion Vasyl Lomachenko (Top Rank) is unlikely and Top Rank also holds options (I believe) on WBO boss Denys Baranchyk, who would likely leap at a career-best payday otherwise.

Davis's problem is that unless he willingly works with promoters outside the PBC brand, his list of potential opponents is small.

Martin's resume wasn't bulked with top names and he was the best PBC fighter at Davis's weight.

Should Davis move to 140, a rematch with WBA champion Isaac Cruz might have some mild appeal as the best option.

At 29, it's time for Gervonta Davis to decide what he wants his legacy in the sport to be.

Does he want to bank lots of money (which he has done and will continue to do) and add to a career that is filled with spectacular knockouts against good opponents who aren't the elite?

Or does he want to face the best and take a chance of losing with the upside of winning and being remembered as the best of his era?

The comparison is the career of another PBC performer- Deontay Wilder.

Like Davis, Wilder notched spectacular knockouts against average competition, accumulating a high quantity of wins rather than quality (Wilder's best wins in his career are his decision win over Bermane Steverne in their first fight and his two wins over Luis Ortiz) before finally stepping up for his first fight against Tyson Fury.

Wilder finished 0-2-1 in his three fights against Fury and if not for a one-round squash match KO of Robert Helenius, Wilder hasn't won a fight since November 2019.

Wilder falls just short of the Hall of Fame in my opinion and while Davis still has plenty of time for the legacy-setting fights, his best wins to date are over Isaac Cruz (a win that looks much better now than it did when the two squared off) with other good wins that all have asterisks beside them.

Ryan Garcia, who unwisely agreed to weight demands and essentially quit, an undersized and overrated Leo Santa Cruz, and Jose Pedraza, who has lost to the best that he has fought as well.

I'll give Davis credit for the Pedraza win as that was when Pedraza was at the top of his game and his opposition is better than Wilder's but it still lacks that signature victory that comes to mind when a great fighter's name is brought up in conversation.

Deontay Wilder would eventually take the chance against better opposition and it might be argued that had he made the decision earlier in his career, his career could been even better (I could see Wilder landing the right hand and taking out Anthony Joshua when both were unbeaten heavyweight champions), will Davis wait too long to make his move as well?

I think Gervonta Davis could beat any of the three other champions (could, not will).

The question is when will he take the risk?

I'll have the rest of the boxing weekend tomorrow.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Boxing Challenge

     This is the premiere weekend of the month with several titles defended and a major PPV from PBC on tap for Saturday.

The biggest fights of the weekend headline the PBC/Amazon PPV with Gervonta Davis defending his WBA lightweight title and David Benavidez deciding to move to light heavyweight rather than wait for a disinterested Canelo Alvarez.

Gervonta Davis will face slick boxing Frank Martin, who is skilled but didn't look great in winning a close unanimous decision last July over Artem Harutyunyan, and that along with a decision over Michel Rivera are the best victories that Martin possesses.

Davis hasn't fought for over a year, since his knockout win over Ryan Garcia, so there could be some rustiness involved but Davis usually takes a few rounds to get revved up.

I think Martin will have his moments and build a lead in the first half of the fight but Davis's superior punching power wears Martin down to stop him late or win a clear decision.

In the co-feature, David Benavidez moves to light heavyweight rather than continue waiting for Canelo Alvarez as he faces former WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk for a minor title.

Benavidez broke down former junior middleweight and middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade in his last fight while Gvozdyk has fought lesser competition since returning from a retirement after his only career defeat- a knockout loss to Artur Beterbiev in a title unification match,

This fight could be very similar to Gvozdyk's fight with Beterbiev in which Gvozdyk fights well but is unable to keep Benavidez from grinding him down in the late rounds.

A minor junior welterweight title is on the line with Gary Antuanne Russell facing former WBA champion Alberto Puello.

Puello won the vacant WBA title in 2022 but failed a test for PEDs and was stripped of the title, fighting just once since in an eight-round bout.

Russell has stopped all seventeen of his opponents including two former world champions in Vikor Postol and Rances Barthelemy but he has fallen into the trap of his older brother, Gary Russell, by not fighting very often, fighting only four times in the last four years.

Recently promoted WBC middleweight champion Carlos Adames defends that title for the first time against veteran Terrell Gausha.

Adames was promoted from his minor title when the WBC finally made a stand after Jermall Charlo sat on the title for close to three years but it was his recent arrest that was the final straw for the WBC.

Adames has fought just twice in the last two years with a ninth-round knockout of Julian Williams last June in his most recent fight.

Gausha, a longtime fringe contender at 154 pounds, has fought just once at middleweight and isn't deserving of a title chance under most conditions but in a very weak division, it's tough to rail against Gausha too much.

Unbeaten middleweight Elijah Garcia opens the show against veteran Kyrone Davis in a ten-rounder that will gauge where Garcia is at this stage of his career.

Davis hasn't won against the top opponents in his career but is a solid opponent for Garcia and should test him a bit.

Matchroom/DAZN will be in Puerto Rico for punishing banger Subriel Maitias's IBF junior welterweight championship defense against Australia's Liam Paro.

Matias has broken two talented fighters that I picked to defeat him in Jeremiahs Ponce and Shohjahon Ergashev and his physical fighting style is expected to wear down Paro, who other than his December stoppage of Montana Love has fought lesser competition.

Peacock and Boxxer has Saturday afternoon to itself, as Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe hook up in a rematch of their entertaining 2019 fight that saw the unbeaten Riakporhe hand Billiam-Smith his only loss via split decision.

Five years later, Billam-Smith holds the WBO cruiserweight title with Riakporhe as the mandatory contender.

Billam-Smitht won the title last year with a major upset of Lawrence Okolie and defended against Mateusz Masternak in December.

Riakporhe stopped former WBO champion Krzystof Glowacki in four rounds in January 2023 for his biggest win and earned the mandatory position.

Boxing Challenge

WBA Lightweight Title, 12 Rds 
Gervonta Davis vs Frank Martin
Ramon Malpica: Davis KO 8
TRS: Davis Unanimous Decision
Vince Samano: Martin Split Decision

Light Heavyweights 12 rds
David Benavidez vs Oleksandr Gvozdyk
R.L: Benavidez KO 10
TRS: Benavidez KO 7
V.S:  Gvozdyk Unanimous Decision

WBC Middleweight Title. 12 Rds
Carlos Adames vs Terrell Gausha
R.L and TRS: Adames Unanimous Decision
V.S: Gausha Split Decision

Junior Welterweights 12 Rds
Gary Antuanne Russeell vs Alberto Puello
R.L: Russell KO 6
TRS: Russell KO 8
V.S: Puello Unanimous Decision

Middleweights 12 Rds
Elijah Garcia vs Kyrone Davis
R.L and TRS:Garcia Unanimous Decision
V.S: Davis Unanimous Decision

IBF Junior Welterweight Title.12 Rds
Subriel Matias vs Liam Paro
R.L: Matias KO 7
TRS: Matias KO 5
V.S: Paro Split Decision

WBO Cruiserweight Title. 12 Rds
Chris Billam-Smith vs Richard Riakporhe
R.L: Billam-Smith Unanimous Decision
TRS: Riakporhe Unanimous Decision
V.S: Riakporhe Split Decision

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Cleaning out the Inbox: Baseball Passings

       I continue catching up at TRS with another tribute post.

Goodbye to Carl Erskine at the age of 97.

Erskine played for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948-59, winning two World Series titles.

Erskine won twenty games for Brooklyn in 1953 and struck our fourteen Yankees in game three of that season's World Series to set the record (since broken by Sandy Koufax) for strikeouts in a World Series game.

Erskine threw no-hitters in 1952 and 1956, which places him with Sandy Koufax as the only Dodger pitchers to throw multiple no-hitters.

Erskine was the sole remaining Dodger from the famed "Boys of Summer" Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s at the time of his passing.

Goodbye to Whitey Herzog at the age of  92.

A journeyman outfielder for eight seasons, it was as a manager that Whitey Herzog made his reputation, winning three division titles with the Royals from 1976-78 and after accepting the manager and general manager roles for the Cardinals in 1980, revamped the entire organization into a perennial contender through the 1980s.

Voted into the Hall of Fame, Herzog won the 1982 World Series and arguably was robbed of the 1985 title by the brutal call in game six by Don Denkinger that decided the game and cost the Cardinals a chance to clinch the series.

Herzog employed a style known as "Whitey Ball" with the Royals and Cardinals, using fast players with the ability to put the ball in play in vast stadiums with hard artificial turf, along with a willingness to platoon and use role players to their potential that allowed those teams to take advantage of their home park.

Goodbye to Ken Holtzman at the age of 78.

The lefthander pitched for four teams in his career, all contenders, winning three World Series with the Oakland Athletics.

Holtzman won seventeen games or more six times with a high of 21 for Oakland in 1973, and threw two no-hitters, both with the Cubs in 1969 and 1971.

Holtzman is the winningest Jewish pitcher in major league history as his 174 wins is nine more than Sandy Koufax.

 Goodbye to Fritz Peterson at the age of 82.

Peterson was a twenty-game winner for a mediocre Yankees team in 1970 but is more remembered for his off-the-field affairs, most notably his wife-swapping with teammate Mike Kekich in 1973, along with his elaborate practical jokes which were written about in books by Jim Bouton (Ball Four) and Sparky Lyle (The Bronx Zoo).

Peterson led the American League in walks per nine innings from 1968-72, which had only been accomplished previously by Cy Young, and won fourteen games or more on five occasions, four with New York and once with Cleveland. 

Goodbye to Jerry Grote at the age of 81.

The long-time catcher for the Miracle Mets and their terrific pitching staff, Grote was one of the best-throwing catchers in the game and one of the top defenders behind the plate.

Grote played in four World Series, two each with the Mets and Dodgers, and made the All-Star team twice in his sixteen-season career.

Goodbye to Larry Brown at the age of 84.

Brown played for four teams but spent most of his career with the Cleveland Indians as a light-hitting infielder for nine of his twelve seasons.

Browns is remembered for his frightening 1966 collision with Leon Wagner in Yankee Stadium with both chasing a fly ball Brown suffered a fractured skull, broken nose, and both cheekbones.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Cleaning out the Inbox: Football Passings

 I've been quite tardy in cleaning out the inbox of late and there are many tributes to write, especially from the world of football, so this post will be dedicated to the recent passings from that sport.

Goodbye to Roman Gabriel at the age of 83.

Gabriel was the star quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams under George Allen in the sixties and won the league MVP in 1969 after the Rams selected him as the second overall pick in the 1962 draft from N.C. State.

Gabriel led the league in passing touchdowns in 1969 and was named first-team All-Pro for the only time in his career for the Rams.

Gabriel was traded to the Eagles in 1973, where he would win Comeback Player of the Year after throwing twenty-three touchdowns in his final top season. Gabriel would finish his career in 1977 as the Eagles' backup.

Goodbye to Jimmy Johnson at the age of 86.

The brother of 1960 Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete Rafer Johnson, the Hall of Fame cornerback spent his sixteen-year career with the San Francisco 49ers after the Niners took him in the first round in the 1961 draft and was either a first or second-team All-Pro eight times during his career.

Johnson's number 37 is retired by the team and finished with forty-seven interceptions as arguably the best cover corner of his era.

Goodbye to Steve Sloan at the age of 79.

Sloan led Alabama to the 1964 and 65 National titles as their quarterback and spent two seasons with the expansion Atlanta Falcons before entering coaching.

Sloan took over the constantly-inept Vanderbilt Commodores in 1973 in his first head coaching position, and in his second year led Vandy to a 7-3-1 record and a rare bowl bid in the Peach Bowl (this is the famous only to me game that made me a Texas Tech fan), where they tied 6-6 with Texas Tech in maybe the most boring bowl game ever.

Sloan then took over at Texas Tech for the 1975 season, where he finished 23-12 in three seasons with a top-five ranking during the 1976 season, with two bowl bids, and looked like a rising star in the coaching business at only thirty-three years of age.

Sloan would never coach a winning team again as he left Tech for five years at Ole Miss and four seasons at Duke, all losing records before moving into athletic administration for several schools including his alma mater, Alabama.

Goodbye to Joe Collier at the age of 91.

The defensive wizard of the Denver Broncos Orange Crush defense from 1972-88, Collier could have been a hot property as a potential head coach after his Denver work.

Collier had been a head coach before for three seasons with the AFL's Buffalo Bills and coached the Bills to the AFL title game in his first season in 1966, losing to Kansas City.

The Bills slumped to 4-10 in 1967 but Collier's decision to scrimmage immediately following a bad preseason game in 1968 backfired when starting quarterback Jack Kemp broke his leg during the scrimmage.

After losses in their first two games, Buffalo fired Collier and he would never receive another chance as a head coach.

Goodbye to Bob Avellini at the age of 70,

Avellini led Maryland to bowl games in 1973 and 74 to break an eighteen-year bowl drought and was the Terrapins leader for their 1974 ACC championship team.

Avellini was drafted in the sixth round by the Chicago Bears in 1975 and led the Bears to the playoffs as their starter in 1977.

Avellini threw over twice as many interceptions as touchdowns in his career (69 to 33) and was replaced in 1978 as the starter by Mike Phipps although he would remain as the Bears backup through 1984.

Goodbye to Eric Sievers at the age of 66.

Known for his blocking as a tight end at Maryland, Sievers caught over two hundred passes over a ten-year career spent mostly with the then-San Diego Chargers as one of the many tight ends that Air Coryell used to spell Kellen Winslow when Winslow was moved to different positions on the field to take advantage of matchups.

Sievers had his best season in his final full season, catching fifty-four passes for the Patriots in 1989 to lead AFC tight ends before a career-ending knee injury in 1990.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Devils hire Sheldon Keefe

      While I was on hiatus, the New Jersey Devils hired their new coach, who will hopefully help the team rebound from a disappointing season.

Sheldon Keefe wasn't without a job for very long after the Toronto Maple Leafs let him go after five seasons in blue and like I wrote about J.B. Bickerstaff with the Cavaliers, some times a coach can do a good job but the time has come for both parties to separate.

Keefe led the Maple Leafs to the postseason in all five of his seasons but Toronto escaped the first round only once in those five seasons and in that season, they lost in the second round, so it made sense that Leafs fans were ready to wave goodbye to Keefe.

When Toronto lost again in the first round of this year's playoffs (in seven games to the Boston Bruins). Keefe's fate was set but again, I'm not seeing a lot of blame for Keefe for that defeat.

Teams do need new voices some times when they hit a level they are unable to scale and I think that's the case with Sheldon Keefe.

All About The Jersey writes about Keefe's style of play and coaching and the Leafs tended to be a mixture of rush and possession rather than the Devils run and gun system under Lindy Ruff.

The Devils do have the defensive corps to be able to play a possession based system, so the transition shouldn't be one that is difficult to master.

The last time the Devils hired a head coach who had experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs, they won a Stanley Cup behind Pat Burns.

If the Devils have hired a coach as good as Pat Burns, Sheldon Keefe's hire will be a successful one.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Boxing Challenge: Goodbye to Broner

      The three fights in the boxing challenge over the weekend were not only far from exciting, they weren't very competitive with all three fights lasting the scheduled distance.

Friday on a PPV from Don King ( complete with a dedication to the tenth anniversary of the death of former WBC President Jose Sulaiman) what's left of Adrien Broner's career looks to finally washed away as Blair Cobbs knocked Broner down in round two and dominated him on the way to an easy unanimous decision triumph.

Cobbs isn't noted as a puncher but his right hand in round two sent Broner ass over tea kettles (Knocking a tooth out from Broner) and a harder hitter might have ended the fight then and there.

After that, every round was similar with Cobbs landing whenever he threw and Broner unable to fire back with any offense.

I scored the fight 99-91 for Cobbs, which could have been generous as the ninth round that I scored for Broner was a close round, which was closer to the truth than the official scorecards which gave Cobbs the win by scores of 97-92 and two awful scores of 96-93.

Hopefully, this is the last fight for Broner, who was slow and uninspired, after being dominated by Cobbs, who is more of a top twenty welterweight than a contender, Broner will be a sideshow at best in his future fights.

About the only excitement of the weekend came in Verona, New York, when Gerardo Zapata knocked down and badly hurt WBO minimumweight champion Oscar Collazo in the second round of their championship battle.

Other than the final minute of that round, it was all Collazo, winning every other round on my card (118-109) and most others in retaining his title by unanimous decision by official scores of 119-109 times two and 117-111.

Saturday in New York City, highly touted junior middleweight Xander Zayas earned his biggest win to date with a unanimous decision over a shopworn Patrick Teixeira.

Teixeira was backed up for the entire fight, suffered a cut in round nine, and didn't win a round as Zayas dominated but never seriously threatened to stop the former WBO champion.

Zayas won 100-90 on two cards (Including mine) and 99-91 on the other, which is very hard for me to find a possible round to give Teixeira but while Zayas looked good, he didn't look dynamic and if the twenty-one-year-old is to be the star that Top Rank hopes for, he'll have to do better against overmatched opponents in the future.

Boxing Challenge

Ramon Malpica: 80 Pts (5)
TRS: 68 Pts (5)
Vince Samano:43 Pts (2)

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Cavaliers fire J.B.Bickerstaff

        During my hiatus, I mentioned that two of the teams that I follow made decisions on their head coaching positions.

In this post, I'll write about the Cleveland Cavaliers decision to remove J.B. Bickerstaff as head coach following their elimination in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Bickerstaff spent parts of five seasons as the Cavaliers head coach, took Cleveland to two playoffs, and this year led the Cavaliers to their first playoff series win without LeBron James in over two decades, so on the surface one could think that Bickerstaff received a raw deal.

One could look at the opposite and say that it took him that long to win a series, Cleveland was taken to seven games by a team that it was favored to defeat in six or less, and perhaps the worst sin- he had begun to lose his club.

Some players made mild digs at Bickerstaff after playoff losses for lack of adjustments and personnel decisions and for a team that is involved with a looming decision by Donovan Mitchell that could affect the franchise's immediate and long-term future, keeping Bickerstaff could have been a key factor in Mitchell deciding to accept or reject his extension offer.

Keeping Donovan Mitchell happy enough to sign his extension is paramount at this point over just about anything in the organization and if he's disenchanted with J.B. Bickerstaff, then a change is needed.

I'm not usually in favor of allowing the star player to rule the franchise but allowing Mitchell to leave (even if by trade, Cleveland wouldn't get anything nearly as enticing as what they sent to Utah to acquire him)  when the Cavaliers haven't even given the Jazz any of the three first-rounders that they owe for Mitchell yet would be foolish.

The Cavaliers improved under Bickerstaff but I think they plateaued and Darius Garland and Evan Mobley have reached a point where if they have not regressed, they certainly have yet to progress.

Garland's team is rumored to have told the Cavaliers that should Donovan Mitchell sign an extension Garland would ask to be traded.

Evan Mobley ranks only behind Mitchell as a core player he played very well in the series defeat to the Boston Celtics, Mobley's game has yet to develop offensively as the Cavaliers have hoped and some of that has to fall on J.B. Bickerstaff.

J.B. Bickerstaff did a fine job in his time in Cleveland but coaches of his level are fairly easy to find and have a certain shelf life.

Bickerstaff reached his time with Cleveland and this is a move that makes sense to make now rather than wait for a slow start to next season to replace him.

Good work from a good coach whose time had come.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Boxing Challenge

     The boxing weekend has a few events but only a few bouts for the return of the challenge.

Friday night will have the most interesting, if not significant, fight of the weekend as Don King returns with a pay-per-view from Hollywood Florida as former multiple-division champion and vastly troubled Adrien Broner attempts yet another ring return- this time against welterweight Blair Cobbs.

Broner hasn't fought in almost two years (two days shy of that mark) since trudging through a unanimous decision win over unknown Bill Hutchinson.

The flashy Cobbs scored his biggest win in his last fight with a unanimous decision over former WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker and has only one defeat, a ninth-round KO loss to welterweight contender Alexis Rocha.

Broner isn't nearly the fighter he was once and Cobbs should be able to outbox him for a while but can he win on the cards against the bigger draw as Cobbs goes backwards?

Also on Friday from Golden Boy/DAZN, explosive Oscar Collazo defends his WBO minimumweight title against Gerardo Zapata in Verona, New York.

Collazo has seven knockouts in his nine wins and is one of the more exciting fighters you'll see in the smaller divisions.

Zapata has lost only once but fights in the United States for the first time.

Saturday, ESPN+/Top Rank is at the Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York City as unbeaten junior middleweight prospect Xander Zayas takes the next step to contention as he meets former WBO champion Patrick Teixeira in a ten-round main event.

Zayas stopped Jorge Fortas in five rounds last December and fighting a former champion is a logical next step for the twenty-one-year-old.

Teixeira upset current WBC middleweight champion Carlos Adames in 2019 to win the vacant WBO title and lost three straight following the win, losing the title to Brian Castano, losing by DQ to Paul Valenzuela, and losing to current WBA boss Magomed Kurbanov by decision.

Teixeira has won three straight since the losing streak and will be looking to score an upset win that could lead to a potential title chance.

Boxing Challenge

Welterweights. 10 Rds
Adrien Broner vs Blair Cobbs
Ramon Malpica: Cobbs Majority Decision
TRS and Vince Samano: Cobbs Unanimous Decision

WBO Minimumweight Title. 12 Rds
Oscar Collazo vs Gerardo Zapata
R.L: Collazo Unanimous Decision
TRS: Collazo KO 6
V.S: Zapata Unanimous Decision

Junior Middleweights. 10 Rds
Xander Zayas vs Patrick Teixeira
R.L and TRS: Zayas Unanimous Decision
V.S: Teixeira Unanimous Decision

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Ten Days Later

      I had the best of intentions.

I watched the pictured match to the right as Jack Catterall avenged his controversial 2022 defeat to Josh Taylor with a unanimous decision win (116-112 Catterall on my card) in a better fight than their first match but one that might be remembered more for Bob Arum's post-fight rant about the decision (I like Arum but he was way off on this one) than what happened in the ring. 

I saved the photo from the fight, placed it in the template, and planned on starting the review.

That was ten days ago and a thousand miles from where I sit now.

The window on my PC hasn't been closed since, yet not one word had been typed, only a photo of Jack Catterall and Josh Taylor.

Nothing on the excellent card from Saudi Arabia the following weekend.

Nothing about the Cavaliers firing J.B. Bickerstaff or anything written on the Devils' hiring Sheldon Keefe as their new head coach.

No ranting about the Devils signing a useless player to a ridiculous contract extension or even Newcastle United missing out on European play next season due to powerful league champion Manchester City's mind-boggling loss to Manchester United.

Only the photo of Jack Catterall following through with a left hand against Josh Taylor.

Was I busy?

Sure, I had many things to see and do in Omaha (more on that soon), returning from midway across the country, and doing the things we all need to do at home after a long trip but I surely had a few minutes over that time to write something, anything at all.

And the answer was- I just didn't feel like it.

I didn't want to be in Omaha and I didn't want to be home.

I didn't want to do anything or stay at home, it wasn't that I was overly down in the dumps either.

Other than a pounding headache that wouldn't go away and morning back spasms (from sleeping on a different surface) there wasn't anything wrong.

How do you figure out what's wrong when there isn't really anything wrong?

The answer was easy, don't force writing and wait until you want to write.

So, that leaves me here and feeling like I'm behind in things.

I'll have more as I catch up on topics other than sports soon.