Archive for November, 2011

Did judges score Henderson-Rua right?

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There’s no argument that light heavyweight veterans Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua put on one of the best fights of 2011 at UFC 139 two weeks ago in San Jose, Calif. The debate lied in how the judges scored the bout, particularly in the fifth and final round.

The California State Athletic Commission provided with the bout’s official scorecard, and some might be surprised to learn that there wasn’t a single 10-8 round awarded to either fighter. In fact, all three judges tallied the fight identically, giving Henderson the 48-47 unanimous decision.

As he always does after events, CSAC Executive Officer George Dodd held a brief meeting for all the officials who worked at UFC 139 that night. The Henderson-Rua scoring was discussed.

When it came to the fifth round, Dodd said that all three judges felt that “Shogun did win the round but did not do enough damage to score a 10-8 round,” he wrote via email. “He was in a dominating position but did not cause a lot of damage.”

How did the judges come to the 10-9 determination for Rua and not the 10-8 score some thought he deserved?

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  • Published On Nov 29, 2011
  • Boswell out to prove he’s no soft touch against Povetkin

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    Cedric Boswell (above), a 42-year-old former contender with just one pro loss, fights Alexander Povetkin on Saturday. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Reuters)

    HELSINKI — Cedric Boswell knows why he’s here. At an open workout to promote his upcoming heavyweight title fight against Alexander Povetkin (4:30 p.m. ET, EPIX/ on Saturday, Boswell conducted interviews with the media in the shadow of a life-size banner bearing Povetkin’s image. His was nowhere to be found.

    “Just look at that banner,” Boswell said. “Where’s my picture? It’s fine though. After Saturday night everything is going to change.”

    Boswell’s image is absent, of course, because few expect him to pose much of a challenge. Boswell, now 42, was once a promising heavyweight prospect. He rattled off 21 straight wins to open up his pro career, showcasing impressive power and stamina in the ring. In 2003, Boswell faced off against former title challenger Jameel McCline. Entering the 10th round, Boswell led on all three scorecards. But early in that round Boswell absorbed a vicious, four-punch combination from McCline that ended the fight.

    According to Boswell, the loss was injury-related. Boswell says he underwent surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff just months before agreeing to face McCline and shredded it completely during the fight. Soon after Boswell underwent a second surgery that he thought put him on the shelf for two-and-a-half years.

    “I thought boxing was over,” Boswell said.

    Turns out, it wasn’t. In 2006 Boswell started working out again and, despite some residual pain in his shoulder, felt the itch to box again. In April of that year, Boswell knocked out Wallace McDaniel, kicking off a 14-fight winning streak, albeit against modest competition. In 2008 he stunned unbeaten prospect Roman Greenburg with a second round knockout and has picked up wins over faded former title challenger Owen Beck and former titleholder Oliver McCall.

    On Saturday, Boswell (35-1, 26 KOs) will get an opportunity he believes has been a long time coming. Povetkin’s title is bogus; Wladimir Klitschko won the WBA title from David Haye in July but in an obvious cash grab the WBA elevated Klitschko to “super champion” and sanctioned Povetkin’s win over Ruslan Chagaev in August as a title fight. Still, Povetkin (22-0, 15 KOs) is widely regarded as a top-five heavyweight with an open invitation to a unification fight with either of the Klitschko brothers whenever he wants it. Boswell knows he is here because Povetkin’s handlers — headlined by trainer Teddy Atlas — consider him a soft touch. What he wants them to know is that they will soon find out they were sorely mistaken.

    “I have unfinished business in boxing,” Boswell said. “I don’t want the McCline fight to define my career. I felt I could be a world champion back then and I feel I can be one now. I don’t know why it took this long to get here. Maybe I got caught up in the politics of boxing. But we are here now and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Nov 29, 2011
  • Ortiz, Berto reach terms on rematch

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    Victor Ortiz, left, beat Andre Berto last April for the WBC welterweight championship. (AP)

    Former welterweight titleholders Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto, who faced off in a thrilling slugfest last April, have agreed to terms on a rematch, an industry source told While the exact date and location have not been determined, the fight will be televised by Showtime.

    In the first fight, Ortiz (29-3-2) outpointed Berto (28-1) in a Fight of the Year candidate that earned Ortiz an alphabet title and served as a springboard for his fight against Floyd Mayweather in September. That same month Berto rebounded from the loss by winning another alphabet title in an impressive fifth round technical knockout of Jan Zaveck. He later vacated the title, choosing to pursue a more lucrative fight with Ortiz than face the mandatory challenger, Randall Bailey.

    While Berto-Ortiz II has been anticipated for some time, that Showtime swooped in to pick it up is a surprise. The first fight was televised by HBO, which has a long history with both fighters. Sources say both sides were not pleased with HBO’s initial offer, which was significantly less than what the network offered for the first fight.

    By buying Berto-Ortiz II, Showtime — which named former Golden Boy Promotions attorney Stephen Espinoza to replace HBO-bound Ken Hershman earlier this month — makes a strong statement about its willingness to be a serious competitor to HBO. With very few quality matchups looming in the first quarter of 2012, Showtime may have picked up the most significant fight.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Nov 25, 2011
  • Chandler, Alvarez reflect on epic Bellator bout

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    Michael Chandler dealt Eddie Alvarez (pictured) his first loss since December 2008.

    Michael Chandler dealt Eddie Alvarez (pictured) his first loss on Saturday since December 2008. (Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images)

    Bellator’s newly-crowned lightweight king Michael Chandler and predecessor Eddie Alvarez left it all in the cage Saturday at Bellator 58 in Hollywood, Fla. Three days removed from what some are already ranking among the top three fights of 2011, the dynamic pair both have the war wounds to prove it.

    Chandler (9-0), who secured a rear-naked choke in the fourth round to unseat the long-reigning Alvarez (22-3), hobbled away from the cage with a sprained right ankle from a hyper-extended kick to his opponent’s body, two black eyes and four stitches to his face.

    “It was the first time I’ve felt pain during a fight,” said Chandler, who earned a crack at Alvarez by winning Bellator’s eight-man tournament earlier this year. “Thankfully the adrenaline kicked in and I went into the mode where I knew I’d be swollen and bruised anyway the next day, so why not go for it?”

    Alvarez, 27, didn’t fair any better. On Tuesday, he made his way to the doctor’s office for X-rays, fearing he’d torn cartilage around his ribcage and to check the still-swollen left side of his face for a possible fracture. This was in addition to the 45-minute stitching session he endured backstage for a severely split lip, courtesy of a bell-beating knockdown Chandler delivered at the end of the first round.

    The Philadelphia-bred fighter said his lip was so torn, he could feel it “flopping in the wind” between rounds. Alvarez tucked the dangling flesh into his mouth and answered the second-round bell, hoping the referee wouldn’t notice it.

    “(Bellator’s cutman) told me I had to go out there and knock him out because the doctor was going to stop it. This sort of f—ed up my mentality and made me feel a little desperate,” said Alvarez, who was Bellator’s biggest signing when the promotion debuted on ESPN Deportes in April 2009.

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  • Published On Nov 22, 2011
  • Klitschkos, Stallone announce ‘Rocky’ musical

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    Heavyweight titleholders Vitali (far left) and Wladimir (far right) Klitschko are co-producing a musical version of "Rocky" set to debut in 2012. (AP)

    A musical version of Rocky is set to debut in Germany in November 2012, Sylvester Stallone announced Monday in Cologne.

    Stallone is teaming up with heavyweight champions Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who will co-produce the musical and train the actors in boxing.

    Rocky: The Musical will debut next year in Hamburg. Casting has yet to take place.

    The feature film Rocky won three Academy Awards in 1976, including Best Picture, and spawned five sequels that altogether grossed more than $1.25 billion worldwide. Stallone has long fancied the idea of bringing his most beloved film character to the stage.

    “At the end of the day, Rocky is a love story and he could never have reached the final bell without Adrian,” Stallone said at Monday’s announcement. “To see this story coming to life on a musical stage makes me proud. And it would make Rocky proud.”

    Budgeted at $15 million, Rocky: The Musical will have its world debut in German before Stallone brings an English-language version on tour around the world.

  • Published On Nov 21, 2011
  • Three thoughts from Chavez-Manfredo

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    Julio Cesar Chavez is still one or two fights away from his showdown with Sergio Martinez. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON – Three quick thoughts from Julio Cesar Chavez’s fifth round knockout win over Peter Manfredo Saturday night.

    Chavez looked good. Chavez takes a lot of heat for a soft résumé and an inflated profile thanks to his famous father. But Chavez was impressive Saturday night. After a slow first round, Chavez turned it on, tagging Manfredo with clean, thudding combinations. In the fifth round Chavez rocked Manfredo with a straight right hand. When Manfredo stumbled back into the ropes, Chavez closed brilliantly, swarming Manfredo with a flurry of punches until the referee stepped in. Manfredo wasn’t happy with the stoppage but he had a chance to take a knee, recover and fight on. It was a tactical mistake by Manfredo and you can’t blame Chavez for taking advantage of it.

    What’s next for Chavez? Everyone wants to see Chavez against Sergio Martinez. That’s not happening. Bob Arum told me he would like to see Chavez fight one or two more times before considering a Martinez fight. I don’t blame him. Martinez’s promoter, Lou DiBella, doesn’t blame him either. Chavez is still an unfinished product. DiBella would like to make Chavez-Andy Lee early next year. That’s a decent fight. The big money fight is Chavez-Saul Alvarez, an all-Mexican showdown that would do big business south of the border. Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, says he would make the fight at a catchweight of 156 pounds. Arum says he will do 158. If the two can get together, that fight would be a war.

    Manfredo retires. After the fight, Manfredo, 30, announced his retirement. Manfredo has nothing to hang his head about. He carved out a solid career for himself. Best known as the runner-up on the first season of The Contender, Manfredo (37-7) fought for world titles against Chavez and Joe Calzaghe and made a name for himself in a business that chews journeymen fighters up and spits them out. He could have stuck around, fought in small shows and made a few bucks. But he walks away with a $100,000 payday and his faculties intact.

    “He had two shots at a world title, he stood their toe to toe with everyone and he had a great career,” said Manfredo’s promoter, Lou DiBella. “He represented himself and Providence very well. His nose may look messed up but his brain isn’t. He has beautiful kids and a beautiful wife and he can have a great life.”

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Nov 20, 2011
  • Weichel, Fedor live from Moscow

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    Daniel Weichel

    Daniel Weichel takes a 27-7 record into his fight with Jose Figueroa. (Scott Mitchell/Zuma Press)

    Halfway around the globe, far from the UFCs and Strikeforces of the world, Daniel Weichel sits in Moscow’s Hilton hotel, readying himself for the biggest fight of his career.

    Weichel (27-7) challenges M-1 Global lightweight champion and American Top Team Orlando product Jose Figueroa (10-4) this Sunday, but the championship bout isn’t the main attraction.

    Most fans will bus or take the train into Moscow that afternoon to watch their returning son, former world-ranked heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko, fight in person.

    There are whispers around the hotel that as many as 20,000 fans will attend; the largest crowd Weichel’s ever fought in front of topped out at 8,000, he said.  And with Emelianenko on the card, some U.S. fans, and who knows else, might tune in and catch his fight as well.

    MMA truly is a global sport and at any given time there are a handful of Weichels who have climbed their way up to an opportunity like this in the hopes that there will be more rungs ahead afterward.

    As far as fighter’s stories go, Weichel’s is a familiar one. Ten years ago, the 26-year-old from Michelstadt, Germany, watched a videotape at the gym where he practiced jiu-jitsu. It wasn’t UFC 1, but the World Combat Championship, a 1995 knockoff touting Royce Gracie’s cousin, Renzo, and a motley cast of martial arts characters squaring off in a cage. More tapes followed from Japan’s Shooto and Pride Fighting Championships promotions, the latter where Emelianenko earned his place as one of the most skilled and revered heavyweights on the planet.

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  • Published On Nov 19, 2011
  • Cotto-Margarito II may be at MSG after all

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    NYSAC chairwoman Melvina Lathan (above) attended a Sept. 20 press conference announcing Cotto-Margarito II. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    HOUSTON — The Dec. 3 show headlined by the rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito may end up at Madison Square Garden after all, this after the New York State Athletic Commission on Friday elected to table a vote on Margarito’s license and asked that Margarito submit to an exam by a doctor approved by the commission.

    And if you think that not knowing whether or not to license the headliner of a multi-million dollar promotion just over two weeks before the fight is a little bizarre, well, you’re right. A little context:

    After a three-hour meeting with the NYSAC on Wednesday, Bob Arum, who promotes both Cotto and Margarito, was prepared to take the Cotto-Margarito show out of New York. Despite flying in two top eye doctors who testified that Margarito — who had an artificial lens inserted in his right eye to correct a cataract problem that resulted from his brutal 2010 loss to Manny Pacquiao in November 2010 — was fit to fight, Arum knew he had lost. The commission appeared disinterested in his doctors and Arum left the room resigned to the fact they were going to vote against him.

    On Thursday, confirmed that was indeed the case. Arum was prepared to lock down Cowboys Stadium as an alternate venue and talked about possibly putting 40,000 people in a scaled-down building. Margarito had submitted all the proper paperwork for a license in Texas, and was expected to get it. They were moving on.

    Then all hell broke loose.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2011
  • Mizzou alum Chandler eyes Alvarez upset

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    Michael Chandler (right) hopes his extensive collegiate experience can compensate for a thin professional resume. (Tim Vizer/Icon SMI)

    Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez (22-2) is known as one of the best mixed martial artists in any weight class that isn’t currently fighting in the UFC. Michael Chandler (8-0) is just known as the opponent Alvarez is fighting to retain his belt Saturday at Bellator 58 (9 p.m. ET, MTV2).

    That could change soon. The undefeated Chandler burst onto the MMA scene by winning the Bellator Season 4 Lightweight Tournament. He’s now one of three former Missouri wrestlers with a perfect record in MMA. (Bellator welterweight champ Ben Askren and Strikeforce welterweight Tyron Woodley are both 9-0). Winning the Bellator title Saturday would make Chandler the third Missouri wrestler to start his MMA career with nine straight wins.

    “We’ve all got a streak going and we all want to continue that,” said Chandler, who still keeps in touch with his former teammates as if they were older brothers. “Missouri’s always been a blue-collar school. It’s always been about hard work.”

    Lots of wrestlers have successfully transitioned to MMA, including four from Arizona State, but Chandler says he owes his success to Mizzou’s work ethic as much as his wrestling background. The former All-American wrestler could have taken a scholarship offer to a smaller school, but instead chose to walk-on to Missouri’s program. Askren and Woodley — who were both team captains during Chandler’s freshman year — were immediately impressed by Chandler.

    “I took him under my wing,” said Askren, a two-time NCAA champion who was impressed by the walk-on’s work ethic.

    Chandler became a four-time NCAA qualifier at 157 pounds — don’t get Askren started about a bad call in the quarterfinals that may have coast Chandler a national championship — and now few doubt his wrestling pedigree. The 25-year-old from High Ridge, Mo. (pop. 4,598), who wasn’t supposed to make it at Missouri, is now one of Bellator’s top young prospects.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2011
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 139

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    Dan Henderson (above), 41, is a consensus pick Saturday against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the main event of UFC 139 in San Jose, Calif. (AP) analysts Ben Fowlkes, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 139 on Saturday in San Jose.

    Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson

    FOWLKES: Hendo hits hard and can wrestle a little bit when things aren’t going his way on the feet. Rua is a wild card who’s sometimes brilliant, and sometimes mediocre. I’ll side with dependability here. Henderson by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: Shogun’s game is the KO, as 17 of his 20 wins, and all of his last five, have come via him turning out the lights on someone. But Henderson’s chin has no “off” switch — he’s never been knocked out. Henderson by KO.

    WERTHEIM: Henderson may be north of 40, but he’s looked remarkably spry and youthful in his last three Strikeforce fights including, of course, the summer smackdown of Fedor. Rua is a full decade younger but there’s a lot mileage on the odometer. Forget the odds. Henderson by TKO.

    Wanderlei Silva vs. Cung Le

    FOWLKES: Silva still hits hard enough to have a decent chance in the first three minutes. After that, his prospects are dim and only getting dimmer. Le by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: Is that a typo in the UFC press release where it says Silva is 35? You sure he’s not 53? Le, a young 39, in an early night. Le by KO.

    WERTHEIM: Fedor notwithstanding, is Le the best fighter never to have competed in the UFC? At age 39, the talented fighter (and sometimes actor) makes his UFC debut in his adopted hometown of San Jose. Says here Le’s kicks will open up the axe murderer. Le by TKO.

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  • Published On Nov 18, 2011