Archive for November, 2011

N.Y. to deny Margarito license for Cotto fight

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Antonio Margarito (above) suffered a fractured orbital bone during a one-sided loss to Manny Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium in November 2010. (AP)

HOUSTON — The New York State Athletic Commission plans to reject Antonio Margarito’s license application, an industry source told Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said the highly anticipated rematch between Margarito and junior middleweight titleholder Miguel Cotto on Dec. 3 will move to another state.

The commission originally denied Margarito a license last month due to lingering issues with an eye injury Margarito suffered during a lopsided loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2010. Margarito developed a large cataract in his eye that his team initially feared to be career-threatening. However last spring Margarito had an artificial lens inserted in the eye, which he believed would allow him to continue his career.

Arum and Top Rank president Todd  duBoef, accompanied by two doctors who supported Margarito’s ability to fight, met with the commission for three hours on Wednesday to appeal the original decision. According to the source, the commission was not convinced and plans to formally reject his application on Friday.

“We didn’t get a very good feeling from them at all,” Arum said. “It’s outrageous. We brought in two specialists who told them he could fight and they brought in a couple of hacks.”

Arum said venues in Texas, Denver and Mississippi are options to move the event and that he would have an announcement by the end of the day.

– Chris Mannix

  • Published On Nov 17, 2011
  • Bader learns to work smart ahead of UFC 139

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    Once thought to be the future of the UFC, Ryan Bader (above) finds himself in a must-win situation entering his fight with Jason Brilz at UFC 139. (AP)

    Nine months ago, Ryan Bader was the future of the UFC. He was undefeated, under 30 and taking on fellow up-and-comer Jon Jones. Bader lost the bout while Jones went on to become the UFC’s youngest champion a month later. Bader lost his next fight too,  falling to Tito Ortiz, and now the 28-year-old finds himself on the UFC 139 undercard against Jason Brilz. Both fighters need a victory to avoid a three-fight losing streak.

    “He’s still one of the up-and-comers,” said UFC middleweight Aaron Simpson, one of Bader’s MMA training partners and the guy who recruited and coached him as a wrestler at Arizona State. “He’s still pretty new to the sport.”

    Bader, Simpson, heavyweight Cain Velasquez and middleweight C.B. Dollaway all started serious MMA training between 2006 and ’07. Dollaway, Bader and Velasquez — the 184, 197, and heavyweight wrestlers, respectively — graduated from Arizona State in 2006. Simpson, the coach of ASU’s upperweights, helped the trio become part of the sixth-best wrestling team in the country — and probably the scariest team to disagree with in an argument. All four (Simpson says he’s “not your typical 37-year-old”) are now fighting in the UFC.

    “I don’t want to have a 9-to-5 job; I’ve been an athlete my whole life,” Bader said. “I like going into the gym and getting better every day.”

    Bader’s athletic mentality is what got him into MMA, but it might also be the cause of his current losing streak. Bader admits he has a “you can never get enough” training attitude that he picked up while wrestling. According to Simpson, the light heavyweight has to be forced to take time off to let his body recover and was “run down” going into his last two fights.

    “I don’t think that was the real him out there,” Simpson said. “As a coach I’ve learned it’s not just working hard, it’s working smart. I think he’s just now learning that.”

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  • Published On Nov 17, 2011
  • UFC On Fox peaks at 8.8 million viewers

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    It lasted only a minute, but it was a sweet one for MMA.

    According to Nielsen ratings obtained by, Saturday’s UFC on Fox telecast peaked with 8.802 million viewers during the 64-second UFC heavyweight championship bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.

    This sets the new industry record for the most watched fight ever (live or taped), previously held by EliteXC’s Kimbo Slice-James Thompson heavyweight tilt on CBS in May 2008. Slice-Thompson, which lasted 10 minutes and 38 seconds, peaked with 6.51 million viewers.

    In minute-by-minute ratings, the 9 p.m. primetime telecast dipped to 8.741 million viewers at the 41-minute mark (the fight’s conclusion), then dipped to 6 million viewers by 9:45 p.m. The telecast began with approximately 5.2 million viewers and dipped to approximately 4.4 million before starting its main climb around 9:36 p.m.

    The telecast saw its strongest ratings across the board in the Adult and Male 18-34 demographics, peaking with a 7.19 share in the latter group. The telecast also topped NBC’s Maryland-Notre Dame and ESPN’s Alabama-Mississippi State college football broadcasts, and wasn’t far behind ABC’s Oregon-Stanford offering (6.0/11 overall share).

    The UFC on Fox telecast garnered 5.675 million viewers overall for a 3.1 Household rating with a median age of 34.9 among viewers.

    – Loretta Hunt

  • Published On Nov 16, 2011
  • Hard-hitting Yuriorkis Gamboa plots future

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    LAS VEGAS — Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward has a message for anyone at 130 pounds: Watch out for Yuri Gamboa.

    “He is so gifted and coordinated, it’s phenomenal,” said Steward, who was hired to replace Ismael Salas as Gamboa’s trainer last month. “He can be electrifying. He has the makeup of a champion, and I like that.”

    Over the years, Steward has developed a reputation as a jab master, built largely on the success of heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. Though Steward says he will work on Gamboa’s jab, he doesn’t expect to make any major changes.

    “I like knockouts,” Steward said. “I got that [jab master] label because of Wladimir but as a rule I like knockouts. You need a jab, I don’t care how old you are or tall you are. I want to improve his left hook a little. I want to get him to turn it like Miguel Cotto or Julio Cesar Chavez. I’ll show him a few trick moves and then leave him alone. Anything I can dream of, he can do. Some guys you dream of them doing things and they can’t. Not him.”

    Steward says Gamboa’s next fight will be in January at 130 pounds. Steward says he would like Gamboa (21-0) to stay at 135 for a few fights before making the jump to 135.

    “I think 135 is about it,” Steward said. “He’s only 5-5. And when you fight at 135, a lot of guys come in at 150.”

    One fight that Gamboa’s promoter Top Rank has said they are interested in is a matchup with 135-pound champion Brandon Rios. However Steward says he is not interested in that fight.

    “I don’t like that fight right now,” Steward says. “Gamboa needs a few fights at 130. Besides, they are both big stars in the sport. We have such a shortage of young fighters. All of the stars are in their 30’s. We need to take time to develop young superstars and not just run them out and have them fight each other so quickly. It’s not good for the business.”

    There is a big fight for Gamboa at 130 pounds: Adrien Broner, the former U.S. amateur standout who will fight for a vacant super featherweight title on Nov. 26. Both Gamboa (16 knockouts) and Broner (17 KO’s) have tremendous power. A matchup in the spring of 2012 would be a spectacular fight.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Nov 16, 2011
  • Will Pacquiao, Mayweather fight? I don’t care

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    Manny Pacquiao might be rethinking a Floyd Mayweather showdown after struggling against Juan Manuel Marquez. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS – Maybe Floyd Mayweather’s team is right. Maybe Manny Pacquiao, fresh off the most disappointing win of his career, doesn’t want any part of Mayweather. More importantly, maybe his team, specifically Bob Arum and Freddie Roach, don’t want any part of him after watching Juan Manuel Marquez counterpunch Pacquiao to death on his way to a disputed decision.

    Then again, maybe Mayweather’s team is wrong. Maybe Pacquiao isn’t sure who he wants to fight next and needs more than 48 hours to decide. Maybe Pacquiao, who reportedly is dealing with personal issues involving his wife, Jinkee, needs some time to work them out.

    I don’t know. And frankly, I don’t care.

    The Mayweather-Pacquiao saga makes the NBA labor negotiations seem tolerable. Everyone lies. Arum says he wants the fight. Privately, many industry sources believe he doesn’t want it because he has no interest in making Mayweather, the man who left Top Rank before his fight with Oscar De La Hoya, even richer. Mayweather’s advisor, Leonard Ellerbe says Pacquiao is a coward. This is the same man who, in defense of Mayweather, has said repeatedly that a fighter isn’t afraid of anyone. Pacquiao is, presumably, a fighter. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer says he has an email from retired judge Daniel Weinstein, who has mediated past disputes between Top Rank and Golden Boy, saying that Arum was not interested in pursuing a fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather. Schaefer also told that reports of Golden Boy approaching Erik Morales about a possible fight with Mayweather were “the first I had heard of it.” On Saturday, Morales confirmed that Schaefer had approached him about a fight with Mayweather.

    Pinocchio told more truths than these guys.

    I’m starting to wonder why we, as a media, continue to cover it. If a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao gets made, great. It will be the most watched fight in pay per view history, will generate north of $180 million in revenue and draw a Presidential election-level of media attention. But representatives from the two sides can’t even sit in the same room together. They take every little opportunity to snipe at each other in the press, to play the preemptive blame game. If this fight doesn’t happen, they are effectively saying, it’s not our fault.

    Besides, do we even know if Pacquiao or Mayweather want the fight? Last week, several reporters (myself included) tried to get Pacquiao to call Mayweather out. It didn’t work. All Pacquiao would say is that he would fight whatever opponent Arum put in front of him. Meanwhile, it seems the only member of Mayweather’s team who hasn’t said he wants a fight with Pacquiao is Mayweather himself. On Tuesday, I put in a request to talk to Mayweather through his publicist. I haven’t heard back.

    Read More…

  • Published On Nov 15, 2011
  • Espinoza named GM of Showtime Sports

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    LAS VEGAS — Golden Boy Promotions lead attorney Stephen Espinoza was named Executive Vice President/General Manager of Showtime Sports on Monday, replacing Ken Hershman, who will take over as president of rival HBO Sports on Jan. 9.

    Though not a well-known name, Espinoza has strong connections to the boxing industry. At Ziffren Brittenham LLP he specialized in representing athletes and sports personalities, including Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson. According to Showtime, Espinoza has served as lead counsel for Golden Boy since the formation of the company.

    At Showtime, Espinoza will be responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the sports and entertainment group, including buying fights for Showtime’s boxing series.

    “Stephen has a great career that spans sports, entertainment, television and film,” said Showtime Chairman and CEO Matt Blank. “His deep experience in a variety of fields and incredible knowledge and contacts within the boxing and mixed martial arts communities will be an asset to Showtime as we continue to expand our offerings. I am confident he will be a great leader to our already all-star sports group.”

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Nov 14, 2011
  • Stock Watch: UFC on Fox 1 an initial success

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    Junior dos Santos

    Junior dos Santos knocked out Cain Velasquez in just 64 seconds at UFC on Fox on Saturday. (AP)

    Out of the gate, UFC on Fox is looking very much like a hot stock.

    Initial ratings from Saturday’s broadcast indicated a modest success in viewership with an audience of 4.64 million viewers, a figure in the ballpark of the second CBS-televised fight-night that featured Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson. But Fox issued a release on Sunday stating 5.7 million households tuned in to watch Junior Dos Santos club Cain Velasquez to win the heavyweight title.

    The initial numbers for FOX said Saturday’s event was only second to ABC’s broadcast of the college football game between Oregon vs. Stanford in adults 18-49 and tied the game with a 7 share in that age group. FOX’s revised numbers projected it to win its time slot in adults 18-34, adults 18-49 and men 18-34. UFC on FOX also beat the numbers for the first MMA event on network television, the Kimbo Slice-led “EliteXC: Primetime,” FOX said.

    These are the demographics for which advertisers pay, and they complement FOX’s track record of success in attracting young viewers. The network said it didn’t have much trouble selling ad time for UFC on FOX, same as CBS didn’t for EliteXC when Slice or Fedor Emelianenko or Gina Carano was involved. They were sellouts, and that spells longevity.

    But it also brings us to a key question moving forward. Will the numbers garnered by a high-profile fight such as Velasquez vs. Dos Santos still hold when a title isn’t at stake, or when the wattage of an event’s marquee stars is lower? CBS saw a steep drop-off in ratings in cards not packaged with bankable properties such as Slice and Fedor.

    This much is sure: The promotion leading into UFC on FOX is a tremendously encouraging sign. The network pushed the show in a big way. What we’ll find out now is whether FOX’s stellar support is enough to drive viewers to future UFC events broadcast on the network. It’s a tough market out there. MMA fans have become choosy with all the product to watch.

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  • Published On Nov 14, 2011
  • Roundtable: Manny Pacquiao’s next fight?

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    A surprisingly rocky performance by Manny Pacquiao (right) on Saturday represents the latest twist in the long road to a showdown with Floyd Mayweather. (AP)

    Who should Manny Pacquiao fight next and why?

    CHRIS MANNIX: Marquez. For starters, he earned it. Marquez has lost two of his three fights to Pacquiao and you can make an argument that he won all three. In fact, the only thing decided on Saturday was that nothing was decided.

    I’ve been craving a Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown as much as anyone, but simply brooming Marquez aside would be insulting. Besides, Pacquiao-Marquez IV would generate a huge buzz and would invariably lead to a close, competitive, action-packed fight. Moreover, I get the feeling Pacquiao needs another fight with Marquez. Not because he needs closure but because Mayweather presents most of the same style problems of Marquez, along with a host of others. It’s a risk, but I say do Marquez first, then hope for a crack at Mayweather.

    RICHARD O’BRIEN: I had no quarrel with Pacquiao’s getting the decision against Marquez last Saturday night. The fight was close, and Marquez, as well-schooled and focused a fighter as any in the game today, showed he knows exactly how to fight Manny. But he never pressed the issue and he certainly did not close out the show. Should they fight a fourth time? Sure. But not just yet.

    Manny’s less-than-spectacular form against Marquez no doubt has lots of observers now giving him a lot less of a chance against Mayweather (whom Chris observes in this week’s SI is essentially a bigger, faster, stronger, younger Marquez). But that’s still the fight that boxing needs. Pacquiao has to know that his time is running short, as is Mayweather’s. And, no, Manny has no obligation to beat Marquez “more convincingly” before moving on.

    Freddie Roach may be a little more concerned than he was before at the prospect of facing Floyd, but the idea that the 32-year-old Pac-Man needs a tune-up at this point, seems misguided. It may indeed prove to be the case that Mayweather is too complete and too slick for Pacquiao, but Manny has wanted this bout for years and if his flawed showing against Marquez makes him suddenly more attractive to Mayweather, well, that’s one good thing for Manny to come out of this weekend.

    BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM: Sure, Pacquiao should fight Marquez. Even Roach said so, and he hates the fight. But since when has what happens in boxing been about should? Now is not the time for an attack of conscience when Mayweather-Pacquaio is as close to coming off as ever. While any boxing purist would love to see Pacquiao-Marquez IV — a modern-day answer to the Willie Pep-Sandy Saddler quadrilogy — I’d be happy to wait until November 2012 for it. And I know I’m not alone.

    Pacquiao hadn’t been seriously challenged since his previous fight with Marquez in 2008, a credit both to his meteoric spike in talent under Roach and expert matchmaking by Top Rank’s Bruce Trampler and Brad “Abdul” Goodman. But Marquez’s savvy counterpunching and meticulous ring generalship exposed a vulnerability that likely had Mayweather licking his chops.

    Can Manny beat Floyd? It’s possible, but it won’t be easy. Pacquiao will need to recommit himself 100 percent to boxing to solve the biggest obstacle of his professional career — a challenge that may very well define him. That means no politics. No endorsements. No singing. No distractions. Maybe pass on Jimmy Kimmel this time. If he can return to the place he was before the Oscar De La Hoya fight that launched him to global susperstardom, Pacquiao may be able to fill out the holes in his game that Mayweather will be itching to exploit. If not, then Saturday’s fight was merely the beginning of the end.

  • Published On Nov 14, 2011
  • Three thoughts on UFC on Fox 1

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    Junior Dos Santos

    Junior Dos Santos scored a first-round knockout of Cain Velasquez in 64 seconds. (Jason Redmond/AP)

    What does the Ultimate Fighting Championship look like on live network television? We got a taste of it Saturday when Fox aired the UFC heavyweight championship between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. For fight fans, this was a pinnacle moment — a chance to share the very best of the sport they love with co-workers, friends and family who’d never watched it before. The fight lasted only 64 seconds, but there was much more than that to glean from this historical broadcast. Here are my observations …

    Strong start out of the blocks

    Fox Sports Media Group CEO David Hill wasn’t kidding when he told reporters earlier this week the network would add a cheeky viewer warning to the telecast. You knew you were going to be watching something different when Fox flashed this at the top of the hour:

    “The following might be the most exciting live sporting event in the history of television, and it’s our duty to say: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.”

    Well played, Fox.

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  • Published On Nov 13, 2011
  • Guida steals show, but Henderson wins fight

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    Clay Guida and Ben Henderson did not disappoint as the co-main event at UFC on Fox 1. (Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Contributor)

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Clay Guida won the people’s endorsement as the next contender to the UFC lightweight title. But it’s Ben Henderson that’s fighting champ Frankie Edgar.

    In the greatest fight that too few saw, Henderson kept a surging Guida at bay to win a unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC on Fox.

    The scores were 29-28 and 30-27 twice, and while the decision was met with a hearty round of boos from the crowd at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., the fight’s end was met with an unconditional roar of approval.

    Nothing less would be appropriate for the roller-coaster that was the 15-minute fight, which threatened to suck the air out of the room in advance of the main-event tilt between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.

    It took all of a minute before Guida put his fist in Henderson’s face and the two were swinging for the fences. Guida came out behind in that race, as he often does when he throws caution to the wind. Henderson landed the superior blow, extended his arm, and stopped the inevitable shot. Then he pressed Guida into the fence as if to say, “slow down.”

    But the crowd was moving Guida speed. They cheered and laughed when he attempted, somehow, to meld a spinning backfist with a knee and wound up cart wheeling across the cage. They screamed when he misdirected Henderson with a flying knee and followed up with a short punch that rocked the former WEC champ. And they went gaga when he escaped bad position after bad position and nearly finished the fight with a guillotine in the third frame.

    Still, in key battlegrounds, the long and lean Henderson was just a little better. In the clinch, he tenderized Guida’s midsection with knees. On the mat, he kept his proverbial arm outstretched and threatened to submit Guida on several occasions. But the scowl on his face did not indicate a man who was enjoying his lead in points.

    “I’m happy but I know that I can do a lot better than that,” Henderson said afterward. “30-27 was great but I always work to finish and I made a few mistakes that didn’t allow me to do that.”

    Guida’s last hope came after a midair collision in the third that he followed by grabbing a guillotine choke. Henderson escaped, and the outcome wasn’t much in doubt.

    Henderson is likely to meet Edgar at the yet-unannounced UFC 144, which takes place Feb. 26 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

    Read More…

  • Published On Nov 13, 2011