Archive for December, 2011

Dana White responds to Rashad Evans, Miguel Torres insensitive comments

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Rashad Evans (left) made an insensitive comment about the Penn State scandal Wednesday at a press conference to promote UFC on Fox 2. (Youtube.com)

UFC bantamweight Miguel Torres has been dropped by the organization on the heels of his tweet this week about a “rape van,” SI.com has learned. Meanwhile, UFC president Dana White says the details regarding insensitive remarks made by a remorseful Rashad Evans were such that Evans won’t suffer a similar fate.

In a Q&A with SI.com Thursday afternoon, White shared this thoughts about the miscues after they had gone viral over the previous 24 hours. Torres had come under fire for posting a tweet that read: “If a rape van was called a surprise van more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone like surprises.” Evans, meanwhile, during a public press conference promoting his Jan. 28 fight on Fox,  said to his opponent, former Penn State wrestler Phil Davis, “I guarantee you’ll be the first one to take a [wrestling] shot. Guarantee. Because I’m going to put my hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State.”

SI.com: Let’s talk about Rashad.

Dana White: First of all, if you saw the press conference, it was the worst microphone system in the history of this company. The microphones at this place either didn’t work or they’d go in and out in between every word you said. So Rashad said that [the Penn State joke] yesterday. I didn’t even hear what he said. And it didn’t even get back to me until I landed in Toronto, which was four hours later.

Here’s the other thing you’ve got to understand. With my fighters, there’s no excuses like, “Hey, listen, he’s a dumb guy. Came from the mean streets of somewhere. He’s just not all that bright.” These are educated guys, most of them went to college, they have families, children, etc. These are smart, rational people I’m dealing with.

So when I call Rashad about this thing, he’s like, “You know what Dana,” and gives me the context of it. Him and Davis started getting into this heated back-and-forth about what they’re going to do to each other the night of the fight. Davis went to Penn State. Davis wrestled for Penn State. Rashad wrestled for Michigan. [Rashad] said, “It just came out.” Zing him and zing his school at the same time. Very, very poor choice of words. I mean, it was the stupidest thing he could have said and he absolutely agrees.

So we talked on the phone, he gave me his explanation, he said, “I’ll do whatever it takes, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend anybody. In the heat of the moment, that’s what I said to him because he’s from Penn State.”

SI.com: So you didn’t hear it during the press conference? No one said anything to you right after you walked off?

White: No! Nobody said anything at the press conference. Nobody said anything on Twitter that had watched it. It wasn’t until ESPN wrote a story that anybody said anything to me.

SI.com: So you didn’t take any recourse with Rashad? There was no fine?

White: I talked to Rashad. Rashad walked me through what he did. He went to Penn State. [He said] I wanted to slam him and Penn State. I’m not like traditional sports [executives]: “All right Rashad, pay us 30 grand.” That stuff is all formalities to make it look good. Yeah, he was fined, he was this, he was that. Rashad is sorry for what he said. He truly is. He said it in the heat of the moment. He definitely took the wrong choice of words. He knows it and I know he knows it.

SI.com: And what about Miguel Torres’ tweet from yesterday?

White: This morning I’m on [Michael] Landsberg’s show, up here in Canada, and he hits me with the quote of what he tweeted. Now there’s no explanation for that. There’s absolutely nothing I could say to make any sense of that. And the fact that he even thinks that’s funny or that’s a joke, it disturbs me. It bothers me. Again, you’re dealing with a guy that’s a smart guy, that owns his own business, that’s been one of the top fighters in the world forever. And I cut him today. He’s no longer with the UFC.

SI.com: Was that announced today?

White: It’s being announced right now to you. You’re the only one that knows. Miguel Torres has been cut from the UFC and his career with us now is over.

SI.com: Was this the first time something’s happened with Torres? Or was it a second offense?

White: No, this was the first time. And then he said he hadn’t heard what happened to Forrest [Griffin, who drew fire for tweeting "Rape is the new missionary" last month]. Really? Where do you live? What business are you in? How do you not hear about these things? You should have paid more attention. It’s to the point now where, there’s going be times when things happen and mistakes are made. I cannot defend Miguel Torres. I cannot defend what he said. What he said makes no sense other than when he says, “It was a joke.” Well, I don’t think that’s a funny joke. I think it’s disturbing.

SI.com: So many of the major sports leagues have been curtailing their athletes’ involvement on Twitter, but the UFC has been praised for being so progressive and forward-thinking with social media. Are we now seeing the perils of that?

White: No. I’m a firm believer in … just because these guys are professional athletes or whatever, everybody’s going to have an opinion on something, and not everybody’s going to get along. I’ve had my words with fans on Twitter too. When people come on Twitter and say dumb s— to you, expect to get some dumb s— back. But for a guy to go out and talk about a “rape van” being a “surprise van,” there’s no defense for that.

And I’m a realist. I treat people and I deal with my fighters and I deal with the fans like a real person. I don’t come out and read canned statements written by our lawyers. I deal with the guys on a case-by-case basis and how they handle themselves. We’re all entitled to make mistakes. I’m not one of these guys where if you make a mistake, I’m gonna try to tear your life down and burn it to the ground.

We just had one of our fighters, Chris Leben, test positive for [Oxycodone and Oxymorphone], and he’s been suspended for a year by the UFC. Now with the suspension it’s not like, “Hey, Chris, you’re suspended, we don’t want to hear from you in a year, good luck with your career and everything else, and if it doesn’t work out, oh well, there’s a million other fighters waiting to line up.” I care about this guy, as a person, as a human being, before he’s a fighter. And I want to make sure Chris Leben is OK. If he needs any type of therapy or rehab or whatever it might be to make sure his personal life is on track, that means more to me than anything else. There’s going to be guys that are going to make mistakes. Some guys are going to make mistakes bad enough that they’re going to burn themselves to the ground. It’s all in how a guy handles himself after he makes a mistake. That’s what I care about.

SI.com: You’ve said the first two years of the new Fox deal will be the most important 24 months in the UFC’s history. Part of the appeal of the sport is how raw and unfiltered a lot of the guys are. Is there a balance need to find between the two forces?

White: I want this sport to stay exactly the same. We’re the most fan-accessible sport out there. When you show up at an event, you talk to fighters and you meet fighters. A lot of times, [the fans and the media] live in a fantasy land, like these guys aren’t real human beings. But the one thing I can consistently say about my guys is they’re fan-accessible. It’s the way that it is. And it’s never going to be perfect, but we treat our fans better than any other sports league does. We’re going to have times when guys are gonna say some stupid stuff, but I handle them on a case-by-case basis.

– As told to Bryan Armen Graham


  • Published On Dec 08, 2011
  • Rashad Evans makes joke about Penn State scandal at UFC on Fox presser

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    In a misguided attempt at self-promotion, UFC light heavyweight contender Rashad Evans compared his hands to the ones put on the alleged victims of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal during an open-to-the-public press conference held Wednesday in Chicago.

    Evans faces Phil Davis in a contender’s bout airing live on Jan. 28 on Fox — the promotion’s sophomore event on broadcast television since signing into a seven-year, rumored $700 million deal with Fox Sports Media Group in August.

    The former UFC champion made the comment just hours after former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had been arrested and jailed again on new child sex abuse charges after two more alleged victims came forward to authorities.

    “I guarantee you’ll be the first one to take a [wrestling] shot,” Evans told Davis. “Guarantee. Because I’m going to put my hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State.”

    Davis, a Penn State wrestling alumnus, lowered his head as the remark drew a mixture of cheers and jeers from attending fans.

    The press conference was streamed live on the Internet, where tens of thousands of fans have tuned in to watch events like this in the past.

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 08, 2011
  • Getting to know … Amir Khan

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    Amir Khan (right), a light welterweight champion who won Olympic silver at 17, trains under Freddie Roach (left) at Hollywood's Wild Card Boxing Club. (AP)

    Having moved into the top 10 in most outlets’ pound-for-pound ratings (including SI.com’s), light welterweight champion Amir Khan returns to action Saturday against Lamont Peterson in Washington, D.C. (9:45 p.m. ET, HBO). SI.com caught up with the 24-year-old British sensation, whose plans for the next year could include a high-profile showdown with Floyd Mayweather.

    Age started fighting?

    8 years old.

    What’s your first boxing memory?

    Just going to the local gym for the first time with my dad. I remember I was always very hyperactive as a kid and to burn off some energy my dad thought it would be a good thing to take me to our local club around the corner from my house. The first time I stepped in there and saw people on the punching bags, taking out their anger, I knew this would be something I would enjoy. I’ve not looked back since.

    Who’s your favorite all-time fighter?

    Muhammad Ali. I used to watch his old videos and fights growing up. He was just as special outside the ring as he was in it.

    What’s the greatest fight you ever saw?

    There are a few that come to mind in recent years, like the trilogy between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward. Those were some real hard battles that had fans on the edge of their seat. There are of course the Erik Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera fights. And also Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo: that was a see-saw fight that could have gone either way but the ending was the most dramatic I’ve ever seen.

    Who was the toughest opponent you ever fought?

    My toughest opponent was probably Andriy Kotelnik, whom I beat to win my first world title. He was a very skilled fighter but I managed to outbox him and knew I would have to be at my best to beat him and win the belt.

    What was your favorite subject in school?

    I loved sports classes, anything physical.

    What’s on your iPod?

    Mostly hip-hop and R&B like Drake, Jay Sean and Tinie Tempah.

    What is your favorite movie?

    Scarface.

    What is one misconception about boxers?

    I guess a lot of people think boxers are as brutal outside the ring as they are in it. They don’t realize that boxing teaches discipline and that a lot of us are nice people away from the ring.

    What would you be doing if you weren’t fighting?

    A sports teacher or coach. It’s a field I think I would have enjoyed working in.

    What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

    Watches. I have a soft spot for them! I think I deserve to treat myself every once in a while after all the things I put my body through.

    Favorite meal when out of training?

    Mum’s home cooking! Anything she makes!

    What would you change in boxing?

    I would protect fighters and make sure their interest is number one. Golden Boy Promotions is doing that because Oscar De La Hoya knows what it’s like from a fighter’s perspective, but there are many that are mistreated and taken advantage of.

    What car do you drive?

    Range Rover Supercharged Overfinch.

    What’s the biggest thing that changed since you became a world champion?

    I guess more and more people begin to know who you are. I was always well known in the U.K. after I competed in the Olympics, but my fanbase worldwide has grown significantly since I became a world champion.

    Name three people you’d like to have dinner with (living or dead).

    Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Tupac Shakur.

    What advice would you give to young fighters coming up?

    Enjoy it, but if you are serious about making it as professional you have to be focused and disciplined. And that means getting up and putting in a hard graft even if you don’t really want to.

    What’s your favorite place to vacation?

    Dubai.

    What is your dream venue for a fight?

    I would love to have a huge fight at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton. It’s the home of the soccer team that I support.

    What sports do you watch outside of boxing?

    Soccer and UFC mostly. Sometimes I’ll watch cricket, which is popular in England, if my cousin Sajid Mahmood (who is an England international) is playing.

    Your idea of happiness?

    Just being with family and friends and spending time with them. I think family is the most important thing in life, alongside health.

    Your greatest fear?

    I think every fighter would say losing.

    Your present state of mind?

    Focused and ready for battle on December 10th. It’s going to be a great fight!

    When it’s all over, how do you want people to remember you?

    As a great champion who entertained the fans. I want to win as much as I can over the next few years and do some big things in this sport.

    – As told to Bryan Armen Graham


  • Published On Dec 07, 2011
  • Thomas Hearns, Freddie Roach among Hall of Fame inductees

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    Thomas Hearns (above), the first fighter to win titles in four different divisions, will be inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. (Manny Millan/SI)

    The International Boxing Hall of Fame will welcome 13 new members to Canastota, N.Y., next June, with familiar names like Tommy Hearns, Cocoa Kid and Mark Johnson, trainer Freddie Roach, broadcaster Al Bernstein and longtime journalist Michael Katz leading the class. The inductees were announced on Tuesday.

    As a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, I voted for fighters in the modern-era category. Here is what my ballot looked like:

    Tommy Hearns: Easily the biggest no-brainer on the ballot, Hearns would have been inducted years ago had he not come out of retirement in 2005 to fight two more times. Hearns (61-5-1) was a big, powerful puncher who won titles in four weight classes. Along with Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler — the Four Kings of the 1980’s — Hearns waged some epic wars, most notably a 14th-round knockout loss to Leonard in 1981 and a third-round knockout defeat to Hagler.

    Cocoa Kid: His record (176-56-10, according to boxrec.com) and background are hazy, but Cocoa Kid’s talent was undoubtable. Tall (5-foot-10) and rangy, Kid began his professional career fighting in the 130’s and moved all the way up to the mid 150’s before calling it quits. Though he never won a meaningful world title, Kid (born Louis Hardwick) fought some of the greats of his era, including Archie Moore and Charley Burley and once reportedly knocked Sugar Ray Robinson down in a sparring session.

    Wilfredo Vazquez: A three-division champion — not to mention one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters of all time — Vazquez shined when the spotlight was brightest: in 21 career title fights, Vazquez was 16-3-2. He was never afraid to fight in someone’s backyard and was dubbed El Viajero (“The Traveler”) for his willingness to fight outside Puerto Rico. In 1996. he scored a stunning victory over featherweight champion Eloy Rojas, when he rallied to drop Rojas twice in the 12th round to win by TKO.

    Ken Overlin: Overlin was a warrior. According to boxrec.com, Overlin fought 163 fights as a professional, winning 135 of them. And that was with the two-year break Overlin took to serve his country in World War II. The names Overlin beat in his day aren’t household today, but his wars with Ezzard Charles and Al Hostak were big news in the ’40s. Overlin never shied away from a fight and his resume is littered with Hall of Fame-caliber fighters.

    Pone Kingpetch: Great name, huh? Kingpetch was born Mana Seadoagbob but adopted Pone (which signifies the flight of an eagle) and Kingpetch (derived from a camp where he trained in his native Thailand). Kingpetch was a pioneer, the first great champion to come out of Thailand and one of the very first to emerge from Asia. Light handed, Kingpetch was a stylist whose best attributes were his jab, footwork and agility. Kingpetch was an inspiration to Thai fighters — there is a statue in his honor in his hometown — and a true legend in his time.

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Dec 06, 2011
  • Official Cotto-Margarito scorecard

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    Here it is. SI.com had it 90-81 at the time of the stoppage.


  • Published On Dec 04, 2011
  • Thoughts on Helenius, Povetkin’s wins

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    Robert Helenius

    Robert Helenius, but needs to improve if he wants to be a heavyweight title contender. (Reuters)

    HELSINKI — Three quick thoughts on Robert Helenius’ controversial decision over Dereck Chisora and Alexander Povetkin’s knockout win over Cedric Boswell.

    Chisora got robbed. There is no other way to say it, really. Chisora put on a clinic on Saturday, pressuring the bigger Helenius from the opening bell and landing bomb — and I mean bomb– after bomb over 12 physical rounds. I had Chisora winning 119-109; two of the judges gave it to Helenius 115-113. I’ve seen a lot of bad decisions over the years but few as unbelievable as this. This was borderline criminal. Chisora stormed out of the ring after the fight, furious, and I don’t blame him. After his career was temporarily derailed following a loss to Tyson Fury last July, this fight was supposed to reposition Chisora as a serious challenger to Wladimir Klitschko. It still might, but at the very least Chisora deserves a rematch (on neutral turf) or a shot at Alexander Povetkin and his alphabet title.

    The shine on Helenius is off. I’ll admit, I got caught up in Helenius fever. But Saturday night’s performance showed Helenius has a long way to go. His jab was weak and he simply allowed the smaller Chisora to walk inside and take the fight to him. When Chisora did give him an opening, Helenius couldn’t pull the trigger on any kind of meaningful combinations.

    Helenius needs to get back in the lab, quickly. His skills are far too rudimentary to compete with any of the top talent in the heavyweight division. Trainer Ulli Wegner has taken him this far but if he cannot turn Helenius into a potent jabber, maybe it’s time to bring someone in (Emanual Steward?) who can.

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 04, 2011
  • Wladimir Klitschko fight still on despite hospitalization

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    HELSINKI — Unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko told SI.com that he is doing well after being hospitalized briefly on Friday with stomach pains and that his title defense against Jean-Marc Mormeck on Dec. 10 will go on as scheduled.

    “I’m alright,” Klitschko said in a text message. “[The fight] is ON!”

    Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, told a German news outlet that Klitschko displayed symptoms of renal colic, a pain commonly caused by kidney stones.

    “The fight isn’t called off yet,” Boente said. “Wladimir is doing well. There will be further examinations on Saturday, but we’re assuming that the fight will be able to take place.”

    Klitschko (56-3) will face Mormeck (36-4) at the ESPRIT Arena in Dusseldorf, Germany. The fight will be televised by ESPN3.com.

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Dec 03, 2011
  • Brandon Rios ready for Murray defense

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    NEW YORK — WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios stopped by the SI offices ahead of Saturday’s title defense against England’s John Murray on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito undercard.

    The irreverent Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs), widely regarded as the world’s best 135-pounder not named Juan Manuel Marquez, will be looking for his 11th straight victory and 10th consecutive knockout against the 5-to-1 underdog Murray (31-1, 18 KOs).

    The Oxnard, Calif.-based Rios said he’s excited to be fighting in Madison Square Garden for the first time — a longtime dream venue — and hopes to put on a show against Murray, who is coming off the first defeat of his career against Kevin Mitchell in July.

    “If you don’t come prepared, it’s going to be an early night,” Rios said at Thursday’s undercard press conference in Times Square. “If you come prepared, you’re still going down early.”

    – Bryan Armen Graham


  • Published On Dec 02, 2011
  • Notre Dame grad Mike Lee excited for Madison Square Garden debut

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    NEW YORK — Rising light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee (7-0, 4 KOs) paid a visit to the SI offices ahead of Saturday’s fight against Allen Medina on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito undercard.

    Lee, who graduated from Notre Dame with a 3.8 grade point average and a degree in finance, turned down job offers from Wall Street to pursue a career in prizefighting — and so far the results have been promising.

    A native of Chicago, Lee’s star is beginning to take flight as his career moves forward. He’s won four fights in 2011, including a September victory over Jacob Stiers on the Notre Dame campus. He starred in a series of Subway commercials and draws noticeable masses of Fighting Irish fans to his fights.

    While Lee’s fight Saturday with Medina isn’t slated for HBO’s pay-per-view telecast, SI.com will be live-streaming the non-televised bouts ahead of the 9 p.m. ET start time.

    – Bryan Armen Graham


  • Published On Dec 02, 2011
  • Experts’ picks for Cotto-Margarito II

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    Super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto (left) will be out for revenge against Antonio Margarito (right) when they meet Saturday in New York City. (AP)

    SI.com’s boxing experts predict Saturday’s super welterweight title fight between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Share your prediction in the comments below.

    CHRIS MANNIX

    Cotto will (justifiably) be out for blood, but this won’t be a blowout. Though Margarito’s power isn’t what it was in 2008, when his possibly loaded gloves pummelled Cotto into submission, he still has advantages. Specifically, size. At 5-foot-7, Cotto was a small welterweight. At junior middleweight, he’s even smaller. If the 5-foot-11 Margarito is smart, he will use his size advantage as a weapon and work Cotto from the outside.

    That’s never been Margarito’s game, however, and his natural aggression and desire to prove that he can beat Cotto straight up will get the best of him. He’ll come right at Cotto, just like he did against Manny Pacquiao, and trade shots. And Cotto, who is two years younger and slightly less worn down, is better prepared for that. Keep in mind that referee Steve Smoger, despite his hands-off reputation, will undoubtedly be mindful of the damage to Cotto’s right eye. If it starts to swell, Smoger could step in and stop the fight. Cotto by 10th-round TKO.

    RICHARD O’BRIEN

    “These guys really don’t like each other” is a cliché that gets used a lot in sports, especially in boxing. Usually it ends up having little to do with how the match plays out. Professionals don’t conduct themselves like kids in a schoolyard. In this case, though, these guys really don’t … well, you know. And it could make a difference.

    However, it’s not Cotto, the guy who clearly has a reason to be fighting mad, whom I see letting emotion take him out of his game. For all his aggression throughout his career, he’s always been supremely focused and disciplined. Instead, I think that Margarito, so determined to play the bad guy and surely filled with some serious self-doubt in the wake of the losses to Mosley and Pacquiao, is likely to try too hard to hurt Cotto early and wind up taking himself out of his usual relentless, punishing game plan.

    Both these guys are near the ends of their careers, but Cotto has aged better and become a more complete fighter. He was outboxing Margarito brilliantly early in their first bout. I expect him to do so again, piling up points and maybe even rocking Margarito with that superb left hook. Margarito will be dangerous throughout, but if Cotto can keep up the volume punching and the movement and angles, I don’t see Margarito doing enough damage to mount another late charge. A bit of a bully, Margarito took real punishment from Mosley and Pacquiao, and I don’t see him too eager to go through that again — which is what he would need to do to pull off another rally. Cotto by a clear and redemptive decision.

    BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM

    Since these two first met 40 months ago, Margarito is winless save for a ho-hum points victory over someone named Roberto Garcia in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He absorbed a stunning beating from a presumed-to-be-faded Shane Mosley and 12 rounds of punishment from Manny Pacquiao in a gruesome exhibition that many believe should have sent him into retirement. Meanwhile, Cotto responded from his own one-sided loss to Pacquiao by hooking up with trainer Emanuel Steward for two fights, winning a title in a third different weight class (at 154 pounds) and defending it with a 12th-round KO of Ricardo Mayorga. Both fighters aren’t what they were that night in the desert, but Cotto is fresher and sharper — even though lengthy volume punchers like Margarito will always be a bad matchup for him. Look for Cotto to box and move his way to an early lead, targeting Margarito’s surgically repaired right eye with that exquisite left hook, before the ring doctor does the right thing and puts a stop to it with what’s left of Margarito’s vision still intact. Cotto by eighth-round TKO.


  • Published On Dec 02, 2011


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