Archive for January, 2012

Justin Bieber compares self to Floyd Mayweather in magazine interview

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Justin Bieber (above), who appears on the cover of the spring issue of V magazine, says he boxes with his friends in his free time. (Courtesy of V magazine)

Justin Bieber appears on the cover of the new music-themed issue of V magazine, which hits newsstands on Thursday. The 17-year-old pop star, who says he enjoys boxing with his friends, opens up in a wide-ranging interview — and draws an interesting comparison between himself and Floyd Mayweather.

Yeah, I mean, when I was coming up, trying to get to where I am now, people were so happy [for me]. They were rooting for me. Now that I’m on top, everyone wants to bring me down. Everyone’s trying to tug at me and take my spot. And that’s how it always is, everyone wants you to be on top, and as soon as you’re there — like Floyd Mayweather, he’s the best boxer in the world. Now he is a champion. Every time he goes to a fight now, people are like, “He’s going to lose this time,” and then he wins. And the next time they say, “He’s going to lose,” again; “he’s undefeated, he’s getting old, he’s going to fight Ortiz, who’s younger, and he’s going to lose.” Every time he wins. And people aren’t ever going to know that he’s a champ.

Read the entire interview here.

– Bryan Armen Graham

  • Published On Jan 12, 2012
  • Lamont Peterson’s trainer responds to Amir Khan, Golden Boy protests

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    Barry Hunter, manager and trainer for junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson, issued a statement Wednesday in response to the protests of Amir Khan and Golden Boy Promotions of Peterson’s split-decision victory over Khan on Dec. 10. The full text of Hunter’s letter follows:

    Statement of Barry Hunter

    Unfortunately, we are in this process of dealing with these unfounded protests. It would be an understatement to characterize Lamont as being disappointed in the unprofessional manner in which Khan is attempting to discredit his performance in the ring and victory. We were raised to conduct ourselves where Champions display professionalism, both in victory and defeat. Lamont previously tasted defeat and handled it the way it should be handled — he worked harder on areas that needed improvement to maximize his performance in the ring. Now, he is World Champion.

    Khan blames everyone and everything but his performance and lack of ability to make adjustments in the ring for his loss. He claims that the Ring Announcer privately stated he won, then that the referee’s discretionary actions should be overruled, then a mystery man in a black hat with no association to the Peterson Camp somehow affected the outcome of the bout, and also that the judges did not score the Bout correctly. Each claim is boldly false, but because Golden Boy and Khan have the financial resources to file protests and lawyers to create questionable accusations we are forced to address these issues. We will not let these foul tactics take away from Lamont’s hard work, dedication and monumental victory. Furthermore, since Khan continues to focus on a man at ringside I want to be very clear — Mustafa Ameen is in no way, nor has he ever been affiliated or associated with anyone within Team Peterson. That includes myself, Lamont and Anthony Peterson.

    If the media reports are true, the WBA President personally believes there should be a direct rematch of the fight. This was oddly stated before an official review had taken place, as well as an official response or decision from the WBA review committee had been presented regarding the various protests and our formal submission. That makes me wonder what procedures were actually followed before the WBA President made these public statements? The Rules should be followed by everyone.

    Khan complains that the referee’s decisions should be overturned even though he continued to push Lamont throughout the fight. We believe the knockdown against Lamont was questionable but the rules give the referee that discretion on that call and we respect it.

    When Zab Judah filed protests for Khan’s repeated low blows in their July 2011 bout Golden Boy and Khan argued that a referee’s decisions should be honored. Now, Golden Boy and Khan are flip flopping on the referee’s decision when it’s not favorable towards them not the actions of a true champion.

    Immediately following our bout Golden Boy and Khan requested a meeting among us with the sanctioning organizations and the Boxing Commission. When we left the meeting Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and I agreed with the commission that the scorecards were correct and Lamont won the fight. Real Champions don’t continue to come up with various excuses and false accusations in hopes that something will stick to cover up for a loss.

    The bottom line is that after we decided not to accept Golden Boy’s offer for a rematch only days after the fight and said that Lamont wanted to enjoy the Holidays with his family and have time to make the best decision for his career and the future of his family; they started filing protest letters and trying to spin the media as some form of retaliation. If the media reports are true, then the actions of a few will put every close decision in boxing in jeopardy of being overturned. We will not let that happen. We will continue to fight for what is just and proper.

    Barry Hunter
    January 11, 2012

    – Bryan Armen Graham

  • Published On Jan 11, 2012
  • Mayweather’s jail time delayed, but Pacquiao fight still looks unlikely

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    Just when you thought the life of Floyd Mayweather couldn’t get any wackier, there’s this: On Friday, just hours before Mayweather was set to report to county jail to begin a 90-day sentence that was part of a plea deal he made to avoid a felony assault trial, Las Vegas judge Melissa Saragosa agreed to delay Mayweather’s sentence until June 1, allowing Mayweather to fight as planned on May 5.

    Putting aside the judge’s bizarre decision — which was seemingly made for the economic benefit of Las Vegas, which Mayweather’s attorney, Richard Wright, argued for — the next logical question is this: Will we finally get to see Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao?

    According to Bob Arum, no. Arum told multiple reporters Friday afternoon that Pacquiao’s next fight would be in June. Arum plans to travel to the Philippines next week to present Pacquiao with a list of four possible opponents: Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Miguel Cotto and Lamont Peterson. The delay of Mayweather’s sentencing, Arum said, would not change that.

    That, quite frankly, is ridiculous. Now, Arum fumed when Mayweather made an official announcement in November that he would be fighting May 5 and — albeit not directly — he wanted to fight Manny Pacquiao. We can debate Mayweather’s motives for suddenly developing a taste for a Pacquiao fight over the last month (a popular theory, one I believe, is that Mayweather saw Pacquiao struggle against Marquez, a man he destroyed in 2009, and decided now was the time to make the fight) but there is no debating that this is the first time Mayweather has shown a clear interest in making this mega fight. Arum’s problem, which he has voiced to me repeatedly, was that Mayweather was not so big that he should be dictating where and when a Pacquiao fight should take place.

    Arum doesn’t like the people he has to make a deal with, either. He hates Mayweather’s adviser, Al Haymon. He is annoyed by what he believes is a lack of an understanding of the boxing business by Mayweather’s de facto promoter, Golden Boy. And, of course, he doesn’t like Mayweather, the man who left him just before signing to fight the richest fight in boxing history, against Oscar De La Hoya.

    Still, Arum has to at least explore the possibility of a Mayweather fight. Whether it is Arum or Todd duBoef — the Top Rank President who has taken a more involved role in the company the last few years — someone needs to reach out to Haymon or Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. If you believe former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg (and I do), there was a deal to be had in 2010, when Arum, Haymon and Greenburg negotiated a deal that ultimately was rejected by Mayweather. At the very least a few phone calls need to be exchanged.

    This is where incoming HBO Sports president Ken Hershman can play a role. Hershman is an accomplished dealmaker; just review all the moving parts it took to bring together to make the Super Six super middleweight tournament. He has a relationship with Haymon. He has a relationship with Arum. He has a relationship with Golden Boy. Hershman, like Greenburg, could act as a go-between, a filter, someone to cut through the rhetoric and get to the points that matter.

    And there really are not many issues in dispute. Both sides, I’ve been told, have agreed to a 50-50 split. Both sides have agreed to unlimited, USADA monitored blood testing, though there are some questions about whether Mayweather would allow WADA to test Pacquiao when he is training in the Philippines. Arum may not like Mayweather dictating a May 5 in Las Vegas date but Pacquiao has fought eight of his last 10 fights in Las Vegas and on Cinco de Mayo weekend twice in the last three years. The date and venue should not be a significant issue.

    Arum should not let his ego or personal feelings toward Mayweather and his team influence him on this. This is a golden opportunity to give boxing an unparalleled shot in the arm, to determine once and for all who the best pound for pound fighter is in the sport. Floyd made his move, Bob. You’re up.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Jan 06, 2012
  • MTV’s ‘Caged’ follows amateur MMA fighters

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    A new docuseries tracks the lives of three fighters from a small town outside of Shreveport, La. (Courtesy of MTV)

    MMA is new.

    The UFC was founded in 1993. MLB has roots in 1869. Dana White’s organization won’t be 20 years old until November of 2013. That gives fighters the rare opportunity to start the sport later in life and still work their way to the highest level.
    “Everyone is just a few wins away from being relevant,” said Matt Schnell, an amateur fighter from a small town in Louisiana who goes by the nickname “Danger.”

    Caged, a new docuseries that debuts Monday (10 p.m. ET, MTV), follows the path of amateur fighters like Schnell who fight in small towns and train in backyards.

    Wes Branch is a fighter.

    He started boxing at age 13, then kickboxing and finally MMA training four years ago, but he’s always been a fighter.

    Growing up in a home where his parents weren’t around, Branch was always involved in fights in his small Louisiana town. A teacher encouraged him to take up boxing since he was starting so many fights as an eighth grader. MMA was a logical transition.

    “I started thinking, ‘Man, I might want to throw somebody on their head,’” said Branch, who trains in friends’ backyards when he isn’t working full time to support his son Jaxon and Jaxon’s mother Red.

    He was never bothered by the cameras that followed him and his friends around to film Caged. Branch isn’t shy. He says losing a fight is like the apocalypse coming (it isn’t going to happen anytime soon) and is honest enough to tell you he’s going to miss the season premiere of Caged on Jan. 9 at 9 p.m. on MTV because he’ll be watching the BCS national title game between LSU and Alabama.

    “You can ask me anything about my life and I’m going to tell you,” said Branch, who is almost certainly the first athlete from his town to be interviewed by Sports Illustrated.

    He won’t use his childhood as an excuse. The young father wasn’t expected to graduate high school but he finished it with a GPA that ranked in the top 10. He wasn’t even supposed to go to college, but he worked to pay bills and buy books while he earned an associate degree in instrumentation technology. Branch hopes that viewers that grew up in similar situations can learn from his story.

    He loves to fight, but doesn’t think a UFC career is a realistic goal for him. His first fight was at 135 pounds against Dustin Poirier, who is now a UFC featherweight (145 pounds). However, Branch still has to train in a backyard and work a full-time job and be a father. As he’s gotten older he’s started fighting at 170 pounds.

    “I just can’t see me performing at the top of my game,” Branch said, when asked about his current training situation. While he dreams of being a rapper with a major record deal, he’s content with the life he’s fought for. When asked if the cameras changed his behavior he replied, “Naw man, it’s just plain old Wesley.” – S.B.

    The 10-episode series will follow the lives of three fighters from a small town outside of Shreveport, La. Schnell is a young promising fighter who has given up his job and moved back in with his parents to focus on MMA full-time. Daniel Payne, another main character, is a successful boxer nicknamed Golden Boy who struggles to succeed in MMA after his first love was killed in a car accident. Wes Branch, the final fighter followed by the show, has overcome a virtually parentless childhood to get a full-time job to support his son Jaxon and Jaxon’s mother Red.

    The show’s characters are its strongest feature. The wide variety of compelling backstories have to overlap in a town that makes Friday Night Lights’ fictional Dillon look big. Minden, La., the town featured in “Caged,” doesn’t even have a bar that shows UFC fights so Branch and his buddies watched them in Paynes’ garage during their high school days.

    None of the shows characters are perfect protagonists. They’re all real characters that can be easily related to. Branch doesn’t have the time or the money to train at a gym. Instead he finds himself rolling around in backyards late at night after he gets off work. It’s easy to see why he’d throw back a couple Bud Lights while he breaks down his film.

    Scenes of Branch training is his backyard or Payne talking to an on-again, off-again girlfriend in an empty parking lot after one of his fights are where the show is strongest. It provides a look into the lifestyle of fighters before they make it big. Donald Cerrone and Leonard Garcia shared a bunk bed in Greg Jackson’s gym before they won enough fight bonuses to buy their own ranch. When Branch tells you he doesn’t like fighters that lay and prey and grind out decision victories it’s hard to be surprised. His favorite fighter is Nate Diaz, not because he loves his style — but because he knows Diaz is a real fighter. Branch started training MMA in 2006, but he’s been fighting since he was a kid. This show helps fans relate to UFC fighters’ roots and shows you a glimpse of the countless amateurs who won’t ever have professional fight contracts.

    However, there’s a reason Caged airs on the same network as Jersey Shore. For every fight scene there’s a corresponding party in Paynes’ garage or a bar sequence. The scenes take away from the amateur fighting core that ties the show together and can sometimes focus too much on less developed characters like Schnell’s sister. The bar scene time lapses take this so-called docu-series well into the realm of reality TV and may deter some fight fans from watching — although then again it’s not much different from seeing the cast of The Ultimate Fighter getting drunk at the house they’re all living in. It’s to be expected from both shows and Caged definitely doesn’t follow the obviously stale recipe of The Ultimate Fighter. Cut scenes of bars and BBQ restaurants replace the same repeated gym poster introductions of the UFC’s reality show. While The Ultimate Fighter searches for the next Forrest Griffin, Caged gives you a real-life Tim Riggins.

    – Stephen Boyle

  • Published On Jan 06, 2012