Archive for July, 2012

Experts’ predictions for Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen II at UFC 148

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Chael Sonnen dominated Anderson Silva in their last fight, but in the end lost by submission. (Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE)

SI.com analysts Ben Fowlkes, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 148 main event between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen on Saturday in Las Vegas. Share your prediction in the comments below.

BEN FOWLKES

Like any rematch between two men have already spent nearly a half-hour sweating and bleeding on each other, this fight is all about adjustments. If Sonnen can take Silva down as easily as he did in the first fight, he’s got this. If Silva has gone back to the lab and figured out a solution for that particular problem, it will be a nightmare for Sonnen. Since we saw so very little in the first fight to suggest that Silva can stay upright, I have to think Sonnen will be able to plant him on his back again in the rematch. This time, I expect he’ll make the most of it. Sonnen by decision.

JEFF WAGENHEIM

Family vacation at the lake this week, and all I do is sit in the sun and vacillate, my mind off in the Nevada desert. My son invites me for a swim, and I announce, “Silva is the greatest of all time!” My daughter asks for ice cream, and I declare, “Sonnen has the winning formula!” On and on goes the dithering, until my wife finally zeroes in on the essence: “How can someone pick against Anderson Silva, his 15 straight wins and nine title defenses?” My answer: You go by what you see … or have seen. Sonnen by takedowns, ground-and-pound and — taking a leap of faith that Chael has developed a little submission defense — on points. Sonnen by decision.

JON WERTHEIM

Sometimes playing the heel is just so much marketing, a way to goose pay-per-view buys, draw attention and set up the good-versus-evil dynamic that predates sport promotion by thousands of years. Sometimes playing the heel is a shrewd bit of mental warfare, that, prepositionally speaking, gets you under an opponent’s skin and inside his head, making emotional rather than rational come fight night. And sometimes playing the heel can backfire, not only imbuing your counterpart with motivation but distracting the “bad guy” himself who’s so busy with method acting he neglects his training. Says here Anderson Silva avenges his last (narrow) victory against Chael Sonnen and wins soundly in the rematch. He’s simply better on too many dimensions. The storyline will have a superhero ring to it, good trumping bad; afterwards the defeated villain may even admit the error in his ways. (“Anderson won my respect tonight,” you almost hear Sonnen already admitting to Joe Rogen.) All will be right with the world. We’ve seen this movie before. But we will also wonder what the fight would have looked like had Sonnen simply kept his mouth shut and gone about his job … Silva by decision.


  • Published On Jul 06, 2012
  • Tomasz Adamek is ideal opponent for Wladimir Klitschko in United States

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    Tomasz Adamek is penciled in for a December 22 spot on NBC, and he could face Wladimir Klitschko, assuming his manager doesn’t interfere. (Chris Szagola/Cal Sport Media)

    BERN, Switzerland — Wladimir Klitschko wants his next fight to be in the United States.

    Chris Arreola, as I reported yesterday, is unlikely to be available.

    Tomasz Adamek, however, is.

    In September, Vitali Klitschko beat him bell-to-bell, administering a serious whoopin’ to the former two-division champion before the referee mercifully stepped in.

    But since then Adamek has slowly rebuilt his career and won two straight fights, most recently a unanimous decision over former title contender Eddie Chambers that was nationally televised on NBC Sports Network. Adamek is as close to a household name as you are going to find among heavyweights, with his popularity in the U.S. (he draws 8,000-plus per night in Newark, N.J.) and abroad.

    Then there is this: Main Events, which promotes Adamek, picked up a December 22 date under its new deal with NBC that will be televised on the main network. That’s a reach that extends to more than 100 million households, giving boxing the kind of exposure it has not seen in nearly a decade.

    Main Events has already penciled Adamek into that slot. He will fight once more in September, off television, likely against the bloated carcass of James Toney. That will line him up perfectly for December.

    Right now, Adamek has no opponent. Names of the usual suspects (Odlanier Solis, Arreola) will be tossed around, but there is one opponent who could blow them all out of the water: Wladimir Klitschko

    Think about it: The unified (and if not for his brother’s one title, undisputed) heavyweight champion on network airwaves. It’s great for Adamek, who will get another lucrative title shot. It’s great for Klitschko, who will get the U.S. exposure he craves, and because NBC has it penciled into an afternoon slot, he can still make his pot o’ gold by selling the rights to European broadcaster RTL, which can air the fight live in prime time. It’s good for Main Events, because they would sell out the Prudential Center and cash in on some of the television rights.

    It’s good for boxing because, well, duh.

    But there’s one problem — KMG, Klitschko’s management team. In particular his manager, Bernd Boente.

    Boente has plenty of critics in this business. People think he is obstinate and that cutting a deal with him is like having your spleen removed without the anesthesia. He’s a skilled businessman, though. He extracts every possible nickel from a Klitschko fight by selling sponsorships for the press conference, the open workout and the weigh-in.

    When it comes to the Klitschkos, Boente believes in minimal involvement from other promoters. They are the heavyweight champs, he reasons, and they don’t need anyone else. Many times, he is right. Take the dicey situation in Brooklyn, with the Barclays Center. Boente wanted to open the building with Wladimir fighting in October. But Golden Boy, which has a multi-year deal to promote fights there, blocked it, insisting they be the co-promoter. Boente balked and, as it stands, Wladimir won’t fight there.

    I thought Boente made a compelling argument in that situation. Representatives from the building wanted the Klitschkos, and Boente had no need for Golden Boy, a Los Angeles-based company without any legitimate heavyweights to speak of. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer did a masterful job cutting the deal with the Barclays Center but it wasn’t as though he partook in the construction of the building; it was going to have boxing, with or without him.

    Without Main Events, and president Kathy Duva, there would be no boxing on NBC. Duva negotiated the original deal with NBC and for the last six months has been putting on strong shows that have done solid ratings on the NBC Sports Network. Not to mention she promotes Adamek, who in New Jersey is a stronger draw than Klitschko. If Boente insists on a solo promotion, well, that’s a non-starter, and it should be.

    Ideally, smarter heads will prevail. Adamek-Klitschko would be a huge show, one that, because of free TV, would draw casual eyeballs to boxing in the U.S. the way no fight in recent memory has.

    - Chris Mannix


  • Published On Jul 06, 2012
  • Pirog withdraws from Golovkin fight

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    BERN, Switzerland — Middleweight titleholder Dmitry Pirog has withdrawn from his HBO-televised August 25th fight against Gennady Golovkin due to a back injury, multiple sources told SI.com. A new opponent for Golovkin is being sought.

    Pirog (20-0) was scheduled to face Golovkin (23-0), who owns a minor piece of the middleweight title. While Pirog and Golovkin are relative unknowns in the U.S., both are considered heavy handed punchers with the 30-year old Golovkin ranking among the best action fighters in the sport.


  • Published On Jul 05, 2012
  • Klitschko escapes serious injury in protest melee

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    Vitali Klitschko displays his bloodied left hand after a protest in Kiev turned ugly. (Photo by Reuters)

    BERN, Switzerland — WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko was not seriously injured when a protest he attended in Kiev, Ukraine on Wednesday erupted in violence, Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, told SI.com.

    Klitschko, 40, a powerful political figure in the Ukraine, was there to oppose the new language law that enhanced the status of the Russian language in the former Soviet republic. Klitschko, the founder and leader of Udar, a political party that believes that Ukrainian should be the country’s national language, was at the center of the protest.

    The protest quickly turned violent, with police using batons and tear gas to subdue the crowd. Photographs show blood streaming from Klitschko’s left hand and him appearing to protect the hand as he is rushed out of the mob. However, Boente said that aside from the effects of the tear gas, Klitschko, who will defend his title on September 8th in Moscow against Manuel Charr, was “totally fine.”

    Klitschko has said that after his fight with Charr he will turn his focus to the October Ukrainian elections, where his party will attempt to secure more seats in Parliament.

    “I have spent a lot of time in Germany, in western Europe, in the U.S.,” Klitschko told SI.com in February. “I want the western life standards for my country. Ukraine is a young democracy with huge potential, but it doesn’t have those standards. I don’t want to wait for changes in my country. I know what has to change.” – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Jul 05, 2012
  • Rising Harrison out to become next Steward-trained champ

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    Tony Harrison

    Tony Harrison will try to improve to 8-0 as he takes on Flavio Turelli on the undercard of Wladimir Klitschko-Tony Thompson on Saturday night. (Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images)

    BERN, Switzerland — Every now and then, a young fighter appears on an undercard and catches your eye. Last March, I was in Düsseldorf, Germany, covering the heavyweight title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Jean Marc Mormeck. On the untelevised undercard of that show was junior middleweight Tony Harrison, a 21-year-old prospect with a 1,000-watt smile trained by Emanuel Steward.

    I didn’t think much of Harrison.

    That is, until I saw him fight.

    Harrison was a beast that night, dispatching an overmatched Harun Akcabelen in three lopsided rounds. It wasn’t just that Harrison won; it was the way he won, showcasing blurring speed, concussive power and sharp technique. For a kid less than a year into a pro career, it was a very impressive performance.

    Harrison has a distinguished boxing pedigree. His grandfather, Henry Hank, was a fringe contender who fought notable opponents like Bob Foster and Jimmy Ellis. His father, Lloyd Harrison, also boxed. Tony wasn’t raised in a gym though; his boxing indoctrination came on the streets of Detroit, where Harrison said he fought “every other day.”

    “Big kids, small kids, it didn’t matter,” Harrison said. “I was just always fighting. I was a 70-pound eight year old getting into fights. When my older brothers got into fights, I would find out who they were fighting and just rush them. There was something about it that I just loved.”

    Eventually, Harrison’s parents had enough. They sent him to a local boxing gym where, Harrison said, “they tried to turn a negative into a positive.”

    Harrison enjoyed boxing, but early on he wasn’t serious about it. A natural athlete, Harrison played other sports. When it wasn’t football it was basketball, when it wasn’t basketball it was track and when he had some spare time, he boxed. At 19, Harrison decided to get serious. He got an offer to move to California and train, but he wanted to stay in Detroit. So he called Steward, the godfather of Detroit boxing, and asked to work with him. Steward had been keeping an eye on Harrison over the years and agreed to take him on at his famed Kronk gym.

    “I fought a lot of his guys,” Harrison said. “I guess he thought I had pro potential.”

    Harrison has been moved along quickly. He turned pro last July and has fought seven times, winning each fight by knockout. Harrison is a long junior middleweight, spreading 154-pounds in a lean, 6-foot-1 frame. On Saturday night Harrison will go for win No. 8 when he takes on Flavio Turelli (10-5-2) on the untelevised undercard of Klitschko’s title defense against Tony Thompson (5 p.m. ET, Epix, EpixHD.com)

    Harrison says he owes a lot to the Klitschko’s. This will be the third time he has fought on Wladimir’s undercard, netting him international exposure and, more importantly, valuable experience against European opponents.

    “I’m getting different looks from all these international fighters,” Harrison said. “That’s going to pay off for me.”

    Despite his age and inexperience, Harrison is eager for stiffer tests.

    “I think I’m ready,” Harrison said. “I feel like I’m developing faster than others. I need a little more, but as far as skills, I’m ready. I have what it takes. My willpower, my desire, these guys I’m fighting are a cakewalk. There is only one person stopping me from being a multimillionaire, and that’s me. Emanuel drives the bus, I just ride in it. He has trained all these world champions. I’m going to be the next one.”

    –Chris Mannix


  • Published On Jul 04, 2012
  • Main Events, NBC deal brings boxing back to network television

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    Boxing is coming back to network television.

    Main Events announced Monday that it had agreed to a new two-year deal with NBC that will include as many as 16 shows on NBC Sports Network over the next two years. As part of the deal, a Dec. 22 show has been added to this year’s schedule, which will air in the afternoon on NBC. (Full disclosure: I will continue on my role as ringside reporter on the NBC telecasts, with the entire broadcast team of Kenny Rice, Freddie Roach and B.J. Flores remaining intact.)

    “This series is the best thing that has happened to boxing in years,” said promoter Russell Peltz, who will continue in his role as primary matchmaker. “In just four shows, we have seen the emergence of U.S. heavyweight prospect Bryant Jennings and junior middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado. We have shown matches between world-rated fighters, and that’s something you rarely see these days on television. On top of that, the fights have been promoted the old-fashioned way, in sold-out noisy venues in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Bethlehem and Newark. This is the way boxing was meant to be.”

    Some key details of the deal: There are a guaranteed six dates per year on NBC Sports Network in 2013 and 2014, with an option to add more. Up to two more shows could be added to the NBC schedule each year.

    Two fights — Jan.19 and Mar. 9 — have already been added to the 2013 NBC Sports Network calendar.

    Main Events president Kathy Duva reiterated her willingness to work with other promoters.

    “We are once again reaching out to all promoters to get involved in the series.” Duva said. “The multiple-promoter format worked incredibly well during season one and we are hoping to continue to build on the momentum. All fighters who are willing to further their careers by engaging in compelling, interesting, meaningful matches are welcome.”

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Jul 02, 2012


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