Archive for May, 2013

Marco Huck, Ola Afolabi ready to battle for cruiserweight belt

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Ola Afolabi and Marco Huck know one another well, and the two will battle again on June 8 in Berlin. [Jens Meyer/AP]

Ola Afolabi and Marco Huck know each other well, and the two will battle again on June 8 in Berlin. [Jens Meyer/AP]

The cruiserweight division doesn’t get much press in the U.S., in part because most of the top fighters are European and also because many see the division as boxing limbo, a weight class for those that have outgrown light heavyweight and just aren’t big enough to contend with the heavyweights. Ask the casual fan to name the last cruiserweight fight they sat down and watched, and more often than not you will be met with a blank stare.

That’s too bad because over the last few years Marco Huck and Ola Afolabi have tangled in two entertaining fights. In 2009, Huck outpoint Afolabi, winning a back and forth bout that saw both land huge shots. They fought again last year, and again both teed off on each other, going 12 rounds in a fight that ended in a draw.

On June 8, Huck (35-2-1) and Afolabi (19-2-4) will meet again. Huck’s WBO cruiserweight title will be on the line, a prize Afolabi craves.

“My attitude is pretty simple,” Afolabi said. “This was my belt, this is my belt and I am coming to finally take it from him. I honestly do not see how I could lose this fight. I have been working to hard on myself and on the tactics. I should already have won the title last year. Now the time has finally come.”

After two physical fights, Afolabi expects another violent encounter.

“Huck always comes to fight,” Afolabi said. “When he turns up, he is going for it. He is a bit like a robot and just keeps coming. He is actually too tough to know when he has been hurt.”

Afolabi believes that changes in his diet in this camp will give him more stamina in the later rounds.

“I am eating properly and take vitamin supplements,” Afolabi said. “I quit eating cheeseburgers and other junk food and have turned to healthy food instead. It makes a huge difference. I could make the weight for the fight right now. So by not having to make weight I can concentrate on my training and keep my focus.”

“I am not going into the fight looking for a knockout. That would increase the risk of over-pacing during the first few rounds. However, I see myself stopping Huck early. Regardless of that, I am going to do whatever it takes to leave the ring as the winner.”

Chris Mannix


  • Published On May 30, 2013
  • Rousey-Tate surprise signals troubling, drama-heavy trend in UFC title bouts

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    This was Ronda Rousey's demeanor before fighting Miesha Tate. Now she'll be living with her on a TV show. [Esther Lin/Getty Images]

    This was Ronda Rousey’s face before fighting Miesha Tate. Now the two will live together. [Esther Lin/Getty Images]

    The key word in the term “reality television” is not “reality” but “television.” Entertainment, or at least the promise of it, is what counts. If that means you must stretch the reality part a wee bit to pull in viewers, so be it.

    Within that context, the UFC and Fox didn’t simply rescue, but in fact spiced up The Ultimate Fighter on Tuesday. Season 18 of the show, which will air beginning Sept. 4 on the new Fox Sports 1 cable channel, was to feature women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey coaching against unbeaten Cat Zingano. The first female coaches in the show’s history would be working with teams composed, for the first time, of both men and women. It’s groundbreaking in a multitude of ways.

    Add to that some new made-for-TV drama. Zingano injured her right knee two weeks ago and had to drop out of the show, according to the UFC, which kept that information a secret until taping began on Tuesday. So when Rousey showed up in the promotion’s Las Vegas gym and the cameras rolled, she came face to face with her bitter nemesis, former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate. Surprise, surprise.

    “For those of you who don’t know, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate don’t like each other at all,” UFC president Dana White said in a Fox video. “They have been battling, verbally and physically, for years. Now they are going to be living together here for six weeks.”

    And afterward, they will fight — which is where this gets sticky if you care at all about the worthiness of title bouts.

    When Rousey puts her belt on the line against Tate sometime in the fall, she will be the fourth UFC champion this year to defend against an opponent coming off a loss. Tate, who had her Strikeforce title dislodged and her elbow dislocated by a Rousey armbar when they first met last year, was on the verge of earning a rematch after winning the first two rounds of a No. 1 challenger showdown with Zingano in April. But “Alpha Cat” turned the tide in Round 3, blasting Tate with knees to the face until the fight was stopped with just over two minutes remaining. Apparently the TKO loss was good enough to earn Miesha another shot at Ronda.

    Something has shifted in UFC matchmaking. José Aldo defended his featherweight championship in February against a man coming off two straight losses. Sure, Frankie Edgar is a former lightweight champ whose two prior defeats came in close title fights at that higher weight. But still. What about Georges St-Pierre, who put his welterweight strap on the line in March against Nick Diaz, who was coming off a loss and a year-long drug suspension? Just last month, Jon Jones defended the light heavyweight title against Chael Sonnen, who was coming off a knockout defeat and had not fought at 205 pounds in seven years. What a tangled web the UFC has weaved.

    Now, it’s not like this hadn’t ever happened before 2013. But generally — though not always — it’s either been a championship fight loser being granted a rematch or someone getting an unforeseen shot at a title because of a champion’s retirement, failed drug test or some other extenuating circumstance.

    GALLERY: Classic photos of Ronda Rousey

    One might view Rousey vs. Tate II as the product of extenuating circumstances. Losing a coach two weeks before your high-profile reality show begins taping calls for desperate measures. And what were the UFC’s options? Sarah Kaufman is ranked higher than Tate, and is also an ex-Strikeforce champ, but she lasted less than a minute against Ronda last August. There’s also Liz Carmouche, who was scheduled to fight Miesha in July … and who did better than either Tate or Kaufman against Rousey, nearly submitting the champ early before succumbing to — what else? — an armbar in the final seconds of the first round. But that February bout, the first women’s fight in UFC history, was the most recent on the resumes of both Ronda and Liz. “Girl-Rilla” needs to wait a while for another title try.

    An intriguing possibility for Rousey would have been fellow Olympian — and fellow groundbreaker — Sara McMann. Whereas Ronda became the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo when she took bronze in Beijing in 2008, McMann became the first female American silver medalist in wrestling four years later in Athens. But while both also share a 7-0 record, Sara has been building her MMA career more steadily than the meteoric champ has. McMann dominated Sheila Gaff in her UFC debut last month, and the promotion apparently believes she needs more seasoning before it can serve up an Olympian vs. Olympian clash.

    In the end, the UFC has eschewed new blood for bad blood.

    Rousey is all for it — after getting over her initial shock. Yahoo! Sports’s Kevin Iole, who was at the UFC gym, wrote that Ronda “was clearly stunned” when she spotted Tate, and stormed out in search of White. When she emerged back under the bright lights, Rousey was in full TV publicist mode. “This is what we really wanted all along,” she told Iole. “Everyone said an Ultimate Fighter between me and Miesha would be the best. We have a personal history with each other, and this is a personal show. For some reason, me and Miesha are intertwined in fate like Ali and Frazier or something like that.”

    — Jeff Wagenheim


  • Published On May 29, 2013
  • Three thoughts on Carl Froch’s unanimous decision over Mikkel Kessler

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    Carl Froch beats Mikkel Kessler

    Carl Froch (left) withstood several big shots to the chin from Mikkel Kessler to win a unanimous decision. (Sang Tan/AP)

    Three thoughts on Carl Froch’s unanimous decision win over Mikkel Kessler:

    Froch continues to impress
    In 2011, Froch lost a lopsided decision to Andre Ward in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six tournament, and at 34, it was fair to question if Froch had blown his best opportunity to prove he was among the top fighters in the world. But Froch followed up the loss with a dramatic knockout win over Lucian Bute—an undefeated, legitimate titleholder considered the best 168-pounder not in the Super Six—and on Saturday, Froch became a unified super middleweight champion with a decisive decision win over Mikkel Kessler, avenging a 2010 defeat. Froch, fighting for the third straight time in his home country of England, was as relentless against Kessler as he was against Bute, piling up points in the early rounds behind a stiff jab and an overwhelming work rate. Kessler rallied in the later rounds, even stunning Froch in the 11th, but Froch closed the show with a strong 12th, pummeling Kessler into a corner. The three judges scored the fight 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113, while SI.com had it 116-112. Everyone got it right.

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  • Published On May 25, 2013
  • UFC’s Daniel Cormier to Jon Jones: “We can fight at 220 [pounds] tomorrow”

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    Jon Jones

    Jon Jones retained his light heavyweight title at AFC 159 in April via a first roudn TKO. (Gregory Payan/AP)

    LAS VEGAS — Apparently word got around that Daniel Cormier was going to be taking questions from fans on Friday afternoon at MGM Grand Garden Arena prior to the weigh-ins for UFC 160.

    The news reached all the way to Moscow, where Jon Jones is presenting a mixed martial arts seminar. And the light heavyweight champion couldn’t help but tweak the undefeated heavyweight who keeps talking about cutting down to 205 pounds and beating him up. “Someone ask DC when his diet starts,” Jones wrote on Twitter.

    When Cormier caught wind of the “Bones” tweet, he sidetracked the Q&A session by playfully but forcefully telling the next fan who stepped to the microphone, “OK, your question is to ask me, for Jon Jones, if I’ve started cutting weight yet.” That got a rise out of the crowd, as did the answer Cormier provided the champ: “I haven’t started cutting weight yet. But we can fight at 220 tomorrow if you want. He can walk off the street at whatever he weighs now, and we can fight. Let’s fight at any weight, Jon, you and I.”

    Hmm, Jones has been talking about moving up to heavyweight. But dueling bravado aside, it seems more likely that Cormier will aim for a challenge of Jones at 205 at the end of the year. First he plans to trim from his current 235 pounds to 220 for a heavyweight fight in August or September. He expressed an interest in the winner between Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum, who meet in Brazil in two weeks.

    If Cormier should get past one of those heavies, it would be down to 205 for him. That clearly will be a challenge for a man who likes to eat as much as Daniel does. What will he have to cut from his diet? “Gumbo,” said the native of Lafayette, Louisiana. “Jambalaya. Red beans and rice. All of the Louisiana food.” As he said this, he looked sad.

    Cormier perked up, however, when he told fans that after the weigh-ins he was planning on taking Cain Velasquez, who defends his heavyweight belt against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in Saturday’s main event, out for a movie to relax. Someone asked him if he’d be having butter on his popcorn, and he impulsively answered in the affirmative. Then caught himself. “If I’m going down,” he said, speaking of the long-range weight cut, “well, if I’m going down …” He paused. “Aw, it’s still popcorn with butter!”

    –Jeff Wagenheim


  • Published On May 24, 2013
  • UFC 160 Predictions: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva

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    All three of SI.com's UFC experts predict Cain Velasquez (left) to defeat Antonio Silva. (Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    All three of SI.com’s UFC experts predict Cain Velasquez (left) to defeat Antonio Silva. (Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    SI.com analysts Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 160, which takes place Saturday (10 p.m. ET) and will be live-blogged on SI.com.

    Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva

    HUNT: It’s hard to get the brutal image of their first encounter a year ago out of my head. Velasquez fought with a ferocity we hadn’t seen before and violently ripped Silva’s bloodied face open from top position. A loss like that would have broken other fighter’s psyches, though Bigfoot has bounced back surprisingly well. Is the rematch a whole new fight? Possibly, but Velasquez still has the advantage in all areas, including the key wrestling component. Velasquez by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: As much of a mismatch as this fight is, don’t call Silva undeserving. “Bigfoot” earned his title shot with knockouts of previously unbeaten Travis Browne and title-challenger-in-waiting Alistair Overeem. That said, it would be shocking if the bulky Brazilian even makes this fight competitive. (OK, it’ll be more competitive than his first meeting with Velasquez, in which Silva was on his back within five seconds and was assaulted the rest of the way.) Cain is faster, in better shape, is disciplined and has the wrestling chops to dictate where this fight is fought. That means the big fists of “Bigfoot” are unlikely to be a factor, and Velasquez will roll onward, possibly into a rematch with Junior dos Santos. Velasquez by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: By sheer “force of force” Bigfoot instills fear. But ultimately this will come down to speed. Velasquez will be quicker to snap off punches and kicks, quicker to avoid and execute takedowns and quicker in transition. Velasquez by decision.

    Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt

    HUNT: Has Dos Santos gotten his house in order? He admitted distraction from personal issues walking into his loss to Velasquez last December and it cost him the title. If he’s got his head and training straight, his striking speed and power can break Hunt’s career-resurrecting streak. Should Dos Santos want to take the path of least resistance, six of the granite-chinned Hunt’s seven losses have come by way of submission. But that won’t happen. Dos Santos by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: This is not as much of a mismatch as the main event, but it’s still a mismatch. Hunt has a puncher’s chance, and against Dos Santos, a guy who’s confident in his own standup game and might be willing to trade fisticuffs, that opportunity might dangle in front of the New Zealander for a while. But Junior has been in before with hamhock-fisted sluggers (Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin), and he’s dominated the standup. Plus, something tells me the ex-champ is going to be on a mission to show he’s better than the guy who was battered for 25 one-sided minutes by Velasquez back in their title fight last December. Just as Cain came out like a cannon blast in his first fight after losing the belt to Dos Santos, expect something explosive from redemption-minded Junior. Dos Santos by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: The good news: Hunt made it to the fight after his various travel issues. The bad news: it’s hard to see him winning. Credit Hunt for his resurgence (dude turns 40 in March) but — short of landing a bomb — how does he hurt JDS? Much like the main event fight, you have to favor the younger, quicker more versatile fighter. Dos Santos by TKO.

    Glover Teixeira vs. James Te Huna

    HUNT: This feels like a holdover fight for Texeira as the UFC clears away the debris of Jones-Sonnen atop the light heavyweight division. In short, striker Teixeira has faced much stiffer competition than Te Huna’s lighter docket. Teixeira by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: This is the type of fighter Teixeira has to tear through if he’s to continue his out-of-nowhere rise in the light heavyweight division. That’s not to downgrade Te Huna, but the heavy-handed New Zealander — the other heavy-handed New Zealander, that is —  is not what you’d call a well-rounded fighter. So Glover can test the waters by standing and banging, and if the sea gets choppy he can take the fight to the ground … and drown James. Teixeira via submission.

    WERTHEIM: An interesting contrast in styles. The head says Teixeira — a complete fighter who hasn’t lost since 2005 — ought to win. The heart says that Te Huna, a Maori with dangerous power, has a chance. Fight of the night potential. We’ll play it safe. Teixeira by decision.

    Gray Maynard vs. T.J. Grant

    HUNT: Canadian Grant finally seems to be finding his stride in the big O, and Maynard hasn’t fought in 11 months due to a knee injury. I always thought Grant had the goods and this is the one where he needs to step up and deliver. Is he ready? My gut says Maynard by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Twice, Maynard was so close to the lightweight belt he could smell the leather. But ever since his near misses against Frankie Edgar, Gray has been a missing person. He’s stepped into the cage only once in the past 19 months, and didn’t get to show much that night last summer against Clay “Usain” Guida. I mention this because Maynard can’t afford to be rusty against Grant. T.J. is 4-0 since dropping to the 155-pound weight class, and he’s starting to get a whiff of the strap as well. Can Grant take the fight to the ground, where he paints his masterpieces? That’s tough against Gray. Maynard by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Were it not for one lapse against granite-chinned Frankie Edgar, Maynard would have authored a completely different career. As it stands, credit him for putting himself back in the lightweight picture. After a bizarre win over Clay Guida in his last fight, he can make a statement by beating the impressive Canadian T.J. Grant. If he can bring his superior wrestling skills to bear, Maynard should survive. Maynard by decision.

    Donald Cerrone vs. K.J. Noons

    HUNT: Cerrone is the more well-rounded lightweight and although entertaining, boxer Noons is mighty predictable. Barring another fluke fall-apart from Cerrone like the Pettis loss four months ago, this will be a fun one, however long it lasts on its feet. Cerrone by submission.

    WAGENHEIM: As a Jackson/Winklejohn guy, Cerrone has the stronger pedigree. He’s more well-rounded, which gives him more ways to win. And while “The Cowboy” hasn’t exactly been riding high of late, Noons has looked lost while dropping four of five. K.J. is better with his hands, but that won’t be enough. Cerrone by decision.

    WERTHEIM: You can’t help feel the matchmakers sympathized with Cerrone, an entertaining UFC favorite. After a rough loss to Anthony Pettis, the Cowboy gets back on the horse against Noon, a dangerous fighter, but one who has lost four of his last five fights. Cerrone by TKO.


  • Published On May 24, 2013
  • Three thoughts: Matthysse showcases power in KO win against Peterson

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    Lucas Matthysse

    Lucas Matthysse knocked down LaMont Peterson in the second round and won in the third. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

    ATLANTIC CITY — Three thoughts from Lucas Matthysse’s knockout win over Lamont Peterson …

    1. Matthysse is scary good. Yes, Matthysse has two losses on his résumé, narrow defeats to Devon Alexander and Zab Judah. Yes, they were his two biggest fights. But in blowing away Peterson on Saturday, Matthysse firmly established himself as the most dangerous fighter in the junior welterweight division. Because this was never close. Peterson was clearly wary of Matthysse’s power early, fighting backing up, trying to keep Matthysse at bay with his jab. But Matthysse is relentless. He stalked Peterson in the second round, dropping him with a crushing right hand. In the third, Matthysse dropped Peterson again. Referee Steve Smoger allowed a wobbly Peterson to continue — “He’s a champion,” Smoger told me afterwards. “I wanted to give him one more shot.” — but Matthysse stormed in to close the show, dropping Peterson again, forcing Smoger to wave it off. Make no mistake, Lamont Peterson is a very good fighter and a legitimate titleholder. But Matthysse simply destroyed him.

    2. Can anyone stand up to that power? Watching Matthysse walk through Peterson made me wonder: How did Alexander and Judah stand up to this? After the fight, Bernard Hopkins walked over to press row and said that if he were fighting Matthysse, the crowd would be booing for the first six rounds. “Because I’d be running,” Hopkins said. “I’d be trying to tire him out.”

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  • Published On May 18, 2013
  • Showtime rejects worrying rumors, calls Mayweather vs. Guerrero a ‘major win’

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    Floyd Mayweather (left) defeated Robert Guerrero via unanimous decision on Showtime PPV. (Robert Beck/SI)

    Floyd Mayweather (left) defeated Robert Guerrero via unanimous decision on Showtime PPV. (Robert Beck/SI)

    NEW YORK — The Showtime boxing pay-per-view show headlined by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Robert Guerrero last Saturday will surpass 1 million buys, Showtime Executive Vice President of Sports and Event Programming Stephen Espinoza told SI.com. Espinoza declined to give an exact figure but said “we’re very comfortable saying that the pay-per-view buys for Mayweather-Guerrero will definitely exceed 1 million.”

    Twitter was abuzz this week with rumors that early Mayweather-Guerrero numbers indicated the show would finish under a million. Considering the investment Showtime made in Mayweather — signing him to a six-fight deal that could be worth in excess of $200 million — such a number would be disastrous. Espinoza declined to say how many buys over a million the event did, but declared it “a major win.”

    “What this does is [it] reconfirms Floyd’s status as the top pay-per-view draw in boxing,” Espinoza said. “Really in all of sports. To do this kind of number without the benefit of a well-known opponent speaks very strongly for his continued drawing power. We look at Robert, and he was very game, he has proven he was among the top of the division. But he is not well known to the general public. His awareness as far as the pay per view goes is still low. To do this number without a well-known opponent established is great.”

    One rumor circulating was that Showtime, because of the $32 million Mayweather was guaranteed, needed a big number just to break even, reportedly between 1.1 and 1.3 million. Espinoza called the reports “absolutely untrue.”

    “It’s inaccurate,” Espinoza said. “We have talked about it before internally and we agreed that we are not going to go into details of the deal. I can say generally though that there are a lot of mischaracterizations going around. Rumors of financial demise are greatly exaggerated.”

    Still, the success of Mayweather-Guerrero may not be a sign of things to come. It’s likely a large number of people bought the pay-per-view to see if Mayweather, at 36 and coming off a one-year layoff that included a two month stint in prison, had lost a step. Mayweather is among the most polarizing athletes in sports, with as many pay-per-view buyers watching to see him lose as there are to see him win. The ease with which Mayweather defeated Guerrero could turn many of those buyers away in the future.

    “It is a challenge,” Espinoza admitted. “There is a challenge here when you have someone as skilled as Floyd is, someone who is able to neutralize an opponent as much as he often does, it can become monotonous. There has always been a significant portion of the audience that wants to see him lose. More people will appreciate his skill level when he retires. I wish there was more appreciation for his skill level now while we have him.”

    Of course, the buy rate for Mayweather-Guerrero would be boosted by more cooperative fighters. There was no press conference to announce the fight, a shock when you consider that virtually all fights on that level would include a multi-city press tour. Guerrero was largely useless, effectively shutting down after being arrested for gun possession in March. Mayweather, uninterested in delving too deep into his time in jail and problems with the law, repeatedly declined extended interviews before the fight. And viewership for Showtime’s All-Access show struggled compared to HBO’s 24/7 series (box), which has the benefit of a larger subscriber base (29 million to 22 million for Showtime).

    HBO vs. Showtime

    24/7 MAYWEATHER/COTTO (HBO) ALL ACCESS: MAYWEATHER/GUERRERO (Showtime)
    April 2012 April 2013
    #1 473,000 viewers #1 105,000 viewers
    #2 493,000 viewers #2 64,000 viewers
    #3 505,000 viewers #3 93,000 viewers
    #4 310,000 viewers #4 58,000 viewers

    “The argument made was because there was a large guarantee, Floyd wasn’t as motivated [to promote the fight] and that assumed something that wasn’t established,” Espinoza said. “That was attributing motives to Floyd that may or may not be there. I think Floyd put forth a tremendous effort, particularly in social media and other non-traditional stuff that we did. He flew across country to do a couple of days of publicity at the Final Four. Some writers out there were upset at not getting the access that they desired. Floyd took this camp very seriously. His priority was being in camp. Some of the media access might have been sacrificed.”

    Of course, one way to guarantee financial success in the future is the opponent. Junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is considered one of the biggest stars in boxing after Mayweather, and certainly one of its most popular. His last fight, against Austin Trout in San Antonio, drew 40,000 fans. Mayweather has yet to say who he will face in September but it’s clear Canelo would generate the most revenue.

    “We are actively involved in those discussions,” Espinoza said. “It’s my understanding that everybody involved from Mayweather, to Canelo, to Golden Boy, to Showtime, wants that fight to happen. It’s still a deal that has to get done. The talks are underway and the most positive thing I can say about the prospects of that happening is that everybody wants that fight. It’s not about convincing one side to take the fight. We are past that point. I am cautiously optimistic that it will happen.”

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On May 10, 2013
  • Trash-talking Adrien Broner hoping for more respect after Malignaggi fight

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    Adrien Broner (right) defeated Gavin Rees to retain the WBC lightweight belt in February. (AP)

    Adrien Broner (right) defeated Gavin Rees to retain the WBC lightweight belt in February. (AP)

    LAS VEGAS — The smack talk between Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner has already gone digital, with two of the most social media savvy fighters in boxing spending the last month engaged in a Twitter and Instagram street fight. But last weekend, at a press conference to promote their June 22 welterweight title fight, Broner took it to the next level. Sporting a white t-shirt with the words “Hey Paulette” emblazoned in red letters on the front, Broner stepped to a podium and declared that Malignaggi’s ex-girlfriend, Jessica, was now his “sweetheart.” He then proceeded to call Jessica, and have a conversation with her on speakerphone.

    From there it got uglier, with Broner suggesting that Malignaggi used to hit his ex, and Malignaggi — who doubles as a Showtime boxing analyst — degrading her and Broner with a variety of slurs, all in front of an audience sprinkled with women and children.

    The two will settle their differences in June in the ring, where Broner, 23, has yet to be beaten. Many have tabbed Broner (26-0) as boxing’s next big thing, a Floyd Mayweather-like talent with sharp defensive skills and blistering power in both hands. Last year, Broner moved from super featherweight (130-pounds) to lightweight (135-pounds), pounding Antonio DeMarco over eight lopsided rounds to win the WBC belt. In March, Broner defended the title, knocking out former titleholder Gavin Rees in five rounds.

    As a lightweight, Broner’s options were limited. An anticipated unification fight with Ricky Burns never materialized. And when Broner looked up to the 140-pound division — perhaps the deepest in boxing — all of the top contenders had fights already scheduled. So Broner looked to welterweight (147-pounds) and Malignaggi (32-4), the WBA titleholder, who quickly accepted the fight.

    “I was disappointed we didn’t get the Burns fight because the media and the fans wanted it,” said Broner’s trainer, Mike Stafford. “I was happy for Ricky because Ricky was smart enough to know that he couldn’t beat Adrien, and his team protected his business. Other than that, we have to move on. That’s one of the reasons we are fighting Paulie. We have not been getting the notoriety for who he was beating. People still saying we haven’t fought anybody. Paulie was the name that we felt when we beat, people will to start realize that this kid is for real. Because lot of people still think this kid is a joke.”

    Stafford says he has no concerns jumping two weight classes with Broner, who often comes to camp in the high 140’s and routinely spars with 150 and 160 pounders.

    “Adrien will be much stronger,” Stafford said. “Paulie is not a full-fledged 147-pounder, anyway. It would be different if we were fighting a 147-pounder who has been that weight for years. Paulie just got to 147. When he was an amateur, he was a little guy. His speed got him where he is today. But we have speed and power. Paulie is really not a full-fledged 147. Most 147-pounders walk around 160, 165, then they come down. Both these guys are light guys.”

    As for the criticisms of Broner — both in the ring and out — Stafford urges people to get to know him before passing judgment.

    “He is still young and most don’t know anything about him,” Stafford said. “They don’t know where he comes from. When Floyd or Oscar [De La Hoya] does something [crazy], they wave it off. With this kid, it’s something different. The world doesn’t know.”

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On May 10, 2013
  • Three thoughts on Floyd Mayweather beating Robert Guerrero

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    It was an easy 12-round win for Floyd Mayweather over Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

    It was an easy 12-round win for Floyd Mayweather over Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

    LAS VEGAS — Three thoughts on Floyd Mayweather’s easy win over Robert Guerrero:

    A blowout I thought, a blowout I got: Guerrero talked tough before the fight, promising to rough up Mayweather, promising to do to him what no fighter had before. But how many times have we heard that before? When Guerrero did get in the ring, he found himself up against a quicker, stronger, more elusive fighter. The first two rounds were close, but after that it was repetitive. Mayweather pot-shotted Guerrero with right hands, so many in fact that he said he broke it in the middle rounds. Guerrero chased Mayweather around the ring throughout the fight, trying to pin him against the ropes, trying to do to Mayweather what he did to Andre Berto last year.

    GALLERY: Action shots of Mayweather-Guerrero

    But Mayweather (surprise!) is not Berto. For the most part, Mayweather kept the fight in the middle of the ring, going to the ropes, it seemed, only when he wanted to. When Guerrero did get inside, Mayweather parried most of his punches and kept a stiff guard up to prevent anything significant from getting through. According to CompuBox, Mayweather connected on 41 percent of his punches (to Guerrero’s 19 percent), 19 percent of his jabs (compared to 11 percent for Guerrero) and a whopping 60 percent of his power shots (28 percent for Guerrero). It was a boxing clinic by a fighter taking on an opponent nowhere near his level.

    No rust: Mayweather isn’t the same springboarding defensive fighter he once was, the end result of age costing him some of his mobility. But coming off a one-year layoff and a two-month prison sentence, he was more elusive than he was in his last fight, against Miguel Cotto. Time after time Guerrero went for a big hook and came up with air. Time after time Guerrero tried to crowd Mayweather, only to have him disappear right in front of him. Going into the fight, I thought the only way Guerrero could win would be if Mayweather aged in the ring. Put simply, he didn’t.

    Where now, Floyd? There is going to be a groundswell of support for Mayweather — who confirmed before the fight he would be back in September and that he intended to fight five more times — to face Canelo Alvarez in the fall, and Alvarez, who has replaced a defanged Manny Pacquiao as Mayweather’s preferred opponent, is a solid choice. But is there any real reason to believe that an inexperienced Alvarez will be able to locate Mayweather any better than Guerrero? Mayweather’s potential pool of opponents — Alvarez, Danny Garcia, Amir Khan — just aren’t on Mayweather’s level. It’s Floyd’s world, as long as he can keep his skills on top of it.

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On May 05, 2013
  • Official Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero scorecard

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    Here it is. Sports Illustrated writers Chris Mannix (119-109) and Bryan Armen Graham (118-110) both scored the fight in favor of Floyd Mayweather.

    Ringside judges Julie Lederman, Jerry Roth and Duane Ford each scored it 117-111 in favor of Mayweather, who retains his WBC welterweight title.

    mayweather-guerrero-scorecard

    Mayweather landed 195 of 476 punches (41 percent) — including an otherworldly 60 percent of his power shots — compared to 113 of 581 (19 percent) for Guerrero.


  • Published On May 05, 2013


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