Archive for June, 2013

Three Thoughts: Gennady Golovkin brutalizes Matthew Macklin

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Gennady Golovkin dropped Matt Macklin in the third round with a vicious body shot. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

Gennady Golovkin (left) dropped Matt Macklin in the third round with a vicious body shot. (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Three thoughts from WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin’s third round destruction of Matthew Macklin…

There are body shots, and there was that: If you’re a young fighter who thinks headhunting is how you score knockouts, save the footage of this fight. In the third round, after backing up and battering Macklin up for most of the first two, Golovkin (27-0) delivered one of the most savage body shots in boxing history, a perfectly placed left hook that was both precise and savage, and kept Macklin on the mat long after he was counted out.

Make no mistake: Macklin is a live opponent. He gave Sergio Martinez all he could ask for in a loss last year and was coming off a first-round knockout win over veteran Joachim Alcine. But he had no chance. Golovkin’s pressure was swarming, and Macklin was never given a chance to fight back.

“It was an easy fight for me,” Golovkin said. “He never hurt me. I felt great in the ring. I want to fight again as soon as possible. Any top fighter, any champion, any belt holder, anywhere.”

Said Macklin, “He’s the best I ever fought. He never let me get started.”

Anyone still think it’s hype? There had been this bizarre belief among some on the Internet that, perhaps, Golovkin was more hype than substance. Maybe it was his opponents—no superstars on that resume yet—or perhaps it was the way HBO has anointed him as its next star. Regardless, that debate should be over. The narrative tomorrow will be Golovkin’s power, and it should. “He has clubbing, solid power,” Macklin said. “You can feel the weight of every punch he throws.”

But Golovkin is so much more than just a power puncher. He fought 355 amateur fights, and won 350 of them. He is methodical, technical, accurate with every punch he throws. There is no wasted motion, no wasted energy. He is a complete fighter.

“People talk about punching power,” Andre Ward said. “He is always in position to punch. It’s from that Soviet system. He has a strong base, strong foundation. He puts a lot of pressure on people, and it starts with his feet. He gets into position, then is able to unload the big shot.”

Who’s next? Anyone? Bueller? Think any middleweight is eager to get in with Golovkin? After the fight, Golovkin was asked about Sergio Martinez, the 160-pound division’s money man who is out for the rest of the year with multiple injuries. Golovkin was all for it. Lou DiBella, Martinez’s promoter, was not.

“It’s not that its out of the question,” DiBella said. “But he’s not going to come off a 14-month layoff and fight this animal.”

Fortunately for Golovkin, he is going to start attracting some top opponents, thanks to HBO’s exposure. Exposure means money, and Golovkin’s license fees will continue to rise. Top Rank’s Bob Arum said he is open to a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and IBF titleholder Daniel Geale—who fights on HBO in August—is another possibility. Even Ward is now warming to it; he told me after the fight that he has no problem fighting Golovkin, but said Golovkin’s team “doesn’t want it right now.”

In short: Golovkin is going to start getting bigger fights. And that’s good news for everybody.

– Chris Mannix

  • Published On Jun 30, 2013
  • Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman talk Brazil protests, Roy Jones Jr. on UFC 162 conference call

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    Undefeated in the UFC, Anderson Silva will fight Chris Weidman on July 6. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

    Undefeated in the UFC, Anderson Silva will fight Chris Weidman on July 6. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

    All hyberbole removed, Anderson Silva will face the toughest challenge of his career on July 6 when he takes on the undefeated Chris Weidman at UFC 162. So why, then, was most of a conference call in advance of the fight covering mostly everything but the fight? A quick look at the highlights from the call:

    · A Fight Bigger Than His Own: While Silva might have the biggest fight of his legendary career in front of him, that doesn’t mean he’s lost perspective on what looks to be a bigger battle: That for the future of his native Brazil. In what’s becoming an increasing rarity in sports, Silva embraced his celebrity to speak intelligently and eloquently about the political protests unfolding in his homeland. The protests, Silva says, “are valid as long as they’re peaceful and there’s no destruction of any property.” He went on to say, “Brazil’s got everything to be a great country for Brazilians and for immigrants. It’s just a matter of having more conscious politicians and now people are going to the streets and demanding that from the government.”

    The protests began on June 6 as a small, centralized outcry against a hike in transit fees but have swelled in both numbers and purpose. Last Thursday, 1.5 million Brazilians took to the streets in more than 80 cities to rage against government corruption, substandard health care and education, and an atrocious public safety record. Though the protests come on the precipice of soccer’s World Cup next year and the 2016 Summer Olympics, no other sport has a larger percentage of athletes affected than mixed martial arts. Three of the top 10 pound-for-pound UFC fighters are Brazilian-born. For more on the protests, check out this week’s July 1 edition of Sports Illustrated.

    · Who’s Fighting Again? Weidman is Silva’s next opponent but he fielded what seemed like just as many questions about . . . Roy Jones, Jr. Yup, the boxer. And the boxer who, we humbly submit, at age 44, should, perhaps, consider hanging up his gloves. “That’s a fight I’ve always wanted. That’s a fight I still want,” Silva says of a matchup with the boxer. “His boxing style is one that I would like to test myself against. I’ve always been a fan of his and I’ve always wanted to test myself against Roy Jones.” Silva floated the idea of fighting Jones earlier this month in an interview with the New York Post. What started as a whimsical wish in a tabloid registered as a legitimate challenge to Jones who responded via TMZ that he would accept the bout?

    · Psyched Out? Chris Weidman, who graduated from Hofstra with a psychology degree, may have found an unusual application for his studies: Beating Silva. “I just know what kind of mindset I need to have when I walk in that cage,” Weidman says. “The biggest thing is to stay confident, stay relaxed and make sure I dictate my fight once I get in there.”

    – Melissa Segura

  • Published On Jun 27, 2013
  • HBO Real Sports: MMA fight team working with veterans to combat PTSD

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    The P.O.W. fight team might not be as recognizable as the American Kickboxing Academy or the Blackzilians, but no team in the sport takes on tougher opponents.

    The Pugilistic Offensive Warrior Tactics team — or P.O.W., for short — battles foes like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse among returning veterans who make up its roster. HBO’s Real Sports debuts a 12-minute segment tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT examining how mixed martial arts helps veterans cope with the mental tolls of war.

    “Getting punched by [POW teammates], getting taken down and submitted by them makes me very centered,” veteran-turned-pro MMA fighter Shane Krutchen tells HBO’s correspondent Soledad O’Brien. “It my Zen.”

    O’Brien’s characterizations of MMA as violence that is “brutal” and “ruthless” may grate the sport’s cognoscenti, but be kind, she’s speaking to a larger audience. P.O.W. fighters and founder, Todd Vance, make a compelling case for MMA as a legitimate therapy for the more than 250,000 veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggling with PTSD.

    When O’Brien asks Vance if the San Diego-based P.O.W. is really group therapy masquerading as a fight club, Vance smiles and says, “Just don’t tell them that.” But with an average of 22 veterans committing suicide each day, it’s a story — and an approach — that can’t be kept quiet. 

    – Melissa Segura

  • Published On Jun 25, 2013
  • Three Thoughts: Adrien Broner beats Paulie Malignaggi in a split decision

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    Adrien Broner didn't dominate his fight on Saturday, but he did more than enough to prevail. [Al Bello/Getty Images]

    Adrien Broner didn’t dominate his fight on Saturday, but he did more than enough to prevail. [Al Bello/Getty Images]

    NEW YORK — Three thoughts on Adrien Broner’s split decision win over Paulie Malignaggi:

    1. Competitive fight, good decision: Coming into the fight, Malignaggi was a significant underdog. He had a title, but his best days are behind him, and even then, he never quite reached an elite level. Broner is on his way there. Malignaggi was the aggressor, throwing a high volume of punches, many of which Broner absorbed into his arms. Broner was surprisingly inactive, preferring to potshot Malignaggi while Malignaggi punched himself out. In the second half of the fight, Malignaggi appeared to slow down. Broner’s power—despite Malignaggi insisting that “girls hit harder than him”—clearly had an impact. Neither fighter appeared in danger of being knocked out, but Broner’s heavy shots were a factor. Maliganggi’s were not.

    Malignaggi was upset with the decision, particularly the 117-111 score—the same score finished with—submitted by judge Tom Schreck. But though Malignaggi put in a pretty good performance and can still be a factor at welterweight, Broner was clearly the better fighter—and the winner.

    2. Broner’s rise stalls: No question, Broner won the fight. But did he distinguish himself doing it? Broner fought 30-45 seconds per round, enough to outclass Malignaggi but against some of the top fighters at 140 and 147 pounds, Broner could run into some problems. There is no doubting Broner’s talent. The shoulder-roll defense, perfected by Floyd Mayweather, who watched from ringside, is a major weapon. It’s tough to hit Broner clean, and his superior speed, power and precision make him as dangerous as anyone in or around his weight class. But younger, faster, more elusive fighters will find ways to take advantage of his reluctance to engage as much as he could.

    “I’m 32, I don’t think he would have beaten a 25-year-old Paulie Malignaggi,” Malignaggi said. “He’s got some talent, but he’s not a guy with the talent to carry the sport.”

    3. A true heel is born: Let’s be honest: Broner can be insufferable. He came to the ring rapping, with his whole team decked out in gold robes. He spent the entire fight talking to Malignaggi, mocking him for not being fast enough to hit him. And after the fight he continued yapping, continued to push the notion that he stole Malignaggi’s girlfriend from him. Broner is young, just 23, but that kind of behavior is a turn-off, evidenced by the cacophony of boos that rained on him during a postfight interview.

    “The kid is not an example for anyone to look up to,” Malignaggi said. “He’s not a good person.”

    Indeed, Broner’s behavior is unbearable … but it could be smart. No one this side of the WWE likes a heel as much as boxing, and there is plenty of evidence that bad boys—most notably Mayweather—make money. “Being disliked is as powerful a sales tool as being liked … sometimes more,” tweeted promoter and former HBO executive Lou DiBella, and he’s right. Broner’s ratings on HBO were enormous, and he is walking (rapping?) down a Mayweather-like path, where more fans will watch to see him lose than win. But as Mayweather has proven, it doesn’t matter why you watch, as long as you do.

     Chris Mannix

  • Published On Jun 23, 2013
  • Nathan Cleverly to defend title against undefeated Sergey Kovalev

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    Nathan Cleverly successfully defended his WBO title against Robin Krasniqi in April. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

    Nathan Cleverly successfully defended his WBO title against Robin Krasniqi in April. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

    WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly will defend his title against Sergey Kovalev on August 17th in Cardiff, Wales, Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva, told The fight will be part of a split site tripleheader broadcast on HBO.

    Kovalev-Cleverly will be the co-main event for HBO’s card headlined by IBF middleweight titleholder Daniel Geale’s defense against Darren Barker.

    “At this point, we are putting the finishing touches on the contracts,” Duva said. “Sergey is very excited to get the chance to win his first world title on August 17th in Wales. This cannot help but be a non-stop, all action brawl. The real winners will be the fans who get to watch this great fight in Wales, on HBO, Box Nation and throughout the rest of the world, including Sergey’s home country of Russia.”

    Kovalev (21-0) is one of the fastest rising stars in the light heavyweight division. On Monday, the IBF ruled that Kovalev (21-0) was the mandatory challenger for titleholder Bernard Hopkins. But Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events, was already deep into negotiations with Cleverly, a fight that HBO wanted to buy. Though Kovalev publicly expressed a desire to fight Hopkins, he decided the chance to fight for a world title immediately and build a relationship with HBO was too important to pass up. 

    “My goal has always been to win the world title as soon as possible,” Kovalev said. “So I decided to take the first opportunity that was offered to me. I have dreamed for many years about fighting on HBO. I look forward to going to Wales to fight with Cleverly and I congratulate him for accepting this challenge.”

    HBO is preparing to make a significant investment in Kovalev. According to a source, HBO’s cameras will follow Kovalev for a “Two Days” special that will air after his fight. Though Duva said there were no guarantees made for any further fights, there is an “understanding with HBO that they want to go with [Kovalev] going forward.” The light heavyweight division is loaded with television-friendly talent, including titleholder Adonis Stevenson, who won the WBC belt with a stunning first round knockout of Chad Dawson earlier this month. 

    In addition, super middleweight champion Andre Ward — considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in boxing — is expected to eventually move up to light heavyweight.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Jun 21, 2013
  • ‘King Mo’ Lawal is the one doing the crowning this time in Bellator

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    Muhammed Lawal knocked Seth Petruzelli out cold in just 1:35 in the main event of Bellator 96.  (Jim Rinaldi/Icon SMI )

    Muhammed Lawal knocked Seth Petruzelli out cold in just 1:35 in the main event of Bellator 96. (Jim Rinaldi/Icon SMI )

    Another Muhammed Lawal fight. Another one-punch knockout.

    This time, though, “King Mo” was awake to enjoy it.

    Lawal, the prized Bellator signee who shockingly had been back-fisted into slumber in February, was the one doing the crowning Wednesday night in the main event of Bellator 96 in Thackerville, Okla. He needed just 1:35 to knock Seth Petruzelli out cold with a big right hand and earn his spot in the final of the promotion’s four-man Summer Series light heavyweight tournament, which kicked off under a bigger spotlight than usual with the UFC on hiatus for three weeks.

    Just as he’d been crumbled by Emanuel Newton four months ago with a maneuver often attempted but seldom pulled off to such effect — a spinning back fist — Lawal (10-2, 1 NC) scored a rare knockout of a fighter defending from his back against a standing opponent. It came after Petruzelli (14-8), a former UFC fighter best known as the man who burst the bubble of Kimbo Slice hype back in 2008, landed a few kicks early but tried one too many. Lawal, a former NCAA wrestling national champion, timed a kick, caught it, and powered his way to a takedown. He tried a few strikes from full guard, then pulled back and stood up, and in one motion he pushed aside Petruzelli’s extended legs and pounced on him with a nasty right hand that ended it.

    That “King Mo” advanced didn’t come as a surprise. That the other slot in the final was not filled by Renato “Babalu” Sobral might have … until you saw how slow and listless the Brazilian veteran was in a third-round TKO loss to Jacob Noe. Sobral was beaten to the punch throughout and was unable to get the bigger, stronger, fresher Noe to the mat in order to bring his black-belt jiu-jitsu into play.

    The one thing “Babalu” (37-11) did quickly: He retired. Within minutes after leaving the cage, the 37-year-old announced that he was ending a professional MMA career that began in 1997 and included two stints in the UFC and a Strikeforce championship.

    So it will be Noe (12-2, 1 NC), a 32-year-old who is 3-1 in Bellator, against Lawal on July 31 in Albuquerque for the right to try to end the 10-fight unbeaten streak of champion Attila Vegh. That Bellator 97 card also will feature the heavyweight tournament final, set up by Wednesday night’s first-round KO wins by four-time sambo world champion Vitaly Minakov (over Ron Sparks in 32 seconds) and Ryan Martinez (over Richard Hale in 2:19).

    Neither of those fights will be the main event or even co-main. Those slots will be taken by a couple of championship fights, as Ben Askren will put his welterweight belt on the line against Season 7 tournament winner Andrey Koreshkov and Michael Chandler will defend his lightweight title against Season 8 winner David Rickels. This promises to be the biggest event in Bellator history.

    –Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Jun 20, 2013
  • In WSOF debut, Jon Fitch gets choked out in 41 seconds by Josh Burkman

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    Josh Burkman knocked out veteran (Lucas Noonan/World Series of Fighting)

    Josh Burkman (pictured above) knocked  veteran Jon Fitch unconscious in just 41 seconds during the World Series of Fighting. (Lucas Noonan/World Series of Fighting)

    Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

    Jon Fitch, the longtime UFC welterweight contender and the No. 7 fighter in the 170-pound mixed martial arts rankings, made his debut with the nascent World Series of Fighting on Saturday night in Las Vegas. The fight lasted all of 41 seconds and did not end well for him.

    Fitch was floored by a Josh Burkman left-right combination in their first exchange of fisticuffs, then was choked unconscious so swiftly that referee Steve Mazzagatti didn’t seem to notice that he was out. The ref just stood there watching as Burkman let go of the submission hold all on his own, climbed to his feet and raised a fist triumphantly in the air. Fitch lay limply on the canvas.

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  • Published On Jun 15, 2013
  • With Anthony Pettis injured, José Aldo will defend UFC belt vs. Chan Sung Jung

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    Jung, known as the "Korean Zombie," will face Jose Aldo as Anthony Pettis will miss the fight with a torn meniscus. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

    Jung, known as the “Korean Zombie,” will face Jose Aldo as Anthony Pettis will miss the fight with a torn meniscus. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

    You win some, you lose some.

    Title bouts, that is.

    On Thursday afternoon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as he was hyping a UFC 161 card (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, PPV) that has zero championship fights on it, promotion president Dana White captured the full attention of the assembled media by announcing the next title defenses for his heavyweight, light heavyweight and welterweight champs. Three belts, up for grabs.

    Then, on Friday, White unveiled still another tussle for a brass-and-leather strap. But this time, the news, which was released via Twitter, was not so welcome. Well, unless you’re a zombie from East Asia.

    Anthony Pettis, the lightweight contender who dropped down to featherweight in order to challenge José Aldo, injured a knee in training and is out of the Aug. 3 title fight in Rio de Janeiro. According to White, he’ll be replaced in the UFC 163 main event by Chan Sung Jung.

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  • Published On Jun 15, 2013
  • UFC 161 Predictions: Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson

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    Light heavyweight Rashad Evans (left) will fight Dan Henderson in Winnipeg. (Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    Light heavyweight Rashad Evans (left) will fight Dan Henderson in Winnipeg. (Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) analyst Jeff Wagenheim provides his predictions for UFC 161, which takes place Saturday (10 p.m. ET).

    Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson

    OK, let’s see. I’m already on record with a main event pick in our Crash Course feature. Think anyone would notice if I go the other way here? It’s that close of a fight, that tough for me to call. I would not be surprised to see a Henderson right hand lay out Evans, Bisping-style. I would not be surprised to see Evans beat Henderson to the punch for three rounds, and wouldn’t even be shocked if Rashad became the first to finish “Hendo.” But I’m going to stick to my eenie-meenie-miney-mo pick, which I based on Evans’ recent history of a low flame on the fire that drives fighters. Henderson by decision.

    Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic

    Just what “Big Country” wants: an opponent who’s a standup specialist, one who’s more polished at fisticuffs than he is, one who’ll make the same thud when he hits the canvas that Roy’s past foes have. Nelson by TKO.

    Ryan Jimmo vs. Igor Pokrajac

    After having his 17-fight win streak snapped in his last fight, Jimmo will be eager to get back on track. And he’s just the freight train to do that, especially against a guy who”ll stand and bang with him. Jimmo by TKO.

    Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton

    Davis is on a mission to move up in the women’s bantamweight division, and to do that she needs to move this fight down to the mat. Once she gets there, she’ll know what to do. Davis by submission.

    Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan

    Both guys have had their ups and downs, but Barry has been doing it against a higher level of competition. That will make a difference. Barry by decision.

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Jun 14, 2013
  • Bernard Hopkins vs. Karo Murat cancelled due to visa issues

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    Bernard Hopkins was in New York on June 5, promoting his since-canceled fight. (AP)

    Bernard Hopkins was in New York on June 5, promoting his since-canceled fight. (AP)

    The July 13th light heavyweight title fight between IBF champion Bernard Hopkins and No. 1 contender Karo Murat has been cancelled due to Murat being declared ineligible to receive a visa from the United States, Golden Boy Promotions announced on Friday.

    It is unclear if the fight will be rescheduled. On Friday afternoon, Hopkins tweeted that “it Looks like September I’ll be back!! Now, at least I can enjoy some of the summer.”

    The 48-year old Hopkins (53-6-2) was scheduled to make his first defense of the title he won in March, when he outpointed Tavoris Cloud to become — for the second time — the oldest man to win a major title. Murat, 29, was originally the mandatory for Cloud. But the IBF granted Cloud an exception to fight Hopkins, with the stipulation that the winner would face Murat (25-1-1) in his next fight. 

    “I’m extremely disappointed about the fight being cancelled,” said Hopkins.  “I was already in the gym, sparring and preparing for the fight, but things happen. I know [Golden Boy Promotions CEO] Richard Schaefer and the staff at Golden Boy Promotions are already working on something bigger and better.  I stay in shape so being ready is never a problem and I look forward to whatever fight is made for me in the near future.”

    Said Murat, “Obviously I’m very disappointed, as I have been in training for almost three months now, but I understand that my promoter’s representative, Chris Meyer, is in talks with Richard Schaefer to discuss possible alternatives.”

    IBF Chairman Lindsey Tucker told that the IBF would wait to hear from Murat’s team that Murat would be unable to attend. According to Tucker, an ordered, agreed upon fight being cancelled is “a problem we have never had before.” Tucker says the IBF could order the two sides to negotiate again or could elevate the next contender. That spot will be determined tonight, when undefeated Sergey Kovalev takes on Cornelius White in Bethlehem, Penn. (NBC Sports Network, 8 p.m.) for the No. 1 position in the IBF rankings.

    If the IBF allows Hopkins to make a voluntary defense, Hopkins has made it clear he would like to unify the 175-pound titles. That could mean a fight against titleholders Nathan Cleverly, Beibut Shumenov or Adonis Stevenson, who became the WBC — and, more importantly, the lineal champion — with a stunning first round knockout of Chad Dawson last weekend. 

    Hopkins could also pursue a fight with super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch. Hopkins has made it clear he is willing to fight Froch, who defeated Mikkel Kessler last month, in England, where Froch has become a huge box office attraction, and at a catch weight. 

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Jun 14, 2013