Archive for August, 2013

UFC 164 Predictions: Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis

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Benson Henderson's last loss came against Anthony Pettis in December 2010. (AP)

Benson Henderson’s last loss came against Anthony Pettis in December 2010. (AP)

Any chance you didn’t get around to reading’s Crash Course to UFC 164 earlier this week? If that’s the case (shame on you!), you didn’t see my prediction for the main event … so maybe I can get away with picking Anthony Pettis here … even though I went with Benson Henderson the first time.

That’d be sneaky. That’d be cowardly. That’d be covering my bases.

This fight — Henderson defending his lightweight championship against the last man to beat him — is really tough to call.

I did make a call, though, based on my belief that Henderson will operate from hard-won knowledge — see “Showtime Kick” — that it’s dangerous to give Pettis room to work. So he won’t. Ben is awfully good at nullifying another man’s weapons with his unrelenting attack. He recognizes that Pettis wants to move forward. So he will instead.

But here’s the counterargument, in question form, from the Pettis supporter inside me: Can the champ do that for 25 minutes?

Yes, we’ve seen Henderson go five rounds in four straight fights, then seen him have his hand raised a winner by decision each time. But neither Frankie Edgar nor Nate Diaz nor Gilbert Melendez has what Anthony Pettis possesses: the explosiveness to make one short lapse by Henderson a fight-finishing moment.

I’m sticking to my guns, though, which is to say: Henderson by decision.

Other main card predictions:

Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett

The narrative being recited by Mir in advance of this long-awaited co-main event is that if he and Barnett had met back in the day — before Josh was banished from the UFC in 2002 for failing a post-fight drug test the night he won the heavyweight championship from Randy Couture — he wouldn’t have had the seasoning to hang with the man known as “The Baby-Faced Assassin.” Frank was a prelim fighter in just his fourth pro bout on that UFC 36 card where Barnett beat Couture to run his record to 13-1. So, as logic would have it, Mir should have Father Time on his side now, right? Not really. The men are just a year and a half apart in age, and the 35-year-old Barnett — now known as “The Warmaster” because, well, the baby face has aged — seems to have more left in the tank. This one could look like Old Timers’ Day at the ballpark if the big guys stalk each other from long range, but I’m going to be an optimist and envision a fun-to-watch tussle on the mat. Barnett by decision.

Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida

Mendes was 11-0 when he stepped into the cage in Rio de Janeiro last year to challenge José Aldo for the featherweight belt. He was knocked out. Back to the drawing board he went, and what we see today is not merely the relentless wrestler of old but an all-around threat. His three results since the failed title shot: TKO, KO TKO, all in the first round. Guida is an elusive guy — sometimes too elusive for his own good — but can he stay out of the way of Chad’s punches? I don’t think so. Mendes by TKO.

Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera

Anyone have a coin I can flip? Vera is 35, injury-prone and inexplicably inconsistent even on his healthiest day. Rothwell is exactly the same, other than being four years younger and four tons bigger (the latter a slight exaggeration). Vera, who has won just one of his last five fights, is returning to heavyweight after four years at 205 pounds. Speaking of four years, that’s how long Rothwell’s pattern of win-loss-win-loss has gone on. Big Ben is due for a win. Rothwell by TKO.

Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier

This matchup was talked about a couple of years ago, when these two were young stars on the rise. Both are 24 now, still young … and coming off a loss. Koch fell Ricardo Lama, Poirier to Cub Swanson three weeks later. No shame in losing to top opponents, even if it takes some of the shine off this fight. The winner is right back in the race. Koch by decision.

–Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Aug 30, 2013
  • Has Andre Ward earned the right to get a big payday for a tuneup fight?

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    Andre Ward hasn't fought since his September 2012 win over Chad Dawson. (Naoki Fukuda/AFLO/Icon SMI)

    Andre Ward hasn’t fought since his September 2012 win over Chad Dawson. (Naoki Fukuda/AFLO/Icon SMI)

    It’s been a tough year for Andre Ward. From the shoulder injury that sidelined him for several months — and cost him a lucrative, and very winnable, fight against Kelly Pavlik — to his (failed) court battle to separate from longtime promoter Dan Goossen to the current dispute with HBO over his next opponent, Ward has been unable to capitalize on last year’s 10th-round destruction of then-light heavyweight kingpin Chad Dawson. That was his biggest, most impressive and, perhaps most important, his most watched win to date.

    The newest (and ongoing) issue for Ward is the aforementioned next opponent. Here’s what we know: Ward (26-0) prefers that his next fight be a tuneup. There’s nothing wrong with that. Ward has been off since last September and isn’t all that interested in his next bout being a big matchup. That’s why Ward’s team — Goossen and manager James Prince — have floated such rust-shaking candidates as Dimitry Sartison, Caleb Truax and Stanyslav Kashtanov. Read More…

  • Published On Aug 26, 2013
  • Daniel Jacobs ready to get back into title contention

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    Daniel Jacobs (Elsa/Getty Images)

    Daniel Jacobs (right) will look to run his record to 26-1 in an Aug. 19 bout. (Elsa/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK — Daniel Jacobs is ready to move on. Move on from the memory of his first — and only — crack at a major title, a disappointing fifth-round knockout defeat to Dmitry Pirog in 2010. Move on from the shocking 2011 cancer diagnosis and the 25 radiation treatments it took to beat it. Move on from the tuneup fights his promoter, Golden Boy, has been giving him and get what he was wanted ever since that loss to Pirog: Another world title shot.

    On Monday, Jacobs (25-1) will take a big step towards that goal when he takes on former title challenger Giovanni Lorenzo (32-5) the Best Buy Theatre (Fox Sports 1, 9 pm). It will be another New York fight for Jacobs — his last three have been at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Madison Square Garden — against an opponent who clearly represents a step up in competition. Lorenzo has never won a major title, but he has proven durable against solid competition, going the distance in title fights against Felix Sturm and Sebastian Sylvester.

    Cancer, Jacobs said, is far from his mind. His doctors have continued to give him a clean bill of health. He has been forced to overhaul his diet — no more red meats, dairy, sugars, white bread — and has to be careful about white kind of products he uses. Deodorant, for example. The aluminum-base in some deodorants have caused him to switch to all natural ones.

    “The cancer isn’t even a thought,” Jacobs told “I have to be careful about some stuff but basically, the doctors told me it was gone.”

    Jacobs says the dramatic changes in his diet have had a positive effect on his career. Before his diagnosis, Jacobs said, he was having problems making 160 pounds. All the changes — “I’m basically a vegan,” Jacobs said — have made making weight so easy that he even has kicked around the idea of fighting at 154 pounds.

    “A lot of people tell me I look better than I did before I caught cancer,” Jacobs said. “The new diet, I have so much energy in training. I’m like the bunny rabbit with the battery on his back.”

    As a charismatic, well spoken, U.S. middleweight with power, Jacobs is an appealing opponent for titleholders. The network wars though make fights against Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin (who fight on HBO, which does not do business with Golden Boy) unlikely and newly crowned IBF champ Darren Barker has a mandatory defense due against Sturm in his next fight. That leaves only WBO titleholder Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin in the mix. A Quillin-Jacobs fight is easy to make — both are represented by Golden Boy and advised by Al Haymon — and an appealing fight for Showtime and the Barclays Center.

    “I can see how that fight is interesting for the boxing world,” Jacobs said. “Kid Chocolate and I are friends, so if I had my choice, I wouldn’t fight him. But in boxing you can’t say that. There is more on the line than just friendship. I’m fighting for my family, he is fighting for his. You can’t say ‘I don’t want to fight you because of our friendship.’ You have to do what you have to do.”

    If you want to move on, you do. – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Aug 19, 2013
  • Middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin to defend title against Curtis Stevens

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    WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin will defend his title against Curtis Stevens on Nov. 2. (US Presswire)

    K2 Promotions and Main Events have an agreement in principle for WBA middleweight champion to Gennady Golovkin to defend his title against Curtis Stevens on November 2nd at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, multiple sources confirmed to

    Responding to a question about a Golovkin fight on Twitter, Stevens said “it’s on.”

    The fight will be televised by HBO.

    When reached by telephone, Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, told that the deal was “almost done” and that the two sides were holding off any announcement until the after Daniel Geale’s HBO-televised IBF middleweight title defense against Darren Barker on Saturday night.

    A Golovkin-Stevens showdown has been brewing for months. Golovkin (27-0) has been tearing through middleweight contenders, most recently a knockout win over Matthew Macklin in June. With other titleholders unavailable–Geale fights on Saturday, WBC champion Sergio Martinez is sidelined by injury and WBO titleholder Peter Quillin is represented by Golden Boy, a promotional company HBO refuses to do business with. Enter Stevens, a Brooklyn-born power puncher who has been actively campaigning for a Golovkin fight. Since moving down to 160-pounds in January, Stevens (25-3) has knocked out Elvin Ayala and Saul Roman and winning a decision over veteran Derrick Findley.

    Using the platform provided by fighting on NBC Sports Network, Stevens has repeatedly called Golovkin out.

    “He wasn’t my choice, he was just talking so much smack,” Sanchez said. “With the fight at being at the Garden, with Stevens being a Brooklyn boy, it made a lot of sense to [K2's] Tom [Loeffler]. He thought it sounds like a great fight. Stevens, he just keeps talking. He thinks he is the next coming of Carlos Monzon.”

    A formal announcement is expected next week.

    Chris Mannix

  • Published On Aug 17, 2013
  • Andre Berto to undergo surgery for torn shoulder tendon

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    Andre Berto (left) tore his shoulder during his July 27 loss to Jesus Soto-Karass. (AP)

    Andre Berto (left) tore his shoulder during his July 27 loss to Jesus Soto-Karass. (AP)

    Former welterweight titleholder Andre Berto, fresh of a knockout loss to Jesus Soto-Karass, will undergo surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right shoulder. Berto (28-3) tore the shoulder in the second round of the fight with Soto-Karass. He is expected to be out until 2014.

    “I threw a punch in the second round and when Soto-Karass blocked it, my right upper arm connected with his and it felt like fire shot through my arm,” Berto said. “I had no power at all in that right arm and couldn’t hold it up to defend myself. I kept trying to use it, but midway through the fight I realized I couldn’t and just tried to work my left hand and throw jabs.
    Read More…

  • Published On Aug 12, 2013
  • Potential future matchups for Curtis Stevens

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    Curtis Stevens

    Curtis Stevens, pictured here defeating Derrick Findley, is trying to make up for lost time. (AP)

    Boxing is a strange business. Where else can an athlete come off a two-year layoff, drop down in weight, knock out three unheralded challengers and position himself as one of the most appealing contenders in your division? That’s exactly the spot Curtis Stevens finds himself in right now. Last Saturday, Stevens (25-3) knocked out journeyman Saul Roman in the first round with a devastating left hook. And because of feuding promoters, rival networks and the recent exposure the hard hitting Stevens has received fighting regularly on the NBC Sports Network, Stevens’ name is rocketing up the list of potential opponents for titleholders Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin and Daniel Geale.

    “I want to get back in the ring soon,” Stevens told me on Wednesday. “I was off for two years. I want to keep everything in motion as quickly as possible. My time is now.”

    Main Events CEO Kathy Duva has made it clear that Stevens will be back before the end of the year. Here’s a look at some of the options:

    Read More…

  • Published On Aug 09, 2013
  • Curtis Stevens sends a message with his quick disposal of Saul Roman

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    Curtis Stevens

    Curtis Stevens (left) is in line for a title shot against Gennady Golovkin — if he wants it. (Anthony Nesmith/Landov)

    UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Three thoughts on the Curtis Stevens-Saul Roman headlined fight on Saturday night…

    Stevens sent a message. In the weeks before the fight there was plenty of talk that with an impressive showing Stevens — a once-promising super middleweight prospect who has reinvented himself as a middleweight — would be in line for a shot at 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin. Consider his first-round knockout of Roman a very impressive showing. Roman is a journeyman, but he has fought (and gone rounds with) the likes of Sergio Martinez, Yuri Foreman, Gabriel Rosado and Vanes Martirosyan. Not with Stevens. Stevens came out aggressive, dropping Roman with a picture-perfect left hook on the chin a little over a minute into the first round and flattening him with another hook just over a minute later, a Knockout of the Year candidate that had the referee waving the fight off without a count. Roman is a tough guy, and Stevens just ran him over.

    Read More…

  • Published On Aug 04, 2013
  • A fresher Tomasz Adamek is ready for his next high-profile opponent

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    Tomasz Adamek (left) took some time off from boxing to sharpen his game. (Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

    Tomasz Adamek (left) took some time off from boxing to sharpen his game. (Boris Streubel/Getty Images)

    UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Sitting on a dais, dressed casually in shorts and a white polo shirt, Tomasz Adamek, 36, looked more like a peer of his longtime promoter, Kathy Duva, than several of the younger fighters he shared the stage with. Adamek has had a long and decorated career, one highlighted by titles at light heavyweight and cruiserweight and a heavyweight title challenge against Vitali Klitschko, and on Saturday he will take another step towards one more big opportunity when he faces Dominick Guinn at Mohegan Sun Casino (NBC Sports Network, 10:30 pm).

    “[A title shot] is my goal,” Adamek said. “If I win a couple of fights, that’s what I want.”

    Few fighters have the resolve–or longevity–of Adamek, one of boxing’s true warriors. He’s a take-two-punches-to-deliver-three type of boxer who has consistently been one of the toughest outs in the sport. Klitschko, Chris Arreola, Chad Dawson and Steve Cunningham (twice) are just a few of the fighters Adamek (48-2) has waged wars with. He didn’t win them all, but he didn’t go down easy in any of them, either.

    Still, mixing it up in so many fights takes a toll, and Adamek started to feel that toll last December. While training for a rematch with Steve Cunningham, Adamek felt sluggish. His energy wasn’t as high as it used to be. His punches, said trainer Roger Bloodworth, were a split second slow. The mind was willing, Bloodworth said, but the body was weak.

    Read More…

  • Published On Aug 01, 2013