Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva once again, this time by TKO after Silva’s leg snapped in the second round.
Weidman’s UFC 168 victory means he retains his UFC middleweight title.
Vitali Klitschko’s decision to vacate his WBC heavyweight title has created a scramble among boxers eager to fight for the coveted belt. On Tuesday, top contenders Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder engaged in (another) vulgar exchange on social media, while Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola both have made cases that they deserve a title shot.
How will it sort out? Here’s a suggested scenario:
Make Stiverne-Fury for the vacant title: Last April, Bermane Stiverne (23-1) beat Chris Arreola in a WBC eliminator, establishing Stiverne as the No. 1 contender on the WBC rankings. Whether he earned the right to be in an eliminator is debatable — boxing insiders get a good laugh out of the WBC’s monthly rankings, as they often appear to ignore merit — but Stiverne did win the fight.
Tyson Fury (21-0) is ranked No. 8 by the WBC, but his résumé is more complete than that of anyone ranked above him, a list that includes Bryant Jennings, Mike Perez and Dereck Chisora. Fury owns wins over Chisora, Steve Cunningham and Kevin Johnson in the last two years. His activity — he has not fought since stopping Cunningham last April — has been limited by the postponement and ultimate cancellation of a fight against David Haye. Still, among heavyweight contenders, Fury is as worthy as any to fight for a vacant title.
Make the new titleholder face the winner of Arreola-Wilder: Quality heavyweight fights in the U.S. have been scarce in recent years; Arreola-Wilder would be one of them. When Arreola (36-3) is in shape — as he was during a first-round destruction of Seth Mitchell last September — he can be very good. What he lacks in technique he makes up for with an iron chin and crushing power. Deontay Wilder’s list of opponents is pathetic, and he has been wobbled by non-punchers in the past. But he also possesses thundering one-punch power and, at 6-foot-7, Wilder (30-0) has the kind of size that is difficult to match up with.
It’s a classic crossroads matchup: Arreola, 32, the aging contender against Wilder, 28, the untested Olympic bronze medalist just entering his prime. It’s a fight Showtime would snap up in a heartbeat and it would produce a winner worthy of a title shot.
Whoever emerges gets Wladimir Klitschko: Make no mistake, Klitschko is dying to unify the titles. When Vitali held the WBC belt, Wladimir said all the right things. Privately though, Wladimir badly wants to unify the titles. Klitschko figures to be tied up with mandatory defenses for the first half of 2014, leaving would-be WBC contenders to fight it out for the title. Whoever comes out of that scrum will not only be battle tested against two legitimate heavyweight opponents but will have an increased profile that will undoubtedly create a bidding war among premium networks to secure the rights to the fight.
– By Chris Mannix
NEW YORK — Three thoughts on Paulie Malignaggi’s unanimous decision win over Zab Judah:
This was all Paulie. Billed as the Battle of Brooklyn, Malignaggi dominated. In a battle of two fading former titleholders, Malignaggi, 33, appeared to have far more left in the tank than Judah, 36. Malignaggi boxed well, moving in and out, peppering Judah with shots, landing 36 percent of his punches (220 of 607) to Judah’s 24 percent (121 of 498). Save for a questionable second-round knockdown, Malignaggi was in complete control.
The three judges scored it 116-111, 117-110, 117-110. SI.com scored the fight 117-110 for Malignaggi.
A prevailing storyline coming into the night was that Malignaggi wasn’t interested in fighting anymore, that he was ready to move full time onto his next career as a commentator for Showtime and Fox Sports. But Malignaggi was the more engaged fighter on Saturday, refusing to back down. Malignaggi is in the winter of his career, no question. But it doesn’t look like he is ready to retire just yet.
“This definitely allows me to continue boxing,” Malignaggi said. “With a loss, I don’t know if I would have wanted to continue.”
Malignaggi has options. Golden Boy has a deep stable of fighters at 147 pounds, and with Saturday’s win Malignaggi put himself in the mix for fights with all of them. Shawn Porter, who upset Devon Alexander on the undercard to win the IBF welterweight title, is a possibility. And next weekend features a pair of appealing 147-pound fights in Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana (Malignaggi says he wants the winner) and Keith Thurman-Jesus Soto Karass. There is also Danny Garcia, who appears headed out of the 140-pound division.
It’s amazing, really, that Malignaggi (33-5) is still a legitimate factor. Three years ago Malignaggi’s career appeared over after a bad loss to Amir Khan. He talked of fighting in Europe, while his then-promoter, Lou DiBella, suggested he get into broadcasting. Yet here Malignaggi is, outlasting the bigger punchers, fighting on longer than some bigger names. It is quite an accomplishment.
Bad Zab. There is an oft-used phrase among people who have been associated with Judah’s career: You just never know which Zab you are going to get. Some nights, Judah is as tough as any fighter in his class, a sweet blend of speed and power. On others, he can appear disengaged, disinterested and be totally outclassed. On Saturday, we saw more of the latter. Before the fight, Judah promised to go after Malignaggi, spouting that he had no fear of Malignaggi’s power. What we got was a tentative jab, one outboxed a out power-punched (98-54) by a lighter puncher.
“It just wasn’t there,” Judah said.
Judah’s career can continue — Golden Boy’s aforementioned stable needs opponents, and Judah (42-9) still draw decent ratings on the network and helped draw a reasonable 9,363 to the Barclays Center — and it probably will. But his days as a legitimate threat at either 140 or 147 pounds are probably over.
– By Chris Mannix, SI
NEW YORK – The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a Paulie Malignaggi-Zab Judah matchup is this: It hasn’t happened yet? For years, Malignaggi, 33, and Judah, 36, have fought in similar weight classes. Both are from Brooklyn. Both are appealing to television networks. Yet it’s only now, in the winter of their careers, that a matchup is made.
“[A fight] really didn’t come to mind,” said Malignaggi, who will face Judah on Saturday night at the Barclays Center (Showtime, 8 pm ET). “We were in different weight classes and at different places in our career. But people started mentioning it and talking around Brooklyn the past year or two. But I still didn’t think the fight had any chance of happening because we were still in different weight classes and kind of had different goals for our careers.”
Circumstances have a funny way of changing that. Last April, Judah dropped a unanimous decision to junior welterweight titleholder Danny Garcia. Two months later, Malignaggi lost a split decision — and his welterweight title — to Adrien Broner.
With dwindling options, Malignaggi and Judah turned to each other.
Said Judah: “In my preparation for moving forward [after losing to Garcia], to do what I do [my promoters, Golden Boy Promotions] said Paulie. I said ‘Paulie, nah, Paulie is my homeboy.’ But then I was like, ‘Hey, you know this is an opportunity that you’ve got to take for boxing.’ So I guess we’re here now.”
Neither fighter is a stranger to tense promotions. Malignaggi and Broner engaged in a vulgar back and forth. Members of Judah’s and Garcia’s teams brawled at the introductory press conference and nearly came to blows again at an autograph signing session in Brooklyn a few days before the fight.
The buildup to this this bout, however, has been tame. Press conferences are cordial. The weigh-in on Friday ended with winks and smiles. Malignaggi and Judah have a long history — Judah coached Malignaggi as a teenager during the Empire State Games – and both profess respect for the other’s accomplishments.
“Number one, I admire Paulie because he’s from Brooklyn,” Judah said. “He stands up with that Brooklyn pride. He represents Brooklyn wherever he goes. He talks about it and keeps it fresh in people’s ears and eyes. Number two, he’s a fighter. I respect that every fighter has the heart and audacity to climb into the ring and take on competitive fights, so you’ve got to respect him as a human being.”
Added Malignaggi, “The admiration I have for Zab came from trying to follow in his footsteps coming up. I saw him accomplish things that I had the goal to accomplish. I watched Zab accomplish each and every one of them before me. It was an admiration and a motivation to see someone from my city, from my borough, accomplish these things and get some credibility and notoriety doing the same thing that I do. When somebody does it so close to home they automatically get that admiration when they’re older than you, and you see them accomplishing those things and you kind of want to follow in their footsteps.”
Ultimately, this fight is significant for both men. The winner will likely earn a high profile 140- or 147-pound title shot. The loser will be pushed one step closer to retirement.
“It’s not hard to get up for a fight like this,” Malignaggi said. “I know I have what it takes to be a world class fighter. I know what it takes to get back to the top. Winning a fight like this and getting myself a chance to get another world championship in my career is something I don’t doubt.” — CHRIS MANNIX
NEW YORK — Former unified junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan — the leading candidate to face Floyd Mayweather next May — sat down with SI.com on Wednesday to discuss Mayweather, his pairing with Virgil Hunter and the criticism that his weak chin will prevent him from ever becoming an elite fighter again
SI.com: So, you are fighting Floyd Mayweather…
Amir Khan: That’s your first question, huh?
SI.com: Well why beat around the bush?
AK: Well it’s a fight I’d love to have. That’s what I’m supposed to say, right? Floyd is the best fighter out there and you would love to see how you fight against the best. I’m not going to shy away from that fight. Styles make fights and I know for a fact that I will do better than most of the guys that he has fought. I’ll beat him. My speed and movement will give Floyd problems. I’m not taking any time off. I know that’s a fight that will change my life. That’s why I’m so focused on winning it.
SI.com: What about the argument that you have not earned the fight?
AK: Well who else out there can give Floyd problems? No one. Danny Garcia? Floyd has fought many opponents like him. I have a style that has given him problems before. I’m an orthodox fighter who is quicker than him and faster than him. And if Floyd wants to be a global superstar, he has to fight me. It will make him popular in the UK and the Asia area.
With promoter Bob Arum announcing that Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring in April, let’s look at some of the potential opponents.
Floyd Mayweather – Even if the issues of network, financial split and drug testing could be worked out — and hitting the lottery three straight days is more likely than that — Mayweather and Pacquiao would still find reasons not to fight. These two are just destined to dance around each other. Moreover, making Mayweather-Pacquiao now — as I’ve noted on Twitter — would irritate as many fans as it pleased. It still would do big business, but it would be a fraction of the ridiculous numbers it would have done in 2010, when Mayweather and Pacquiao were at the top of the sport. Not that it matters. After a month or so of public sabre rattling, both sides will do what they always do. Move on. Probability of it happening: Very low.
Juan Manuel Marquez — If a Mayweather bout doesn’t happen, this is the fight Pacquiao’s team wants. Freddie Roach has noted on numerous occasions that before he was stopped, Pacquiao was boxing beautifully and likely would have stopped a battered Marquez in the later rounds. The future of this fight depends on Marquez, who at 40 and coming off a loss to Tim Bradley, may not be interested. But for those claiming Pacquiao-Marquez fatigue, remember this: Every round of their first four fights was entertaining, and a fifth installment — perhaps in Mexico – would virtually guarantee more than one million pay-per-view buys. Probability of it happening: High.
Tim Bradley — Despite losing a controversial decision to Bradley last year, Pacquiao has little interest in a rematch. Perhaps it’s because most observers thought Pacquiao won a lopsided decision; perhaps it’s because the first fight was far from a financial success. Bradley has had a strong year, beating Ruslan Provodnikov in an entertaining slugfest and outpointing Marquez to bolster his résumé. And his willingness to trade haymakers with Provodnikov could make Bradley even more appealing. Still, it’s likely one or two opponents will have to fall out before Bradley gets a shot. Probability of it happening: Somewhat High.
Ruslan Provodnikov — After two fights this year, Provodnikov has established himself as a must-see attraction. Unheralded before his matchup with Bradley, Provodnikov rebounded from a close loss in that bout to pound Mike Alvarado and win a piece of the 140-pound title. An old-school slugger, Provodnikov has the ability to wear down any opponent who stands in front of him. Still, that Provodnikov is a stablemate of Pacquiao’s – both men are trained by Freddie Roach — could prove an obstacle to any deal. And HBO may want to build Provodnikov up even further in fights with Rios, Bradley or Marquez, whom Provodnikov has campaigned for a fight against on Twitter. Probability of it happening: Medium.
Miguel Cotto — In 2009, in one of his finest performances, Pacquiao stopped Cotto in 12 rounds. Since then Cotto has moved up to junior middleweight and established himself as one of the best in the division. A rematch is certainly possible, but Cotto has shown little interest in dropping below 154 anymore and Pacquiao prefers to fight at 147. In addition, Cotto is now trained by Roach, who has publicly stated that it is unlikely the two will fight again. Probability of it happening: Low.
Sergio Martinez – OK, so it’s not likely. But say Miguel Cotto elects to face Saul Alvarez next. And say Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. loses his rematch with Bryan Vera. And say Martinez, who at 38 is a big-purse hunter, was willing to drop to 155 pounds. Could a chance to win a middleweight title appeal to Pacquiao? Probably not. Then again, we never thought Pacquiao would get in the ring with Oscar De La Hoya, either. Probability of it happening: Very Low. — CHRIS MANNIX
Three thoughts on Manny Pacquiao’s lopsided unanimous decision win over Brandon Rios for the WBO international welterweight title in Macau:
Pacquiao is back. In the aftermath of a horrifying knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last December, questions about whether Pacquaio would be the same fighter lingered. But while Pacquiao is not the same human wrecking ball he was through 2009, he proved against Rios that, at 34, he still has plenty left. Boxing brilliantly, Pacquiao moved in, out and around Rios, peppering him with combinations, bruising his face with thudding power shots. It was an easy fight to score — evidenced by the 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 scorecards — with little controversy.
Rios was selected for this fight for a reason: He’s a tough guy with a television-friendly style who is easy to hit. Pacquiao needed a confidence-rebuilding fight, and he got it against Rios, who, save for a handful of decent punches, was never able to mount much of a threat. The punch stats backed that up: Per CompuBox, Pacquiao landed 281 of 790 (36 percent) while Rios connected on 138 of 502 (27 percent)
Thanks for coming, Brandon. Few expected Rios to beat Pacquiao. But Rios’ unwillingness to go for broke, to chase a knockout when it was clear he was way down late in the fight was disappointing. Rios and his team talked tough before the fight but did little to back it up. He never adjusted to Pacquiao’s speed, and despite his insistence that he wasn’t bothered by Pacquiao’s power, refused to stand and trade shots with him. For a $4 million payday, Rios left little doubt that he is not in Pacquiao’s class, and probably never will be.
Moving on. Let’s get this out of the way right now: A Floyd Mayweather fight isn’t happening. Money and politics scuttled any chance of that fight long ago. Moreover, making that fight right now, after years of frustrating excuses from both sides, would be insulting. Pacquiao has clearly lost a step, clearly isn’t the same fighter who emerged as the best in the world from 2008 to 2010. It would do nothing to settle the dispute of who is the best fighter in this generation.
For Pacquiao (55-5-2), a fifth fight against Marquez is a likely option. Marquez has not committed to continuing his career following a loss to Timothy Bradley, but another career-high payday against Pacquiao would be a nice carrot to lure him back to the ring. For all the talk about Pacquiao-Marquez fatigue, the two have rarely fought a dull round, much less fight, and it guarantees more than one million pay-per-view buys. Putting the fight in Mexico could create a little more spice to matchup.
Rios (31-2) has plenty of options, too. A third fight against Mike Alvarado is inevitable and a matchup against the rugged Ruslan Provodnikov would be a can’t-miss. Expect him to get a softer touch in his next fight to rebuild his confidence after back-to-back losses, then get right back in the ring for a high profile matchup.
– Chris Mannix
After a lay-off of 11 months, Manny Pacquiao got back in the ring Saturday in Macau, where he won a unanimous decision over American Brandon Rios and captured the WBO international welterweight title.
The judges scored the bout 120-108, 119-109, 118-110 for Pacquiao, who moved deftly while scoring well-executed combinations in winning round after round. Rios found few opportunities to unleash the power that gave rise to his nickname, Bam Bam.
“Manny Pacquiao is very fast. He’s fast, very awkward. His speed got me a little bit,” Rios said in a ring interview after the fight.
The victory snaps a two-bout losing streak for Pacquiao, who had not stepped in a ring since being knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao has won 10 world titles in eight different weight classes and improved his career mark to 55-5-2 with the win over Rios.
After the fight, Pacquiao indicated reports that he was considering retirement were premature, telling the crowd, “My time is not over.”
A scuffle broke out between Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, and members of Brandon Rios’s team at a workout in Macau, China on Tuesday. During the expletive-filled confrontation, Alex Ariza, Pacquiao’s former strength coach who has clashed with Roach in the past, kicked Roach in the chest and can be heard on video mocking the symptoms of Roach’s Parkinson’s disease.
Tensions boiled over around 11 am, when Roach arrived at the gym to prepare for Pacquiao’s workout. Rios and his team–including Ariza and trainer Robert Garcia–were finishing up. Roach approached Rios’s team aggressively and ordered them out of the gym. Garcia said his team was delayed by interviews and said “I ain’t going nowhere.” Roach and Ariza then started getting into it. Roach cursed at Ariza. Ariza began purposefully slurring his speech. When Roach moved towards Ariza, Ariza responded by kicking Roach in the chest.