Posts Tagged ‘HBO’

Three thoughts on Sergey Kovalev’s dominating knockout win over Cedric Agnew

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Sergey Kovalev

Sergey Kovalev (left) pummeled Cedric Agnew, notching a pulverizing knockout win. (Tim Larsen/AP)

Three thoughts on Sergey Kovalev’s knockout win over Cedric Agnew…

1.) This was a predictable blowout

Kovalev was a huge favorite against the undefeated, but untested, Agnew, a Chicago native who was one of the few HBO-approvable opponents Main Events could dig up to fight the avoided Kovalev. And the fight played out as expected, with Kovalev winning every minute of every round, backing Agnew up with a steady diet of power shots, dropping him in the second and sixth rounds before finishing him off with a straight left hand to the body in the seventh.

Agnew, who described Kovalev as “ordinary” in the weeks before the fight, offered little resistance, occasionally pushing back a Kovalev assault with a combination, opening a decent cut over Kovalev’s right eye with a head butt, but spending the bulk of the rounds covering up. No one expected Agnew to win but it was fair to hope for more than a glorified sparring session. Which  brings us to …

2.) This was a waste of time

I understand why Kovalev-Agnew was made. Originally, HBO was willing to give Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson soft touches, with the understanding that the two top dogs in the light heavyweight division would meet in a title unification fight in the fall. Stevenson scuttled those plans earlier in the week by reneging on the deal and moving over to Showtime. That left Kovalev with an unheralded opponent that served as a tuneup fight for, well, nothing.

You can’t blame Kovalev — since his days fighting on NBC Sports Network, Kovalev has been willing to fight all comers. And it’s clear Kovalev isn’t happy with Stevenson’s antics. When asked about Stevenson after the fight, Kovalev was succinct.

“I don’t want to speak on Adonis Stevenson,” Kovalev said. “Adonis Stevenson is a piece of sh–.”

3.) So, now what?

Good question. If you have an answer, I’m sure Main Events and HBO would love to hear it. With titleholders Stevenson, Bernard Hopkins and Beibut Shumenov fighting on Showtime, the 175-pound division offers few options. Jean Pascal beat Lucian Bute on HBO earlier this year, but Pascal is promoted by Yvon Michel, Stevenson’s promoter, who may have issues cutting a deal with HBO in the future.

Moreover, Pascal publicly has expressed more interest in fighting Stevenson than a showdown with Kovalev. Main Events has rising contender Isaac Chilmeba on the roster, but Chilemba is at least a fight or two away from being a serious challenger. Unless Andre Ward expresses interest — and Ward, who is embroiled in a conflict with promoter Dan Goossen, has yet to indicate he is ready to move up to light heavyweight — or the winner of May’s super middleweight fight between Carl Froch and George Groves is ready, Kovalev is a fighter without an opponent.


– Chris Mannix

  • Published On Mar 30, 2014
  • The fight to televise Adonis Stevenson’s light heavyweight title defense, more notes

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    Adonis Stevenson

    Adonis Stevenson is set to defend his light heavyweight title. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

    • What a mess. What a politically fueled, fan-maddening mess. On May 24th, Adonis Stevenson will defend his light heavyweight title against Andrzej Fonfara. Stevenson’s trainer, Sugar Hill, confirmed the fight to me last week and it was formalized on Monday. HBO–which televised three of Stevenson’s fights last year — planned to televise this one, with an eye towards matching Stevenson in a highly anticipated 175-pound title unification fight against Sergey Kovalev later in the year.

    That was the plan, anyway. Then HBO moved slowly executing the contracts, Stevenson signed with adviser Al Haymon and now we have the mess we’re in now: HBO uncertain if it will televise Stevenson-Fonfara and the growing possibility that Stevenson will head to Showtime and attempt to unify the titles against Bernard Hopkins later this year. This could be a potential nightmare for HBO.

    And while it’s easy to blame Haymon — HBO has no interest in working with him, believing his business model to be toxic for the network — network executives have to shoulder some of the responsibility. Representatives for Stevenson and Kovalev say the key deal points for a two-fight deal that would have ultimately pitted Stevenson against Kovalev in the fall were agreed to well before Haymon got involved. Stevenson was set to receive the larger share of the license fee, Montreal or Las Vegas were being discussed as possible venues.

    From HBO’s perspective, agreeing to deal points and finalizing a deal are two different things, but the delay allowed Haymon to slide in, sign Stevenson and produce more money from Showtime for a Fonfara fight while dangling the carrot of a future Hopkins fight, a fight that was always more appealing to Stevenson. Showtime, which under Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza has been aggressively pursuing big fights, is now in a strong position to put on one of the biggest light heavyweight fights in recent years.

    Over the last few days, HBO executives have been attempting to convince Stevenson to pass on Showtime’s offer, pushing the idea that a long term association with HBO will ultimately be more lucrative. Stevenson hasn’t budged.

    If Stevenson bolts, Kovalev becomes collateral damage. Kovalev is scheduled to fight Cedric Agnew on Saturday on HBO. Without Stevenson, Kovalev doesn’t have a natural future opponent. Andre Ward is there, but Ward is embroiled in a contract dispute with promoter Dan Goossen and has not indicated he is ready to move up to 175-pounds anyway. Main Events, which promotes Kovalev, has a handful of rising light heavyweights in its stable (Isaac Chilemba, Lonnie Thompson) but none that belong on HBO right now. What once looked like a big year for Kovalev could be flushed down the drain.

    And a fight between Stevenson and Kovalev, the most relevant fight in the light heavyweight division, will be washed away with it.

    • In an effort to lure Floyd Mayweather to Brooklyn, Barclays Center executives put together one of the most lucrative site fees in U.S. boxing history: $17 million, according to multiple industry sources. In addition to the cash, Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark was prepared to roll out one of the most aggressive marketing plans in boxing history. From New York-based talk shows to promoting the fight in the financial community and on Madison Avenue, Yormark said the event would have given Mayweather “a platform like he had never had before. We would have made his brand dominant for the six weeks leading up to the fight. It was going to be our Super Bowl.”

    Ultimately, Mayweather chose to stay in tax friendly confines of Las Vegas and at the MGM Grand, where he has fought his last eight fights. However Yormark told he hopes to lure Mayweather to Brooklyn before his career is over.

    “At the end, Floyd probably decided the comforts of where he has been were better for him,” Yormark said. “Maybe one day it happens. We feel we gave them a lot to think about.

    • Great to see ESPN get more involved in boxing, as they’re set to televise the heavyweight title fight between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne on May 10th from the Galen Center on the campus of USC. The success of ESPN, NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1 as boxing friendly outlets is critical to the growth of the sport.

    • That Vivian Harris beat Jorge Paez Jr. last week is irrelevant; Harris, 35, shouldn’t be fighting. Harris has been knocked out five times in the last four years, some in absolutely brutal fashion, and recently he was denied a license by the British boxing commission for medical reasons. No respectable commission should ever license him again.

    • Amir Khan says he plans to challenge Floyd Mayweather in the ring if Mayweather beats Marcos Maidana next month. Khan’s obsession with Mayweather is just weird. Khan should be focused on his opponent that night, Luis Collazo, a veteran welterweight who is coming off a career defining win over Victor Ortiz. If Khan looks like he did in his last few fights, Collazo will walk all over him.

    • Tony Thompson keeps his career going … again. A win over Odlanier Solis last weekend will position Thompson, the heavyweight division’s gatekeeper, for another notable fight. Amazing.

    – By Chris Mannix

  • Published On Mar 24, 2014
  • Super middleweight champ Andre Ward slated to fight Edwin Rodriguez

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    Andre Ward (left) has posted an undefeated mark of 26-0 for his career to this point. (Naoki Fukuda/AFLO/Icon SMI)

    Andre Ward (left) has posted an undefeated mark of 26-0 for his career to this point. (Naoki Fukuda/AFLO/Icon SMI)

    Super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward is close to an agreement to face Edwin Rodriguez on Nov. 16, industry sources told The fight will take place in either Anaheim or Ontario, Calif. and be televised on HBO.

    A source described the deal as “90 percent done” and said an announcement should come within the next two days.

    Ward (26-0) has been out of action since last September, when he knocked out light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson. A shoulder injury sidelined Ward for the first half of the year and a protracted dispute with HBO over his next opponent pushed his target return date from September to November. In discussions with HBO, Ward preferred a softer opponent — Dimitri Sartison, Caleb Truax and Stanyslav Kashtanov were three of the names that were floated — while still making a seven-figure payday. HBO was unwilling to put up the money Ward wanted for a tune-up fight.

    Read More…

  • Published On Sep 19, 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
  • 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
  • Will HBO’s spat with Golden Boy cost Peter Quillin a shot at the top?

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    Peter Quillin (Elsa/Getty Images)

    Peter Quillin took down Fernando Guerrero to defend his WBO middleweight title at Barclays Center. (Elsa/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK — Peter Quillin sat on a dais late Saturday night with a toothy smile and hardly a scratch on his face. Hours earlier, Quillin, the undefeated WBO middleweight champion, the charismatic transplanted Brooklynite who has made the Barclays Center his new home, defended his title, stopping Fernando Guerrero in the seventh round. At 29, Quillin is a fighter with a bright future. Or at least he should be.

    Read More…

  • Published On Apr 29, 2013
  • Ex-HBO exec. Ross Greenburg following Floyd Mayweather to Showtime

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    Ross Greenburg speaks with Bill Russell at SI's 2010 Sportsman of the Year party. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

    Ross Greenburg speaks with Bill Russell at SI’s 2010 Sportsman of the Year party. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

    If you are familiar with the boxing industry, the following sentence will sound strange: Ross Greenburg is working for Showtime.

    Greenburg, of course, was the President of HBO Sports from 2000 to 2011 — and an executive producer at the network for nearly two decades before that — before being forced out in the summer of 2011. With Showtime, Greenburg will produce a one-hour documentary that will air on CBS chronicling the last year in the life of Floyd Mayweather, including his time in prison. In addition, Greenburg will work on Showtime’s All Access reality show, a carbon copy of the the 24/7 series Greenburg created at HBO in 2007, that will air in the weeks leading up to Mayweather’s fight against Robert Guerrero on May 4th.

    “This has always been in my blood,” Greenburg told “I have always been a producer at heart. I love telling stories. It’s refreshing. There are not a lot of headaches. I didn’t have to put out too many fires. I really enjoyed the people I work with.”

    Since leaving HBO, Greenburg has worked closely with NBC, producing documentaries on Earl Campbell (which was nominated for a Sports Emmy), the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, the 1952 U.S. Open and the 1991 Ryder Cup. Greenburg also worked on Costas Tonight on NBC Sports Network — including Mayweather’s appearance on the show last year — and consulted for the NHL, Discovery Channel and Under Armour.

    Now, Greenburg is back in boxing, working with the archrival of the network that he had a big hand in turning into a powerhouse.

    “I guess I feel like [Kevin] Youkilis and [Johnny] Damon going into the [Yankees] locker room,” Greenburg said. “I’m just interested in helping [Showtime Executive Vice President] Stephen [Espinoza] as much as I can. It’s been very easy for me. They have welcomed me like family. It’s like Jeter putting arm around Youkilis. I’m back doing what I want to do. I have to take care of my family. I’ll always remember and cherish the glorious past. I had a wonderful 33 years [at HBO].”

    It’s been comfortable for Greenburg to work with Mayweather, who he maintained a close relationship with during his time with HBO. And despite the fact that since Mayweather became a star on 24/7 in 2007 his story has been told repeatedly, Greenburg believes the events of the last year have left a rich tale to tell.

    “There is the evolving relationship between Floyd, Roger [Mayweather] and Floyd Sr.,” Greenburg said. “Floyd himself spent 62 days in solitary. It changed his whole point of view on life. We spent the last three or four days with Floyd in the gym. Floyd and Roger are both there. Floyd Sr. is very involved. It’s an interesting evolution of that relationship. Floyd and his father are very close. The time he spent in prison did change him.”

    Greenburg wouldn’t say if his relationship with Showtime could last beyond this fight (“We’ll see,” Greenburg said) but said he had no regrets about his time at HBO.

    “No, not at all,” Greenburg said. “I did my job. The HBO sports department is something I will always remember. I think we built a hell of a franchise and a brand. The boxing program when I left it was as strong as it ever was. I have no regrets whatsoever. I took a lot of criticism, most of it unwarranted, but that is OK. I’m a big boy. I’ll pick myself back up. I have so many great memories. All fond memories.”

    Well, almost all. Greenburg admits he still wishes he could have made the mega fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

    “It’s funny, there weren’t that many times that I couldn’t make a fight,” Greenburg said. “I tried twice and got very close. To this day, I’m not going to put the blame on anyone because I couldn’t figure out why it didn’t happen. But I think boxing can recover. It didn’t happen, and it was not meant to be. It’s unfortunate because it probably would have been an epic buildup, even though I’m not sure it would have been a good fight. I know Floyd has moved on. He continues to be asked about Pacquiao and his attitude is much like mine, that if it was meant to be, fine. He believes his third act, over the next couple of years, is going to be special.”

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Mar 22, 2013
  • HBO announces it won’t televise Golden Boy Promotions’ fights

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    Rising star Adrien Broner, right, will no longer be featured on HBO after Monday's announcement.

    Rising star Adrien Broner, right, will no longer be featured on HBO after Monday’s announcement. [Richard Vogel/AP]

    For the last year, HBO has watched as Golden Boy Promotions has moved many of its top fighters from HBO to Showtime. On Monday, HBO struck back: The network announced that it would no longer buy any fights from Golden Boy Promotions.

    “In order to achieve our goal of the best fighters in the most compelling matchups we’ve decided to focus our efforts and resources on those strategic relationships where we better share common goals and business philosophies,” HBO Sports President Ken Hershman said in a statement.

    The decision is a decisive move from HBO to strike back at Golden Boy. Since Stephen Espinoza — a former Golden Boy attorney — took over as the head of the sports department at Showtime, Golden Boy has pulled several of its top fighters including Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Canelo Alavarez and Andre Berto off of HBO and onto Showtime. Last month, Floyd Mayweather — who works closely with Golden Boy —announced he was leaving HBO, his broadcast partner for virtually his entire career, to sign a lucrative deal with Showtime.

    Among the casualties of HBO’s decision is Adrien Broner, a rising star who has been a staple on HBO. HBO sources made it clear that it was nothing against Broner, but they will not put him on the network as long as Golden Boy represents him. Likewise for Bernard Hopkins, a longtime HBO fighter who last week became the oldest man to win a major title when he defeated Tavoris Cloud on HBO.

    The decision to stop doing business with Golden Boy is being called indefinite.

    Golden Boy CEO called the decision “retaliation” and “ill advised.”

    I’m not really surprised,” Schaefer told “I have not had a conversation with Ken Hershman since last November or December. They are upset at me, I’m sure they are upset at Al Haymon. But the ones getting hurt are the subscribers. Whether you like Golden Boy or you don’t, our stable is second to none. I wished them well. (HBO Vice President) Kery Davis, (VP) Mart Taffet, (CEO) Richard Plepler, I consider them friends. But there are people making decisions in the HBO sports department that don’t know the difference between Floyd Mayweather and Jessie Vargas.”

    — Chris Mannix

  • Published On Mar 18, 2013
  • In prime time, Keith Thurman hopes knockouts beget respect

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    AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

    Keith Thurman lands a punch in his TKO victory over Carlos Quintana last November. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    NEW YORK — Over the last year, Keith Thurman has become a poster boy for what’s wrong with boxing. Here was a young, unknown, inexperienced prospect with no resumé to speak of being gift wrapped prime HBO slots. Why? Because his manager is Al Haymon, the shadowy power broker who networks bend over backwards to appease. When Thurman was added to a show, promoters and managers howled at the unfairness of it.

    On Saturday, Thurman (19-0) is back on the network, matched up with Jan Zaveck (32-2) on the undercard of Tavoris Cloud’s light heavyweight title defense against Bernard Hopkins at the Barclays Center (9:30 ET, HBO). It will be his third straight fight on HBO and while Thurman says he understands the criticism of him, he believes his performances–back-to-back knockouts–should be weighed into opinions.

    “To a certain extent [the criticism] is fair because people didn’t know much about me,” Thurman told “But I’m a rare fighter. I’m 19-0 with 18 knockouts. The reason I’m on HBO is because I have knockout potential. I’m here to give everybody a great, tremendous fight. I’m always trying to dismantle my opponent. That deserves respect.”

    “My plan is to gather as many fans with every fight, to get more respect with every fight and more recognition. Pretty soon, we’re going to turn some of the critics. I believe I do belong here.”

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  • Published On Mar 06, 2013
  • Quick Jabs: Gennady Golovkin’s next move, Seth Mitchell experiment probably over and more

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    Gennady Golovkin (above) will defend his middleweight title against an opponent to be determined on Jan. 19 in New York at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. (AP)

    Some quick jabs …

    • I’m told HBO is now considering two possible opponents for Gennady Golovkin’s Jan. 19 middleweight title defense: Fernando Guerrero, a one-time prospect who is represented by Al Haymon, and Gabriel Rosado, a rising junior middleweight who is currently the IBF’s mandatory challenger for Cornelius “K9″ Bundrage’s title. To me, the decision is an easy one: Guerrero — who beat Rosado in a controversial eight-round middleweight fight in 2009 — has done nothing recently to warrant this kind of opportunity. Rosado, meanwhile, beat three quality opponents in 2012, all on NBC Sports Network, all by knockout. Rosado is the definition of a television-friendly fighter. A matchup with Golovkin would be a war.

    • Super featherweight Teon Kennedy’s injury forced Main Events to find a new opponent for undefeated prospect Jerry Belmontes in the co-feature of the Dec. 8 card on NBC Sports Network. On Monday they announced that Eric Hunter (16-2) would step in. Hunter has been on the shelf for most of the last two years, fighting once (last July) since December of 2010.

    • Kudos to Seth Mitchell for accomplishing a lot in boxing despite not picking up the gloves until he was 24. But this experiment is probably over. You can’t teach a chin and in his last two fights Mitchell has been buzzed by Chazz Witherspoon and knocked out in two rounds by Johnathan Banks. There are things Mitchell can do to improve — he still has no idea how to hold when he gets hurt — but if light hitters like Witherspoon and Banks can wobble him, he’s a sitting duck for one of the Klitschko brothers.

    • Speaking of Banks: I’d like to see him face one more quality opponent before looking for a fight with Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko. A matchup with Tyson Fury, David Price or his preferred choice, Alexander Povetkin, next year could make Banks some money and, if he wins, give him some momentum heading into a major title fight.

    • I’m looking forward to Miguel Cotto-Austin Trout on Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden, but that undercard is horrendous. Jayson Velez and Danny Jacobs — questionable choices for a televised undercard to begin with — will fight separately on Showtime’s broadcast in fights that do nothing for me. Velez (19-0) will face Salvador Sanchez II (30-4-3), nephew of Mexican legend Salvador Sanchez, while Jacobs (23-1), the former prospect and cancer survivor who will fight for the second time in three months, gets Chris Fitzpatrick (15-2).

    • I don’t know what has gotten into Carl Froch, but after another impressive knockout — this one over handpicked challenger Yusaf Mack — I just don’t know how Lucian Bute can beat him. Froch is just too strong.

    • Bring on Adrien Broner-Ricky Burns.

    • Thank you, Fred Sternburg, for sending out 400 emails letting everyone know that Manny Pacquiao gave away free turkeys last week. My overflowing inbox extends its regards.

    • Hey British promoter Frank Maloney: Your comment that Wladimir Klitschko would be happy not to have to pay Emanuel Steward his 10 percent after a one-sided win over Mariusz Wach last week was disgusting and classless. Steward, a longtime mentor and trainer for Klitschko, lost a battle with cancer last month. Maloney should be ashamed.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Nov 20, 2012