April 28, 2010
NEW YORK – On four separate occasions the three-time welterweight champion Miguel Cotto of Caguas Puerto Rico has fought at Madison Square Garden in New York City on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. Each time, Cotto was successful defending his title in front of predominant Puerto Rican boxing fans,
This year, mainly because Cotto is headlining the return of boxing at Yankee Stadium on Saturday June 5th the Garden will not be hosting a Cotto party the night before the parade. Instead the spotlight turns to the relatively unknown Ivan “Iron Boy” Calderon the WBO junior flyweight champion.
Calderon (33-0-1) from Baymon Puerto Rico defends against Jesus “Azul” Irbe (17-6-4, 10KO’s) of Culican Sinaloa Mexico, not in the main arena but at the adjacent Garden Theatre. Not the main stage for Calderon, also a fight not televised on HBO, as Top Rank will stage the broadcast on FSN and Fox Sports Espanol.
It does not bother Calderon, a 35-year old champion that he is not on the HBO network. Not does it matter that he will be showing his talents before 5,000 or so fans instead of the 16,000 plus that would pack the Garden main arena.
Cotto has had his time. And many believe if he fails to defeat Foreman, the WBA Super Welterweight champion, then his career is just about over when it comes to significant title opportunities. Calderon has never caught on with the Latino boxing fan, here or in Puerto Rico. Cotto may have lost some of his popularity after a mediocre loss to welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao back in December.
And the retired former champion, Felix Trinidad, is still a hero in Puerto Rico according to many, and so says Calderon. “He is boxing to so many of us,” said Calderon referring to Trinidad at a New York press conference last week to announce his title defense that will include an under card of many Top Rank Latino prospects.
“I’m a little more popular because of my personality,” added Calderon who made reference as to how Cotto has turned off the light switch with his personality of not being as receptive as he once was. There have been highly publicized incidents of Cotto having conflicts with his management team, including a fist fight at a boxing gym in Puerto Rico with uncle and former trainer Evangilista
Then there was Cotto putting aside trainer Joe Santiago, and using the services of highly acclaimed trainer Emanuel Steward for the Foreman fight next month. Calderon, though, still offers his respect to Cotto, a one-time stable mate when they both started under manager Pete Rivera.
“The fact I am smaller is why my popularity is not as huge,” says Calderon who reigns in a division that gets little or no notoriety. “I always said Miguel Cotto helped me. Where he is, is where I want to be,” says the 2000 Olympic representative for Puerto Rico at 106 pounds.
Calderon is a nine-year professional and 17-0-1 with 2 KO’s in world championship fights. Cotto may or may not be at the Garden for his fight though there are reports he will remain in New York City a week after his fight in the Bronx and attend parade festivities the next day
“You can never be jealous of your people,” said Calderon when asked if there was any resentment towards Cotto. The two fighters hardly speak after the split with Rivera. “But the one who made Miguel Cotto is Peter Rivera,” he says.
That alone says there is some type of animosity with Cotto and Calderon. And sources say some harsh words have been traded with the two. Calderon would not comment about what has been said, but in reality it does not matter.
Because you can never compare the boxing styles of the two fighters as Cotto and Calderon are so far away in weight. And of course Cotto has been involved in wars, in the ring with high profiled names such as Pacquio and Shane Mosley. Cotto has made more money and has never avoided a challenge.
The important thing now is Calderon taking the spotlight, at the Garden and he expects to prevail.
THROWING THE PUNCHES: Enough is enough with the foul mouth coming from heavyweight Chris Arrelo (29-2, 2KO’s), the Mexican native residing in Escondido California. Once again, in the ring after a 12-round IFF International title opportunity loss to Tomasz Adamek he used obscenities on the HBO televised broadcast that were not deleted.
And the words were loud and clear when he answered the post fight questions of ringside analyst Max Kellerman. “That Mother ****** was tough…He was the better Mother ****** tonight,” said the foul mouth heavyweight who has done this time and time again on HBO.
The HBO broadcast team, Bob Papa and former champion Lennox Lewis stayed quiet and failed to offer a proper apology to viewers. It was another bad thing for the credibility of boxing, and most of all shame to HBO for once again failing to cut the mike or to tell Arrelo to watch his mouth. The good thing is we wont be seeing or hearing much more of the “Foul Mouth” as this loss pretty much damages Arrelo’s credibility in the ring as well…
And farewell to John Ruiz, the first and only heavyweight world champion of Latino heritage who announced his retirement Monday after a ring career of 18 years. Known as “The Quietman”, Ruiz (44-9-1, 30KO’s) was a two-time champion who defeated three world champions, Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Tiny Tucker His of his career losses were against world champions.
Ruiz held the WBA title twice, but his mark on the division was never considered legitimate because the division is filled with alphabet soup titles and mediocrity. And Ruiz was never once to excite a crowd with his boring style, and hugging one or more opponent for 12-rounds instead of trading punches.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring email@example.com
April 28, 2010
Dear Mr. Mickelson:
I could spend some time thanking you for the obvious: for giving us golf aficionados some tremendous thrills during your recent Masters win; it was special to watch. Yeah–you shot magnificently off the pine straw, maneuvered around trees, and ended the tournament with a birdie. In fact, I’m sure MANY people are thankful right now as they’ll always be able to say that they saw you in your prime at your absolute best. But let me extend my own personal thanks just a tad further.
Thanks, Lefty, for hanging tough over the years and showing many of us the power of perseverance. You were once known to the masses as “the best golfer to never win a major”; that all changed when you became a Masters champion back in 2004. Oh, how an 18-foot birdie can change one’s life, huh? Thank you for not resting on your laurels as you followed that up with a PGA Championship win the following year at Baltusrol along with another Masters victory in 2006. Sure, there was the mental meltdown at Winged Foot shortly thereafter–but you never let that affect your positive demeanor both on and off the course. In fact, that’s something you’ve ALWAYS impressed me with, Phil–your even-tempered presence–even though I KNOW you’ve probably wanted to offer some choice expletives over the years after errant tee shots. Yes, you’ve taken the high road–and I thank you for that.
Thank you, Phil, for always being classy/cooperative during various TV interviews. You’re the model for how one should handle the press after finishing a round of golf–whether it’s shooting a 66 or 76. Yeah–I guess the expression is “even keel”–a sometimes elusive quality for ALL of us. And thanks for becoming a little “looser” with the crowds over the past few years, Lefty, as they now see you as a more REAL, approachable individual; yes, even though you’re a very rich man, it’s not too difficult anymore to think of you as one of “us”, Phil.
Yes–and thanks for the mental toughness you’ve shown in the face of true adversity, Phil. You proved that in gargantuan fashion a few weeks back as health issues plagued your family; yeah–you were playing for just a bit more than another green jacket. I know what it’s like, Phil, to see one’s own Mom deal with cancer; to see your wife go through a well-publicized battle with the same dreaded disease has tested the depths of your overall strength. Yeah, I know–a bit tougher than chipping from the fringe to within a couple inches, huh? Thanks, Phil, for showing such compassion and true devotion as you suspended your PGA schedule in support of these two beautiful women; yeah, I guess family means a LOT more to you than a certain other golfer I have in mind. And thanks, Lefty, for always being so loyal to your better-half, Amy. Your only “conquests” over the years have been limited to names like Pebble Beach, Bay Hill, and Augusta–and NOT names such as Cori, Jamie, and Holly. I’m sure at this juncture, Phil, your wife appreciates your devotion more than you’ll ever know.
And as a Connecticut resident, Phil, I’d like to thank you for showing up to the tournament here in Hartford a few times–unlike some other egotistical scoundrel who’s given the impression that he’s WAY above gracing the TPC in Cromwell with his presence. When I was able to talk to you for a minute or two when you won here back in 2002, you were nothing but cordial and sincere–offering me your hand when we were done chatting on your way to the practice range. You seem to “get it”, Mr. Mickelson; yeah, I assume you DO like to pile up wins just as much as Windermere, Florida’s most famous resident–but you have some personality and class, too.
Thank you, Lefty, for you continued charitable efforts; yeah, I know there are many wealthy individuals who do similar, kind acts, but your sincerity truly seems genuine. It’s not just a smokescreen, tax write-off, or PR thing with you; the Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation has made FAMILY its number one priority–with an interest in strengthening bonds by supporting a variety of youth and family initiatives. For some reason, I think a certain guy with the new nickname of “Cheetah” cannot quite relate to the whole “family” thing–at least not yet.
Finally, Phil, thank you for showing that one CAN still remain grounded in the midst of immense celebrity status. You’re just that “regular guy” who happens to be a tremendous golfer–and NOT the other way around. Golf means a lot to you, but FAMILY means more. The tears shed between Amy and yourself shortly after you emerged victorious at Augusta earlier this month were symbolic of MUCH more than the joy of winning yet another tournament. No, that emotional moment–at least on Amy’s part–had more to do with how great an INDIVIDUAL you are than how you “mastered” another tough golf course.
Thanks, Phil Mickelson, for having carried yourself in such an upstanding way over the years–more accurately, the RIGHT way.
April 28, 2010
With the 9th pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Clemson running back CJ Spiller. The biggest scoring threat in this year’s draft, Spiller is too electrifying and too explosive to be ignored. I guess you could say that he has enough talent to be taken anywhere in the draft, so it shouldn’t have been a huge shocker when he went 9th overall. However, I didn’t think the Bills were going to take this big of a chance with a running back this early. Now we’re talking about a position that they’re not even in the need of; while Bills running back Marshawn Lynch missed plenty of games last season, back-up Fred Jackson took over and ran for more than 1000 yards during his absence. There has been a mixed success of top-10 running backs in recent years. Since 2005, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, Reggie Bush, Darren McFadden, and Adrian Peterson are the backs that have been drafted with a top-10 pick. That’s one future hall-of-famer, one stuck on a crappy team, and three busts. So while the Bills are dreaming of Spiller being the next AP, the odds are against it. A better way to handle the situation would have been to draft someone like Derrick Morgan or Jason Pierre-Paul, who could help out at defensive end or perhaps at a an outside linebacker spot. Or maybe even a Brandon Graham, who would be a definite fix at linebacker. Plus, there are plenty of late-round backs that could have fit the bill such as Montio Hardesty, Conte Cuttino, Dexter McCluster, or Charles Scott.
With the 16th pick of the NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans took versatile Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan. Morgan is another one of those guys that has tons of talent and, like Spiller, had the potential to be drafted anywhere in the draft. Quite frankly, if I were Jeff Fisher right now, I’d be pretty stoked about finding this guy at the 16th spot. He can play defensive end in a 4-3 system and an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Morgan’s speed and relentless pass rush gives him the edge over most sluggish offensive tackles and he collapses the pocket very quickly; Tennessee couldn’t be happier. The defensive line has been falling apart lately and Morgan could defiantly add depth there and, heck, outside linebacker Kieth Bullock is getting up there in age, so it may not be a bad idea to see how he does at outside linebacker too.
The Broncos used their 1st round pick, 22, to draft Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius Thomas. This pick leaves me with one question; is this Denver’s master plan? First, we’re going to trade our #1 offensive threat, Brandon Marshall, to the Dolphins and, then, we’re going to replace him with an incoming rookie receiver that was the leader in YPC in college. They also drafted Tim Tebow with the 25th pick; the Broncos are taking some huge strides, the question is, are they in the right direction? There’s no doubt that the Broncos are looking to acquire a big-play receiver to replace Brandon Marshall, but the fact that they’re drafting Thomas to take over; those are some big shoes to fill. Now there’s no question that Thomas is a talented receiver; you don’t just fall into the 1st round on accident. He’s a very physical receiver that blows by corners with his strength. He has very sticky hands and, when he goes up for the ball, he’s almost always coming down with it. Sounds a little bit like Marshall. Final note – the Broncos should have never traded Brandon Marshall, because they’ve forced themselves to draft a receiver such as Thomas this early in the draft.
Only two ACC players were drafted in the 2nd round; Virginia cornerback Chris Cook went 34th to the Vikings and Virginia Tech defensive end Jason Worilds went 52nd to the Steelers.
When the Vikings took Cook, well, I’m not sure if they had their thinking caps on for this one. Cook is a very competitive, tough corner that isn’t afraid to help out with the run; sounds like a Vikings corner to me. But I’m afraid that Minnesota missed out on the chance to draft an elite receiver. Golden Tate, Arrelious Benn, Brandon LaFell, and Damian Williams are all receivers that would have scratched the itch for receiver in the 2nd round. Perhaps the Vikings are looking to turn Cook into a strong safety; not only do they have a greater need at that position, but Cook’s toughness and tackling mentality would certainly make an easy transition to the safety position.
Jason Worilds is a perfect fit for the Steelers; I love the pick. Pittsburgh’s starting defensive end Aaron Smith is entering his 13th NFL season, so it’s safe to say that, unless he pulls a Brett Favre, the Steelers are going to be without a defensive end very soon. Worilds will be a very good asset to the smash-mouth kind of football that the Steelers defense brings to the field. He is in a lot of ways like Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan in the sense that he explodes into the backfield. His pass rushing moves are as good as they get and he when he when he gets to the quarterback, he leaves no prisoners. I think Pittsburgh made a great pick here and that Worilds will be very successful under the Steelers aggressive, blitzing defensive scheme.
With the 71st pick, Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett was drafted by the Green Bay Packers. The main goal for Green Bay coming into the draft was to complete their offensive line in a sense where they wouldn’t be racing for answers in free agency. They took care of that in the 1st round, allowing them to pick up Morgan Burnett, a guy who wasn’t expected to be there in the 3rd round. Burnett’s a very quick, athletic, instinctive player that has all you want in a safety. He makes big plays on the ball, is terrific against the run, and should be a very good asset in Green Bay.
Miami tight end Jimmy Graham was drafted by the defending Super Bowl champions at 95th overall. It seems like defensive back has been the Saints biggest need in the NFL Draft the last five years, but as the 3rd round came along, New Orleans piled up by drafting a tight end I’m not quite sure they really needed. Hey, Graham should be thrilled; he’s going to be playing on last year’s Super Bowl winning, #1 offense. Though he may not get much playing time. Jeremy Shockey is still at lbay reeling in passes and 2nd string tight end David Thomas isn’t too bad either; he caught 35 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown as a back up in 2009. Not to mention the other two tight ends on their roster that never got to the field in the Saints Super Bowl run. I guess they’re just trying to provide competition.
Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee was drafted by the Bengals with 96th pick. I like the decision the Bengals made with going with this guy in the 3rd round. They’re in a huge need of a #2 corner, as well as two fresh safeties; at least this satisfies one of their needs considering they didn’t address any needs in the first two rounds. Cincinnati drafted another tight end in the 1st round? What!? I thought their 2009 1st round selection, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, was expose to take care of that? Oh yeah, he didn’t catch any balls last season, guess they gotta keep trying. Ghee didn’t make many headlines as a starter for Wake Forest, but he was very productive and will be a very solid corner in the NFL if he has time to develop. However, I’m feeling obligated to bash on Cincinnati; they didn’t really need to draft a tight end. They could have used their 21st pick in the 1st round to draft, hmm, I don’t know maybe Devin McCourtney? Kyle Wilson?
Miami linebacker Darryl Sharpton was drafted to the Houston Texans 102nd overall and offensive tackle Bruce Campbell was drafted 106th by the Oakland Raiders. A few picks later, Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford was drafted at 108 (The Raiders couldn’t go a draft without choosing a 4.3 forty receiver?).
UNC defensive end E.J. Wilson was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks at 127th overall, while Miami offensive tackle Jason Fox was picked next (128th ) by the Lions.
The Seahawks also picked up Virginia Tech safety Kam Chancellor 133rd overall (5th round), Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp was drafted by the Eagles 134th overall, and Virginia Tech offensive tackle Ed Wang was selected by the Bills with the 140th spot.
Maryland corner back Nolan Carroll and UNC defensive tackle Cam Thomas were drafted back to back in the 5th round. Carroll by the Dolphins145th and Thomas by the Chargers 146th.
Boston College center Matt Tenant was selected by the Saints (158th), Wake Forest guard Chris DeGeare was picked up by the Vikings (161st), and Clemson cornerback Crezdon Butler was drafted by the Steelers (164th).
Hookies punter Brent Bowden was drafted by the Buccaneers (172nd), former Georgia Tech A-back Jonathan Dwyer was selected by the Steelers (188th), NC State center Ted Larson was picked up by the Patriots, and Florida State safety, road scholar, Myron Rolle slipped all the way down to the Titans; the last pick in the 6th round (207th).
Virginia Tech safety Cody Grimm was drafted by the Buccaneers (210th), NC State defensive end Willie Young was taken by the Lions (213th), Miami tight end Derrick Epps was picked up by the Chargers (235th), and, going to the Indianapolis Colts, Clemson linebacker Cavell Connor was the last ACC player taken in the draft.
April 23, 2010
April 22, 2010, Earth Day. It wasn’t the day the world was saved, but it may go down as the day the greatest event in all of sports was spared from needless ruin.
The recently completed 2010 NCAA men’s basketball tournament was played under the widely assumed specter that it would be the last such tournament before expansion to 96 teams would occur as early as next season. Yet, along came an unexpected, lucrative television deal on Thursday morning to save college basketball as we know it.
With more than 95 percent of its total revenue emanating from TV broadcast rights to the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, the NCAA was in strong pursuit of a way to increase its monetary returns, and the organization was hoping to capitalize on a potential bidding war between CBS Sports and ESPN.
The NCAA’s hope was that CBS would opt out of its 11-year, $6 billion deal by July 31st, clearing the way for CBS to either outbid ESPN in keeping a 65-team field, or for ESPN to spend even more on televising all games in an expanded 96-team field. Throughout last season, the NCAA tournament seemed destined for the latter of the two scenarios.
Foolishly, the NCAA saw only the dollar signs, despite the fact that nearly every poll released, revealed that more than 80 percent of college basketball fans were against expansion to 96 teams.
Thankfully –- for all sane college basketball fans everywhere –- with the addition of another TV partner, the NCAA tournament will expand, but only by three teams, to the perfect number of 68 teams.
The NCAA announced on Thursday, a new 14-year, $10.8 billion deal with CBS and Turner Broadcasting that will begin next March, when CBS will start broadcasting the tournament in conjunction with Turner’s channels, TNT, TBS, and truTV, through 2024.
You’ve heard of a win-win situation? Well, this is a win-win-win (sorry ESPN, you’re the sole loser in this deal, but it’s hard to have sympathy knowing that a 96-team tournament would have been a huge mistake).
CBS, along with Turner, win their contract; the NCAA gets the revenue it sought; and, most importantly, the most exciting sporting event in the world isn’t sabotaged for fans as a result of money and greed. As an added bonus, every game of the tournament will be broadcast live nationally for the first time in the tournament’s 73-year history.
It’s ironic that the date on which we’re all encouraged to “go green” the most, was the same one that another “green” which was driving tournament expansion to 96 teams, ultimately yielded the perfect tournament of 68 teams.
However we got there, sensible college basketball fans everywhere are now breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Everything that’s been great about the NCAA tournament to date figured to be undone in a 96-team field. Imagine ninth-seeded Northern Iowa, instead of beating eighth-seeded UNLV and knocking out the tournament’s overall top seed Kansas in the second round (as it did in March), instead losing in a lackluster fashion by double digits to Kansas because it would have run out of gas after beating the 24 seed and UNLV before playing Kansas, all within the span of less than a week in a 96-team setup.
Consider too, how many undeserving and uninspiring teams would have competed in a severely watered-down tournament of that size.
A 96-team field also would have rendered much of the regular season and exciting conference tournament finishes (such as Kentucky’s thrilling overtime SEC final win over bubble team Mississippi State in March) a lot more meaningless.
And, a by-product of a 96-team field would have likely meant the end of the NIT. While that tournament has become merely the consolation to the NCAA tournament, it’s still quite valuable for many teams that play in it, and it’s too steeped in rich tradition and history to simply do away with it (as evidenced by the sheer jubilation of Dayton players, coaches, and fans after Dayton, which has the second most NIT appearances in history, captured this year’s NIT title).
With the new TV deal, all of the above worries are gone. The tournament keeps its same basic structure which has made the event as great as it has been for decades, and adding the additional three teams –- if it’s done right — would make the tournament even better than it’s been.
In any given year, there are usually no more than three or four bubble teams with real, legitimate gripes about being left out of the field of 65. Thus, a field of 68 would be an improvement, and would actually represent the ideal number of teams to be included.
The suspected plan is that the NCAA would replace the current play-in game between the two lowest seeded teams in the tournament with four play-in games on the Tuesday before the first-round games.
The 64/65 play-in game was always unfair anyway, since the teams participating in that game were the only two entries forced to play their way into the tournament twice. All other automatic qualifiers via conference tournament wins would automatically receive bids to play in the first round of the tournament. It should be that way for what used to be the 64th and 65th teams, as well.
Hopefully, Thursday’s announcement isn’t simply an intermediary step toward an eventual field of 96 teams. With the new deal running for 14 years, there’s plenty of time for a field of 68 to be proven as the ultimate possible setup.
The deal reached by the NCAA, CBS, and Turner assures that at least for the foreseeable future, the right number of teams will be selected.
Now, to make the entire postseason — including the men’s NCAA tournament and the men’s NIT –- the NCAA needs just one last step: have the four play-in games played throughout the day on the Tuesday prior to the first round, with one play-in game in each region, at noon, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm EST; the last four bubble teams in against what would have been the first four bubble teams out under the old system, with one game per region; the winners get the four 12 seeds, the losers get the four top seeds in the NIT. That would yield perfect postseason arrangement.
Whether or not the NCAA does exactly that with the early part of the men’s NCAA tournament or with the NIT remains to be seen. Regardless, the main thing is that at least for a while, that which could have been the ruination of all that has made March Madness so special, pleasantly surprised by making the best sporting in existence, even better.
April 19, 2010
ATLANTIC CITY Sergio Martinez said he would have a plan to counter the right of Kelly Pavlik and he would use his speed in the ring to take the middleweight title away from the champion. But it was also a nasty cut sustained by Pavlik above the right eye that contributed to Martinez getting a 12-round unanimous decision at Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall Saturday evening.
Now the 35-year old Martinez (45-2-2,23KO’s), a native of Buenos Aires Argentina, and residing now in Madrid Spain can call himself the WBC/WBO middleweight champion. There certainly were no cries for Argentina especially after the way Martinez fought his way to the title from the seventh round on
Pavlik (36-2, 30Ko’s) of Youngstown Ohio entered the ring once again at Convention Hall to a thunderous ovation, opposing Martinez the mandatory challenger, a heavy favorite to retain the title he won from Jermaine Taylor at the same venue almost two years ago. It was a pro Pavlik crowd as about 3,000 or more of the 6,700 in attendance once again traveled by car and bus from Youngstown to see their fighter defend against Martinez.
Martinez was expecting a 12-round fight, “A 12-round plan,” he said afterwards in the ring with a translator by his side. The cut from a Martinez punch appeared severe at first but Pavlik was able to get by. He briefly sent Martinez to the canvas in the seventh with a short right, appearing to be a slip, but Martinez quickly got up.
Then with Martinez clearly behind on points, he went to work in the ninth round and all three judges at ringside gave Martinez the last four rounds of the fight. The new champion was able to counter the right of Pavlik, and the cut got worse. Pavlik obviously was hindered and could do nothing, and at times it appeared the ringside doctors were going to stop the fight as the cut got worse.
“In the last third of the fight, in the eighth or ninth round he began touching me a lot,” commented Pavlik who required 12 stitches to close the wound. It was obvious that the complexion of the fight changed as Martinez made the comeback and landed solid punches to the face of Pavlik. Martinez would have a 112-51 edge of connecting punches in the final four rounds.
“I tried but it was very hard to come back after him,” said the dethroned champion who may or may not get a rematch with Martinez. “I couldn’t see out of my right eye after he cut it in the eighth or ninth round. I could not see his left,” added Pavlik.
And in the corner, Pavlik’s handlers did their best. But, they too also realized that the championship was suddenly slipping away. “After the eighth round, he just seemed like he gave it away,” said Pavlik trainer Jack Lowe. “We could not turn it around and I don’t know why,” he commented.
The anticipated fight for Pavlik against Paul Williams, previously scheduled and postponed, because of a staph infection on his left hand is now history. He will go back home and weigh his options. For Martinez, who has had bad success over the past few years because of decisions that went against him, there is more to come.
Martinez, who ironically is promoted by Lou Dibella could get Williams who he lost to back in December in what was a controversial unanimous decision. Taylor, who lost the title to Pavlik was once promoted by Dibella, so in a way Dibella has another champion and gets his redemption.
For now though Martinez will savor the victory and celebrate his championship in Spain and of course in Argentina. “There is a lot of pride and emotion for me,” said Martinez who was wrought with emotion when the decision was announced.
“When the last bell rang I knew I was the new world champion,’ he said. Martinez could have been a successful soccer player but chose boxing because hr thought he would be more successful in the ring. “Boxing gives you a chance to dream. You never stop to dream to be a world champion,” he said.
Indeed there will be no crying in Argentina when their new champion comes home to celebrate the victory.
ON THE UNDER CARD: Vincent Arroyo (10-1, 7 KO’s) a promising super lightweight from New York stopped the previously undefeated Jeremy Bryan (13-1, 6KO’s) of Paterson New Jersey. Referee Benjy Esteves put an end to the fight at 1:43 of the eighth round,
Mike Jones (21-0, 17 KO’s) the promising welterweight from Philadelphia stopped Hector Munoz (18-3-1,11KO’s) of Albuquerque New Mexico at 2:03 of round five and won the NABA and NABO Welterweight titles.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com
April 14, 2010
NEW YORK – Kelly Pavlik (36-1. 32KO’s) the WBC/WBO middleweight champion does have his reason to defend the title and get redemption Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City against Sergio Martinez. Sidelined the past year with a staph infection in his right hand, the champion also knows the challenge will be tough.
Martinez. (44-2, 2, 24KO’s) from Madrid Spain, the WBC Super Welterweight Champion, also knows Pavlik is anxious to get back in the ring. Martinez got his opportunity as the number one contender and Pavlik had a mandatory defense.
“It will be two different styles,” commented Martinez Wednesday afternoon at the final press conference at Gallagher’s Steak House in Manhattan. He probably worried more about my speed than my power,” he said through a translator. And when it comes to respect, all of that will be thrown away when Martinez trades punches with Pavlik.
The two fighters have been had their share of issues the past year. Pavlik was dominated by now light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins in October of 2008 and twice had to cancel his title defense against highly touted Paul Wiliams because of his hand issue.
Martinez, (44-2-2, 24KO’s) the native of Argentina achieved success in 2007 knocking out Saul Roman in a WBC super welterweight bout and one year later won the WBC interim super welterweight title with an eighth round stoppage of Alex Bunema, and late last year elevated to WBC world super welterweight champion.
Martinez though still lives with the stigma of losing a controversial non-title middleweight bout last year to former champion Paul Williams that ended a 29-bout unbeaten streak. “ I thank him (Pavlik) for giving me the opportunity, said Martinez, “and I have overcome that loss to Williams. It is an opportunity that I have to overcome the bad decision.”
Pavlik will not dispute criticism that was levied against him when he had to bail out on Williams. He understands that is a part of the boxing game. He, also was not paying much attention to the Hopkins win against Rou Jones Jr, a few weeks ago. “There’s nothing I can do about that,” he said about the criticism that Pavlik may have needed more time against a determined Williams. “I’m still the champion,” he said.
It is a mandatory fight for Pavlik who returns to Boardwalk Hall where he has success. He dethroned champion Jermaine Taylor there nearly two years ago and also handily defeated him in a rematch out in Las Vegas. And the native of Youngstown Ohio anticipates a return to Boardwalk Hall because, a contingent of fans come from Ohio to offer their support.
“I saw Martinez’s fight against Paul Williams and I thought he won it,” commented Pavlik who says the hand is one hundred percent. “It’s great to be back in Atlantic City where I won my world titles.”
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com
April 10, 2010
Yes, folks, the 2010 season is underway; there’s further talk of performance-enhancing drugs and tainted records–which reminds me: I’ve been having headaches lately so will head to Canada soon to get some ibuprofen. Anyway, here’s how they’ll finish this season:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
AL EAST- New York’s Nick Johnson gets hurt more than Evel Knievel did, but he’ll be able to JOG around the bases most of the time; don’t think Beltre and Ortiz will give Boston the ‘pop’ they desperately need to overtake NY. Longoria may be the league’s MVP, but will B.J. Upton rebound? Orioles could finish at .500 as young pitchers like Bergesen and Matusz develop; Toronto won’t get enough outfield production, may lose 100 games, and should hand out handkerchiefs to fans every time Halladay starts for Philadelphia.
AL CENTRAL- Hudson helps Twins A LOT and–even without closer Nathan–Gardenhire will find a way to win the division. White Sox’ starting pitching will keep them near the top of the division, but which Alex Rios will show up? Tigers will score enough but overall team health may be a concern. Royals lack power and just won’t get around the bases; Tribe’s pitching is the reason they’ll occupy the cellar as EVERYONE becomes trade bait in September.
AL WEST- Angels still have enough talent and the best manager in the league while Matsui is a great clubhouse addition; I question the back end of Seattle’s rotation and how much Griffey has left in the tank. Texas has some good young arms, can score, and may challenge Seattle if Josh Hamilton stays vertical. Oakland simply won’t score runs and no player will SNIFF the 100-RBI mark–putting way too much pressure on a decent, young staff.
St. Louis Cardinals
NL EAST- A good Philadelphia team got better, but will Lidge be closing come October? Don’t know if Atlanta can score enough although their pitching looks decent; I have more questions about the Mets pitching staff than I do about Obama’s health-care plan. Florida will have trouble closing games and their defense is suspect. Nats’ closer Capps had an ERA close to SIX last year–and guess what? He’ll probably be closing AGAIN in 2010.
NL CENTRAL- Third base could be a concern for St. Louis, but Holliday adds some needed power; I question the bridge to Marmol in Chicago and Piniella’s best managing days may have passed. A better-than-average Aaron Harang could be the key to the Reds’ success; I don’t like the Brewers’ pitching staff OR Hoffman closing games in the clutch. Astros need Oswalt to be better but their bullpen still won’t get it done; the Pittsburgh PR people could offer MAJOR incentives/prizes at EVERY home game if the team scores five or more runs–simply because they WON’T.
NL WEST- A high team on-base percentage–along with a healthy Jeff Francis–get the Rockies to the playoffs; lack of team speed–along with a low on-base percentage–will hurt the Giants. Dodgers won’t pitch as well as last season and Manny’s #’s will continue to decline; a non-healthy Brandon Webb seals D’Backs’ fate. San Diego will have trouble pitching on the road and won’t score at ANY stadium in which they play.
*Postseason: Yes, my friends–a replay of last season’s Fall Classic as the Yanks and Phils emerge from their respective leagues. Yankees’ core players get to enjoy a repeat as the edge goes to the NY closer–making all the difference as frigid fall temperatures arrive. Enjoy the season, everyone.
April 10, 2010
NEW YORK – Miguel Cotto did not want to discuss the last fight against Manny Pacquiao back in November. The twelfth round TKO loss out in Las Vegas, where Cotto would relinquish the WBO welterweight championship is a bad memory. So at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx New York Friday afternoon there was only mention of moving ahead as he opposes WBA Super Welterweight champion Yuri Foreman.
The fight against Foreman, for the title, will also see Cotto move up in weight and there will be many story lines. Cotto will have famed trainer Emanuel Steward in his corner for the first time, the fight will see the return of boxing to Yankee Stadium for the first time since Muhammad Ali defeated Ken Norton by a 15-round decision on September 28, 1976 at the original Yankee Stadium.
And more importantly, Cotto needs to make a statement. He wins and perhaps there is an opportunity to become a player once again in the welterweight division. Though during the past year, Cotto a three-time world champion and veteran of 16- world championship fights has expressed an interest of taking on two more opponents and then contemplate retirement.
“A tough fight,” said Cotto (34-2 0,27KO’s) about his opponent, the 29-year old Foreman (28-0, 8KO’s) the first Orthodox Jew to win a world championship in nearly 70 years. “I am mentally blocked about Pacquiao and thinking about Foreman,” he said.
The boxing world seems to think Cotto may have lost his punch after losing the WBA welterweight title to Antonio Margarito two years ago at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. A battered Cotto saw right uppercuts and a bloodied nose in the third round slow his pace before the fight was stopped by his corner after 10 rounds.
Later it was revealed that Margarito fought with tainted hand wraps under his gloves when Mosley defeated him for the title that Margarito defeated Cotto for.However the prevailing opinion is that Margarito used illegal hand wraps in the Cotto fight. Margarito was suspended for a year and Cotto stayed silent about the hand wrap issue. Regardless his performance was not Cotto like, neither was it a dominant win at Madison Square Garden last June when he successfully defended his WBO welterweight title against Joshua Clottey in a controversial and close 12-round split decision.
“Where he goes after this fight, you have to ask him,” was the comment from Bob Arum of Top Rank the promoter of Cotto and also Pacquiao. “He is still a world class fighter, has tremendous popularity and can still have an impact. It is a question of what he does against Yuri.”
The popularity of Cotto is still dominant, especially in New York City. Madison Square Garden has always been the venue for him fighting there and successfully defending his titles four times in the month of June on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day parade.
And with the popularity of Foreman, who presents a real challenge for Cotto, this fight could see a crowd in excess of 35,000 at the new “House That Ruth Built” in the Bronx. HBO will also televise the fight on their network as Cotto wants fans to see him fight without shelling out a $50 dollar pay-per-view fee.
“Defending against Cotto is a dream come true,” said Foreman who is expected to also draw a good contingent of Jewish fans to the stadium. Arum plans to stack the undercard with fighters from every ethnic group, including 21-year old Christian Martinez, 4-0, a New York City Golden Gloves champion and promising junior welterweight who was born and raised minutes away from the new stadium.
The fight is being billed as “Stadium Slugfest” or as Lonn Trost Chief Operating Officer of the Yankees said, “Battle in the Bronx” or “Battle of the Boroughs.” The first of many prestigious fights at the new stadium is what Trost is hoping for. There is the possibility that will happen, except Cotto may not be in the plan if he indeed decides to hang up the gloves soon.
“It’s a great honor to have my first title defense at Yankee Stadium and join the names of such fighters as Benny Leonard, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, and to represent Israel and the Jewish people,” said Foreman.
Except this may not be a legendary fight, more so. historic as boxing returns to Yankee Stadium with anticipation.
Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com