- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports23 hrs ago
Glen Tapia has become one of boxing's bright young stars because many years ago, he was afraid to say no.
Tapia is following the path that Arturo Gatti, the late Hall of Famer, blazed a generation earlier: He's making a name for himself in the New York Metropolitan area with an aggressive, fan friendly style.
On Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., the room that Gatti made famous, Tapia will face the fight of his life when he meets heavy handed James Kirkland in a 10-round super welterweight bout.
[Related: Nine must-see fights in December]
In Kirkland, Tapia will face one of the sport's bigger names in the co-feature of a nationally televised card, fulfilling the vow he made when he was a young professional.
"When I first turned pro, I'd tell people I'd be fighting in Atlantic City and they'd look at me like I was crazy," he said.
No one looks at him that way any more. He's a rare combination of speed, power, fearlessness and boxing ability, with the opportunity to become a star.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Gray Maynard looked like he'd have rather been anywhere than sharing a cage in a fight with Nate Diaz on Saturday.
Diaz felt the same way, but he turned in one of the great performances of his career and stopped Maynard after a series of strikes in the first round of their bout at The Ultimate Fighter Finale at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Diaz had wanted to attend his high school reunion, but skipped it to take on Maynard, a former lightweight-title challenger, in a rubber match. It turned out to be no contest, as Diaz overwhelmed Maynard and forced referee Yves Lavigne to stop the bout.
As good as he looked, though, Diaz wasn't keen on fighting. He wanted to attend his reunion.
"It would have been cool to go there [to my reunion], but I was broke, so I had to show up [to fight]," Diaz said.
And he fought as well as he has in his long career. He caught Maynard with a nice judo throw early in the fight before then using his punching accuracy to set up the finish.
Typical of Diaz, though, he didn't want to hang around much to celebrate. He was being interviewed by Jon Anik in the cage on Fox Sports 1 shortly after the match ended, but cut it short.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter4 days ago
Ronda Rousey was concerned that she'd be viewed as some kind of deranged nut job after her stint as a coach on Season 18 of "The Ultimate Fighter" aired on Fox Sports 1.
The season concluded on Wednesday andit portrayed Rousey as ultra-competitive, ultra intense and an extremely poor loser.
None of that, though, is much of a surprise and none of it detracts from her primary gig as the UFC women's bantamweight champion. Her job is not only to fight and retain her title, but also to sell tickets and pay-per-views.
After just one fight in the UFC, a victory in February over Liz Carmouche, Rousey is already one of the sport's biggest stars, male or female. It's fair to say that only welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre clearly exceeds her as a draw. Some might argue that light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and/or middleweight champion Anderson Silva may exceed her in terms of star power.
- Kevin Iole at Boxing4 days ago
Adonis Stevenson has had a superb 2013 campaign, and even though Floyd Mayweather Jr. seems to have the edge on Fighter of the Year honors, "Superman" remains in contention heading into his WBC light heavyweight title bout on Saturday in Quebec City against Tony Bellew.
Stevenson has scored two impressive knockout wins in 2013, halting Chad Dawson in the first round and then stopping Tavoris Cloud after seven one-sided rounds. An impressive win over Bellew would force voters to at least consider him as 2013 Fighter of the Year.
But more importantly, a big victory for the heavy handed Stevenson would put him in prime position for 2014. First, it will position him for a fight with Sergey Kovalev, a match that would be an absolute donnybrook, should Kovalev, as expected, get past Ismayl Sillakh on Saturday's undercard.
A Stevenson-Kovalev WBC-IBF unification bout would be one of the best action fights on the early 2014 schedule.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter5 days ago
LAS VEGAS -- It's hard to tag a bout a must-win for a fighter who is 11-2-1 and has beaten some of the best fighters in the world. But if Gray Maynard wants to remain remotely in contention for the UFC lightweight title, then he has no other choice but to defeat Nate Diaz when they meet on Saturday in The Ultimate Fighter 18 finale at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Maynard's record is magnificent, and he was seconds away from having Dana White wrap the lightweight belt around his waist on New Year's Day 2011, when he knocked champion Frankie Edgar down three times in the first round of their bout at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
But Maynard is just 1-2-1 in his last four fights and a loss to Diaz on Saturday would literally mean a year or more climb back to relevancy in the division.
The fighters are so evenly matched at the highest levels of the division that losses take on a lot more meaning. A series of losses can be a killer to one's title hopes.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
Pacquiao used his blinding hand and foot speed to batter Brandon Rios into submission on Saturday at CotaiArena in his first fight in nearly a year after being knocked cold.
Following a lost year in 2012, which included losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez and dropping his position as the best fighter in the world not named Mayweather to Andre Ward, Pacquiao seemed to regain his mojo fighting before an energized crowd of supporters.
The sellout crowd of 13,101 lustily roared at every Pacquiao combination that landed. Pacquiao went hard, early and often, to the body and easily won the unanimous decision.
Judge Michael Pernick saw it 120-108, a shutout, the same as Yahoo Sports. Lisa Giampa scored it 119-109, giving Rios the eighth. Manfred Kuechler scored the fight 118-110, judging the third and eighth rounds for Rios.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
Rios was no match for Pacquiao, as he absorbed powerful blows from all angles throughout the bout before a sell-out crowd of 13,101 at CotaiArena. Rios showed a dogged determination and an iron chin, but he wasn't fast enough to fend off the aggressive Pacquiao.
The last time Pacquiao stepped foot inside of a ring, he was knocked cold by Juan Manuel Marquez last year in Las Vegas, creating fears that he was finished as a fighter.
He dispelled that notion on a Sunday morning in China, getting out of bed to deliver a frightful beatdown to a game but outclassed opponent. It was a win he dedicated to his countrymen, who were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan two weeks prior to the fight.
"This isn't about my comeback," Pacquiao said. "My victory is a symbol of my people's comeback from a disaster, a national tragedy."
Judges had it 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 for Pacquiao. Yahoo Sports scored it 120-108 for Pacquiao, calling all 12 rounds for the Filipino superstar.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports11 days ago
MACAU – Bob Arum sat in the middle of a beautiful restaurant, nibbling at a piece of tiramisu, a look of absolute contentment covering his face.
The room was filled with people who'd made the trek to southern China to watch Manny Pacquiao face Brandon Rios in the 12-round main event of an HBO Pay-Per-View show in CotaiArena in the Venetian Macau.
Arum, who has promoted boxing for 47 years, will turn 82 next month. He playfully flirted with a ring-card girl, and held court with a group of boxing writers. He was never more in his element.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
MACAU – Manny Pacquiao is hardly a trash talker or the type to make bold, outrageous predictions. With many predicting his demise, however, an apparently insulted Pacquiao boldly predicts a knockout of Brandon Rios.
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach was doing an interview, with Pacquiao seated next to him, and Roach mentioned that he felt Pacquiao would stop Rios on Saturday (Sunday morning Macau time) in the sixth round of their 12-round welterweight bout at CotaiArena.
That caught the attention of Pacquiao, who hasn't stopped anyone since Miguel Cotto in the 12th round in Las Vegas in 2009. Pacquiao beamed as he heard Roach say six rounds, but he clearly disagreed.
He stuck out four fingers, suggesting he'd knock Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) out in four.
- Kevin Iole at Boxing13 days ago
MACAU -- The scuffle that erupted between the camps of Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios on Wednesday Macau time was not scripted in the manner that a professional wrestling match is staged.
But this was an entirely predictable and preventable occurrence that happened only because no one took the simple steps required to stop it.
That falls totally on the shoulders of the promoter, Top Rank. The animosity between Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach and Rios strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza is real and was well known to boxing insiders for years.
In August, Roach fired Ariza as Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach. Allowing them to linger in the same area with no significant management and security presence was inviting trouble.
Further, Roach has an intense dislike for Rios and Garcia since they mocked him for his Parkinson's Disease in a disgusting 2010 video that was released days before Pacquiao fought the Garcia-trained Antonio Margarito in Dallas.