Kevin Iole at Boxing 3 hrs ago
Boxing's big night was exactly two weeks away, on May 2, when Floyd Mayweather Jr. faces Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in a welterweight title fight fans have been desperate to see for more than five years.
But in a small casino in upstate New York on Saturday, two gritty, rough and unstoppable super lightweights reminded us just why we love boxing so much.
Lucas Matthysse edged Ruslan Provodnikov in a fight that very much lived up to the pre-fight hype that had it as potentially the best fight this year.
The men were never more than two steps away from each other and spent most of the night winging bombs at each other. Amazingly, there were no knockdowns as Matthysse pulled out a well deserved majority decision victory. Judge Don Ackerman scored it 114-114, the same as Yahoo Sports, but he was overruled by judges Glenn Feldman and John McKaie, who each had it 115-113 for Matthysse.
Provodnikov was cut early by an inadvertent head butt and fought most of the fight with blood steaming down his face. Matthysse peppered him with powerful shots but amazingly, Provodnikov not only didn't go down, he rarely took a backward step.
Kevin Iole at Boxing 2 days ago
Much of the time since HBO debuted "24/7: De La Hoya-Mayweather" in 2007, the documentary-style preview shows done to hype pay-per-view fights on both HBO and Showtime have been designed in large part to introduce the fans to the lesser known fighter and make them care about the bout.
It worked spectacularly well for "24/7: De La Hoya-Mayweather." Appearing then on HBO's loaded Sunday night time slot between Entourage and The Sopranos, the series was a huge hit and played a large role in the record 2.45 million pay-per-view sales the fight did.
But the fast-approaching Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is vastly different than any of the others. There is no need to introduce the fighters to the fans. They're two of the most well-known figures in sports.
And their stories have been repeatedly told over the last eight years to the point where it's almost impossible to come up with an angle that hasn't been touched upon at some point.
For Showtime Sports executive vice president/general manager Stephen Espinoza, the challenge was in telling the story in a new and unique way.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago
For years, Felice Herrig assiduously cultivated her own brand. From her braids to her outspokenness to her unique and colorful ring attire to her sponsors, Herrig crafted a distinct image.
While most of her peers concerned themselves with improving their striking or their jiu-jitsu and worried about a lack of recognition, Herrig was busily attending to the business side of the game, as well.
Most of her work was done in the shadows, however, as it came during a period in women's MMA history in which the sport received little or no attention except from the hardest of hardcore mixed martial arts fans.
Women weren't competing in the UFC when Herrig debuted as a pro on Feb. 21, 2009, and those who did fight did so for the love of the sport, because there wasn't much pay or upward mobility.
Ronda Rousey came along and changed all that, and now fighting is a viable career opportunity for many women. They can fight now not only to indulge their passion, but as a way to earn real money.
It wasn't lost on many of her peers that VanZant is, by far, the least experienced and well known of the fighters whom Reebok chose to sponsor.
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Kevin Iole at Boxing 2 days ago
LAS VEGAS – In the last seven years, weigh-ins for major fights have become an event unto themselves. Weigh-ins are, by Nevada law, open to the public, and thousands of fans who weren't able to afford tickets to the fight the next night would pack the arena to catch a glimpse of the boxers.
No weigh-in was more memorable than the one the afternoon before the 2007 match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Ricky Hatton. Tens of thousands of Hatton fans packed the MGM Grand Garden and sang and cheered for hours, with the strain of "There's only one Ricky Hatton!" reverberating throughout the casino.
Fans who want a similar experience for the May 2 Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight had better be prepared to pay for the privilege.
"All of the money, every dollar, from the ticket sales will go to the charities," Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said.
Mayweather has designated the Susan B. Komen Foundation as his charity. Pacquiao picked the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health as his charity. Proceeds from the weigh-in ticket sales will benefit those charities equally.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
His workout had ended at least a half hour before, but Ruslan Provodnikov was pacing around the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, the rivulets of sweat rolling down his face a testament to the effort he'd given in his training.
He greeted a familiar face with a grin and a bow, then walked over to a heavy bag and belted it. It sounded like an explosion.
It caught the attention of his trainer, Freddie Roach, who, startled, glanced in the direction of the sound.
"Oh, it's Ruslan," Roach said with a chuckle. "He sure can punch."
That he can. And so, too, can Lucas Matthysse, whom he'll face Saturday in a highly anticipated catch-weight fight that will be the main event of an HBO broadcast that opens with 2014 Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year Terence "Bud" Crawford.
Provodnikov-Matthysse is not for a title. There isn't anything obvious on the line.
It's simply a can't-miss fight pitting two of the most powerful men in boxing against one another.
Matthysse doesn't have to worry about that with Provodnikov. And Provodnikov knows he doesn't have to worry about that with Matthysse.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
Chris Camozzi knew he was about to lose his job, even though he believed in his heart that he remained one of the best fighters in the world. Lose four fights in a row in the UFC, as Camozzi did in a 17-month span from 2013-14, and you're looking at a stint in the unemployment line.
The final nail, so to speak, was a split decision loss to Rafael "Sapo" Natal on Sept. 5, 2014. It was a fight he could have won, and one he feels he should have won.
But the cold, hard reality of life as a professional fighter is that it is a business that rewards winners, and Camozzi hadn't done enough of it.
"Oh, I knew it was coming," he said while on a way to a medical appointment. "You lose four fights in a row, it's understandable that you're going to get cut. I completely disagreed with the judging in the Natal fight. He spent the entire fight running away and they scored it for him. It is what it is. A loss is a loss and they'd given me enough chances."
He'd been released once before and had fought his way back to the UFC. But when the official release papers arrived after the loss to Natal, it still stung.
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Kevin Iole at Boxing 3 days ago
The expectations for the latest incarnation of boxing's "Fight of the Century" already are through the roof. Interest and advance coverage of the May 2 welterweight title bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas have been extraordinary, and is only going to ramp up as the days count down until the first bell.
There have been many sensational fights in Las Vegas over the last 40 or 50 years as it stole the mantle from New York as the Fight Capital of the World.
But on April 15, 1985, at Caesars Palace – 30 years ago today – a heavily hyped fight delivered in a manner that no one could ever have expected.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler successfully defended the middleweight title by stopping Thomas Hearns in the third round of an absolutely sensational bout. It was one of the greatest bouts in boxing history and more than lived up to the billing.
Given the hype of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, a bout that was more than five years in the making, even a match 70 percent as good as Hagler-Hearns would be exceptional and a major shot in the arm for boxing.
If they do, it will be another night long remembered.
Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 4 days ago
Athletes in all sports are taught to play until the whistle blows, or until the referee says stop.
But because Chad George decided not to pay attention to that dictum, not only was a potentially dangerous situation averted, but he left the cage in Irvine, Calif., following his win over Mark Vorgeas at Bellator 136 on Friday with a greatly enhanced reputation.
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In the first round of their bantamweight fight, George caught Vorgeas with a Von Flue choke. Vorgeas went out, but referee Milan Ayers, standing only feet away, didn't realize it (4:10 mark of the video above). George let go of the choke, looked up at Ayers and said of Vorgeas, "He's out." Slowly, Ayers walked closer and said, "No, he's not. No, he's not."
And so George stepped back and pointed. When Vorgeas didn't move, Ayers took another step in, crouched over Vorgeas and only then realized he was out, calling off the bout.
George said the fight was over and he'd done his job.
Bravo, Chad George.
Kevin Iole at Boxing 4 days ago
The road to a big fight is always difficult, filled with potholes and land mines that often make a seemingly simple deal mind-bogglingly complex.
On Tuesday, the likelihood of a light heavyweight title unification bout between IBF-WBA-WBO champion Sergey Kovalev and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson became far less when Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said she had decided against participating in a WBC-mandated purse bid scheduled for Friday in Mexico City.
The WBC ordered the bout for the fourth quarter of this year, after Kovalev satisfies his IBF mandatory defense with Nadjib Mohammedi in the summer. That came after Duva lobbied the organization at the WBC convention in Las Vegas in December to make Kovalev its mandatory challenger with a 50-50 purse split.
The WBC did that, but ordered the purse bid for April 17.
Also, Duva said it would create financial difficulty to make a purse bid down for a fight in the fourth quarter with so many unknowns. She pointed to the fluctuations of the Canadian and Russian dollars as one example.
In her letter to Sulamain, she wrote:
Second of all, the early bid that has been proposed would necessarily violate the WBC rules and cause financial hardship.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
One of the most familiar phrases in boxing news coverage these days is, "Al Haymon doesn't speak to the media."
Boxing is going through a renaissance of sorts, and Haymon is at the forefront of it. The owner of the Las Vegas-based Haymon Boxing, he created the Premier Boxing Champions series that has brought the sport back onto network television.
PBC cards are broadcast in prime time on NBC and also appear, or soon will, on CBS, Spike, ABC, ESPN, NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network. So far, the fights have been of high quality and have gotten better than expected ratings.
The PBC's debut in prime time on NBC on March 7 became the most-watched boxing telecast since an Oscar De La Hoya card on Fox in 1998. It averaged 3.4 million viewers, peaked at 4.2 million and, perhaps most significantly, won the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic on broadcast television.
The second NBC prime time show, on Saturday from Brooklyn, was also a success, though not as overwhelming as the original show. It finished second on network television behind a NASCAR race on Fox in the 18-49 demographic.
Boxing is in the midst of a rebirth, and Haymon has played a large role in it.