Kevin Iole

  • UFC hoping new Las Vegas facility will lure fighters in, reduce significant injuries

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 hrs ago

    LAS VEGAS – The UFC is on a run of pay-per-view success that is unparalleled in its history. UFC 189 in July, UFC 190 in August and UFC 193 in Australia rank among the best-performing shows in company history.

    That is largely due to the star power of headliners Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.

    On Tuesday, UFC management gave a nod toward the significance of stars in its sport with the announcement of a new state-of-the-art campus on 15 acres in the growing southwest section Las Vegas.

    Construction on what will be known as the UFC Athlete Health and Performance Center will begin in January and will take 15 months to complete.

    The genesis of the facility was a string of injuries the UFC endured over several years that scuttled a slew of its biggest events.

    It’s no secret that big-name fighters sell tickets and pay-per-views, and with many of them being forced to pull out of fights, it cost the UFC dearly financially and diluted the product in the cage.

    Some, Epstein guessed, will hold their entire training camps in it, while others will come in for an assessment or for a portion of training.

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  • Tyson Fury making it chic to talk about heavyweights again

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 10 hrs ago

    With his acerbic tongue, braggadocios bent and frequently bizarre views, Tyson Fury isn't necessarily going to be a hugely popular heavyweight champion.

    This, after all, is a guy who referred to Wladimir Klitschko as a devil worshipper and equated homosexuality and abortion to pedophilia. He told Sky Sports that he hoped for "a bare-knuckle gypsy fight" with President Obama.

    But Fury's ascension to the throne will surely have long-term positive implications for boxing's most popular division.

    Fury won the title in a wretched fight on Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany, ending Klitschko's nearly decade-long reign, claiming the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.

    Klitschko had a great, even historic reign as the heavyweight champion. He made 18 consecutive successful defenses and ruled the division for nine years, seven months and seven days.

    He trails only the great Joe Louis, who made 25 consecutive successful defenses and reigned for 11 years, eight months and eight days, in both categories.

    Does anyone remember the so-called "Bum of the Month Club?"

    But Fury has the crown, and the bully pulpit, and he's making it chic to talk about heavyweight boxing again.

  • Peter Nelson lands top job at HBO Sports

    Kevin Iole at Boxing 14 hrs ago

    Peter Nelson completed a meteoric rise through the HBO Sports department on Tuesday when he was named executive vice president, landing its top spot.

    He will not have the title of president, but replaces Ken Hershman, who resigned in October, in leading HBO Sports.

    Nelson, who joined HBO Sports in August 2011 as director of programming, will oversee the network's boxing franchise as one of his key responsibilities. He had been serving as vice president of programming for HBO Sports. The Harvard graduate and one-time sportswriter takes on his new responsibilities immediately.

    Nelson's appointment was no surprise, as he was personally hired by Michael Lombardo, the president of HBO programming, and has remained close with Lombardo.

    "So to the extent that Sergey Kovalev is saying, 'Let's get this fight made,' that's the extent to which we're rallying behind it and will try to make it happen."

  • Mark Taffet resigns as senior VP of HBO Sports

    Kevin Iole at Boxing 7 days ago

    A massive overhaul at HBO Sports continued Tuesday when Mark Taffet announced his resignation as its senior vice president, effective at the end of the year.

    Taffet’s departure comes quickly on the heels of the resignation of HBO Sports president Ken Hershman, who resigned last month, also effective at the end of the year. Taffet said Hershman's decision crystallized his own.

    Taken together, the moves seem to solidify the power base of Peter Nelson, HBO Sports’ vice president of programming and the presumed successor to Hershman as the division’s president.

    Nelson was recruited for his role by Michael Lombardo, the president of programming at HBO. It is unclear whether Nelson will replace Hershman as president of HBO Sports, but a source with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports that Hershman’s successor would come from within.

    That would seem to make Nelson, a Harvard graduate and one-time sportswriter, the frontrunner.

    Taffet, 58, had been with HBO for 32 years and ran its pay-per-view department. He began as a manager in budgeting and finance for the sales and marketing departments before moving to Sports and becoming one of its most influential executives.

  • Will Premier Boxing Champions survive?

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    In its first eight months of existence, the Premier Boxing Champions spent millions of dollars and made boxing more available via network and basic cable TV than it had been in well over a quarter of a century.

    How one views the PBC’s success after eight months, with two shows remaining in 2015, depends on what side of the fence one sits.

    Al Haymon, the founder of the Premier Boxing Champions series, is one of the most polarizing figures in the business. He’s made powerful enemies in the sport and is facing separate antitrust lawsuits from arguably the game’s biggest promoters, Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.

    The suit that Top Rank filed in federal court in July indicated that the PBC could lose as much as $200 million in its first 24 months of existence.

    Haymon and investors have always viewed the effort as a long-range plan and were prepared for harsh times early on, a source with knowledge of the PBC’s plans told Yahoo Sports. No PBC executive would comment, though the company released a statement touting that 85 million viewers have watched PBC on television since March.

    NBC has been sort of the PBC’s flagship and the numbers reflect that.

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  • Canelo Alvarez beats Miguel Cotto, setting stage for Gennady Golovkin fight

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – If Canelo Alvarez didn’t make his intentions clear in the ring after vanquishing Miguel Cotto Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center to claim the linear middleweight title, he left no doubt at the post-fight news conference.

    Asked if he’d fight Gennady Golovkin, the burgeoning superstar who holds the WBA, IBF and interim WBC middleweight belts, Alvarez raised his arms in a double biceps flex pose.

    “I’m not afraid of anyone,” Alvarez said after also claiming the WBC middleweight title with a 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111 unanimous decision victory over Cotto.

    The crowd of 11,274 was overwhelmingly in favor of the 25-year-old Alvarez, who showed he’d learned from his one-sided defeat to Floyd Mayweather in 2013.

    The bout wasn’t the classic that many fans were hoping to see. Cotto primarily stuck with his jab and circled the ring, looking for openings and attempting to avoid the younger man’s power.

    Alvarez didn’t do a great job of cutting off the ring, and he threw far too few jabs, but he was the one all night landing the clean, hard blows.

    He felt he’d won, and his only comment was, “Wow.”

    “I think so, I do,” Golovkin said. “I think that’s how he is. He wants to fight.”

  • Trimmed down Diego Sanchez looks to turn back the clock

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    Diego Sanchez became one of the first stars of the early days of Zuffa's ownership of the UFC. He starred on Season 1 of "The Ultimate Fighter," and became beloved because of his quirky personality and willingness to absorb almost inhuman amounts of punishment in search of a win.

    Ten years into his UFC run, the wins are a lot less infrequent and the opponents are much smaller, but Sanchez isn't all that different from the pudgy 185-pounder who defeated Kenny Florian in Las Vegas to win the middleweight crown on the debut season of TUF way back in 2005.

    He's a featherweight now, and will face Ricardo Lamas on Saturday in Monterrey, Mexico, in the fourth different division in which he's competed.

    "Everyone wants to know what I'm doing as a featherweight," said the 33-year-old Sanchez, who fought once at middleweight, 13 times at welterweight and seven times at lightweight in the UFC. "Sometimes, I ask myself that question."

    He laughs at himself and says he expects to be better at featherweight than he's ever been.

    Sanchez said he understands the uproar over that verdict, but believes he won.

  • Miguel Cotto’s history suggests you can’t count him out

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – It’s impossible to measure a boxer the way scouts grade an NFL draft prospect.

    A fighter’s time in the 40 is irrelevant. So, too, is his bench press. All the tangibles scouts look for in the next great pass rusher mean next-to-nothing for a boxer.

    The things that mean everything in boxing are those that can’t be measured.

    Desire. Courage. Patience. Timing. Ferocity. Fortitude.

    Miguel Cotto has those, and more, and it’s why he’ll walk to the ring on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center to face Canelo Alvarez as the linear middleweight champion.

    Cotto is no middleweight. He’s 5-feet-7 with a 67-inch reach. The world’s best middleweights are Gennady Golovkin, who is 5-11 with a 70-inch reach; Andy Lee, who is 6-2 with a 75-inch reach; Daniel Jacobs, who is 6 feet with a 73-inch reach; and Peter Quillin, who is 6 feet with a 71½-inch reach.

    Even Alvarez, who is a super welterweight, has physical advantages over the 35-year-old Cotto. Alvarez, in addition to being 10 years younger, is two inches taller and has a 3½-inch edge in reach.

    Cotto is all business just about all the time, and when he steps in the ring, his business is inflicting punishment.

  • How Henry Cejudo went from sleeping on floors to UFC contention

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    Henry Cejudo is 28 years old and in the prime of his athletic career. He’s an Olympic gold medalist and a potential UFC champion.

    He faces Jussier Formiga in a flyweight bout Saturday in Monterrey, Mexico, on the main card of a UFC show being broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

    Life is good, and he’s the first to admit he has plenty of reason to give thanks next week.

    But Cejudo’s life is vastly different than most. Many fighters grow up poor and learn to fight to escape a harsh environment. Few, though, endured the kind of life Cejudo did growing up in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Cruces, N.M.

    For the first 17 years of his life, he slept on a bunch of blankets in the corner of a room. It wasn’t until he and his older brother, Angel, went to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to compete in the USA Wrestling program that he had a bed to call his own.

    “That was a very weird feeling,” he said. “I was still just a junior in high school. My brother and I weren’t used to that. It was one of the things in life we didn’t have. We just lived and did what we had to do. We didn’t know.”

  • Canelo Alvarez still trying to shake off bad day at the office

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Imagine that on your biggest day at work, things go horribly, inexplicably and devastatingly wrong. You've promised your bosses and your co-workers a masterpiece, and the final product is far from it.

    You know it, your boss knows it and most everyone you come in contact with knows it.

    And then, for the next two years, no matter what else you do, you hear about that bad night. As well as you may do on every succeeding project, it's that huge misstep a couple of years ago everyone wants to discuss.

    That's Canelo Alvarez's world. He's arguably boxing's biggest star now, yet even as he prepares to fight Miguel Cotto on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in a hotly anticipated bout that will be distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View, he's haunted by memories of his worst night as a pro.

    Twenty-six months ago, a bold, confident and unbeaten Alvarez climbed into the ring convinced that he'd topple Floyd Mayweather Jr.

    Mayweather entered that bout as boxing's reigning pound-for-pound champion. But Alvarez, 23 at the time, scoffed at the notion that after eight years and 43 fights he was in over his head.