- Kevin Iole at Boxing1 day ago
No athlete knew how to work a crowd better than Muhammad Ali, the legendary former heavyweight champion who on Oct. 30, 1974, stopped George Foreman in perhaps the most surprising win of his career.
Ali had an innate sense of how to marshal support from the crowd and how to anatognize an opponent, and never was that more obvious than during the build-up to his fight with Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire.
Josh Peter of USA Today, a former Yahoo Sports writer, wrote a fabulous piece on the 40th anniversary of the Ali-Foreman match that is well worth reading.
Among the priceless anecdotes in Peter's compelling story is how Ali manipulated the people in the country then known as Zaire to support him and oppose Foreman.
Peter spoke with Gene Kilroy, a Las Vegas legend himself who served as Ali's business manager and remains close with the former champion to this day. Kilroy told a wonderful story of how Ali greeted the fans when he stepped off the plane in Africa.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter2 days ago
After Vitor Belfort tweeted in Portuguese that he'd be facing Chris Weidman for the middleweight title on Feb. 28 in Los Angeles, UFC president Dana White took to Instagram to clarify matters.
White jokingly referred to Belfort as "Our new head of p.r.," in making the announcement. Weidman-Belfort will be the main event with a women's bantamweight title fight between Ronda Rousey and unbeaten No. 1 contender Cat Zingano as the co-main on Feb. 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Our new head of PR vitorbelfort announcement today. Weidman vs Belfort/ Ronda vs Cat 2/28/2015… http://t.co/K1lLsj2rYn
Weidman and Belfort were originally supposed to fight on Dec. 6 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, but Weidman broke his left hand in training and on Sept. 22 had to postpone the fight.
- Kevin Iole at Boxing2 days ago
A little more than two months before he turns 50 years old, Bernard Hopkins will slip through the ropes at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., on Nov. 8 to face Sergey Kovalev in a bout for three of the four major light heavyweight titles.
Making it to the fight with his senses and wits intact, perhaps sharper than ever, is perhaps the wily Hopkins' greatest accomplishment. There are few more amazing stories in sports than a 50-year-old man competing, and winning, against the best boxers in the world.
Hopkins was born in 1965, the same birth year as an astounding number of the greatest athletes of our generation. Among those, NFL wide receiver Cris Carter retired in 2002. Ex-heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, NFL cornerback Rod Woodson and NBA center David Robinson all retired in 2003. Hockey legend Mario Lemieux hung up the skates for good in 2006. In 2007, Craig Biggio, a member of MLB's 3,000-hit club, retired. And in 2008, Michael Jordan sidekick Scott Pippen ended his marvelous career.
Still, Hopkins endures, competing at the highest level at his sport, weeks before he's eligible for membership in the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
For the longest time, Holly Holm felt out of place.
She was surrounded by friends throughout her decorated boxing career while training at Jackson Winkeljohn's Mixed Martial Arts Center in Albuquerque, N.M., near her childhood home, but something wasn't quite right.
Holm had gone to great heights as a women's boxer, winning world titles and, perhaps most significantly, taking a wide unanimous decision over Christy Martin, arguably the most famous women's boxer of them all.
But as Holm watched, and in many cases helped her teammates prepare for their MMA bouts, she felt a longing. Despite her success in boxing – she compiled a record of 33-2-3 and was champion at both light welterweight and welterweight – MMA seemed to be grabbing more of her attention.
She was a two-time Fighter of the Year in boxing and was a 2013 inductee into the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame. Her roots in boxing were deep, and strong, but with each passing day, she got closer to leaving the sport behind.
Eventually, the feeling became too strong to ignore and she took the plunge.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
The overwhelming majority of residents of the working-class city of Avenal, Calif., labor in the fields in farm-related jobs, or in jobs that have some connection to farming.
The Ramirez family was no different.
Carlos Ramirez worked the fields for decades, ever since he was a young man, picking tomatoes, lettuce, watermelons, anything that was in season. His wife, Juanita, worked for Paramount Farms, picking pistachios.
Their children, too, were involved out of necessity. It was, in many ways, the family business.
Jose Ramirez was in high school in 2008, and already was showing immense potential as a boxer. It was clear by that point that boxing could be the way out for Ramirez, but his athletic ability didn't keep him from the grind in the blistering heat of the farming fields in California’s Central Valley.
Even though he'd go on to earn a berth on the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team and become one of the sport's most promising pro prospects, Ramirez wasn't treated any differently than anyone else.
Money was tight, as it always had been, and the extra income he could provide by working a few hours a week would help his family immensely.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
The greatness of featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr. might best be measured by Chad Mendes, the man he out-scrapped Saturday in the epic main event of UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro.
Mendes is 16-2 in a dominant career that has been marred only by a pair of losses to Aldo. None of his other matches were ever in doubt.
And yet, Mendes must again head to the back of the line and fight his way up because of the mastery of Aldo.
Mendes put on perhaps the best performance of his brilliant career on Saturday but he still couldn't hand Aldo his first defeat in nine years.
Aldo is faster, tougher, smarter and better than everyone else in not only the featherweight division but also in all of the fight game.
He's also established himself beyond question as one of the elites in the history of mixed martial arts. He deserves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with legends such as former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, reigning light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko as among the handful of best to have ever done it.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports7 days ago
Bobby Green's voice is quivering and he's on the verge of tears. The UFC lightweight, one of the toughest guys in the world, is talking about his lifelong search for love and acceptance.
He was in and out of foster homes much of his life. He was abandoned, neglected, forgotten about. His mother once surrendered him to the state because she was unable to take care of him and continue her drug habit.
But Green had a way about him, a charm that helped him connect with people. He suffered through some incredibly difficult times as a young child, and never had a constant in his life, but he learned early on how to adapt.
As he's talking about his early life, an observer notes he's sort of like a chameleon in the way he can change personalities. As he hears that word, Green's mood immediately brightens.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter8 days ago
Rare is the fighter who tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug (or, in the case of Chael Sonnen, drugs) who doesn't question either the test results, the test procedures or both.
But when a fighter is vindicated, it's almost as if we're not sure how to act.
The UFC rescinded Cung Le's 12-month suspension for testing positive for human growth hormone following his loss to Michael Bisping on Aug. 23 in Macau, China. But Le insisted he hadn't taken anything illegal and several notable figures in the drug testing community, notably Dr. Don Catlin of AntiDopingResearch.org, came to his defense.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
Chad Mendes has complained, seemingly with plenty of justification, that Jose Aldo blows off, or at the very best, puts little effort into his promotional efforts.
Mendes meets Aldo for the featherweight title on Saturday in the main event of UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, a rematch of a bout on Jan. 14, 2012, that Aldo won by flying knee.
The stoic, stern Aldo hasn't lost in nearly nine years and is ranked No. 2 on the UFC's official pound-for-pound ratings.
He's no Ronda Rousey, though, when it comes to selling himself, his bouts or his sport.
Fighters make more money by selling themselves outside the ring, but that hasn't seemed to motivate Aldo to become a salesman.
He routinely seems disinterested during promotional efforts and rarely goes the extra mile to sell his bout.
"My job is to fight and to be as prepared as I can to fight the best in the world," Aldo said.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports9 days ago
Let's start by agreeing that there is no such thing as a lucky punch in a prizefight.
Fighters who stand across from each other in a cage or a ring intend to hit the other, as hard as possible in the most vulnerable areas.
But far too often when a sudden knockout occurs, particularly in the early stages of a match, it's regarded as a lucky punch, or kick, or knee, or whatever kind of strike it might be that ends a fight.
When one man intends to punch the other, and then does it successfully to temporarily knock him cold, how exactly is that luck?
Luck is walking into a bar with your belly hanging over your belt and a three-day growth covering your face and walking out arm-in-arm with Scarlett Johansson or Kate Upton.
Given that, we can all agree that Jose Aldo's spectacular first-round knockout of Chad Mendes at UFC 142 on Jan. 14, 2012, was the result of amazing skill by Aldo and not a fluke in any way.
But nearly three years later, Mendes is back for another crack at the UFC's featherweight king. Aldo hasn't been the vicious killer post-Mendes that he was before, but he's reeled off three consecutive wins without really being challenged.