Listen to Go4it! Guest: Cavs F Dean Wade on Wednesday at 7 pm ET.
We discussed many topics, including:
-The acquisition of Donovan Mitchell
-Wade’s role in Cleveland
-Being title contenders
According to Wade, the Cavs are one of the top teams in the NBA.
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Most Valuable Promotions (MVP) today announced the signing of undefeated WBC Silver Super-Middleweight champion Shadasia ‘The Sweet Terminator’ Green to its growing roster of accomplished fighters.
The announcement comes in conjunction with the official naming of her opponent, Elin Cederroos (8-1, 4 KO’s), for the February 4th Serrano-Cruz, Baumgardner-Mekhale undercard at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The WBC-sanctioned bout will serve as a world-title eliminator, with the winner moving on to become the mandatory challenger for the WBC world title.
“2023 has started out with an incredible amount of exciting announcements for MVP, ” said MVP co-founders Jake Paul and Nakisa Bidarian. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Shadasia and her camp to our team of widely talented and passionate athletes. Her ability to take over the ring and demolish her opponents is truly something special. We look forward to her first official bout under MVP this February at Madison Square Garden!”
Green, the former Team USA star, who boasts an 11-0 record, 10 KO’s and the record for fastest KO in women’s fight, joins MVP after a trailblazing few years. As a former standout college basketball star, Green spent years as a starter for Old Dominion University (ODU) where she was impressively named Third Team All-CAA and ranked top 20 in the CAA in scoring. The Paterson, NJ native later broke out into the amateur boxing scene when she joined the U.S. National Team as a heavyweight after just five fights, earning a silver medal at the 2016 World Championships in Kazakhstan. In 2019, Green transitioned to professional boxing where she quickly gained notoriety as a top female contender, ranking #1 in the WBC and IBO, and #2 in the WBA, ultimately earning her the Paterson Laila Ali Award.
“My motto is ‘be phenomenal or be forgotten’ – a mantra that fits so perfectly with the team that Jake and Nakisa have created,” said Green. “We’re striving for greatness together and I can’t wait to work side-by-side with them for this next phase of my career. My first fight against Cederroos will further cement my place among these other incredibly talented MVP fighters.”
Green and Cederroos face off at a pivotal time in their careers. With a world title shot up for grabs, Cederroos is hungry for the chance to fight for the belt once more with only Green in her way. The Swedish-born fighter, who made her professional debut in April 2017 with an impressive 4th round technical knockout of Sanja Ostojic, will arrive to the Hulu Theatre with an 8-1, 4 KO’s record, having only lost to the current, undisputed super middleweight champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn on the Taylor-Serrano undercard last year. A former IBF and WBA world champion, Cederroos was most recently ranked as the world’s best active female super-middleweight by The Ring.
Two of the most aggressive, forward-pressing super bantamweights in boxing will face off in a 12-round WBC Eliminator on Saturday, February 18.
Former two-division world champion Luis “Pantera” Nery (33-1, 25 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico will face Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan (21-3, 17 KOs) of Los Angeles by way of Yerevan, Armenia in a matchup where the winner will be one step closer to a coveted opportunity to fight for a world championship. The event, presented in association with Zanfer Boxing, is scheduled to take place at Fox Theater Pomona and will be broadcast worldwide on DAZN beginning at 5:00 p.m. PST/ 8:00 p.m. EST.
“I am ready for the next challenge and prove yet again that I am the best, super bantamweight in the world,” said Luis Nery. “Azat Hovhannisyan is an experienced and high-quality opponent, but the reality is that I’m ranked number 1 by the WBC and if I win this fight I will be ready to challenge Stephen Fulton or Murodjon Akhmadaliev so they can no longer avoid me. See you on February 18, Luis Nery is here for the long haul.”
“I have a lot of respect for Luis,” said Azat Hovhannisyan. “He’s a former world champion and a very talented fighter. I know I’m going to have to do everything I can to win.”
“On February 18, you will see two hungry fighters who have been waiting for their chance at another opportunity to be at the top of their division,” said Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya. “You will see Hovhannisyan live up to his name as “Crazy A” and pull out all the stops against Nery in this title eliminator to get a step closer to becoming a world champion.”
Luis Nery represents the tough fighters that have come from the ranks of Tijuana, Mexico. The 28-year-old is a former two-division world champion with a nearly spotless record – his only blemish against Brandon Figueroa in May 2021 that saw him lose his WBA and WBC World Super Bantamweight titles. Since then, he has been on a vengeance to get back to the top, securing the WBC Silver and WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight titles in his fight against Carlos Castro in February 2022 and then a third-round knockout against David Carmona in October 2022.
Azat Hovhannisyan hails from Yerevan, Armenia and has steadily climbed the ranks to make a name for himself in his division. The 34-year-old “Crazy A” has earned the respect of the LA fight scene with his impressive, aggressive forward style. His last string of fights since challenging unsuccessfully for the WBC Super Bantamweight Championship title against Rey Vargas have all ended in knockout wins aside from a solid unanimous decision victory against Jose Santos Gonzalez in July 2021. Currently ranked No. 2 by the WBC, No.1 by the WBA, No.3 by the WBO and No. 4 by The Ring, Hovhannisyan is on the doorstep of another world championship opportunity.
Information on the undercard will be shared soon.
Undefeated former two-time WBC Super Middleweight Champion David “El Bandera Roja’’ Benavídez and former IBF Super Middleweight Champion Caleb Plant will meet in a high-stakes, 12-round showdown to settle their long-simmering feud live on SHOWTIME PPV on Saturday, March 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Benavídez and Plant will take their years-long war of words into the ring, as these assertive and hungry super middleweights look to cast their ballot as the division’s next kingpin. Both have had reigns as champions at 168 pounds and both are eager to once again ascend to the top of the division as they fight for Benavídez’s Interim WBC Super Middleweight title.
The 25-year-old undefeated Benavídez (26-0, 23 KOs) became the youngest-ever 168-pound world champion at just 20 years old when he defeated Ronald Gavril by split decision for the vacant WBC title on SHOWTIME in 2017. A Phoenix-native who now lives and trains in the Seattle area, Benavídez has stamped his place in the super middleweight division with knockout power in both hands and improving ring savvy with each fight.
When he was 15 years old, Benavídez went from weighing 250 pounds to a boxing prodigy under the watchful eye of his father and trainer, Jose, Sr., and his brother and veteran contender Jose Jr., as he famously held his own in sparring against middleweight champions Gennady Golovkin and Peter Quillin. Benavídez is riding a string of six straight knockout victories heading into the bout against Plant, having most recently scored a resounding third-round stoppage of former champion David Lemieux in his last fight in May.
“I can’t wait until they put me in the ring with him so I can beat his ass,” said Benavídez. “This is going to be a great night for boxing fans. I can’t wait to step in there and give everyone the beatdown they’re coming to see.”
Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) has used his sublime boxing skills to rise to the rank of world champion and, in his last fight, showed big-time power earning 2022’s Knockout of the Year (CBS Sports, BoxingScene) in a win over Anthony Dirrell. It was Plant’s debut performance with new trainer Stephen Edwards in October where he ended a heated rivalry with Dirrell with a single punch, knocking out the former two-time champion to deliver one of 2022’s most memorable finishes.
The 30-year-old Plant, who was born in Nashville, Tenn., and now lives in Las Vegas, won the IBF title in a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Jose Uzcategui in 2019. Plant dropped Uzcategui in the second and fourth rounds and cruised to victory for the championship. He made three successful title defenses, defeating Mike Lee and Vincent Feigenbutz by TKO in addition to a unanimous decision victory over former champion Caleb Truax. He lost the title in an undisputed championship match against Canelo Alvarez in November 2021, at times frustrating Alvarez with his smooth boxing acumen before defeating Dirrell to set up this highly anticipated clash with Benavidez.
“After I knocked out Dirrell, I made it clear I wanted to go after the biggest fight that could be made in the division,” said Plant. “This is one of the most anticipated matchups and I’m here again, showing the world why I’m one of the biggest attractions in boxing. I feel sharp and on point. I’m looking forward to March 25, not only to give the fans what they’ve been waiting for, but to show who the better man is.”
The Cavaliers began a three-game road trip in New York against the Knicks on Tuesday night.
In this contest, Cleveland(29-20) trailed by as many as 11 points in the fourth, but they were able to tie the score at 100 with just over two minutes to go. However, New York(26-23) would score the next five points, and with 04.4 seconds left, Donovan Mitchell would miss a driving layup; Evan Mobley would miss a turnaround jump shot, and the Knicks would hold on to defeat Cleveland 105-103 at Madison Square Garden.
Julius Randle had game-highs of 36 points and 13 rebounds to lead the way for the Knicks.
The Cavs have lost three of four, while the Knicks end a four-game losing streak.
Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of Cavs’ loss to the Knicks.
Jarrett Allen had his 18th double-double of the season as he had a season-high tying 24 points to go along with 12 boards and a block. Allen continues to be a dominant force in the middle for Cleveland.
Donovan Mitchell didn’t shoot it well(9/24 FG), but he did have 24 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. It felt like he was going to bring the Cavs back in the fourth, but they just fell short.
Not So Great:
First Quarter: The Knicks shot 57% from the field and 67% from deep in the first quarter. New York scored a game-best 34 points in the quarter and led by seven after one. New York’s Randle scored 17 points in the first quarter.
Bench Play: Cleveland only got 12 points from their bench, and they were outscored by New York’s bench 27-12. The Cavs could have used just a little more from the bench against the Knicks.
Cleveland just was not at their best against the Knicks, and they just could not get over the hump in the fourth. The Cavs continued to struggle away from the friendly confines of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as they fell to 9-15 on the road. As said numerous times, they have to be more consistent on the road.
Cleveland heads to Houston to play the Rockets on Thursday night.
Best of the Rest:
R.J. Barrett had 16 points, and Jalen Brunson added 14 points for the Knicks.
Darius Garland, who had 22 points, four rebounds, six assists, and two steals, recorded his 4,000th point on Tuesday night. Evan Mobley added 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.
The last time the Philadelphia Eagles made it to the NFC title game was in the 2017 season, and in that game, the Eagles routed the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 at Lincoln Financial Field to go to the Super Bowl.
Ultimately, Philadelphia would win the first Super Bowl in franchise history two weeks later against the Patriots.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was there when the Eagles faced the Vikings in the NFC title game. At the time, he was Minnesota’s assistant defensive backs coach. On Wednesday, Gannon recalled the energy in the building that day.
“In warmups, a guy that I was coaching, he looked at me with a look in his eye like, whoa. [Minnesota Vikings S] Harrison Smith. I said, whoa, back,” Gannon said. “You could feel the energy, and it’s awesome. This is one of the best atmospheres that you’re going to get in the National Football League, and obviously, being the championship game, it’ll be heightened.
“Yeah, I thought the energy in the building was just phenomenal. Before kickoff, as the game got going, and it’s a tough place to play, and it’s a big advantage for us.”
Playing the Vikings in Minnesota is always challenging, and they have a great fan base. However, according to Gannon, Philly is more electric.
“You know, you kind of think that’s an external factor that you kind of block out, but in ’16 and ’17 in Minnesota when that new facility got built, that new stadium got built, that was a really good atmosphere, too,” he said. “That was the Minnesota miracle, that game, to come here(Philadelphia) to play, and I was like, wow, I don’t know if there will ever be a stadium more electric than that that I’ve been a part of after [former Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon] Diggs has a walk-off. When we were here in warmups, that’s what it was. When we were here in warmups, it was like, whoa, this is as electric — it’s more electric than that place was.
“I always joke about it with Mr. Lurie [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Lurie] and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman]; I’ve always wanted to be a part of a Philly team to play in playoff games at that stadium because that’s how it stood out in my mind.”
San Francisco 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy will experience this environment on Sunday. Will he be ready? We’ll find out soon enough.
The New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson was recently re-evaluated for his right hamstring injury. The re-evaluation showed that Williamson’s hamstring is healing as expected, and he is making good progress with his recovery, the team announced on Tuesday.
According to the team, Williamson will continue his rehabilitation process, which includes strengthening his hamstring and gradually progressing to more movement. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Williamson has missed the last ten games after he suffered a right hamstring strain on January 2 in Philadelphia against the 76ers.
In 29 games, he holds season averages of 26.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per contest.
New Orleans(26-21) is fourth in the Western Conference.
Top super lightweight contenders will square off as popular knockout artist Subriel Matías meets undefeated Argentine Jeremías Ponce for the vacant IBF 140-pound World Championship to decide one of the kingpins of the red-hot super lightweight division on Saturday, February 25 live on SHOWTIME from The Armory in Minneapolis headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features the return of Minneapolis-native Jamal “Shango” James in the 10-round welterweight co-main event as he battles 2016 Argentine Olympian Alberto Palmetta. Kicking off the telecast, exciting super lightweight contender Elvis Rodríguez duels the hard-hitting Joseph “Blessed Hands” Adorno in a 10-round attraction.
“The 140-pound division is one of the hottest in boxing and a new champion will be crowned at the weight when Subriel Matías and Jeremías Ponce meet in an anticipated clash on Saturday, February 25,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “One of the sport’s most powerful punchers, Matías will have to be at his best to turn away the unbeaten and highly-motivated Ponce. In addition to a second 140-pound clash between Elvis Rodríguez and Joseph Adorno, The Armory’s fan-favorite Jamal James will step back into the ring, as he looks to begin another run to the title against Alberto Palmetta. This is a jam-packed lineup that fans in Minneapolis or watching on SHOWTIME will want to make sure they catch from start to finish.”
The 30-year-old Matías (18-1, 18 KOs) has a seek-and-destroy style that is easy on the eyes and hard for his opponents. He has early and late KO power with all 18 of his victories coming via stoppages – his last six in the fifth round or later. The lone loss of his career came against Petros Ananyan via 10-round unanimous decision in 2020 and was later avenged. Matias, of Farjado, Puerto Rico, faced two unbeaten boxers after the loss, defeating Malik Hawkins and Batyrzhan Jukembayev by stoppage. In the rematch he stopped Ananyan by ninth-round TKO, methodically wearing his opponent down and exhausting him before dropping him and ending the action.
“I’m very grateful that there is now a date for this fight so that I can finally realize my dream and become world champion,” said Matías. “I’ve been away from my family for 10 months in Mexico, just preparing and getting ready until the time came to step into the ring. Now that it’s in my sight, there’s nothing that is going to stand in my way.”
Ponce (30-0, 20 KOs) will be making his U.S. boxing debut when he meets Matias in what has all the earmarks of an immovable-force-versus- unstoppable object-type matchup. The 26-year-old Ponce of Buenos Aires, Argentina hopes to be included in the long lineage of legendary Argentine boxers who preceded him. He put himself in position to fight for the IBF title with a resounding 10th-round TKO victory over Lewis Ritson in June 2021. He has kept himself busy in anticipation of the title match and stopped Michel Marcano via second round KO in November 2021 before most recently earning a TKO victory over Achiko Odikadze in April of last year.
“I promise that I’m coming into this fight prepared to do whatever it takes to reach my dream and become a world champion,” said Ponce. “In my mind, this is my fight, and that title is already mine. Anyone who’s standing in my way is going to see why I’m undefeated and why I’ve earned this position that I’m in.”
Minneapolis’ James (27-2, 12 KOs) will return to the ring for the first time since dropping a 2021 slugfest to then unbeaten Radzhab Butaev, which snapped James’ seven-fight winning streak. The 34-year-old returns to fight at The Armory for the fifth time in his career, having won four straight bouts there between April 2018 and July 2019. That run for James included triumphs over fellow contender Abel Ramos and former Champion Antonio DeMarco. James also owns victories over veteran contenders including Javier Molina and Wale Omotoso, with his only other blemish coming against former world champion Yordenis Ugas.
“Training is going well and I’m working hard as usual,” said James. “I’m very excited to be getting back in the ring after such a long layoff, especially since it’ll be in my hometown. I think Palmetta will do his best, but it won’t be enough. I am determined to win and to let it be known that my name should be listed as one of the top five welterweights of this era.”
A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Palmetta (18-1, 13 KOs) represented his home country at the 2016 Olympics before turning pro in November 2016. The 32-year-old has won his last 12 fights, with 11 coming by stoppage dating back to 2017. In addition to an impressive run that saw him knock out the previously unbeaten Erik Ortiz and veteran contenders Tre’Sean Wiggins and Saul Corral, Palmetta also defeated Yeis Solano by decision in October 2021 and most recently blasted out Thomas Mendez in three rounds last November.
“This is a great opportunity for me and I’m training hard in Las Vegas to take full advantage of everything that’s in front of me,” said Palmetta. “I’ve represented my country in the ring for years, including in the Olympics, and I’m going in there on February 25 to make everyone in Argentina proud. I know I’m going into James’ hometown, but that’s just going to motivate me even harder to have my hand raised.”
Rodríguez (13-1-1, 12 KOs) has bounced back from his first career defeat, a majority decision loss to Kenneth Sims Jr., to knock out his last two opponents. His most recent fight came at The Armory, when he dispatched Juan Jose Velasco in the seventh round of their March 2022 clash on SHOWTIME. The 27-year-old burst onto the scene with knockout victories in 10 of his first 11 fights and totaled an impressive five wins in 2020. Originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Rodríguez now lives and trains in Los Angeles, Calif.
“I can’t wait for February 25,” said Rodríguez. “I’ve been in camp waiting and preparing for an opportunity like this to display my skills. Adorno is a very talented fighter, but he’s in my way. Simple as that. I hope to get a title shot this year and in order to do that, I need to make a big statement in this fight.”
Adorno (17-1-2, 14 KOs) enters this fight having won three-straight bouts, including a unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Hugo Alberto Roldan in September 2022 in the main event of SHOBOX: The New Generation®. His current winning streak comes after dropping a March 2022 decision against then-undefeated Michel Rivera on SHOWTIME, which followed an April 2021 draw against Jamaine Ortiz. The 23-year-old was born in Union City, N.J., and now resides in Allentown, Pa., and is trained by respected coach Raul “Chino” Rivas. Adorno turned pro in 2016 at the age of 17 after a standout amateur career where he amassed a 178-22 record and beat Shakur Stevenson twice. He has scored knockout victories in nine of his first 10 pro fights.
“I’m training hard and putting in the work to make this my crossover fight,” said Adorno. “I’m the real A-side, the higher-ranked fighter and have more experience. My stablemate Kenny Sims dominated Rodriguez and I’m going to do the same. They took the wrong fight. He can have the A-side billing. Look at my credentials. I am the more skilled, more talented and more powerful fighter.”
On Monday, Giants GM Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll met the media to put a bow on the team’s successful 2022 season.
This season, New York, who made the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and won a playoff game for the first time since 2011, looks like a team that could be on the rise.
Obviously, the Giants have some questions that they have to answer.
Daniel Jones played well this season and made some strides. In 2022, Jones had a career-high in yards(3,205), rushing yards(708), and rushing touchdowns(7), and he protected the football(five interceptions), but he’s an unrestricted free agent who will definitely get a raise.
Schoen was asked a series of questions by the media related to Jones:
Q: Do you plan on re-signing (quarterback) Daniel (Jones)?
Schoen: “We’d like Daniel to be here. Again, he said it yesterday – there’s a business side to it. We feel like Daniel played well this season. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do. Again, there’s a business side to it. We haven’t went down that road yet. We still have to have our meetings with our staff late in the week, and we’ll devise an offseason plan. We haven’t had those meetings yet, but we would like to have Daniel Jones back.”
Q: Having said that, when did you know? You and Dabs came in and had to do your due diligence and see what you had in Daniel (Jones) and everybody else. When did you make the decision, both of you guys, ‘This guy is our guy to move forward with,’?
Schoen: “I don’t know if there was necessarily an ‘Aha’ moment or anything like that. We just continued to evaluate him throughout the season and what the coaches were asking him to do. And he was executing the game plans. Dabs and I communicate on a daily basis – not just Dabs and I, but the offensive staff and what they’re asking him to do. He continued to improve throughout the season. I don’t know the exact date or time when we’re like, ‘Daniel is our guy,’ but we’re pleased with how he played this season.”
Q: When you say you want Daniel (Jones) back, ideally would you like that to be a long-term deal or a multi-year deal?
Schoen: “We’re going to get into all that. Again, it takes two. Both sides have got to have those conversations. We haven’t crossed that bridge yet. There’s tools at our disposal. Again, we’ll go through several scenarios. It’s kind of like I mentioned it last year, maybe it was at the combine, with the ‘if, then’ scenarios. You got to go through all those because you don’t know how things are going to fall because it’s negotiating. This is why you love the draft – you turn in the card, and they’re yours. You know what the contract structure is; you know the years. This is where there’s two parties involved, and it’s going to be time consuming. We’ll get together as a staff. We’ll talk through the different options and have those discussions when it’s appropriate.”
Q: Do you view Daniel (Jones) as a quarterback who can help you win a Super Bowl?
Schoen: We’re happy Daniel’s going to be here. We’re happy he’s going to be here. Hopefully we can get something done with his representatives. And that would be the goal – to build a team around him where he can lead us and win a Super Bowl.
In addition, Giants running back Saquon Barkley can also be an unrestricted free agent. After two consecutive injury-riddled seasons, Barkley broke out in 2022 as he rushed for a career-high 1312 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Schoen was also asked a series of questions by the media related to Barkley:
Q: Obviously you need a new contract with (running back) Saquon (Barkley). Is that somebody, also, you also would like to keep, and is the franchise tag a possibility?
Schoen: “Again, this is a special team to me. It was my first year. We’d like to have all the guys back, I really would. But there’s a business side to it. There’s rules that you need to operate under in terms of the salary cap. Saquon, he’s a good player. He’s a great teammate. I loved getting to know him this season. He’s a guy we would like to have back. It’s just, again, we haven’t had our end-of-season meetings yet. We’re less than 48 hours after that game. Everybody is going to step back, take the emotion out of it, evaluate the roster and then we’ve got to operate under the salary cap. How are you going to divvy up? How are we going to create the roster? What are the priority positions, and how are we going to move forward? We would like to have Saquon back if it works out.”
Q: With Saquon (Barkley), how do you view running back positional value versus he’s also, other than Daniel (Jones), your best playmaker?
Schoen: “Listen, Saquon has done everything we’ve asked him to do, and he’s a good football player. Again, the positional value – we’ll get into how we want to build this team and allocate our resources. That’s what it comes down to. Again, he’s a good football player. He was durable for us this year; he played well. And again, he’s a guy that we would like to have back.”
Q: On Saquon (Barkley), when you try to determine his financial value – how much do you factor in character and contribution to culture as opposed to talent when it comes to that evaluation?
Schoen: “If that wasn’t important, we probably wouldn’t be approaching him. So, that’s kind of a starter for us – if you’re a good teammate, you’re a culture fit for how we want to do things. That’s where we go to those players. We don’t factor in – when you’re making comps (comparisons), it’s hard to put a value on that. It’s important, but you can look at how many yards, touchdowns, Pro Bowls, games played, games missed. Those are more markers that we can establish value on. We wouldn’t approach him or look to sign a guy if they didn’t fit our culture if we didn’t think so.”
Q: How close were you with him (Saquon Barkley in bye week conversations)? How close were you with him, and did you consider yourself close when you had that conversation?
Schoen: “We had productive conversations. We were off on the value. Again, we said we would circle back up at the end of the season and continue those conversations, but that time of year, we weren’t really that close I would think.”
Reports are leaning toward the Giants bringing back Jones and Barkley. It’s just a matter of how they are going to do it. Not completely sold on Jones being the guy, but if New York can finally build a complete roster around him, then maybe you can win with him. He’s proven that he can win, but can you win big with Jones? Time will be the judge.
Undefeated two-division world champion Rey Vargas will battle top 130-pound contender O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Championship in a showdown that headlines action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, February 11 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas topping a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features former champion and all-action San Antonio-native Mario “El Azteca” Barrios, now trained by top trainer Bob Santos, returning to the ring in a 10-round welterweight duel against Jovanie Santiago that serves as the co-main event. Kicking off the action, hard-hitting unbeaten heavyweights go toe-to-toe as Cuba’s Lenier Pero takes on Ukraine’s Viktor Faust in a 10-round attraction.
“One of the best fighters representing Mexico in the sport today, Rey Vargas will look to continue to add to his resume in a tough fight against O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Title,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Vargas has continued to pass every test put in front of him, and he’ll hope to do so once again on Saturday, February 11 on SHOWTIME. San Antonio is one of the best fight towns in the country, and with their hometown star Mario Barrios in the co-main event, plus an explosive clash of unbeaten heavyweights as the telecast opener, there’s no doubt fight fans will want to be out in full force at the Alamodome.”
Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) is a former WBC 122-pound world champion and current WBC Featherweight World Champion who will compete in his third weight division since 2019 when he faces Foster for the vacant WBC crown. A master of distance with every punch in the book at his disposal, Vargas captured his 126-pound world title in his last bout with a decision victory over Mark Magsayo at the Alamodome on SHOWTIME last July. That marked his second outing at featherweight after the 32-year-old returned from a layoff due to injury to score a near shutout decision victory over Leonardo Baez in his featherweight debut in November 2021. The product of Otumba, Mexico went on the road to the United Kingdom to capture his super bantamweight title in 2017, winning a decision over previously unbeaten Gavin McDonnell, before racking up five successful title defenses. He has fought in the United States seven-straight times since picking up the 122-pound title.
“The Alamodome is definitely a beautiful venue and a place where I have wonderful memories, and we’re coming back to do it again on February 11,” Vargas said. “I want to thrill the fans so Foster can come at me with whatever he has. Let’s give the fans what they want. I’ve fought all kinds of styles, so nothing really surprises me. I have a hunch that Foster is going to come forward and be aggressive. If he fights me tactically, then I’ll be ready for that too.”
Following an extensive amateur career, Foster (19-2, 11 KOs) turned pro in September 2012, winning his first eight bouts. The 29-year-old, who has fought four times on SHOBOX: The New Generation®, bounced back from decision losses in 2015 and 2016 to put together his current nine-fight winning streak. A native of Orange, Texas, who now trains in nearby Houston, Foster scored a 2018 victory over the previously unbeaten Jon Fernandez that set him on his path toward the top of the WBC super featherweight rankings. Foster solidified his spot with a knockout of veteran former title challenger Miguel Roman in November 2020 and followed that up with a 12-round unanimous decision over the previously undefeated Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov in March of last year.
“I appreciate Vargas for coming up and challenging me for the world title,” Foster said. “I’ve had to take a lot of ‘0’s’ lately and Vargas is going to be another one on the list. I’m looking to become the first world titlist to come out of my city so that I can make history for Orange, Texas and raise the bar for the next generation. I’m ready to show the world that I’m one of the top fighters.”
The 27-year-old Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) returns to the ring after challenging former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman in February 2022, dropping a decision in a hard-fought clash. The San Antonio-product, who now trains with Santos, a top coach, in Las Vegas, became a 140-pound world champion in September 2019, using his aggressive style to edge out Batyr Akhmedov and earn a unanimous decision. Barrios lost the super lightweight title in another action packed, highly competitive bout, as he was defeated by three-division and five-time world champion Gervonta Davis in June 2021.
“Everyone knows I come with everything I got when I step into the ring, and I’m excited to be back for this big opportunity on SHOWTIME,” said Barrios. “I’m even more motivated knowing that I get to fight back at home in San Antonio and give my people a great fight. Everyone is going to see pure boxing entertainment as I’ll be putting my skills on display with bad intentions. I’ve proven that I’m a warrior every time I get into the ring and I’m bringing that same energy for Santiago.”
Born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and now residing in Dorado, Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs) impressed in his U.S. debut in February 2021 despite losing a competitive decision against four-division champion Adrien Broner on SHOWTIME. The 31-year-old followed that up in May challenging top 140-pound contender Gary Antuanne Russell in a bout he lost by sixth-round stoppage. Prior to those fights, Santiago had won four of five contests by knockout, a streak that followed a 10-round decision triumph over DeMarcus Corley in 2017. Santiago’s only blemish before the Broner fight was a majority draw in just his third pro contest.
“This is going to be a very exciting fight,” said Santiago. “I’m ready to go in there and throw a lot of punches. Barrios and I are both looking to bounce back from losses and show that we’re elite fighters. That’s going to make this an action-packed fight and I know that I have everything it takes to leave with my hand raised. The fans in San Antonio can expect us to give it our all from start to finish.”
A 2016 Olympian from Camaguey, Cuba, Pero (8-0, 5 KOs) had an extensive and highly successful amateur career that spanned over 100 fights, including multiple victories over countryman Frank Sanchez and efforts against heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic and Olympic Gold Medalist Bakhodir Jalolov. The 30-year-old now fights out of Miami, Fla., and made a successful U.S. debut on New Year’s Day 2022, defeating then-unbeaten Geovany Bruzon. He’s added two more victories since then, most recently knocking out Joel Caudle in August.
“I’m really looking forward to making my SHOWTIME debut on February 11,” said Pero. “Ever since I started boxing, I’ve been working toward my goal of becoming the first Cuban heavyweight world champion. Faust is a good opponent, and this is by far the biggest fight of my career. A victory will skyrocket my career and put me in a great position. I’m going to seize this moment and bring home a victory for my people in Cuba.”
Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) returns to fight in the U.S. after his last stateside outing saw him engage in one of 2022’s most unpredictable and fast-paced slugfests. The 30-year-old squared off with Iago Kiladze in January 2022 with both men hitting the canvas an astonishing five times combined in less than five minutes of action before the Ukrainian closed out the action in round two to earn a TKO. Faust has followed that up with decision wins over veteran title challenger Kevin Johnson in August and Franklin Lawrence in December before he returns to fight in the U.S. for the third time.
“This is a great opportunity for me to show off my talents in the U.S.,” said Faust. “I’m especially happy to be back against a great opponent like Pero. He was a good amateur, and I know we’ll both be very confident heading into this fight. I’m going to win and show everyone that I’m ready to do everything possible to reach my goal and become world champion.”
Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest player in NBA history. In 15 NBA seasons, Jordan won six NBA titles, six NBA Finals MVPs, and five-time regular-season MVPs.
Anytime you compare any player to Jordan, you’re saying that player is special.
After Philadelphia’s 38-7 win over the Giants on Saturday night, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni compared Hurts to Jordan. The third-year quarterback is playing like an MVP this season and have the Eagles one game away from the Super Bowl.
On Monday, Sirianni explained the Jordan comparison.
“You know, when you compare something like that, you’re thinking about — I mean, Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time, and I get in arguments back and forth with our players,” Sirianni said. “In my opinion, right, because my height of watching basketball — I’m not trying to start a debate here or anything like that, but in my opinion, my height of watching basketball and who I always wanted to be as a kid growing up was Michael Jordan. I don’t think I’m going to get in many arguments that he’s the best basketball player of all time.
“But the things that Michael Jordan, you were able to see a lot of things about him in “The Last Dance” about his competitiveness and about just his desire and will to win.
“So when you make that comparison, you think — again, when you guys ask me about Jalen, the first thing, as good as he’s played this year, as well as he’s run the football, as well as he’s thrown the football, reading defenses, accurate throws, as well as he’s done all that, what you notice first about him is his will to win, his competitive drive.
“That comparison is kind of in that aspect of it. Again, was I around Michael Jordan? No, but I was able to watch from afar when I was a kid, but then also you’re able to watch these documentaries, and you see that common denominator of those things — the first thing you asked me about Jalen, I always talk about all those things, all the intangibles that he has.
“That’s where that’s coming from is just that will to win. It’s at a different level. He had that big chain on. What did it say? A breed of one. He’s a breed of one. That’s who he is. He’s unlike anybody I’ve been around just with how much he loves this game, how much winning drives him, how much getting better every day drives him, how much leading drives him. He’s special. He is a special dude.
“That’s where really I was coming from with that, in the sense of, like man, these guys, they’re built different. They’re built different as far as how they go about their business and how they go about prepping for games and compete in games and steady during games. That’s what I was speaking of there.”
You can see Hurts’ competitive fire in his demeanor; as Sirianni said, he’s never fazed. However, Jordan won, and he won big, so for this comparison to stick, Hurts has to win on Sunday against the 49ers, which won’t be easy, but if he’s really Jordan-like, the Eagles will be in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII.