Photos: Ruiz-Joshua 2 weigh-in

The weigh-in is done, and now we have a fight, and interestingly enough, Anthony Joshua came in a little lighter, and the champion, Andy Ruiz, came in heavier.

Ruiz came in at 283.7 pounds, which is 15 pounds more than the first fight(268 pounds). Conversely, Joshua came in at 237.8, which is 10 pounds(247.75) lighter than the first fight.

We will see if the weight will matter, but based on what we saw in the first fight, it might not matter.

The pair collide for a second time at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on Saturday December 7 in one of the most highly-anticipated Heavyweight rematches in decades, shown live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the US.

Photos: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

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Cowboys-Bears most-watched Thursday Night Football game this season

Last night’s Thursday Night Football game featuring the Chicago Bears’ 31-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys was seen by an average audience of 18.8 million across all platforms, including FOX, NFL Network, FOX Deportes, NFL digital, FOX Sports digital, Amazon Prime Video, Twitch and Yahoo Sports.

The 18.8 million viewers for Cowboys-Bears across all platforms is up +69% versus last year’s Week 14 Thursday Night Football matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans (11.2 million) and up +27% versus the 2018 11-game FOX Thursday Night Football average (14.9 million).

Cowboys-Bears is the most-watched Thursday Night Football tri-cast this season, and the second most-watched game since FOX began broadcasting Thursday Night Football in 2018, behind the New Orleans Saints-Dallas Cowboys matchup in Week 13 last season (22.2 million).

Season-to-date, the Thursday Night Football tri-cast is averaging 15.7 million viewers – up +8% versus the comparable point last season.

The Nielsen-measured audience was 18.0 million – up +66% versus the 2018 Week 14 Thursday Night Football game (10.8 million) and up +26% versus the 2018 11-game FOX Thursday Night Football average (14.3 million). Additionally, Cowboys-Bears averaged a 10.8 HH rating – up +61% versus last year’s Jaguars-Titans matchup (6.7 HH rating) and up +25% versus last year’s 11-game FOX Thursday Night Football average (8.7 HH rating).

Digital streaming across Amazon Prime Video, Twitch, NFL digital, FOX Sports digital and Yahoo Sports platforms produced an average minute audience of 1.1 million – up +137% versus last year’s Week 14 Thursday Night Football matchup (482K) and up +57% versus last year’s 11-game average (728K).

Amazon Prime Video and Twitch reached a total of 3.0 million combined viewers worldwide for the FOX NFL Thursday pregame show and the Cowboys-Bears game. For the Cowboys-Bears game alone, 2.6 million worldwide viewers initiated a stream on Prime Video or Twitch. The average worldwide audience watching the Thursday Night Football game for at least 30 seconds on Prime Video or Twitch was 696K.

 

Eagles’ Pederson believes Eli Manning could motivate the Giants on Monday night

For the New York Giants(2-10), it has been almost three months since they won a football game. The last time this team tasted victory was on September 29 against the Redskins, in Daniel Jones’ second career start.

Currently, the Giants are on an eight-game losing streak, and with Jones probably out with a high ankle sprain, Eli Manning will likely get his first start in 11 weeks as New York goes on the road to face the Eagles on Monday night. 

According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, the return of Manning could be a good thing for New York. 

“I think that, obviously, having Eli have a chance to kind of watch from the sideline, to kind of observe and see how things have gone on the last few weeks, I think that’s just going to help— not only help him, but it’s going to help sort of jazz up the football team and kind of motivate the football team,” Pederson said on a conference call on Thursday.

“One of the things, one of Eli’s strengths obviously, is how he distributes the football to multiple people, and that’s something that he’s been able to do throughout his career and be successful. I don’t think it goes back to the old way at all. I think it’s something that Eli has probably sat and watched and observed, and he’s going to use that to his advantage.”

Jones has had his moments, but he turns the ball over a lot, so the more experienced Manning might do a better job of protecting the football. In 30 games against the Eagles, Manning is 10-20, including five straight losses, but this is an opportunity for the 16-year veteran to go out in style, and to Pederson’s point, I think having Manning in the game could motivate the team.

The Giants are probably a scarier team with Manning, and it should be fascinating to see what Eli shows up on Monday night.

Giants’ Barkley on Eagles: ‘They’ve got some different fans’

Saquon Barkley racked up a career-high 229 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown during his first experience in the Giants-Eagles rivalry last season. In the second, he added 142 total yards and two more scores.

“Well, the first game I just was in a groove,” Barkley recalled in the locker room after Thursday’s practice. “Not really much more to say about that.”

While we wait to see what he delivers in the third chapter on Monday night, all the twists and turns since his last trip to Philadelphia have led to a probable on-field reunion with Eli Manning. The two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback in all likelihood will be one handing the ball off to Barkley when the Giants face the Eagles in primetime. Daniel Jones, the rookie sixth overall pick who succeeded Manning in Week 3, suffered a moderate high ankle sprain last week against Green Bay and consequently did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Barkley dealt with a similar injury for the better part of two months. After getting injured in Week 3, Barkley missed the next three full games and has yet to record a 100-yard game on the ground since. Last week was promising, though. He ran for 83 yards on 4.4 yards per rush, both the highest post-injury.

“I guess in my standards it’s not really a good game,” Barkley said. “But that I broke over 100 yards [from scrimmage], was averaging over like four yards a carry, something like that, so I feel like I’m getting back to myself, but I’m not really focusing on individual stats. I don’t care if I go for 250 yards, I don’t care if I go for 50 yards, I just want to go out there and help my team win football games. Coming down to the home stretch of the season, got four games left, try to finish it strong as a team and it starts with Monday Night Football in front of everyone, so try to go out there and execute better as a team and put ourselves in position to win.”

The Giants will look to break their eight-game losing streak against the Eagles, whom they have not defeated since 2016 and have not beaten on the road since 2013.

“Honestly, it’s a rivalry, but playing in Philly last year, they’ve got some different fans, so it would be pretty dope to go out there and get a win,” Barkley said. “But not the fact because it’s a rivalry, just because, like I said, it’s the next game and it’s on Monday night and like I was saying … a win could help spark something. The only thing we’ve got left is this last month of the season, so why not go out there and put it on the line?”

Barkley and the Giants will enter that home stretch with Manning, whose last victory as a starter came a year ago this Monday. And in that 40-16 win at Washington, Barkley ran for a career-high 170 yards.

“Eli, he’s a legend,” Barkley said. “He’s a Hall of Famer. He just sees the field so well. He understands the game so well, he’s been doing it for a very long time and it’s what you expect from Eli. Obviously, I love the way he handled the situation when D.J. ended up being the starting quarterback, the way he operated in practice, the way he operated in the building was the same Eli that we know. So, good to see him come out this week and get a chance. It’s going to be awesome for him.”

The future of Barkley and the Giants lies with Jones, but the running back knows the value of Manning’s experience.

“I don’t think it just helps me, I think it just helps the team, helps the offense,” Barkley said. “They’re both great quarterbacks and I’m not here to compare and contrast Eli versus D.J., they’re two different style quarterbacks, one has been doing it for a very long time, one is in his first year. But Eli, like I said, like you said, he’s seen every defense, so it’s like second hand to him. He’s going to be able to help put us in positions to succeed, and I think D.J. has been doing a great job of that, too. So, like I said, I’m just happy for Eli to get an opportunity.”

Courtesy: Dan Salomone

Charlo on Hogan: ‘I’m going to stop him’

WBC Middleweight Champion Jermall Charlo and highly rated contender Dennis Hogan went face to face Thursday at a final press conference to preview their world title showdown taking place this Saturday, December 7 live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™, in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Here is what Charlo had to say from the Grand Ballroom at the Tillary Hotel Brooklyn:

JERMALL CHARLO

“I’m ready and I’m back like never before. I have a tough opponent in Dennis Hogan who’s real confident and he’s bringing Ireland and Australia with him. It’s going to be a show. If he can’t take my shot, I’m going to hit him flush and put him out.

“I believe I have something to deliver that Hogan has never seen before. I’m back to my most explosive days in boxing. I feel great about my training and the way I prepared myself to get this victory. I think it’s going to be tougher than he thinks it is.

“My daughter’s birth has given me even more motivation to knock this guy out and when you come to Brooklyn, you’re coming to my house. There’s nothing he can do and nothing he can say. They all say the same thing until they have to get in there with me.

“If Hogan says he’s more powerful at middleweight, than he’s going to come to fight and stay in the pocket. If he comes to box, I’ll come to fight, and if he comes to fight I’ll be able to box him. Regardless, we’re going to make adjustments in the fight.

“I’m going to come with a vicious attack. If he can hold it, then I’m going to try again later in the night. However the game plan plays out, I’m going to stop him.

“Dennis Hogan, I’ll see you Saturday night. We’re going to give everyone a great night of boxing. I’m going to deliver something explosive and give Hogan a nice little Christmas gift.

“The birth of my daughter has given me a whole new level of motivation, but I’ve always been fighting for my family. It’s just a new blessing and taking the inspiration to another level.

“I still have time to make Knockout of the Year, so hopefully this guy’s power is what he thinks it is and he comes to fight. I’m ready to shut him down.

“When you’re the champ, people are coming for you. When people know you’re great, they want to challenge you. I’m okay with that. I was on that road and now I’m here. In due time, you will see me get all of the biggest fights.

“I love Brooklyn and the energy I get from the crowd. It reminds me of Houston because the food is good and all my fans and family are here. I love Brooklyn.”

Photo: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

Barkley on Fletcher Cox: ‘I don’t think he gets enough respect as he should’

When you talk about the best defensive tackles in the NFL, you can’t go without mentioning Eagles DT Fletcher Cox. The four-time Pro Bowler, who had 10.5 sacks last season, has been a dominant force in the middle for the Philadelphia Eagles, and after getting off to a slow start in 2019, due to foot surgery in the offseason, Cox has started to play well. 

In the first six games of the season, Cox was held without a sack. In the last six games, Cox has 3.5 sacks, and the Eagles’ defense has started to play better. On Monday night, the Eagles(5-7), who are fighting for their playoff lives, host the New York Giants, and while he knows playing against Cox won’t be easy, Giants RB Saquon Barkley is a big fan.

“Fletcher Cox is like easily one of my favorite players in the league to watch,” Barkley said on Thursday. “Obviously, he’s well known, but I don’t think he gets enough respect as he should from what I’ve taken as we’ve played him.

“Those last two games last year, I remember there was a run where I broke out to the outside, and it ended up being a penalty, but I got like a 10-yard run on it, and it felt like a DB was chasing me and I looked up, and it was 91. So, he’s a heck of a player; they’re a heck of a defense over there, they have a heck of a team over there. So, we’ve just got to continue to work and try to execute better than them on Monday night.”

Cox is a beast, and he is one of the reasons the Eagles have the fourth-best rushing defense in football. Last season, Barkley had a lot of success against the Eagles when he accumulated 229 yards from scrimmage in his first game against Philadelphia, and if he wants to have some more success against the Eagles, the Giants’ offensive line will have to do something about Fletcher Cox, which is easier said than done.

 

Mahomes on OT in AFC title game: ‘I had the utmost confidence the defense was going to get the stop’

It’s been almost year since Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs fell at home to the eventual world champion New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, and on Sunday, the Chiefs have an opportunity to get revenge when they head to Foxboro to battle the Patriots.

In the AFC title game, the Patriots got off to a great start and led 14-0 at halftime, but the Chiefs’ offense finally woke up in the second half and would score 31 points. However, it was not enough as the Patriots would defeat the Chiefs 37-31 in OT. 

You got the sense going into OT that whoever received the ball first was going to win that game, and fortunately for the Patriots, they would receive the ball first, and even though the Chiefs’ defense struggled last season, and in the AFC title game, Mahomes believed the defense could get them the ball back in the extra period.

“Obviously, when you lose to a team, you’ll want to beat them the next time you play them,” Mahomes said on Wednesday. “I remember being on the sideline and having full confidence the defense was going to make the stop, and they got really close several times on that drive.

“You never have that defeated feeling until after the game is over, you would say. I had the utmost confidence the defense was going to get the stop in that possession, and we just came up a little short.”

The Chiefs were probably better than New England last season, and if Dee Ford does not line up offsides, which nullified an interception late in the contest, the Chiefs win that game. However, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick is Bill Belichick. In the end, that was slightly too much for the Chiefs.

Marrone: ‘My job is to win football games, obviously I’m extremely disappointed in the job that I’ve done’

Wins and losses define NFL coaches, and if we judge Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone on that standard, well, he might be out of a job. After winning ten games in 2017 and having the Jaguars one game away from a Super Bowl in his first full season as the team’s head coach, Marrone’s Jaguars have struggled, and according to the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Marrone could be gone by the end of the year.

Last season, with many expecting the Jaguars to have a lot of success, the team had a very disappointing 5-11 season, and in 2019, after 12 games, the Jaguars are 4-8 and will probably miss the playoffs.

“It’s really – It’s your resume that’s out there,” Marrone said on Wednesday. “You’re all professionals, and you’ve got to go out there and play well. My job is to win football games, obviously I’m extremely disappointed in the job that I’ve done. I’m extremely disappointed to let down the fans, like I said before, the sponsors, ownership, the rest of the building.

“But the players have been fighting, focused, practicing well, and we just have to figure out a way to win games and get a good taste back in your mouth. It’s such a bad taste when things are going the way they are right now. You can’t control what’s going to happen afterwards, but you can control everything while you’re here, so I’m trying to make sure that we have a clear vision of what we have to do. We have a clear goal in what we want to accomplish and [to] be able to stand up and motivate and lead the coaches and this team every day. And I think that in life, there’s going to be shit like this that happens, and this will help you down the road with it, and you better deal with it the right way, or we’ll put somebody else in there.”

With the signing of Nick Foles in the offseason, expectations were high in Jacksonville, but Foles got injured in Week 1 and struggled when he came back. Furthermore, things dissolved between the team and maybe their best player, Jalen Ramsey, who was eventually shipped to the Rams. 

It might be tough for Marrone to keep his job after what happened the past two seasons, but if the team can finish strong, maybe owner Shad Khan will keep him around beyond this season. However, if this team continues to flounder, expect Jacksonville to go in a different direction in 2020.

Zimmer on Vikings: ‘I know a lot of people jumped off the wagon after the other night’

Coming into their game with the Seahawks, the Minnesota Vikings(8-4) were on a roll. They had won six out of their last seven games after starting the season 2-2. Kirk Cousins turned himself into an MVP candidate, and Dalvin Cook has played like one of the best running backs in football.

On Monday, the Vikings went into Seattle to battle a tough Seahawks team, and the magic that they had in previous games was not the same. Seattle led by as much as 17 points in the third quarter and was able to hold on to beat Minnesota 37-30. 

At this point, the Vikings are the sixth-seed(last wildcard spot) in the NFC, which is one game ahead of the 7-5 Rams. Fortunately for the Vikings, they have three of their final four games at home, but in the end, according to their head coach Mike Zimmer, they just have to win games.

“We’ve got to win games,” Zimmer said on Wednesday. “We just have to go win games and count them up at the end. I’m not going to worry about, I know a lot of people jumped off the wagon after the other night, we’re just going to try to win some more games and most important thing is win as many as we can and try to get in the tournament at the end and then see what happens.

“It starts this week. We have to win this week, and then we have to worry about the next week and then the other four. Try to get healthy, try to execute better than we did, try to take care of the football better than we did, try to stop the run better than we did.”

The Vikings are an outstanding football team, and there is no shame in losing to Seattle on the road. Based on the way they’re playing, Minnesota will probably make the playoffs. I’m still on the Vikings’ bandwagon and believe that this team could make some noise in the playoffs. 

Joshua: ‘When I came into boxing I didn’t really come to take part, I came to take over’

Before June 1, former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua(22-1, 21 KOs) was considered by many to be the best heavyweight in boxing, but then Andy Ruiz(33-1, 22 KOs) happened, and the rest is history. 

Ruiz stopped the 30-year-old Joshua in round 7 in their first fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Fortunately for Joshua, on December 7 in Saudi Arabia, he will finally have a chance to avenge his only loss as he battles Ruiz in the rematch.

On Wednesday, at the final press conference, Joshua addressed several topics.

Here is what he had to say:

On this being a great opportunity:

“It’s interesting to be on this side of the table, as you said in my 16th fight, I challenged for the world title, challenged for the title again with Klitschko, then Parker, and now I’m challenging again, so this is my fourth title challenge in a short space of time. I’m used to being in this position, and even when you’re champion, I think Andy being a respected heavyweight he knows you have to have the challenge and mindset. All these quotes that these fighters come up with is reality, challenger mindset. I’ve said that previously when I had the belts around my waist. Now I’m speaking this into existence, this is my challenge and mindset. So I’m going back to my 16th fight, focused and determined on the goal.”

On feeling less pressure without the belts:

“I’ve been boxing a while now, and when I came into boxing I didn’t really come to take part, I came to take over. I came with full force, fully committed. The focus has already been there, but never had a chance to reflect. It was European Championships, Olympics Championships, British Title, World Championships. I’m not here to put on show I’m here to win. I’ve been around the block for a short space of time, so you have to understand I’m experienced and know what I’m doing. Through reflection in my own time, me and Andy are very different, but like everyone in this room we have time. I just have to use my time and as soon as I got back from New York I got that commitment back, got into shape, I didn’t lose any heart, didn’t lose any fire in my belly, started hitting the heavy bag, preparing for this day. I’m actually really looking forward to it. No fear in my heart, no fear in my eyes. I’m just looking forward to putting on a show, and I’m confident.”

On how special a win will be:

“I was asked if this will be a special moment and I said no because I know I belong there. It’s not special, I’ve been there, I know what I’m doing. When I regain those belts I will probably keep calm and stay focused. It’s not a time to celebrate, it’s time to keep that challenge, mindset and find the next target, so one by one I’m picking them off. I’ve been doing that since I started boxing and Ruiz is just my next target on my list.”

On fighting in Saudi Arabia: “

This the Mecca of boxing I’m hearing. The real Mecca of boxing. I’m going to turn this into something special, a real event. As you can see we have put together a great undercard and a great show. I went to the venue, its perfect, perfectly designed, said my prayers, I took time to really embrace what’s going to happen Saturday. I’m just going in with confidence, and I want everyone to have that same confidence and have a great time.”

Photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing