Lara: ‘This is one of the better camps I’ve had the last few years’

Former super welterweight world champion Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara will look to reclaim a piece of the 154-pound crown when he challenges WBA champion Brian Castaño on Saturday, March 2 live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™, and presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

“Brian Castaño is coming into this fight with an undefeated record, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” said Lara. “This will be my third fight in a row versus an undefeated fighter. I’m taking this very seriously.  Stylistically, I feel I’m the superior fighter, but he’s a very strong champion. I will be prepared to take back a title in this great division, then look to the biggest fights that are out there.”

One of the big fights that could be out there for Lara is a rematch with unified 154-pound champion Jarrett Hurd. Lara dropped a split-decision to Hurd in a unification showdown on SHOWTIME that was the consensus 2018 “Fight of the Year”, having been recognized by the BWAA, ESPN and Sporting News, amongst others.

“The fight against Hurd was a great fight for the fans, but I felt I won seven or eight rounds that night,” said Lara. “To be on the wrong end of another close decision left a bad taste in my mouth. That fight being recognized as ‘Fight of the Year’ shows my versatility as a fighter. I was on the ballot before with Alfredo Angulo, so it was good to get recognized for being a warrior, not only a craftsman. I will always give the fans my all and come March 2, it will be no different.”

Lara is continuing to to work with longtime trainer Ronnie Shields in Houston, where Lara has prepared for his matchup with sparring that includes going up against top prospects in 18-year-old Joey Spencer and 24-year-old Eimantas Stanionis.

“Ronnie and I are working great together, and we have an excellent game plan in place.,” said Lara. “This is one of the better camps I’ve had the last few years.  Having young fighters like Spencer and Stanion is in camp with me is refreshing because I know they are hungry.  When we spar, I feed off their energy, because I know they are trying to take take their game to the next level, which makes me better. This is a demanding sport and they are definitely pushing me.”

March 2 also gives Lara a chance to share the stage with another one of Cuba’s best fighters, as Luis Ortiz is set to take on Christian Hammer in the co-main event, making the night a celebration of Cuban boxing.

“Luis Ortiz and I go way back and I’m happy that my brother is fighting on the same card as me,” said Lara. “We’ve gone through a lot since leaving Cuba to pursue our dreams of becoming world champions here in the U.S. Like myself, I know he’s going to be ready to entertain the fans on fight night and make this a memorable night for Cuban boxing!”

Photo: Hosanna Rull/Team Lara
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Embiid to miss one week due to knee soreness; Furkan Korkmaz tears meniscus

76ers C Joel Embiid is experiencing left knee soreness and will undergo treatment involving physical therapy and load management. He had an MRI which revealed no structural damage, the team announced on Wednesday.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania,  Embiid’s knee soreness is believed to be precautionary to ensure the All-Star center is best prepared for remainder of season — and playoffs. He could return as early as next week.

As a precaution, he is listed as out and will be re-evaluated in approximately one week.

Embiid recently played in the NBA All-Star game last Sunday night in Charlotte.

Also, according to the 76ers, Furkan Korkmaz sustained an injury to his right knee during the team’s Feb. 12 matchup vs. Boston. He underwent imaging, and an MRI revealed a meniscus tear. Treatment options, including surgery, are currently being assessed and considered.

Korkmaz remains out, and an update will be provided as appropriate.

The 76ers resume their season on Thursday at home against the Miami Heat.

Dom Capers joins Jaguars as defensive assistant

Dom Capers, a veteran of 31 seasons as an NFL coach including two as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator, has joined Jacksonville’s coaching staff as senior defensive assistant. Under Head Coach Doug Marrone, he will work closely with Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash and the team’s defensive coaches.

Capers previously served as Jaguars defensive coordinator from 1999-2000 under then-Head Coach and current Executive Vice President of Football OperationsTom Coughlin. In 1999, the Jaguars were 14-2 – their best record ever – and won the AFC Central Division before hosting the AFC Championship game. Capers has been the head coach of two NFL expansion teams – the Carolina Panthers from 1995-98 and the Houston Texans from 2002-05. Most recently, he was the defensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers from 2009-17.

“Dom Capers is one of the most respected defensive coaches in the game today, and he has been for many years,” Marrone said. “His defenses have long been among the most effective and productive in the NFL. He has career experiences and accomplishments that will benefit our coaches and our players. He adds a unique perspective and veteran presence that will be valuable assets to immediately help us. I look forward to working with Dom and having him on our staff.”

Capers’ NFL coaching career includes 17 seasons as a defensive coordinator. His first coordinator role came in 1992 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where the defense ranked in the top three twice and the Steelers advanced to the playoffs all three seasons. He was defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins from 2006-07 and the Packers from 2009-17. The Packers went to the playoffs in each of Capers’ first eight seasons there, and they won Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season.

Capers’ coaching career began with 12 seasons at the collegiate level from 1972-83. His stops included Kent State, Hawaii, San Jose State, California, Tennessee and Ohio State. He spent two seasons with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the USFL before entering the NFL coaching ranks in 1986 with the New Orleans Saints.

Among the head coaches Capers has served under are Jim Mora Sr., Bill Cowher, Coughlin, Nick Saban and Mike McCarthy. He also spent one season as special assistant-secondary under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. Capers has been recognized as coach of the year (Panthers), assistant coach of the year (Steelers, Jaguars) and coordinator of the year (Packers).

Anthony Joshua: Mayweather, Ward don’t get the respect they deserve(VIDEO)

Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward are all-time greats in the sport of boxing. Both fighters ended their careers undefeated, and both fighters ended their careers on top. Ward dominated the “Super Six Tournament” and  defeated  Sergey Kovalev twice, and Mayweather beat such great opponents like Manny Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Miguel Cotto.

While bother fighters were great, it seems that they don’t get the respect they deserve, so says unified heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua

“Look at Mayweather, he doesn’t get the respect that he deserves,” Joshua said on Wednesday at the press conference to promote his fight with Jarrell Miller. “Andre Ward, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves.”

You can nitpick and say that Ward was given a favorable decision against Sergey Kovalev, in their first fight, or Mayweather ducked fighters throughout his career or waited until fighters were past their prime, but in the end, both fighters were tremendous and they deserve the utmost respect for their accomplishments in the ring.

Right now, Joshua is trying to carve out a legacy for himself, and at this point, he is going to have to conquer America to make that happen, It starts June 1 when he battles Big Baby Miller at MSG.

Listen below as Joshua talks about getting respect in boxing:

Skip Bayless: Ginobili was better than Olajuwon(Watch)

Manu Ginobili was an outstanding player during his 16-year NBA career. He won four NBA titles with the Spurs; Ginobili and LeBron James are the only two players in NBA postseason history with at least 3,000 points and 300 three-pointers in the playoffs. He is one of 10 players ever to appear in over 200 playoff games, he came off the bench 165 times and is the all-time leader in NBA postseason history as a reserve in points (2,014), assists (576), rebounds (635), steals (205), field goals made (630), three-pointers made (226) and free throws made (528).

Ginobili was a two-time All-Star (2005 and 2011). The 2008 NBA Sixth Man of the Year is the first sixth man, as well as the first South American, to earn All-NBA honors.

Interestingly enough, according to FOX Sports’ Skip Bayless, Ginobili is better than the great Hakeem Olajuwon, who spent most of his 18-year career with the Rockets. The 12-time All-Star, who won the league MVP in 1994, was the Finals’ MVP in back-to-back years(1994, 1995).  Olajuwon is considered to be one of the greatest centers of all-time and had a career average of 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and 3.1 BPG.

I know Bayless likes to say outlandish things, but this one might take the cake. Ginobili will be a Hall of Famer, but Olajuwon is an all-time great.

Listen below as Bayless talks Ginobili on FS1’s Undisputed today:

 

 

Tyson Fury, Queensberry Promotions agree to co-promotional deal with Top Rank/ESPN

Tyson Fury, one of the world’s most dynamic and popular heavyweight boxers, and Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren are joining forces with Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank. The agreement will mean that Fury will be a headline part of the boxing lineup under the historic, long-term Top Rank on ESPN relationship.

Fury, the undefeated lineal heavyweight champion, will have his bouts co-promoted by Top Rank and Queensberry Promotions. The deal calls for a minimum of two bouts per year in the United States.

You wonder if this will have an impact on Wilder-Fury 2, being that Wilder is with PBC, and Fury is now with Top Rank/ESPN, but I guess, we’ll have to wait and see.

Since announcing the landmark Top Rank on ESPN agreement in 2017, and expanding it in August 2018, the comprehensive alliance has showcased blockbuster Top Rank fights and content across ESPN networks and ESPN+, the multi-sport, direct-to-consumer streaming service in the U.S.

All the parties will work closely to set and announce the details of Fury’s debut soon.

BT Sport will continue to be the television home in the United Kingdom for all of Fury’s fights.

Top Rank, Fury’s management team MTK Global and Queensberry Promotions, worked seamlessly to close the groundbreaking deal.

“Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury,” Arum said. “He is a generational heavyweight talent at the peak of his powers. We also look forward to our growing relationship with MTK Global, which represents so many world-class fighters.”

‘I’m delighted that Frank and Queensberry Promotions have teamed up with Top Rank to promote my fights in America,” Fury said. “With ESPN and BT Sport behind me, the biggest sports platforms in the world are now linked up with the best heavyweight in the world!”

“This is a great move for Tyson Fury and a great move for Queensberry Promotions,” Warren said. “By partnering up with ESPN and Top Rank in America, we’re giving our boxers, including Tyson, the opportunity to perform on the biggest and most powerful platforms on both sides of the Atlantic and become truly global stars.”

“MTK Global are thrilled to have played a role in what can only be described as a monumental partnership, no doubt the biggest one in the boxing industry, and we’re looking forward to working more closely with the teams at Top Rank and ESPN well into the future,” said Sandra Vauaghan, CEO MTK Global.

Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) won the lineal heavyweight title in November 2015 with a unanimous decision over Wladimir Klitschko, who at the time had made 18 title defenses during a nearly decade-long reign. While never losing inside the ring, Fury relinquished the WBA, IBF, and WBO belts while dealing with well-documented mental health and substance abuse issues. After more than two-and-a-half years away from the ring, Fury, whose weight had ballooned to more than 400 pounds, returned in June of last year.

A pair of wins over Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta set the stage for one of the most dramatic heavyweight title matches in boxing history. Against WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder on Dec. 1 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Fury put forth a boxing masterclass and survived a hellacious 12th-round knockdown to, seemingly, do enough to defeat Wilder. The judges, however, ruled the bout a split draw. Fury, still just 30, retained his status as lineal champion and realized an against-all-odds comeback story.

 

Spence on top fighters at 147: ‘Whoever ends up on top from this group, will end being a Hall of Famer’

IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. is considered, by some, to be one of the best welterweights in boxing, but to be considered the best, he is going to have to beat some of the top guys in the division.

Some of those top guys include WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford, WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter, and WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman. While those guys are belt-holders at 147, there a few other names out there that are tops in the division, including Manny Pacquiao and Danny Garcia.

According to Spence(24-0, 21 KOs), who will battle four-division world champion Mikey Garcia(39-0, 30 KOs) on March 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the best at 147 need to fight each other.

“The welterweight division has always been one of the strongest divisions in the sport, and it is like that now,” Spence said on Saturday at a press conference to promote his fight with Garcia.  “We just need to fight each other. I’m ready to fight any of them. Whoever ends up on top from this group, will end being a Hall of Famer. That’s how you become an all-time great.”

Credit should go to Mikey Garcia for his willingness to fight Spence; credit should also go to Amir Khan who is stepping up to fight Crawford in April.

Sadly, the politics of boxing might prevent Top Rank’s Crawford from fighting PBC’s Thurman, Spence, and others. However, not many PBC fighters have been willing to step up and face Spence, which is why what Garcia is about to do should be applauded.

Ultimately, the top guys at 147 do need to fight each other. It’s good for the sport, and it according to Spence, it could mean a spot in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Photo: Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions

 

Spence on Garcia: ‘I thought he was just chasing my name when he was calling me out’

Unbeaten welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. and undefeated four-division champion Mikey Garcia previewed their upcoming showdown and faced-off live on FOX at a press conference in Los Angeles Saturday as they near their battle for pound-for-pound supremacy that headlines a Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event on Saturday, March 16 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Spence and Garcia were joined on stage at the press conference by a living legend, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, who won titles in five weight divisions and fought Sugar Ray Leonard in one of the most memorable welterweight fights in history.

Many were surprised that Garcia was willing to face one of the most feared fighters at 147 in Spence, including the IBF welterweight champion.

“At first, I thought he was just chasing my name when he was calling me out,” Spence said. “Once it became real, I saw how serious he was. At that point, I was very confident it would happen.

“I’m not the bully here because Mikey really pushed for the fight. The other champions weren’t available at the time, plus Mikey is the only top fighter who called me out. I knew this was a fight I wanted.”

While Spence believes his size advantage will help him fight night, he also believes his skills will be a factor as well.

“Mikey is undefeated, has a great skill set and has won a title at 140-pounds,” Spence said. “I don’t see him as that small a fighter. He has a technical style that’s very traditional. He likes to use angles to set his opponent’s up.

“Size always matters, but when you get in there, at the end of the day, it’s about skills and intelligence. I’m not going to rely on size. I’m going to focus on my talent. If I can roll through him, then I’ll show my killer instinct and try to get him out of there. I’m going to use my ability to break him down.”

Tickets for the March 16 event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and Ringstar Sports, are on sale now and can be purchased at SeatGeek.com, the Official Ticketing Provider of AT&T Stadium.

Photos from Andy Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions
 

 

Rob Brant on Canelo: ‘I’d love a fight with him’

Rob “Bravo” Brant crashed the world boxing scene last October with a dominant decision over Ryota Murata to win the WBA middleweight title. For title defense number one, he returned to his home state and sent the partisan crowd home happy.

Brant (25-1, 16 KOs) cruised to an 11th-round TKO over Khasan Baysangurov (17-1, 7 KOs) Friday evening at the Grand Casino Hinckley, a short drive from Brant’s hometown of St. Paul.

A sold-out crowd of 2,225 watched as Brant overwhelmed Baysangurov with consistent, effective pressure. In the 11th, Baysangurov, who was knocked down in the second round, could not keep Brant at bay. A knockdown and a follow-up attack, punctuated by a right hand, forced referee Mark Nelson to stop the fight.

This is what Brant had to say in the ring after he retained the title.

“Today, I feel like a true champion. I was happy with my performance. I had some cramps later in the fight, but this shows I can carry my power later in fights.”

“Middleweight is one of the deepest divisions in boxing. There are fights to be made. We just have to keep pushing forward. Canelo Alvarez is recognized by many as the champion at middleweight, and I’d love a fight with him down the road.”

“{Baysangurov} had a good jab. I started a little sloppy, and my trainer (Eddie Mustafa Muhammad) told me in the corner to relax. I waited for the opportunity to come, and it came in the 11th round.”

Photo: Top Rank/Mikey Williams