WBC Featherweight World Champion Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo will take on former world champion Rey Vargas in a battle of unbeatens that headlines action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, July 9 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and will feature hard-hitting former world champion Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa taking on Carlos Castro in a WBC Featherweight Title Eliminator in the co-main event, plus the Derrick James-trained, unbeaten lightweight contender Frank Martin battles Panama’s power-punching Ricardo Núñez in the 10-round telecast opener.
Additional coverage will include a pair of bouts streamed live on the SHOWTIME SPORTS YouTube channel beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The action will see unbeaten welterweight contender Rashidi Ellis facing Argentine Olympian Alberto Palmetta in a 10-round duel, plus San Antonio’s own Ramon Cardenas battling Venezuela’s Michell Banquez in a 10-round bantamweight attraction.
The Filipino sensation Magsayo (24-0, 16 KOs) fights out of Pasig City, Metro Manila by way of Los Angeles, Calif., and became the latest champion from the boxing-rich nation in January when he outpointed longtime champion Gary Russell Jr. to capture the 126-pound title on SHOWTIME. The 26-year-old earned the opportunity by knocking out former champion Julio Ceja in the 10th round of a fight he trailed on the scorecards in August 2021. Magsayo is trained by Freddie Roach in Southern California and owns 12-round decision victories over Shoto Hayashi and Ramiro Robles, in addition to a sixth-round stoppage of former title challenger Chris Avalos.
“I am very thankful to my team for giving me the opportunity to defend my title in San Antonio,” said Magsayo. “I’m excited to be fighting in the same venue where my idol Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera. That was the first fight I ever saw and the reason I started boxing. We are preparing for a strong Mexican fighter in Rey Vargas. Everyone knows what the Philippines vs. Mexico boxing rivalry brings to the ring and I’m excited to display my talents for the boxing fans in Texas and watching around the world.”
The former WBC 122-pound world champion, Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs), returned from a layoff due to injury to score a near shutout decision victory over Leonardo Baez in his featherweight debut in November 2021 on the undercard of Canelo vs. Plant. The 31-year-old went on the road to the U.K. to capture his title in 2017, winning a decision over previously unbeaten Gavin McDonnell. A native of Mexico City, Vargas made five successful defenses of his title, defeating top contenders Oscar Negrete, Ronny Rios and Azat Hovhannisyan. His fifth successful title defense came via unanimous decision over former world champion Tomoki Kameda in July 2019.
“This fight on July 9 will be a great battle against the Filipino warrior Mark Magsayo,” said Vargas, who trains under the tutelage of Hall of Fame trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristáin. “This is going to be exciting combat from start to finish. We know that he has great power, but we’ll be ready to counter that, and anything else he brings to the ring. This is going to be a magnificent fight and I can’t wait to step in there and compete.”
The 25-year-old Figueroa (22-1-1, 17 KOs) will debut at 126 pounds after dropping a 2021 Fight of the Year contender against Stephen Fulton Jr. in November on SHOWTIME, in which the two champions traded blows for 12 grueling rounds, eventually leading to what some observers thought was a controversial majority decision loss. Figueroa used his youth and relentless pressure to become the first person to defeat Luis Nery in their championship clash on SHOWTIME prior to the Fulton fight. A native of Weslaco, Texas, who has previously fought in San Antonio six times, Figueroa added to his family’s legacy by capturing the world title, joining his brother Omar Figueroa, who previously held the lightweight world championship.
“I’ve been waiting to get back in the ring to do what I love,” said Figueroa. “Carlos Castro is a great fighter and we both have to prove why we belong at the top of the 126-pound division. I can’t wait to fight in San Antonio in front of my fans, it’s really one of my favorite places to compete and I’m planning on giving everyone who comes out a great show like always.”
Castro (27-1, 12 KOs) was born in Sonora, Mexico and came to the U.S. as a child. Now living in Phoenix, Ariz., Castro most recently dropped a narrow split-decision against two-division champion Luis Nery in February, with one point on the cards ultimately holding Castro back from keeping his unbeaten record intact. The 28-year-old made his name as a 122-pound contender, but has also competed at featherweight, including a 10th round TKO victory over veteran contender Oscar Escandon in August 2021.
“I’m thrilled to be back in the ring,” said Castro. “I have some real business to handle against Figueroa on July 9. There’s no better fight for me to show that I’m back. I’m ready to show that I’m capable of being in the mix at the top of the division and to earn a shot at the title.”
The 27-year-old Martin (15-0, 11 KOs) rose up the lightweight rankings in 2021 with a pair of impressive victories before most recently delivering a New Year’s Day KO over Romero Duno. In 2021, Martin knocked out the previously unbeaten Jerry Perez in a dominating performance in April, before earning a unanimous decision over Ryan Kielczweski in August. Originally from Indianapolis, Ind., Martin now trains in the Dallas-area under the guidance of top trainer James alongside unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.
“I’ve been training hard in Dallas and I’m just excited and ready to go,” said Martin. “Núñez is a boxer-puncher, so I expect him to mix it up with some fast combinations and to try and throw my movement off, but I’ll be ready for all of that. Fight fans are going to enjoy an action fight with this one. We’ve got the speed, power and athleticism to put on an exciting show on July 9.”
Representing La Chorrera, Panama, Núñez (23-3, 21 KOs) enters this fight with knockout victories in his last two fights, including most recently stopping Richard Solano in the first round in October 2021. The 28-year-old moved back up to lightweight for those two victories after challenging three-division champion Gervonta Davis in July 2019 for a 130-pound title. Núñez has fought professionally since 2010 and has a brother also named Ricardo who is a veteran pro fighter in the featherweight division.
“I’m very happy to be back in a big fight on July 9,” said Núñez. “You’re going to see a whole new fighter against Martin. I’m coming to fight and impose my style on my opponent. Martin is a good boxer who’s made it to a high level, but he still has to show what he’s made of. I’m going to give one hundred percent to stop his rise and be the first person to beat him.”
The 29-year-old Ellis (23-0, 14 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since October 2020, having earned a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Alexis Rocha in his last outing. Originally from Lynn, Mass., Ellis also owns a pair of victories over veteran contender Eddie Gomez, including a first-round knockout over Gomez in December 2016, before winning by unanimous decision in their 2019 rematch. He takes on the Buenos Aires, Argentina native Palmetta (17-1, 12 KOs), who represented his home country at the 2016 Olympics before turning pro in November 2016. The 32-year-old has won his last 11 fights, with 10 coming by stoppage, including most recently defeating Yeis Solano in October 2021.
“I’m excited to be back in the ring on July 9,” said Ellis. “I want to thank my whole team, and I can’t wait to deliver fireworks for everyone watching this fight. I’m looking to steal the show and I’m training hard to make sure I do just that. You definitely want to tune in and see what I’m going to do in this one.”
“This fight is very special because it is the same day as Argentinian Independence Day,” said Palmetta. “Four years ago, I made the decision to leave my home and travel to the United States to further my boxing career. I want to face the biggest opponents, so I can earn the opportunity to become a world champion. This fight against Ellis is the big step I’ve been looking for. On July 9, get ready, because I’m coming with hunger, hard work, and determination. It hasn’t been easy for me; I have fought through the pain and struggle, and because of it, I remain humble and more motivated than ever.”
After 11 seasons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski has decided to call it quits. Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL via Instagram on Tuesday.
— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) June 21, 2022
The 33-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Buccaneers after spending the first nine seasons with the Patriots. After retiring in 2019, Gronkowski returned in 2020 and followed Tom Brady to Tampa Bay, where the two won their fourth Super Bowl together.
Gronkowski ended his career with 621 receptions, 9286 yards, and 92 touchdown catches. His receiving touchdowns total is tied for the third-most by a tight end in NFL history, trailing only Antonio Gates (116) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez (111)
The five-time Pro Bowler was honored as one of five tight ends selected to the NFL 100 All-Time Team and one of two chosen for the NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
Here is a statement from Buccaneers GM Jason Licht on the retirement of Gronkowski:
“Rob is a true professional who left it all on the field for us the past two seasons and helped establish a championship culture in our building. He played a crucial part in our Super Bowl LV championship season in 2020 and battled through a number of injuries last year while on the way to one of the most productive receiving yardage seasons in his 11-year career. It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game when he is still enjoying that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotions I feel today are gratitude and respect for one of the greatest tight ends who ever played the game. While his on-field accomplishments will surely earn him a gold jacket and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is his humble attitude and team-first approach to the game that truly defined his career.”
Ivan Dychko takes his 100% KO record to Argentina this week as the giant Kazak returns to the ring.
The hammer-fisted Dychko will be looking to secure a 12th knockout from as many pro fights in Buenos Aires on Thursday (June 23) when he locks horns with local favorite Kevin Espindola.
The 10 round heavyweight clash takes place on the WBA’s KO Drugs Boxing Festival and will see 6’9” Dychko fight for the first time under the Probellum banner, having signed with the global promoters earlier this year.
Dychko, a former sparring partner of Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wider, says that once he has dealt with Espindola, he will only be looking for “big fights”.
Dychko, a two-time Olympic bronze medallist, said: “I am ready for big fights and very soon, I will be ready to fight the world champions in the heavyweight division.
“I had a great amateur career and now I have picked up a lot of KOs in the pros. Everybody knows I have good technical ability, but my 11 knockouts show that I punch very hard.
“I know my heavyweight rivals are watching me.”
The Phoenix Suns named Morgan Cato assistant general manager and vice president of basketball operations, the team announced Monday.
With the hire, Cato becomes the first woman of color in NBA history to be an assistant GM.
“We’re excited to welcome Morgan to the Valley and to the Suns organization,” Suns General Manager James Jones said via a press release. “With the league office Morgan played a pivotal role on countless initiatives to grow the game and strategically develop for it to be played at its best. The addition of her background and knowledge will allow us to elevate our basketball operations in several areas.”
According to the team, Cato will report to Jones and work with Head Coach Monty Williams to lead the team’s strategy and business processes for basketball growth and performance with a focus on coaching development, player engagement and front office personnel operations. Cato becomes the first woman of color to hold the Assistant General Manager title for an NBA team.
Cato joins the Suns after spending the last decade with the NBA league office, most recently as Associate Vice President of Business Operations for NBA League Operations.
The NBA announced today the game and broadcast schedules for the 2022 NBA Summer League 2022, which will take place July 7-17 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
All 75 games of the 11-day competition will air live on television on ESPN networks or NBA TV. Games will also be available to stream on ESPN+ and the ESPN App.
The 17th NBA Summer League will feature all 30 NBA teams playing five games each. After every team plays four games July 7-15, the two teams with the best records from the first four games will meet in the Championship Game on Sunday, July 17 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN. The tiebreak criteria to determine the participants in the Championship Game are available here. The 28 teams that do not play in the Championship Game will play a fifth game on July 16 or July 17.
NBA Summer League 2022 will tip off on Thursday, July 7 with a doubleheader on ESPN. First, the Orlando Magic, which owns the No. 1 overall pick in NBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm, will face the Houston Rockets, who have the third and 17th overall picks, at 10 p.m. ET. In the second game, the Detroit Pistons (No. 5 pick) will meet the Portland Trail Blazers (No. 7 pick) at 12 a.m. ET.
NBA TV will begin its live game coverage of NBA Summer League with three games on the second day of action (Friday, July 8), starting with a matchup between the San Antonio Spurs (Nos. 9, 20 and 25 picks) and Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 14 pick) at 5 p.m. ET. ESPN networks will air the other four games on the seven-game schedule, including the Indiana Pacers (No. 6 pick) taking on the Charlotte Hornets (Nos. 13 and 15 picks) at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
On Saturday, July 9, the top four picks in NBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm will potentially be in action when the Magic (No. 1 pick) meets the defending NBA Summer League champion Sacramento Kings (No. 4 pick) at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN and the Oklahoma City Thunder (Nos. 2 and 12 picks) faces the Rockets (No. 3 pick) at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. In addition, the Trail Blazers (No. 7 pick) will play the New Orleans Pelicans (No. 8 pick) at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The top two picks in NBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm will potentially go head-to-head on Monday, July 11, when the Magic faces the Thunder at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN.
Unified Heavyweight World Champion Oleksandr Usyk will put his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO World Titles on the line against Anthony Joshua in the coastal city of Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday August 20.
One of the biggest Heavyweight rematches in the history of the sport, Usyk vs. Joshua 2, billed ‘Rage on the Red Sea’, will take place nearly three years on from the historic ‘Clash on the Dunes’ event at the Diriyah Arena that saw Joshua reclaim his Heavyweight crowns against Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) was dethroned as Heavyweight King by Ukrainian pound-for-pound star Usyk in September 2021 in front of over 60,000 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England on a memorable evening in boxing’s marquee division.
Since the pair’s first meeting, former Undisputed Cruiserweight World Champion Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs) has gained further global attention after putting the rematch on hold to support his home nation on the front line during their ongoing conflict.
I have a goal, with the help of the Lord I will complete my mission!,” Usyk said.
Joshua wants to get revenge, and according to him, he’s in a good place.
“What a roller coaster journey, fighting for the Heavyweight Championship of the World for the 12th consecutive time,” said Joshua. “I won the belt, unified the division won another belt, lost the belts, became two-time Unified Heavyweight Champion and now have my date with history set to become three-time Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World. What an opportunity
“Fighting championship level back to back has had its pros and cons, but I decide every day to get stronger, to learn from my experiences and grow. A happy fighter is a dangerous fighter and I am the happiest and most motivated I have been.”
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn expects Joshua to be ready on fight night.
We know Oleksandr Usyk is a great fighter and we saw that last time out, but I know Anthony Joshua is more determined than ever. It was a huge success to host Anthony Joshua’s contest with Andy Ruiz Jr. in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2019 and we are looking forward to working with the country again to stage this historic event. So, no doubt all eyes of the world will be on the ring come Saturday August 20th. This is a story of redemption, and the countdown starts now.”