Ruiz-Ortiz, Cruz-Ramirez set for September 4 in Los Angeles

 Former unified heavyweight champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. and top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz will meet in a much-anticipated 12-round WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator headlining a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on September 4 in a Labor Day Weekend clash from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

The pay-per-view telecast will begin at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and feature a stacked lineup of rising and accomplished stars in high-stakes matchups. In the co-main event, hard-hitting Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz will step in to take on fellow Mexican and veteran contender Eduardo Ramírez in a 12-round WBC Lightweight Title Eliminator in the co-main event.

The action will also see the return of popular three-division champion Abner Mares in his first action in three years as he battles former title challenger Miguel Flores in a 10-round super featherweight attraction, plus exciting rising star José Valenzuela duels former world champion Jezreel Corrales in the 10-round lightweight pay-per-view opener.

Ruiz (34-2, 22 KOs) shocked the boxing world in 2019 when he was brought in as a late replacement to face heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua and turned the tables on the champion, knocking him out in the seventh round and taking home the titles. The 32-year-old from Imperial, California lost his rematch with Joshua by unanimous decision, but returned to the ring in May 2021, bouncing back from an early knockdown to defeat all-action contender Chris Arreola by unanimous decision in a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View. Ruiz has taken down a slew of contenders throughout his heralded career, which dates back to a prolific amateur run that included two Mexican Amateur National Championships.

“I’m so excited to get back in the ring in front of all of my fans in Los Angeles on September 4,” said Ruiz. “This is my chance to prove to everyone that I’m going to be heavyweight champion of the world again. I’m super motivated to be facing a great fighter like Luis Ortiz, so my fans can expect to see me at my best. Everyone has wanted to see this fight and we’re going to give everyone a war on fight night.”

With exceptional power and sublime technical skills, Ortiz (33-2, 28 KOs) has been a fixture atop heavyweight rankings for years, with his only defeats coming in memorable contests against former longtime heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Born in Camaguey, Cuba and trained by longtime coach Herman Caicedo in Miami, Ortiz won three bouts between Wilder contests, defeating Travis Kauffman, Christian Hammer and Razvan Cojanu. Most recently, Ortiz topped a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View on New Year’s Day, recovering from early adversity to floor former heavyweight world champion Charles Martin on his way to a sixth-round knockout.

“I’m blessed to be back in a position to get closer to achieving my goal of becoming the first heavyweight champion of the world from Cuba,” said Ortiz. “Anyone who doubts me, has only fueled me to keep going. I know that I have to make a big statement in this fight, and that’s my plan on September 4. I respect Andy Ruiz, but he’s standing in my way and I’m going to do whatever it takes to go through him.”

The 24-year-old Cruz (23-2-1, 16 KOs) returned to the ring in April with a knockout over former champion Yuriorkis Gamboa after dropping a competitive decision against three-division champion Gervonta Davis last December. A native of Mexico City, Cruz shot up the lightweight rankings in 2020, announcing his presence with an electrifying first-round knockout over veteran Diego Magdaleno in October. Cruz followed that up in 2021 by winning a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Matías Romero in March and by defeating former champion Francisco Vargas by decision in June ahead of the Davis clash.

“I’m very happy and motivated to come back in the ring in front of the great fans in Los Angeles on September 4,” said Cruz. “I’ll be facing a very good opponent and I’ll be back at the same arena where I faced one of the best fighters in the division in Gervonta Davis. Stepping back into the ring there is pumping me up even more and I can’t wait to start throwing my hands on fight night.”

Fighting out of Sinaloa, Mexico, Ramírez (27-2-3, 12 KOs) has moved himself into title contention with five-straight victories as he looks to make a splash in his lightweight debut against Cruz. The 29-year-old most recently earned a decision victory over Luis Melendez in May, which followed up a dominant decision against Miguel Marriaga in December 2021. Ramírez is currently riding wins in seven of his last eight fights since losing to then featherweight champion Lee Selby in 2017.

“I am coming up in weight for this fight, but that just means I’ll be that much stronger,” said Ramírez. “I’m excited for this opportunity, because after I win, I will be recognized as a top fighter in my new division. He’s not going to outbox me and he can’t knock me out, so he has no way to win. I’m planning on showing the world what I can do against a perfect opponent for me.”

One of the most accomplished fighters of this era, Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs) will return to the ring in a bid to continue adding to his already sterling resume in the sport. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and now living in Montebello, Calif., Mares was a member of the Mexican Olympic boxing team in the 2004 Athens Olympics before going on to win world titles at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight. His two battles for the featherweight world title against Leo Santa Cruz epitomized the kinds of high-volume clashes that set Mares apart from many of his contemporaries. Throughout his career, Mares owns victories over top contenders and champions including Daniel Ponce De Leon, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko, Anselmo Moreno and Jesus Cuellar.

“I know everyone is used to seeing me suited and booted on T.V. talking about the beautiful sport of boxing, but let me remind everyone, I’m a bad m-f’er in the ring, and on September 4, the world is going to remember what they missed,” said Mares. “I’m the best in boxing in speed, power, intelligence, and good looks. Miguel Flores is on my radar, and I’m sorry to say, he’s going back to elementary school after meeting me. I’m a master in this game, and I’m back. Welcome to Team Mares 2022.”

Flores (24-4, 12 KOs) bounced back from back-to-back defeats in his previous outing that took place last June, as he earned a decision over Diuhl Olguin. The 29-year-old had lost a pair of contests in challenging four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz in November 2019 and top contender Eduardo Ramirez in December 2020. Born in Mexico and now residing in Spring, Texas, Flores turned pro in 2009 at just 17-years-old and was victorious in his first 22 bouts.

“I’m very motivated to be on the big stage once again and I’m excited to get into the ring,” said Flores. “This is a huge opportunity for me against a three-division champion and I’m doing everything I can to make the most of it. This is Michoacán vs. Guadalajara and we’re going to give all the fans a great show on September 4.”

The 23-year-old Valenzuela (12-0, 8 KOs) trains as a stablemate of unbeaten two-time world champion David Benavidez as he looks to continue cementing his contender status in 2022. Valenzuela was sensational his last time in the ring as he blasted out former world champion Francisco Vargas via a round-one knockout in April. Born in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, Valenzuela turned pro in 2018 and rode a five-bout knockout streak before earning his first 10-round decision in a victory over Deiner Berrio in September 2021.

“I’m extremely motivated for this fight,” said Valenzuela. “My opponent is an accomplished former champion and this is the kind of challenge that I’ve been asking for. I’m going to come into this fight extremely prepared to make another statement on September 4 and give the fans a great show like I always do.”

The 30-year-old Corrales (26-4, 10 KOs) has won three-straight fights since moving up to lightweight in 2021 and has ascended to the number two ranking in the WBA. Fighting out of San Miguelito, Panama, Corrales won a super featherweight title in 2016 when he went to Japan and knocked out Takashi Uchiyama before winning a decision in their rematch. He also owns victories over current former champion Rene Alvarado and veteran contender Robinson Castellanos.

“Valenzuela is a good young fighter with some skills, but he doesn’t have the experience to handle what I’m bringing to the ring,” said Corrales. “This is going to be like when the great Panamanian champion Roberto Duran took Davey Moore to school. Class is going to be in session on September 4 and no amount of studying is going to have him ready for what I’m planning to do.”

Magsayo-Vargas, Figueroa-Castro, Martin-Nunez set for July 9 in San Antonio

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.”

Bucs GM Licht on Gronk: ‘It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game’

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.

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: ‘I am ready for big fights’

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.”

Suns name Morgan Cato assistant GM, VP of basketball operations

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. 

Complete schedule for 2022 NBA Summer League

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.

Joshua: ‘I am the happiest and most motivated I have been’

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.”

Beterbiev: ‘I want to be undisputed’

What we saw Saturday night at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden was the best 175-pounder doing what he has done his whole career, knocking people out!!

Unified 175-pound champion Artur Beterbiev(18-0, 18 KOs), the three-belt light heavyweight champion, stopped Joe Smith Jr. (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round. Beterbiev knocked down Smith three times during the one-sided beatdown, picking up Smith’s WBO belt and moving one step closer to becoming an undisputed champion at 175 pounds.

Beterbiev dropped Smith with a right hand in the closing seconds of the opening round, and in the second round, a Beterbiev left hook nearly sent Smith through the ropes. He rose to his feet, but the end was near—a pair of uppercuts, followed by a sweeping right hand. From there, referee Harvey Dock put a halt to the action.

“My coach told me it’s not too far until I become a good boxer,” Beterbiev said. “Joe’s a little bit open, and it was more easy for me to get him. {Both of us} have a good punch, and both tried to {connect} first. I’m lucky that I was first.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 18: Artur Beterbiev celebrates after defeating Joe Smith Jr, during their WBC,IBF and WBO light heavyweight Championship fight, at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Sitting ringside was British contender Anthony Yarde, who may be in line for a shot at Beterbiev this fall. Beterbiev’s preference is a fight with WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, who recently defeated Canelo Alvarez. 

“Unification fights are more interesting, more motivating,” Beterbiev said. “I prefer unification fight. I want to be undisputed.”

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has been on record in saying Beterbiev would travel to London to battle the Anthony Yarde in the fall, but the fight to make is Beterbiev-Bivol for all the belts. That fight would be the classic boxer versus puncher, which makes that fight so interesting!! Can Bivol stand up to Beterbiev’s power, or will Bivol outbox him? Hopefully, we’ll see that sometime down the line. 

Curry on fourth NBA title: ‘This one hits different for sure’

The Warriors made it four NBA titles in eight seasons as they defeated the Celtics 103-90 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden Thursday night.

Golden State won the series 4-2; Steph Curry, who had a game-high 34 points, including five threes in Game 6, was named Finals MVP for the first time in his career.

After trailing 14-2 with just over eight minutes left in the first quarter, the Warriors outscored the Celtics 52-25 the rest of the half, including a 21-0 run. The Warriors led by as many as 21 points in the first half and had a 54-39 lead at halftime.

Boston got the lead to as low as eight late in the fourth but could not get any closer.

Curry, who won his fourth NBA title, averaged 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 5.2 3-pt FG per game in this series, and according to StatMuse, he is the first player in NBA history to average 30/5/5 and five threes in a Finals series.

“We’ve got four championships,” Curry said after the win. “This one hits different for sure, just knowing what the last three years have meant, what it’s been like from injuries to changing of the guard in the rosters, Wiggs(Andrew Wiggins) coming through, our young guys carrying the belief that we could get back to this stage and win, even if it didn’t make sense to anybody when we said it, all that stuff matters. And now we got four championships. Me, Dray(Draymond Green), Klay(Thompson), and Andre(Iguodala), we finally got that bad boy. It’s special. It’s special.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says the four championships don’t happen without Curry.

“I’m obviously thrilled for everyone in that room, and a lot of people had a big hand in this, but I think the thing with Steph is, you know, without him, none of this happens,’ Kerr said. “Steph ultimately is why this run has happened. Much like Timmy(Tim Duncan) in San Antonio. So I’m happy for everybody, but I’m thrilled for Steph. To me, this is his crowning achievement in what’s already been an incredible career.”

The Warriors missed the playoffs the last two seasons, so getting back to this spot was difficult for Curry and the rest of the team. After the win, Curry was in tears, and he explained why he was so emotional.

“These last two months of the playoffs, these last three years, this last 48 hours, every bit of it has been an emotional roller coaster on and off the floor,” he said. “And you’re carrying all of that on a daily basis to try to realize a dream and a goal like we did tonight. And you get goosebumps just thinking about, you know, all those snapshots and episodes that we went through to get back here, individually, collectively. And that’s why I said I think this championship hits different. That’s why I have so many emotions, and still will, just because of what it took to get back here.”

Klay Thompson, who also won his fourth NBA title, believes Curry is an all-time great.

“I’m so happy for him to get that Finals MVP,” Thompson said. “Some bozo saying he needed it. I think he’s pretty much established what he can do, but to see him earn that, he’s one of the greatest ever, and we all followed in his lead, and gosh, that was awesome. What a series.”

Draymond Green, who added his fourth NBA title as well and had 12 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in Game 6, added on Curry: “Steph Curry, to have the season and the career that he’s had, it is amazing. And to stamp that with a Finals MVP — I know he said it don’t matter, and it doesn’t matter in the sense of like, oh, his legacy is not quite this unless he gets that. Like, that’s garbage. Still, Steph Curry still an all-time great. But to add that to your résumé as a competitor, you want that. For him, well-deserved.”

After winning Finals MVP, Curry’s legacy is complete. Before this series, Curry was an all-time great, but now there are no doubts.

Ortiz-McKinson set for August 6

Knockout sensation and the pride of Grand Prairie, Texas, Vergil Ortiz Jr. (18-0, 18 KOs), will make his grand return to the ring on Saturday, August 6, taking on top 10 ranked, undefeated welterweight contender Michael “The Problem” McKinson (22-0, 2 KOs) of Portsmouth, Great Britain. The 12-round welterweight fight will take place at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, and will stream live worldwide, exclusively on DAZN.

Ortiz-McKinson was originally scheduled to fight on March 19, but Ortiz was forced to pull out after being diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis.

“I am very happy to be stepping back into the ring again,” said Vergil Ortiz, Jr. “I’m ready to show the world once again why I’m ready for a world title.”

“I’m getting what I deserve,” said Michael McKinson. “I was prepared to fight Ortiz, Jr. before; now, I have been given the opportunity again to prove I am the best in this division.”

“Vergil Ortiz, Jr. is the most exciting welterweight in the world,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO. “We are happy that he is back, healthy, and feels 100%.  Fighting in his home state, I can’t think of a better way for him to make his comeback and put on another great performance for his fans.  He is one step away from challenging any world champion and he will prove it on August 6.”

Vergil Ortiz Jr. boasts a perfect knockout undefeated record and is considered one of the most exciting fighters in the welterweight division. Originally scheduled to return to the ring on March 19 in Los Angeles against Michael “The Problem” McKinson, Ortiz, Jr. suffered a medical emergency that forced him to pull out of that fight. Fortunately, the fighter is now 100% healthy to return and is looking to make an impressive comeback in front of his hometown when he faces McKinson at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, TX. Ortiz, Jr. was last seen in the ring in a fantastic TKO victory against world title contender Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas in August 2021. In addition, he has faced and won against some of the toughest fighters in the division, knocking out contenders like Antonio “Relentless” Orozco, Brad “King” Solomon, and Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker.

Ranked as one of the top 10 best welterweights in the world, Michael McKinson is an undefeated fighter ready to face any contender in the division. Hailing from Portsmouth, Great Britain, the 27-year-old made his US debut on March 19, defeating Alex “Chi-Town Heat” Martin after a last minute change due to the cancellation of Ortiz, Jr. vs. McKinson. Now a notable name in the boxing scene, McKinson has enjoyed an accomplished career capturing titles including the WBC International Silver Welter Title and the WBO European and Global Welter titles. Now, the UK fighter will be looking to show that he has what it takes to defeat Ortiz, Jr. in his home turf and prove he belongs among the division’s elite.