Zayas: ‘I can’t wait for the bell to ring on December 9’

Puerto Rican junior middleweight contender Xander Zayas hopes to close the year on an emphatic note.

Zayas will take on Spain’s Jorge Fortea in a 10-round battle on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Zayas-Fortea will serve as the co-feature to the WBO featherweight world title showdown between reigning champ Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez and unbeaten Mexican contender Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza. 

Ramirez-Espinoza and Zayas-Fortea will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Zayas (17-0, 11 KOs) signed with Top Rank at 16 and has been on the path to superstardom ever since his pro debut in October 2019. In his fifth year as a pro, he is already inching closer to a title shot in the competitive 154-pound division. He notched an eight-round unanimous decision over Ronald Cruz during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in June and a fifth-round TKO against the hard-hitting Roberto Valenzuela Jr. in September. Fortea (24-3-1, 9 KOs), a 13-year pro from Spain, is riding a three-bout winning streak.

Following a recent training session, this is what Zayas had to say:

“We are counting down the days to fight night! I can’t wait for the bell to ring on December 9 in South Florida. I dedicate this fight all my Boricuas from the ‘Island of Enchantment’ and the ‘Puerto Rican Diaspora’ who I know will tune in to my fight that night on ESPN.”
“I am determined to close the year with a bang and to continue positioning myself as one of the main contenders at junior middleweight. In the new year, I’m aiming to continuing my climb up the ranks step by step. That is why I push myself to give my all every day in the gym. You will see a better version of me every time I fight.”
“I am grateful for the support of the fans. I am also very happy to share the card with a great friend whom I respect a lot like “El Tren” from Cuba, Robeisy Ramírez. We are already close to a sold out venue, and we are ready to bring joy to our people. We’re coming to put on a great Latin party between Cubans and Puerto Ricans.”

Hurts on Eagles: ‘We always find a way, and that’s something that you can’t really take for granted’

DJ Khalid would be happy with the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles(10-1) because all they do is win, and that continued on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field as they defeated the Buffalo Bills 37-34 in OT.

Philadelphia won after Jalen Hurts(18/31, 200 yards, three TDs, interception, two rushing TDs), who recorded a career-high five total touchdowns against the Bills(6-6), had a 12-yard touchdown run to seal the victory in the extra session.

For the second consecutive week, the Eagles overcame 10-point halftime deficit, got a come-from-behind victory for the fourth straight week, and, most importantly, have the best record in the NFL. According to Elias Sports, Hurts is the second NFL QB since 1950 to start 10-1 or better through 11 games in back-to-back years, joining Peyton Manning (2005-06).

In addition, according to ESPN Stats & Info, Hurts has won 14 straight games against teams with winning records, marking the longest streak by an NFL QB since 1950.

Even with all this winning, Hurts, who struggled in the first half as he completed only 4 of 11 passes for 33 yards and two turnovers(interception, fumble), and a rushing touchdown, says he’s not playing up to his standards.

“We always find a way, and that’s something that you can’t really take for granted,” he said. “Obviously, I have had a ton to clean up, and I have not executed to the level of my standard. What that [standard] is yet? It seems to be enough. But in terms of the standard that I like to play to consistently and I’d like us to play to consistently. As a team, enough is never enough. So, you just want to continue to strive for more and play to that standard.”

The second half was a different story for Hurts. He was 14/20 for 167 yards and three touchdowns; he had seven carries for 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Hurts made every play that needed to be made in the second half, including putting the team in position to tie the game as Jake Elliott connected on a 59-yard field goal late in regulation, and scoring a touchdown in OT after the Bills made a field goal on their first possession in OT.

“Just clutch in clutch moments, right?” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “There’s going to be plays he wants back from the first half. There’s going to be plays that we called that we’re going to want back from the first half.

“Really made some big-time plays when they mattered the most, none more than three touchdown passes. I thought he hit DeVonta (Smith), read the defense perfectly, and hit the ball to DeVonta on the touchdown. What an unbelievable throw and catch by OZ [WR Olamide Zaccheaus] and Jalen on the touchdown on the scramble. I mean, my goodness, that was a good play.

“He made a lot of really clutch plays in the second half. Then the big one obviously at the end right there. We did a good job of blocking up front. Jalen got himself through there for a touchdown in a clutch moment.”

Now, the Eagles have their biggest game of the season to date next Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers(8-3). A win against the Niners would pretty much give the Eagles home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC. However, to Hurts’ point, they must play to their “standard” to keep winning.


-According to Elias Sports, Sirianni became just the third head coach in NFL history to guide his team to a 10-1 start or better in consecutive seasons. The other head coaches on that list are Tony Dungy (2005-06) and Don Shula (1972-73).

-Brandon Graham set a franchise record with his 189th regular-season game played with the Eagles, breaking the previous mark held by David Akers (188, 1999-2010). A 14-year NFL veteran, Graham is also tied with Chuck Bednarik (1949-62) for the most seasons played in team history and is 4th on the club’s all-time sacks list (73.0). In addition, Graham sacked Bills QB Josh Allen on third-and-14 during the fourth quarter. He has posted 2.5 fourth-quarter sacks over his last two home games.

-Hurts became the first QB in NFL history with 10+ rushing TDs in three consecutive seasons (10 TDs in 2021 and 13 TDs in 2022).

-Jake Elliott nailed a 59-yard FG with 0:20 remaining during the fourth quarter to tie the game at a 31-31 score. Elliott, who is the Eagles’ all-time leader in 50+ yard FGs (26), has made 6 FGs of 50+ yards this year, marking a single-season career high. Elliott has converted 8-of-9 FG attempts during the fourth quarter/overtime this season, including his 54-yard game-winning FG vs. Washington (10/1/23).

Don King announces fight card for December 2 in Miami

Last week, it was announced that Adrien “The Problem” Broner suffered an injury to his right-hand and won’t be able to fight against Chris Howard on December 2 at Casino Miami in Miami, Florida.

King announced the fight card will still happen, and on Monday, he announced the fights that will remain on the card.

WBA Continental America’s Middleweight Champion Ian Green (17-2, 11 KOs), who has shown his talents at Casino Miami in the past, will defend his title against Vaughn Alexander (18-7-1, 11 KOs) of St. Louis, MO.

Tre’Sean Wiggins (15-5-3, 8 KOs) of Newburgh, NY will defend his WBA NABA Welterweight Championship against Chris Howard (18-2-1, 8 KOs) of Cincinnati, OH.

The vacant WBA International Lightweight title bout will be up for grabs as Antonio Perez (8-0, 5 KOs) of Harrisburg, PA will take on Las Vegas’ Haskell Rhodes (29-5-1, 14 KOs).

The WBA NABA Middleweight Championship will be decided when Alex Castro (13-1, 11 KOs) of Tulua, Colombia challenges Harry K. Cruz (14-3, 11 KOs) of Bronx, NY via Puerto Rico.

The fifth title fight will see the vacant WBC Youth Intercontinental Super Lightweight championship on the line as Fort Lauderdale’s DeVon Williams (3-0, 3 KOs) looks for the belt against the savvy Nelson Morales from Scranton, PA via the Dominican Republic.

One undercard fight rounds out the card as an eight-round bantamweight attraction features Boynton Beach, Florida’s Lawrence Newton (15-0, 7 KOs) and Jonathan Smith (8-2, 6 KOs) from South Bend, IN.

Giants’ DeVito on getting first win at MetLife Stadium: ‘I’m going to enjoy the moment’

Make it two straight for quarterback Tommy DeVito and the New York Giants after defeating the New England Patriots 10-7 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

New York secured the victory when New England kicker Chad Ryland missed a 35-yard field goal with six seconds to go.

DeVito was not great, but he was good enough; he completed 17 of 25 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown; he had zero interceptions, but he did lose a fumble.

However, this game was about the defense, who intercepted QB Mac Jones twice in the first half, and his replacement Bailey Zappe once in the second half, which led to 10 points for the Giants.

In the last two weeks, the Giants forced nine turnovers, but according to a report from FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer, there’s a rift between head coach Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.

After their win over the Patriots, Daboll discussed his relationship with Martindale.

“I’d say the biggest argument that Wink and I have had is who has the last piece of pizza,” Daboll said. “I got a lot of respect for Wink. He’s done a good job. I’ll leave it at that…

“I got a lot of respect for Wink. He’s a heck of a coach. I’m glad he’s on the staff.”

Back to DeVito, the New Jersey native, who played a high school state championship game at MetLife Stadium, got his first start at MetLife as a pro on Sunday, and he was happy to get another win.

“It feels great,” DeVito said about winning at MetLife Stadium. “Any game after a win is awesome, but to be able to do it here at home for my first time is surreal. I’m going to enjoy the moment.”

The undrafted rookie free agent was excited to hear his name introduced to the Giant faithful.

I’m not going to lie, I kind of blacked out,” he said. “I was kind of just in my element. I didn’t know if people were cheering or booing or what was going on. It could’ve been anything, but I was just locked in, enjoying it.”

Jones(ACL) is out for the season, and Tyrod Taylor(ribs), but Daboll did not wholly rule out going back to the veteran quarterback.

“We’ll have our bye week here,” Daboll said. “We’ll discuss a lot of things. Look at a lot of things. So, over the next few days, that’s what we’ll do.”

New York returns on Monday night, Dec. 11, at home against the Green Bay Packers.




Hawks’ Johnson to miss three to four weeks with wrist injury

Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson has been diagnosed with a left distal radius(wrist) fracture, the team announced on Sunday.

Johnson left in the second quarter of the team’s 136-108 victory against the Wizards in D.C. 

The third-year forward underwent an X-ray Saturday night in Washington and an MRI Sunday morning in Boston.

According to the Hawks, he will be re-evaluated in three to four weeks, and his status will be updated as appropriate.

This season, in 15 games, Johnson is averaging 14.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per contest.

Charlo: ‘I showed myself that anything can be done

In the co-main event of David Benavidez-Demetrius Andrade, WBC 160-pound champion Jermall Charlo returned to the ring for the first time in 29 months with a dominant performance against José Benavídez Jr., the older brother of David Benavídez in their 10-round non-title bout contracted at 163 pounds.

Charlo(33-0, 22 KOs) weighed in at 166.4 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in, compared to Benavídez(28-3-1, 19 KOs) at 161.2 pounds, but the fight was allowed to continue after both camps agreed.

The WBC 160-pound champion was the much larger man, and he pushed Benavídez around the ring with his pole-like jab and hard right hands. It all added up to a wide decision for Charlo by scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92.

    Photos: Ryan Hafey/PBC

    Charlo landed 116 of 334 total jabs for a 35% connect rate and landed 127 of 279 power punches for a 46% clip.

    The Houston native has battled issues with mental health, but he is back, and he feels he’ll be better going forward.

    “I’ll be back stronger, just know that,” Charlo said. “I thought about everything that I’ve been through every round. God’s got me. I want to thank everybody who never left my side. I want to thank Al Haymon for understanding me. I know when you’re a man, it’s hard to explain to somebody what you stand for, but I’m happy that I went through what I went through because I showed myself that anything can be done.”

    Benavidez was made to order for Charlo, but give Charlo credit. He looked sharp for a guy who had been out of the ring for 29 months. Hopefully, he can overcome whatever mental hurdles he has to be more active in 2024.

    Matias shines:

    In other PPV undercard action, IBF Junior Welterweight champion Subriel Matías broke down, battered and stopped previously unbeaten Shohjahon Ergashev in a brutal and entertaining slugfest that has become a staple of Matías’ career.

    After absorbing a barrage of punishment and looking completely overwhelmed and winded, Ergashev refused to come out of his corner to start the sixth round, as Matías notched his 20th stoppage in 21 fights and his fifth straight retirement stoppage. The official time of stoppage was two seconds into the sixth round, and it ended another dominant, ruthless showing from Matías, who improved to 20-1 with 20 KOs in his first title defense, while Ergashev dropped to 23-1 with 20 KOs.

    “When I started feeling [Ergashev’s] punches in the first round, I knew he didn’t have the power to knock me out. That’s when I started attacking,” Matías said. “For left-handed southpaw fighters, I just need three or four rounds to decipher them. Then, what happened tonight, usually happens. Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, if you want that, come over here and fight.”

    Matías connected on 108 of 317 total punches for a 34% clip, compared to 44 of 235 and 19% for Ergashev, with 26 of Ergashev’s total connects in the first two rounds. Over five rounds, Matías landed 71 power punches and 37 jabs to complete the dominant performance.

    Roach becomes a world champion:

    In the PPV opener, former title challenger Lamont Roach wrested away Héctor García’s WBA Super Featherweight Title in his second attempt at a belt, dropping García in the 12th round and winning a split decision by scores of 116-111, 114-113 and 113-114 in a highly technical and strategic fight. The knockdown in the 12th was the difference as Roach avoided a split-draw on Saturday with the left-hook that landed on the top of García’s head with 1:20 left in the frame and drove García into the canvas for the second time in his career.

    “Man, I’ve been waiting to hear ‘And the new’ for a long time,” said Roach, who improved to 24-1-1, 9 KOs. “It’s about time though. All I needed was the spotlight. The first time I was a baby – I was 24 years old. Now I’m seasoned. I don’t think anyone can beat me. Nobody.”

    On the knockdown that decided the outcome: “We’ve been working on this shot for a long time, that hook,” Roach went on. “I’m the best and I want to show I’m the best. Anybody who wants to fight let me know because I want to fight all of you. There’s a lot of cool champions at 130. I’ll take whoever.”

    In 2019, Roach came up short in his first title shot against Jamel Herring, also a southpaw, but made good on his second attempt on Saturday, while García (16-2, 10 KOs) was unsuccessful in his first defense of his WBA championship after he rose in weight and was stopped by lightweight titleholder Gervonta Davis back in January when García retired on his stool before the ninth round, complaining of impaired vision.   

    After feeling each other out for most of the bout, Roach came alive in the 11th round, hurting García with a right hand that pushed García into the ropes. The 28-year-old Roach followed up with a right uppercut that also stunned García. Roach connected on 118 of 490 total punches, a 29% connect rate, compared to 93 of 468 or 20% for Garía, according to CompuBox. Roach also held a 79 to 62 connect advantage in power punches and an edge in jabs 39 to 31.

    In other action:

    Preceding the pay-per-view, exciting contender Michel Rivera (25-1, 14 KOs) recorded the biggest win of his career, upsetting former world champion Sergey Lipinets (17-3-1, 13 KOs) by three scores of 97-93, 97-93 and 96-94 in their 10-round super lightweight match in action In his first bout at 140, Rivera was the sharper and more dynamic of the two as his superior hand and foot movement confounded Lipinets, who could never quite catch up to his fleet-footed foe.

    Prospect Vito Mielnicki Jr. dropped Mexico’s Alexis Salazar three times in the first round, causing referee Robert Hoyle to stop the bout at 2:27 of the initial frame in a scheduled 10-round super welterweight attraction. Salazar was supposed to be perhaps the toughest opponent of Mielnicki’s career. Instead, the 21-year-old, with trainer Ronnie Shields in his corner for the first time, was razor shape and pinpoint with his punches as he improved to 16-1 with 11 knockouts, while Salazar showed little punch resistance and fell to 25-6 with 10 KOs

    Benavidez: ‘I just reminded everyone who the real champion at 168 is’

    On Saturday night at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, David Benavídez showed why he could be the best fighter at 168 pounds.

    Benavidez showed off his power and skills when he stopped former two-division world champion Demetrius Andrade after the sixth round when Andrade’s corner stopped the fight.

    In possibly the best performance of his career, the 26-year-old Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs), fighting his first southpaw in seven years, bloodied and pounded Andrade (32-1, 19 KOs).

    Andrade is a fighter many believed was avoided by some of the top guys in the sport, but Benavidez, who dropped Andrade in the fourth round, was ready and able to get the job done.

    “Everybody says I’m not this, I’m not that, I’m flat-footed, I have no defense,” Benavidez said. “This guy probably applied one of the best defenses. He’s really good offensively. He could barely even hit me, so I think that says a lot on its own. I just have to keep beating who they put in front of me. I’m the best. I’m going to be the best. I’m going to be a legend by the time I’m done, so whoever you keep putting in front of me, I’ll keep knocking them down.”

    Courtesy: Ryan Hafey/PBC

    Benavídez punctuated his performance with an embrace of Mike Tyson outside the ring following the stoppage. Tyson famously dubbed Benavídez the “Mexican Monster.”

    “I just told Mike Tyson that I love him and thank you so much for the motivation he’s given me,” Benavídez said. “It’s not every day a boxing legend like Mike Tyson gives people nicknames, so I just want to live up to my name.”

    The only guy left for Benavidez to beat at 168 pounds is undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez, who he called out after defeating Andrade.

    “I just reminded everyone who the real champion at 168 is,” he said. Who wants to see me versus Canelo? I’m going to be super middleweight champion of the world, three-time world champion. Now, just give me the fight that we all want to see. Who wants to see Benavídez versus Canelo?”

    The 35-year-old Andrade, who fought for the second time at 168 pounds, says he will return.

    “I’ll be back – back to the drawing board,” he said. “I moved up in weight classes. I’ll work on my body a little more, and I’ll be right back at it. I thought overall I did everything I needed to do to get the bigger man off me. David’s definitely a hell of a fighter. Nobody was even willing to get in the ring with him. I tried to become a three-division world champion. That’s not far-fetched. David was the man tonight. Benavídez is the bigger man.”

    Benavidez was not only the bigger man, but he was the better man, and hopefully, he will finally get Canelo next.

    Sirianni on Chiefs fans: ‘They’re not as good as Philly fans, but I definitely heard a couple things they were saying in the game’

    On Monday night, Nick Sirianni got the biggest regular season win as an Eagles head coach when they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs on the road 21-17 in a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl, which the Eagles lost.

    After the game, Sirianni was seen talking a little trash to the Chiefs fanbase, which we’ve seen him do last year following the team’s win over the Colts in Indy. 

    Chiefs LB Willie Gay called Sirianni’s reaction to the fans “corny.”

    On Friday, Sirianni discussed his interaction with Chiefs fans.

    ‘Yeah, you know, emotions run high in games,” Sirianni said. “I give it to the Kansas City fans. They were rowdy. They had some good things to say coming in at halftime. They had some good things to say when they would score. I don’t hear fans all that often; I did in this game. I definitely heard them at halftime.

    “I give them credit. They aren’t Philly fans. They’re not as good as Philly fans, but I definitely heard a couple things they were saying in the game.

    “You always look at those things. To me, with everything that I am, I’m not going to hide who I am. I think that, shoot, I talked to my buddy after the [Indianapolis] game last year because I had something like that with the Indy game and he said that he was talking to another teacher because he’s a teacher and he said — how did he say it? It was interesting.

    “The other teacher said to my best friend, he was like, ‘Hey, did you see how cool it was that Nick was celebrating with the Eagles fans after the game?’ He laughed. He goes [jokingly], ‘Nick wasn’t celebrating with the Eagles fans, he was talking [trash] to the Colts fans. He’s been doing that since I’ve known him. That’s who he is.’

    “You know what? I think if you’re somebody you’re not, that gets seen through by everybody, and so, hey, like that was some — I was emotional after the game. That was a little playful back and forth with the Kansas City fans.

    “But, again, I tip my hat to them. They’re not as good as Eagles fans, but they’re good fans, and we heard them. That’s the way it went after the game.”

    Sirianni and the Eagles are having a lot of success right now, so his reactions are acceptable. However, if Philly starts to struggle sometime in the future, Sirianni’s reactions might be questioned. At this point, Eagles fans should enjoy the ride.

    Tevin Farmer returns on December 1 in Philadelphia

    Ramirez; ‘I can’t wait to fight in front of my people in South Florida’

    Cuban WBO featherweight king Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez is ready to end the year with his second world title defense.

    Ramirez will put his belt on the line against unbeaten Mexican contender Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. 

    In the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature, Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas squares off against Spain’s Jorge Fortea.

    Courtesy: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

    Ramirez-Espinoza and Zayas-Fortea will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

    Ramirez (13-1, 8 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is enjoying his most impressive year to date. The fighting pride of Cienfuegos, Cuba, soundly defeated former world champion Isaac Dogboe by unanimous decision to capture the WBO featherweight title in April. He defended his crown on enemy turf in July with a fifth-round TKO against Japanese contender Satoshi Shimizu. Espinoza (21-0, 18 KOs) is a 10-year pro who is coming off stoppage wins over compatriot Rafael Rosas Ramirez in March and Tanzania’s Ally Mwerangi in July

    Following a recent training session, this is what Ramirez had to say:

    “December 9 is almost here, and it’s almost time to defend my world title against a tough opponent, Rafael ‘El Divino’ Espinoza. Everyone knows that Mexicans are warriors who always come to fight. That’s why Espinoza has my full attention, and the Mexican people have my full respect.”

    “I can’t wait to fight in front of my people in South Florida. After being crowned world champion, this has been one of my most cherished dreams, and it motivates me knowing that the event is close to being sold out. So, don’t wait much longer to get your tickets, bring your Cuban flag, and join me in what I promise will be a great night for our community.”

    “This has been a strong training camp with many challenges, as it usually is at this level. I am motivated to close the year strong and pursue other goals in 2024, such as being crowned unified featherweight champion.”