Wilder on Ortiz: ‘When we fought the first time, I had a bad flu’

WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder(41-0-1, 40 KOs), held a media workout in Alabama Tuesday night, as he prepares to battle Cuban slugger Luis “King Kong” Ortiz(31-0, 26 KOs) in a rematch that headlines a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Saturday, November 23 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

For Wilder, this is an opportunity to prove that the first fight against Ortiz was no fluke, and this time around, Wilder wants to use his jab more.

“With Ortiz, we know that he’s a smart fighter and a great counter puncher,” Wilder said. “He’s really good at what he does. I’m the only person in the top five who’s given him the opportunity.

 “I don’t think I threw enough jabs at him in the first fight. The positioning of my feet was not as good as it could be. The movement that we have is very awkward when you have an orthodox fighter against a southpaw. I’m looking forward to making it another great fight.”

After being in serious trouble in the 7th-round in their first fight, Wilder was able  to survive and stop Ortiz in the 10th-round. In that fight, according to Wilder, he was sick, and on Tuesday, Wilder explained why he did not back out of the fight.

“I’m looking to beat Ortiz in even more dramatic fashion,” Wilder said. “When we fought the first time, I had a bad flu. I could have called off the fight, but I want to be able to do things that other fighters shouldn’t or wouldn’t do.”

Credit to Wilder for fighting Ortiz the first time and fighting him again because not many were running to fight Ortiz, but Wilder is daring to be great, and beating Ortiz again would be a tremendous feat for him.

Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions
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Giants’ Tate: ‘I don’t feel like we’ve tanked, despite our record’

The losing streak is up to five games for the New York Giants(2-7) after losing to the Cowboys at home on Monday night 37-18. Fortunately for the Giants, they have a chance to snap their losing streak when play the Jets(1-7) in the battle of New York on Sunday.

“Yeah, I can only speak for us, but we want to get this thing back on track,” Giants WR Golden Tate said on Wednesday. “Like I said a lot of the last few weeks, I feel like we do have a good team; we have great personnel. I don’t know if you guys can get a sense for this locker room, but we don’t seem down and depressed.

“I don’t feel like we’ve tanked, despite our record. I think we’re still hungry to win and I think we still feel like we have a shot to do something special. We’ve just got to get it going, and it’s going to start with us.”

When healthy, the Giants have decent personnel, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense has struggled at times and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has struggled with turnovers, and quite frankly, he has played like a rookie.

No one expected the Giants to be very good this season, and therefore, no one would accuse them of tanking. But, they should beat the Jets on Sunday; however, both teams are struggling, so this game could go either way.

 

Vikings bring back Andrew Sendejo

The Minnesota Vikings have signed S Andrew Sendejo, the team announced today. Sendejo rejoins the Vikings after spending the first nine weeks of the season with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he appeared in nine games (one start) and made 26 tackles, two passes defensed, 1.0 sack, two tackles for loss and one interception, according to league stats.

The San Antonio, Texas, native had previously spent eight seasons (2011-2018) in Minnesota, appearing in 93 games with 58 starts and totaling 341 tackles, 1.0 sack, six interceptions, and 17 passes defensed. The former Rice Owl originally entered the NFL in 2010 as an undrafted free agent with Dallas, appearing in two games for the Cowboys that season.

To make room for Sendejo, Minnesota waived S Marcus Epps.

Giants’ Shurmur: ‘We put the guys on the field that give us the best chance to win, and they’ve got to play well’

The Giants this week will participate in a rivalry game vastly different from the one they just played, but the objective remains the same: improving their performance.

Last night, a one-point game entering the fourth quarter morphed into a 37-18 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants’ fifth consecutive defeat left them at 2-7, including 1-2 against NFC East foes. Dallas swept the season series for the third year in a row.

The Giants have one more game prior to their bye. On Sunday, they will be the visitors in MetLife Stadium when they take on the 1-7 Jets. Although this is a regular-season rivalry that is contested quadrennially, emotions will be high on the field, where two struggling teams will be fighting for a victory, and in the stands, where both sides will be well-represented.

“I haven’t played in this (rivalry) obviously, but I’m well aware that there are a lot of Giants fans and Jets fans that it’s going to be a very competitive weekend from that standpoint,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said on a conference call today. “I’m aware of all that, but we have to do the things to beat the Jets. We have to play better than we did last night. That game was within one score for a great deal of the time, and we were ahead at the beginning of it (taking a 12-3 lead in the second quarter). It got away from us. So, we need to do the things that we have to do to win the game and not let it get away from us. That really doesn’t matter who you’re playing. But I’m certainly aware of the fact that for this region, and for New York and New Jersey and the fans and everybody involved, this is going to be a big deal.”

The Giants can target several areas for improvement during their short work week. Saquon Barkley ran for only 28 yards and averaged 2.0 yards a carry. Daniel Jones threw an interception and lost two fumbles, giveaways that led to 13 Dallas points. Jones was sacked five times and absorbed numerous other hits. The offense scored just one touchdown on five trips inside the Cowboys’ 20-yard line, forcing Aldrick Rosas to kick four field goals of less than 30 yards. The Giants had 16 opportunities to convert on third down and succeeded just five times.

“We’ve got to bounce back,” said wide receiver Golden Tate, whose spectacular one-handed catch set up the Giants’ only touchdown, a one-yard pass from Jones to Cody Latimer. “We’ve got to understand the situational football. We have to be much, much, much better being efficient on third down, penalties. You know when we get in the red zone, we have to get points, especially against an offense like (Dallas’). They have some big-time players.”

The Giants’ defense surrendered 139 rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliott, who averaged 6.0 yards a carry. Dak Prescott threw an interception on the game’s first play, but thereafter completed 22 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The Giants committed eight penalties for 71 yards. Dallas converted just four of 11 third-down opportunities, but three of them were in the decisive fourth quarter, including a backbreaking 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Copper on third-and-12 that pushed its lead to 12 points with 7:56 remaining.

“You definitely can’t let them in the end zone in that situation with the time that was left,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “You have to get off the field and we had ample opportunities to get off the field.

“As I say every week, you just have to clean up on the little things, you have to execute as a whole team, play complementary football at the end of the day.”

Shurmur hinted there will be no lineup changes. If the Giants are going to reverse course, it will be with the lineup they’ve been fielding.

“I think we play the best players,” Shurmur said. “It just so happens that on our roster, some of our best players are young players, and that’s the reality of it. We put the guys on the field that give us the best chance to win, and they’ve got to play well. If for some reason they’re making mistakes, then we’ve got to clean that up. And the same can be said for us as coaches, we’ve got to clean up the things that keep us from winning games.”

Sunday would be a good time to start.

*There will be at least one change on the roster. The Giants today activated cornerback Sam Beal off injured reserve and he will make his NFL debut Sunday against the Jets. Beal, a third-round selection in the 2018 supplemental draft, missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery and was sidelined this year with a hamstring injury.

To create room for Beal, the Giants waived second-year safety Sean Chandler.

The former Temple star played in all 25 games after making the roster last season as a rookie free agent. But he has played just 26 snaps on defense this season, none in the last two games. He has one special teams tackle.

The Giants also terminated punter Sean Smith from the practice squad.

*After missing two games while in the NFL concussion protocol, rookie Corey Ballentine returned to take over as the slot corner for second-year pro Grant Haley. Ballentine had four tackles (three solo) and knocked away a pass.

“Corey was back healthy, we felt like we wanted to change it up and give him an opportunity,” Shurmur said. “He had worked both outside and inside, he had been dealing with some injuries certainly. Obviously, you all weren’t aware of the week of preparation, but I thought he went out there and battled. He did some good things last night and we just wanted to give him an opportunity. We like where he’s come, and we felt like he did some good things last night.”

*Shurmur said tight end Evan Engram “has a little bit of a sore foot. I don’t have any details on that, we’ll just have to see as the week goes on and how he’ll do.”

*Shurmur is uncertain about the immediate future of wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who returned to the concussion protocol on Sunday after telling the team’s medical staff he didn’t feel well Saturday night. Shepard has missed the last four games, and Saturday he said he expected to play against Dallas.

“This is a serious injury, and in my mind, it requires a serious response,” Shurmur said. “We want to make sure he’s well before he goes back out there.

“I think we have to use good judgement and we need to be very deliberate about guys coming back from injuries such as this. There are signs and there are things, as they go through coming back from concussions, they certainly go through the protocol, but there’s also the activity and how they respond to it and all of that. At some point, we just have to use our gut. … I think as a coach, because there is a certain amount of activity that has to take place, this time of year it’s obviously practice, you watch him. That’s why you watch them practice, you see how they respond to it after and how they handle it the next day. As he went through that process, he wasn’t feeling well, so we made a decision. I just think we have to be smart and be very observant in these situations and try to make good decisions. Player safety is certainly on the front burner for us.”

Courtesy: Michael Eisen

Tank Davis: ‘If you don’t belong in there with me, you won’t be in there too long’

Gervonta Davis and Badou Jack met with members of the media last Saturday in Las Vegas to discuss their upcoming matchups taking place Saturday, December 28 live on SHOWTIME at the award-winning State Farm Arena in Atlanta in a special year-end Premier Boxing Champions event.

Two-time super featherweight champion Davis will take on former unified world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa for the WBA Lightweight World Championship as the 24-year-old Davis looks to conquer another division.  In the co-main event of a special holiday SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast, former two-division champion Jack will challenge WBA Light Heavyweight World Champion Jean Pascal.

Here’s what the Davis had to say:

GERVONTA DAVIS:

Thoughts about Gamboa and moving up in weight:

“We know Gamboa is a veteran and that he’s had a lot of wars, so we know we have a tough fight. He’s definitely dangerous. He can hit. He can fight.

“His last fight he made 134, so we know he can get bigger than me at that weight. I’m going into this knowing he’s a bigger fighter than me. I’m just going to bring my power and capitalize on that weight class and becoming world champion.

“I believe I’m one of the top fighters in the world, but I don’t compare myself to other fighters. I just go out and get the job done.

“Atlanta is my second home. I’m confident I’ll sell it out.”

On his ability and uniqueness as a fighter:

“I come from a different cloth than these other guys. I’ve been through everything in my life. A lot of people haven’t experienced what I have. If I ever get beat it would have to be by someone who’s been through what I have been through. It can’t be anyone who’s just been training all their life.

“Every time I step in the ring I’m willing to leave it all in there. A lot of people haven’t seen my full skills because I haven’t fought an opponent that has brought them out.”

On his potential in the sport:

“The boxing world hasn’t seen my true potential as a fighter, they’ve just seen my power. I’m the type of boxer where if you don’t belong in there with me, you won’t be in there too long. Some fighters like to take their time. I’m the type, if I know you’re not on my level, I’m going to show it. The world will see. I’ll fight anybody.”

Photo: Sean Michael Ham/Mayweather Promotions

Jaguars’ Marrone explains why he went back to Nick Foles

Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles is healthy, and on Tuesday, Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone decided that he will start in Week 11 against the Colts. Jacksonville is on a bye in Week 10.

Foles, 30, who signed a four-year, $88 million deal this offseason, has missed the last eight games due to a broken left collarbone, which he suffered in Week 1 against the Chiefs.

As a whole, rookie QB Gardner Minshew played reasonably well but struggled last week against the Texans. In that game, Minshew had four turnovers(two interceptions, two fumbles). In nine games(eight starts), Minshew has thrown for 2285 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.

On Tuesday, Marrone explained why he decided to go back to Foles:

(Opening Statement)

Marrone: “First of all, I appreciate you guys coming here earlier. But I wanted to do this, and I think a lot of you guys know when I’ve felt this before, I want to make sure you guys hear things firsthand. I just got done with the team meeting [and] I’ve made a decision on the quarterbacks and Nick [Foles] will be our starting quarterback going forward. It was obviously my decision. I worked hard on it, came to it. I brought both players in this morning [and] spoke to both of them. After I spoke to the players and obviously I wanted to make sure I spoke to the team and then I wanted to get it to our media before they heard it anywhere else, where I can’t control. So, I appreciate that. We’re going through self-scout, all the things now to try to get ourselves better. I think you always find something out during this period of time. And then obviously the challenge is how do you correct it and go forward? We believe coming back that everyone that we have on the roster will be healthy, so that’s what we’re looking forward to. And I told the players, ‘Hey, let’s get away a little bit.’ Let’s come back and let’s get focused on Indianapolis.”

(On what changed his mind to making the decision before the Bye Week)

Marrone: “One of the things that I’ve learned in coaching is that it’s very difficult when – it’s tougher to make decisions when you give yourself a hard timeline, a short timeline. So, for me, when I looked at it, and I wasn’t going to put a lot of time into it prior to the game – the thought process of the quarterback position – I looked at the schedule and I said, ‘OK, what’s the most amount of time that I would have,’ before I had to make a decision. So, I wanted to get that out there to kind of give myself that time if I needed it. Going through, what I did, I took time, obviously I got the game [film] done on the way home from London. [I] stayed up, got a good night’s sleeps, woke up, started working on the quarterback decision right away. I came to a decision and I thought once you come to a decision, you might as well tell the people. I told the players today and I want to get it to you, and I just wanted to do the right thing.”

(On when he came to the decision)

Marrone: “This morning.”

(On how QB Gardner Minshew II took the decision)

Marrone: “I think Gardner’s a competitor. I think that what he’s done. He’s done a great job. I feel a whole lot different about him now than I did prior to him playing in a very positive way. We took some things and had some discussions on things that we’re going to work on going forward which will give him the ability to be a player in this league for a long time. We really believe that.”

(On Minshew’s reaction to the news)

Marrone: “I think you can go and ask him. I mean, obviously when I say someone’s a competitor, and they hear something like that, I think everyone can figure that out.”

(On how much the Week 9 game against Houston impacted the starting QB decision)

Marrone: “I try to take that out and put it as a body of work, and that’s what I did. I think that’s important. I think emotions can run sometimes differently, so I looked at the body of work.”

(On if Minshew’s shoulder soreness impacted his play in London)

Marrone: “I wasn’t even on that thought. He was ready to go.”

(On what factors led him to pick Foles as the starting QB)

Marrone: “I think for me, looking back at all of the work, the work that we put in and I just go back to the experience and what he’s going to be able to do. And I think that’s going to give us the ability [to have] a better chance of winning right now.”

(On how they plan to get Foles back up to speed)

Marrone: “He’s had a 21-day window, which we’ve brought him back. We’ve progressively brought him back into drills and brought him into some high speed, close quarter rushing [drills], where guys were coming at him, blitzes where people were coming free. We felt like we did the best job to make sure that he was in position to be ready once he was healthy.”

(On if Foles will be in the practice facility during the Bye Week)

Marrone: “I don’t know. If you’re asking [if] we have anything planned to do with him? No. But is he going to be gone? I don’t know that.”

(On when Minshew’s play made him question who should be the starter)

Marrone: “I don’t know if I had that thought process, because I don’t think you can do a good enough job for the person that’s there. In your mind, if I’m dancing with this person, but I know at the end of the night I’m going to be dancing with this other [person], I don’t think I’m going to be dancing that well with the first one. So, for me, I don’t really look at it that way.”

(On if the team’s red zone issues factored into the QB decision)

Marrone: “Not into the individual quarterback play decision. I think when you look at our ability in the red zone, I don’t think you can pin it on one person. I think collectively as a group, starting with us as coaches, we have to do a better job, and we have to put our players in better position, and we have to make plays down there. Obviously, we’re not doing well and that’ll be a big focus when we look at this self-scout of what better answers we can have.”

(On if he feels fortunate to have a 4-5 record after losing their QB in Week 1 of the season)

Marrone: “I think that’s another tough question. I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t been able to do a better job for the fans and this team and having more wins because that’s what our job is. The story in the beginning was I feel a lot better because I did not know what we had as a backup quarterback going into the season, and I feel that right now we have two really good quarterbacks. And I think, I told the team today, the example of Gardner, as an example that’s been going on quite a bit on this team, but it doesn’t get as publicized, or I might not bring it up to the team as much, and I brought it up today. I think people like Najee Goode, who was brought here as a backup linebacker who’s starting now. Guys like Tre Herndon, who was thrown into a [starting] role and is playing well for us. Keelan Cole who came in as a free agent, then he had some success, then he really wasn’t playing as much these past couple of weeks, and then all of a sudden, he had back-to-back games with touchdowns. Just being ready, and I think it’s a great example for all of our players. So, that’s how I addressed it.”

(On if he would have been content with a 4-4 record after Foles was injured)

Marrone: “You know what scares me right now? It’s that everyone’s always trying to get to you and figure out what’s going on. I’m talking about my friends, very few, but my friends. And I get a lot of the same questions you ask, and I’m thinking maybe you [Florida Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette] and I are meant to be best friends. But I’m going to tell you exactly what I said to my friend. I said, ‘You know, as the head football coach, as someone that’s in charge of winning, I don’t have the ability to talk that way.’ If someone said, ‘Hey, 8-0, would you go for that?’ Yes! You know what I’m saying? So for me, I don’t have that because when you’re part of a team, and you have so many other players, and you expect people to step up, you believe you can overcome whatever injury or whatever thing you have. I think that’s a case of where the fans, and the people that write, or maybe the players, they would be better with being able to answer that question than someone like myself. Because if I don’t say 8-0, then I wouldn’t be the best of what I’m trying to do. So, when we get a question of, ‘How do you feel?’ well, I feel disappointed because I haven’t done a good enough job because of where we are right now. So, we’re going to fight our asses off and work our way back in to getting ourselves in position to play a game, because like I told the team, we had an opportunity last week to put ourselves in a really good position and we didn’t take advantage of it.”

Pederson on Agholor, Jeffery: ‘They have been good, but I would say they haven’t been great’

On Sunday, the Eagles were able to defeat the Bears 22-14 to move to 5-4. However, some bad news came from the game. WR DeSean Jackson re-aggravated his abdominal injury and had surgery on Tuesday to repair it. Philadelphia announced today that they have put the 32-year-old Jackson on injured reserve.

With Jackson out, the Eagles will be without their deep threat and their most dangerous wide receiver. For now, and barring any moves, the Eagles will have to go with the likes of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor. Mack Hollins, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Against the Bears on Sunday, both Jeffery and Agholor were fairly quiet, and Jeffery struggled with drops against Chicago.

When asked to assess Jeffery and Agholor in 2019, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has this to say.

“I think overall, they have been good, but I would say they haven’t been great,” Pederson said on Monday. “I think they would echo that. I think Alshon yesterday had some opportunity and had chances, and I believe he would own up to that to make some of the catches that he missed yesterday.

“So he’s a professional about it, and Nelly is the same way. I think, too, we just have to continue to work with these guys. Every week is a new week. Every week is a new set of challenges. As we put game plans together, we do think about these guys and putting them into positions and look, sometimes you get in the game, and I’m the one calling the plays and sometimes the game kind of steers a different direction than what you think during the week.

“But I think overall, these guys have been in a position to help and help us win, and have a lot of confidence in both those guys moving forward.”

Unfortunately, the Eagles are going to have to rely on Jeffery and Agholor, and if they are fortunate, maybe they can find a solid wide receiver off the street.

If we are talking just talent, Antonio Brown would be great, but who knows how soon his situation would be sorted out. Also, guys like former Eagles WR Jordan Matthews and Torrey Smith are available, which might work the best considering they are familiar with the system.

Philadelphia will need another receiver, and it should be fascinating to see who they find to replace Jackson for the rest of the season.

Charlo on Harrison: ‘If it does go 12 rounds, he’s going to be very injured at the end’

The highly anticipated WBC Super Welterweight Title rematch between Tony “Superbad” Harrison and Jermell “Iron Man” Charlo will headline live in primetime in FOX PBC Fight Night Action and on FOX Deportes Saturday, December 21 from Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.

Harrison vs. Charlo II is a high-voltage rematch that has been building ever since the end of the first matchup. The two were set to meet in June, but the rematch was postponed when Harrison suffered torn ligaments after spraining his ankle in training.

Now that he is fully healed, Harrison is ready to solidify his hold on the title while Charlo is ready to take back what he believes belongs to him. The rematch comes just one day short of a full year from the first time the two stepped into ring against each other on FOX.

In the first meeting, Harrison deployed a tactical defensive strategy that blunted much of the force of Charlo’s high-powered offense. The intrigue of the rematch is whether Harrison will be able to use a similar strategy to remain champion or will Charlo be able to impose his will on Harrison and regain the title.

The 29-year-old Harrison (28-2, 21 KOs) entered the first match against Charlo having come up short in his previous world title attempt. He lost to Jarrett Hurd in a bid for the IBF title in 2017. Harrison, a protégé of the late Emanuel Steward and a native of Detroit, bounced back with three strong performances, including a decision victory over former world champion Ishe Smith.

“The delay just made me even hungrier heading into this fight,” said Harrison. “Watching Charlo the night we were supposed to go shine, and rejuvenate himself, it built up so much hunger in me. I’m tired of the talk and the noise. I’m ready to go.

“We’re looking to work smarter this time,” added Harrison. “I think everything I did before worked, but we want to make it even more decisive. The plan is to be more technically sound overall. You may see an early knockout. It’s tense between both parties. I’m pretty sure he wants to knock me out as much as I want to knock him out. Whoever has the best plan will win. But I’m by far the better athlete. Athlete for athlete it’s not even close. I’ll beat him in everything, running, basketball, football. My style is perfect for his style. He’s Shane Mosley to my Vernon Forrest. I’ll beat him every time I face him.”

It was an emotional night for Charlo (32-1, 16 KOs) the first time he fought Harrison. He and his twin brother, Jermall, the WBC Middleweight World Champion, were defending their titles on a FOX PBC Fight Night doubleheader at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Jermell and many ringside observers thought he had done enough to beat Harrison, but the judges saw it differently, handing Harrison a unanimous decision victory and setting up a hotly contested rematch.

A 29-year-old native of Houston, Texas, Charlo, won the title with a knockout victory over John Jackson in 2016. He went on to establish himself as one of the best young finishers in the sport with devastating stoppage victories over Charles Hatley and Erickson Lubin in defense of the title. He scored a majority decision over former world champion Austin Trout before taking on Harrison and most recently scored a knockout victory over Jorge Cota on FOX in June.

“I still feel strongly that I won that first fight and I’m going to do things in a more dominant fashion this time,” said Charlo. “I’m coming in to this fight being the overpowering, strong, ferocious Jermell Charlo. Tony Harrison is not on my level. It’s my job on December 21 to prove that and to prove my worth. I’m coming in there mentally focused. When I fought Jorge Cota, that’s a prelim of what’s to be expected from me in the future.

“I want to look for the knockout and set it up,” continued Charlo. “I don’t want it to go the judges. That’s my worst nightmare. If it does go 12 rounds, he’s going to be very injured at the end. The loss taught me how to be more patient and to take things step-by-step. I’m going to show everyone why Jermell Charlo is a threat to the whole 154-pound division. I personally feel I’m the best in the division. I’m an upgraded Jermell Charlo that you’ll see on December 21.”

Hawks’ John Collins: ‘I plan to fight my suspension’

The NBA has suspended Atlanta Hawks F John Collins for 25 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

According to the NBA, the second-year player tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide-2 (GHRP-2).

Collins is expected to appeal the suspension, which begins tonight when the Hawks host the Spurs.

Here are statements from Hawks GM Travis Schlenk and Collins.

TRAVIS SCHLENK:

On behalf of the entire Hawks organization, we are disappointed to learn that John put himself in an unfortunate situation and violated the league’s anti-drug policy. We hold ourselves and each of our players to a high standard, and we are committed to supporting John as he learns from this setback and continues to grow as both a player and a person. Head Coach Lloyd Pierce and I have both talked to him and we believe that he is truly remorseful for his actions. We will provide John with support on and off the court while we look forward to his return to the team.”

JOHN COLLINS:

“First I want to apologize to my teammates, the Hawks organization, our fans, partners and community as a whole for this situation. I understand the impact this matter has on what we are trying to achieve together this season, and I am incredibly frustrated and disappointed in myself for putting all of us in this position. I have always been incredibly careful about what I put in my body, but I took a supplement which, unbeknownst to me, had been contaminated with an illegal component. I plan to fight my suspension in arbitration so I can get back on the court as soon as possible and continue to contribute to our 2019-20 campaign.”

Alvarez-Seals set for 1/18

Two of the light heavyweight’s division’s most explosive fighters are set for a fistic shootout Saturday, Jan. 18, as former world champion Eleider “Storm” Alvarez will face Michael “Cannon Handz” Seals at Turning Stone Resort Casino.

The 10-round showdown will be contested for the vacant WBC Continental Americas title, and the winner is expected to challenge for a world title in 2020.

Alvarez-Seals and a co-feature will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Undercard bouts will stream live on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

“This is a fantastic fight, a true 50-50 matchup featuring two of the division’s best punchers,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “The light heavyweight division is on fire right now, and the winner will be in a tremendous position.”

“I am very happy to get back in the ring after this long layoff,” Alvarez said. “I am looking at Jan. 18 to reboot my career against a strong puncher, Michael Seals, and begin my campaign to once again be on top of the boxing world. I have a lot of respect for my opponent, but in 2020, nothing will stop me from becoming a world champion again.”

“First, I would like to thank Top Rank and ESPN for giving Eleider this opportunity, as well as a plan to be very active in 2020,” said Yvon Michel, Alvarez’s co-promoter. “Eleider had a great run before his last fight, beating three former or current world champions in a row: Lucian Bute, Jean Pascal and Sergey Kovalev. The defeat in his rematch with Kovalev was very painful, but also a great learning lesson. Eleider Alvarez belongs with the elite of the light heavyweight division, and he will prove it starting Jan. 18 in Verona.”

“Uncle Bob and Brad Goodman are giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am going to put on a show for them,” Seals said. “Everyone knows that going the distance is against my religion. I’m going to bring the heat, and that’s no secret. Alvarez made a huge mistake in accepting me for his ‘comeback fight.’ When you sign a contract with me, I’m trying to force-feed you some ZzzQuil. This is a tune-up for him but everything for me. I’m not an opponent for the top fighters. I am a top fighter. I want a world title shot, and I won’t let this guy get in the way. He had his time. It’s my time.”

Alvarez (24-1, 12 KOs), the Colombian-born, Montreal-based boxer-puncher has not fought since Feb. 2, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Sergey Kovalev six months after knocking him out to win the WBO light heavyweight world title. Alvarez’s long layoff is due to a torn foot ligament he suffered in training earlier this year. He hopes a win over Seals will earn him another crack at world championship glory.

Seals (24-2, 18 KOs), a Mobile, Alabama, native who played collegiate football at Alabama A&M, is still one of the division’s heaviest hitters at 37 years of age. An 11-year pro, Seals has been involved in many memorable brawls, including a 2015 Fight of the Year contender versus Edwin Rodriguez that included five knockdowns in three rounds. Despite falling short versus Rodriguez, Seals’ reputation as a fan-friendly fighter was solidified. He has won four in a row, including three by knockout in either the first or second round. He is coming off a one-punch, first-round knockout Oct. 18 in Philadelphia against Elio Trosch.