Benavidez is ready take over the 168-pound division

Unbeaten two-time world champion David “El Bandera Roja” Benavídez and former world champion David Lemieux officially kicked off fight week events with a media workout on Wednesday ahead of their 12-round showdown for the vacant Interim WBC Super Middleweight Title which headlines live on SHOWTIME this Saturday, May 21 from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and features two exciting undercard matchups as hard-hitting Cuban prospect Yoelvis Gómez faces Mexico’s Jorge Cota in the co-main event, while Dominican prospect Luis “The Twist” Núñez squares off against Mexico’s Jonathan Fierro in a battle of unbeatens that kicks off the action.

The two-power punchers (combined 85% KO rate for Benavídez and Lemieux) showed off their skills at Central Boxing Gym, as they look to grab the interim title and move one step closer to regaining world champion status with an emphatic victory on Saturday night. For Benavídez, he will be returning to fight in his home state for the second-straight outing, after he knocked out Kyrone Davis in front of his hometown fans in November.

Here is what Benavidez and Lemieux had to say Wednesday:

DAVID BENAVIDEZ

Photos: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

“I definitely want to go out there and follow my gameplan. I don’t care [if the KO] comes in the first, second, fifth or 12th round. When it comes, it comes. I visualize everything I’m going to do in the ring.

“I just hit the weight yesterday and now everything is amazing. We took that stress off the table after four months of hard work. Now, I’m excited to go out there, fight for the title and give the fans a great fight.

“It makes me happy to be able to inspire kids and to see the smiles on the faces of the people in my city. It’s inspiring to have them come out and support me the way that they do.

“It means the world to me to be here in my hometown with my family – both my son and my dad. Now I know what my dad meant when he said that once you have a child, your life changes. My son Anthony is 18 months and he’s given me so much motivation to be the best version of myself.I have a newfound focus and I’m ready to conquer the division.”

DAVID LEMIEUX

“On fight night I’ll be about 180 pounds. I don’t care what he is at. Maybe 190? It doesn’t really matter. I’ll be ready no matter what.

“If he wants a war, he’ll get a war. I’m strong and I’ve very confident in my abilities. I know he’s a very strong fighter, but we have a plan going in against him. We’re not worried and we will do what we have to do to be at our best on fight night. David Benavídez will have his hands full on Saturday night.

“If you know David Lemieux, he’s never refused a fight and he’s always taken whatever fight they put in front of him. When we had big fights in the past, we always took them. If you want to be a world champion you have to fight the best.

“He’s a great fighter and you can’t take anything away from him, but he’s never fought David Lemieux and he will see what that means on Saturday night. I know what I’m going in there against. Does he know what he’s going in against?”

Barnes, Cunningham, Mobley headline NBA All-Rookie First Team

Toronto Raptors guard-forward Scottie Barnes, Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Cleveland Cavaliers forward-center Evan Mobley have been unanimously selected to the 2021-22 NBA All-Rookie First Team, the league announced Wednesday.

The three players each received NBA All-Rookie First Team votes on all 100 ballots from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Joining Barnes, Cunningham and Mobley (200 total points each) on the 2021-22 Kia NBA All-Rookie First Team are Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner (183 points; 84 First Team votes) and Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (158 points; 58 First Team votes).

Barnes, the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year, ranked third among first-year NBA players in points (15.3 ppg) and rebounds (7.5 rpg) and fifth in assists (3.5 apg).  He was named the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month twice (February and March/April).  Cunningham, the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, led all rookies in points (17.4 ppg), was second in assists (5.6 apg) and finished fifth in rebounds (5.5 rpg).  He earned NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors for January.

Mobley, who finished second to Barnes in voting for the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, led all rookies in rebounds (8.3 rpg) and blocked shots (1.67 bpg) and was fifth in points (15.0 ppg).  He was honored as the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for October/November.

Wagner, the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December, started all 79 of his games and ranked fourth among first-year NBA players in points (15.4 ppg).  Green, the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for March/April, finished second among rookies in scoring average (17.3 ppg) and recorded at least 20 points in 17 of his final 25 games.

The 2021-22 NBA All-Rookie Second Team consists of New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (123 points), Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey (122), Denver Nuggets guard Bones Hyland (81), Chicago Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu (75) and Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte (52).

Jaguars name Ethan Waugh assistant general manager

The Jacksonville Jaguars have hired Ethan Waugh as the team’s assistant general manager, the team announced Wednesday.

Waugh most recently served as the vice president of player personnel (2021-22) with the 49ers following three seasons as the director of college scouting and football systems for the team.

Previously, Waugh worked alongside Baalke in San Francisco for 12 seasons (2005-16). During Baalke’s tenure as general manager of the 49ers (2011-16), Waugh served as the team’s senior personnel assistant (2012-14) and senior player personnel coordinator (2015-17). From 2010 to 2016, 49ers players earned 24 All-Pro selections and 35 Pro Bowl nods.

“We are excited to add Ethan to our organization,” said Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke. “Strengthening the personnel department was a priority this offseason and we are thrilled to make this addition to the team. I enjoyed working alongside Ethan in San Francisco for over a decade, and I know he will work tirelessly to help build a winning organization here in Jacksonville.”

Waugh began his career in the Bay Area as a personnel assistant (2004-08) before being promoted to the team’s Midwest regional scout (2008-11). Prior to his career in the NFL, Waugh spent two seasons at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he served as the offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator.

Waugh earned his first coaching opportunity as an assistant at Western Carolina University from 1997-2001. While with the Catamounts, he coached on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball and assisted with special teams.

 

 

Magic win the NBA Lottery!

The Orlando Magic won the NBA Draft Lottery 2022, conducted at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago. 

Orlando, who had the second-worst record in the NBA this season, had a 14% chance of getting the number one pick.

The NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23, at Barclays Center in New York City.

The last time the Magic won the Draft Lottery was in 2004 when they selected Dwight Howard.

Below are the results from NBA Draft Lottery:

1. Orlando
2. Oklahoma City
3. Houston
4. Sacramento
5. Detroit
6. Indiana
7. Portland
8. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers)
9. San Antonio
10. Washington
11. New York
12. Oklahoma City (from LA Clippers)
13. Charlotte
14. Cleveland

Below is the order for the remainder of the first round of NBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm:

15. Charlotte (from New Orleans)
16. Atlanta
17. Houston (from Brooklyn)
18. Chicago
19. Minnesota
20. San Antonio (from Toronto)
21. Denver
22. Memphis (from Utah)
23. Philadelphia*
24. Milwaukee
25. San Antonio (from Boston)
26. Dallas
27. Miami
28. Golden State
29. Memphis
30. Oklahoma City (from Phoenix)

Below is the order for the second round of NBA Draft 2022 presented by State Farm:

31. Indiana (from Houston via Cleveland)
32. Orlando
33. Toronto (from Detroit via San Antonio, Washington and Chicago)
34. Oklahoma City
35. Orlando (from Indiana via Milwaukee)
36. Portland
37. Sacramento
38. San Antonio (from Los Angeles Lakers via Chicago and Washington)
39. Cleveland (from San Antonio via Utah)
40. Minnesota (from Washington via Cleveland)
41. New Orleans
42. New York
43. LA Clippers
44. Atlanta
45. Charlotte
46. Detroit (from Brooklyn)
47. Memphis (from Cleveland via New Orleans and Atlanta)
48. Minnesota
49. Sacramento (from Chicago via Memphis and Detroit)
50. Minnesota (from Denver via Philadelphia)
51. Golden State (from Toronto via Philadelphia)
52. New Orleans (from Utah)
53. Boston
— Milwaukee (forfeited)
— Miami (from Philadelphia via Denver; forfeited by Miami)
54. Washington (from Dallas)
55. Golden State
56. Cleveland (from Miami via Indiana)
57. Portland (from Memphis via Utah)
58. Indiana (from Phoenix)

[*] This pick may be conveyed to Brooklyn

Munguia-Kelly set for June 11 in Anaheim

After a triumphant homecoming in Tijuana, Mexico in February, former world champion and undefeated Mexican super-star, Jaime Munguia (39-0, 31 KOs) will return to Anaheim’s Honda Center on Saturday, June 11 to face off against former world title challenger, Jimmy “Kilrain” Kelly (26-2, 10 KOs) of Manchester, UK. The 12-round super middleweight fight will stream live on DAZN worldwide, excluding Mexico.

“I am very excited to return to Anaheim and fight in front of all the fans against a high-quality English rival like Kelly,” said Jaime Munguia.  “It won’t be an easy night, but we are preparing very hard. This new edition of Mexico vs. England will be very exciting for all fight fans, and I am convinced that I will pass this test and be on my way to a world title soon!” 

“As a child, I dreamt of fighting in America, that dream came true when I beat the undefeated Kanat Islam,” said Jimmy Kelly. “Munguia is the number one guy at 160lbs. To be the best, you need to beat the top fighters in the world. June 11 can’t come quick enough. Munguia is in for the fight of his life.”

The ‘Pride of Tijuana’ Jaime Munguia is ranked as one of the top middleweights in the world by all sanctioning organizations. After a spectacular victory against “King,” Gabriel Rosado in November 2021 and a knock-out victory against D’Mitrius “Big Meech” Ballard during his homecoming in February 2022, Munguia is on a mission to prove he is the best in the division and elevate his record to 40-0.

A former world champion in the junior middleweight division, Munguia has successfully defended his titles and record against challengers. After defending his world title five times against fighters like Liam “Beefy” Smith, Brandon “Bad Boy” Cook, Takeshi Inoue, Dennis Hogan, and Patrick Allotey, Muguia will be ready to defend record when he faces Jimmy “Kilrain” Kelly on June 11. 

Undefeated since 2019, Jimmy “Kilrain” Kelly stunned the boxing world last time out beating Kanat Islam via a majority decision in February. Ranked #4 in the middleweight division in the UK, Kelly will be prepared to claim another victory during his second US outing. A former world title challenger, and a former holder of the WBO Inter-Continental Super Welter Title, Kelly will be looking to elevate his profile, record, and standing in the world rankings vs. Munguia on June 11.

Romero on fight with Davis: ‘One round, I’m knocking him out’

Unbeaten lightweight contender Rolando Romero is getting prepared for the biggest fight of his life when he battles Gervonta “Tank” Davis(28-0, 24 KOs) on May 28 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn(Showtime PPV).

Romero(14-0, 12 KOs) was scheduled to fight Davis in December 2021, but he was hit with sexual assault allegations and was removed from the fight. Romero has been cleared of those allegations, and now, he gets a shot at the undefeated Davis.

Photo: Sean Michael Ham/Mayweather Promotions

“One round, I’m knocking him out,” Romero said of Davis during a media workout Tuesday in Las Vegas. “If I say I’m going to do it, then I’m going to do it.

“He’s going to get knocked out by the first punch that he eats. He’s going to run right into something.”

Romero and Davis have bad blood. The two have sparred at press conferences, and according to Romero, the reason for the bad blood is that Davis would not spar him in the ring.

“I don’t like ‘Tank’ as a person, and I believe he’s going to get whupped in this fight,” Romero said.

“He ducked me twice for sparring, and the bad blood has been there ever since. I’ve been calling him out since 2017. The only reason this fight was made was because I wanted it. He doesn’t want this. He wishes he was fighting some 126 or 122-pounder.”

Romero had to watch as his replacement Issac Cruz got a shot against Davis in a close fight. Davis won by unanimous decision, but Romero believed the wrong guy won.

“I thought Isaac Cruz beat Gervonta,” Romero said. “That fight showed just how vulnerable he is. He’s scared of people that can actually crack.”

Romero had one final message for Davis.

“I don’t have any message for Davis; I just have these fists.”

Both fighters have power, which should make for a fun night in Brooklyn.

 

Boxer David Benavidez throws first pitch at Diamondbacks game

Unbeaten two-time champion and Phoenix-native David “El Bandera Roja” Benavídez threw out the first pitch at the Arizona Diamondbacks game on Sunday as he prepares to fight in his home state for the second straight time this upcoming Saturday night. Also prior to the game, Benavídez took part in a boxing glove and jersey exchange with Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.

“I’m very thankful to the Diamondbacks organization for inviting me to throw out the first pitch at Sunday’s game,” said Benavídez. “Receiving a jersey from them is truly a dream come true. I love representing Arizona and I can’t wait to do it in the ring once again on Saturday night. Don’t miss this one, because I’m planning on bringing the heat.”

Photo: Chas Wright/Team Benavídez

Benavídez will take on former world champion David Lemieux for the vacant Interim WBC Super Middleweight Title live on SHOWTIME on Saturday, May 21 from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Suns’ Monty Williams talks Deandre Ayton

Before the start of the regular season, Suns center Deandre Ayton was hoping to get a max extension from the Phoenix Suns. However, the two sides could not agree on a contract.

The former number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft played well this season. Like his previous three seasons in the league, Ayton averaged a double-double with 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game, including a career-high 63% shooting.

This season, Ayton had some big moments, including scoring a playoff career-high 28 points against the Pelicans in the first round, but things ended sourly for the four-year veteran.

In Game 7, Ayton, like the rest of his teammates, struggled against the Mavericks. In 17 minutes of action, he had five points and four rebounds. After the 123-90 loss to the Mavs that eliminated Phoenix from the playoffs, Suns head coach Monty Williams was asked why Ayton played only 17 minutes, and his response, “It’s internal.”

On Monday, at his end-of-the-season Zoom call, Williams elaborated a little more on Ayton’s situation. According to Williams, he has not spoken to Ayton individually and explained part of the reason he removed Ayton from the game for good with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.

“You guys know me well enough; I’m going to do everything I can to help us win games,” he said. “And at that point, with the lead where it was, I made a decision not to put him back in the game.”

At season’s end, the 6-11 Ayton will be a restricted free agent, and Williams said the team would figure out Ayton’s contract situation in the next couple of months.

“Deandre’s situation is something that we’ll deal with this summer,” Williams said. “I don’t want to say anything in regards to that.”

Ayton is one of the better centers in basketball, but you do wonder if he’s worth a max contract, especially after what may have transpired in Game 7 between him and Williams, which reportedly was an exchange of words as Ayton returned to the bench. 

However, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there will be teams willing to give Ayton a max deal, so it appears if the Suns don’t pay him, somebody will.

At age 23, Ayton is still improving. He’s improved his shot and has been a walking double-double since entering the league. Based on what happened with the Suns this season and them not winning a title, there might not be a justification to pay Ayton, which means he could be elsewhere next season.

Watch below as Williams discussing Ayton and more.

Olympian Tiger Johnson returns on Alimkhanuly-Dignum undercard

Tiger Johnson has been ready for prime time ever since representing the U.S. at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. The welterweight standout will get a chance to put his skills on display in prime time as he fights an opponent to be named in a six-round special feature Saturday, May 21, at the Resorts World Event Center at Resorts World Las Vegas. Johnson’s bout will open the ESPN telecast of the Janibek Alimkhanuly-Danny Dignum WBO Interim middleweight world title bout.

Alimkhanuly-Dignum, a 10-round lightweight co-feature between Jamel Herring and Jamaine Ortiz, and Johnson’s return will air live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

Following his Olympic run, Johnson (3-0, 2 KOs) made an impressive pro debut by stopping Antonius Grable in the fourth round last November on the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter undercard. The 23-year-old followed up that performance with a decision win over Xavier Madrid and a fourth-round TKO over Sebastian Gabriel Chaves.

The following undercard bouts are scheduled to stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 5:15 p.m. ET/2:15 p.m. PT.

  • Southern California standout Adam “Blunose” Lopez (15-3, 6 KOs) will face Dominican puncher William Encarnacion (19-2, 15 KOs) in an eight-round featherweight bout. Lopez became a fan favorite after a breakout performance against Oscar Valdez in November 2019. Despite losing that fight, Lopez demonstrated the poise and composure that would eventually lead him to wins over Louie Coria, Jason Sanchez, and a razor-thin majority decision loss to former world champion Isaac Dogboe. The 26-year-old faces yet another tough challenge in Encarnacion, who is coming off a loss against top contender Abraham Nova.

  • 2016 U.S. Olympian Karlos Balderas (12-1, 11 KOs) will take on Colombian Ruben Cervera (13-2, 11 KOs) in a junior lightweight clash scheduled for eight or six rounds. Balderas is coming off three consecutive stoppage victories since signing with Top Rank last year.

  • Former world champion Jessie Magdaleno (28-1, 18 KOs) returns from a nearly two-year layoff to fight Mexico’s Edy Valencia Mercado (19-6-6, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder at featherweight. Magdaleno has won three in a row since losing the WBO junior featherweight crown to Isaac Dogboe in April 2018.

  • U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan (5-0, 1 KO), from Cincinnati, Ohio, will put his unbeaten record on the line against Victorino Gonzalez (5-2, 2 KOs) in a featherweight bout scheduled for six or four rounds.

  • Steven “So Cold” Nelson (17-0, 14 KOs), from Omaha, Nebraska, returns from an extended layoff to take on Louis Rose (17-3-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round light heavyweight battle. Nelson, who knocked out DeAndre Ware in September 2020, suffered a torn Achilles shortly after that bout.

The undercard will also feature three swing bouts:

  • Undefeated lightweight contender Giovanni “El Cabron” Cabrera (19-0, 7 KOs), a Chicago native who signed with Top Rank earlier this year, will face Argentinean veteran Elias Araujo (21-4, 8 KOs) in an eight-rounder.

  • Lightweight prospect Charlie Sheehy (2-0, 2 KOs), a former Team USA amateur standout from Brisbane, California, returns in a four-rounder against New Orleans native Burnell Jenkins (2-1, 1 KO).

  • Rising junior welterweight Kasir “Mazzi” Goldston (4-0, 1 KO) will fight Cuban spoiler Yaniel Alvarez (2-1, 1 KO) in a bout scheduled for six or four rounds.

Mavs’ Doncic on winning Game 7: ‘I can’t get this smile off my face’

“Game 7 typically goes to the best player, and I believe we have that in this series. It’s going to be an exciting clash of styles.”

–Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks went into Phoenix against the Suns, who had the best record in basketball this season, looking to win Game 7 of their Western Conference second-round series Sunday night. Dallas had not won on the road in this series and have not won in Phoenix since 2019, but as Dinwiddie said, Dallas had the best player in the series, and that was the difference.

The best player in this series, Luka Doncic, scored 27 of his game-high 35 points in the first half to go along with 10 rebounds; Spencer Dinwiddie added 21 of his 30 points in the first half. Jalen Brunson chipped in with 24 points as the Mavs defeated the Suns 123-90 at Footprint Center to advance to the Western Conference Finals to battle the Golden State Warriors. 

The trio of Doncic, Dinwiddie, and Brunson combined for 89 points.

Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is Wednesday night at Chase Center.

Doncic and the Suns had the same amount of points(27) at the half. Dallas led by 30 at the break(57-27) and had their largest lead of 46 points in the third. Dallas, who was down 2-0 in this series, defeated the Suns by an average of 30 points in Games 6 and 7. 

According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Mavericks’ 33-point win over the Suns was the second-largest win in a series-clinching game versus the best team in the NBA in league history.

Dinwiddie was right about Doncic being the best player in this series as he scored more points than Devin Booker, grabbed more rebounds than Deandre Ayton, dished out more assists than Chris Paul, and had more steals than Mikal Bridges.

Doncic could not stop smiling after beating the Suns in Game 7.

“I can’t get this smile off my face,” he said. “I’m just really happy. Honestly, I think we deserved this.”

Dallas played one of its better games of the season, while the Suns played their worst. Booker(11) and Paul(10) combined for only 21 points, including three points at halftime. In addition, Phoenix shot only 24% in the first half, including 21% from deep. 

Phoenix couldn’t make shots; they couldn’t stop the Mavericks, and in the end, they wasted a 64-win season.

“That was good old fashion a** whipping,” Booker said. 

Suns head coach Monty Williams added: “I know they didn’t want to play that way. We basically played the worst game of the season tonight. That group has a lot of character and integrity, and I know how bad they wanted it.”

The Suns will look back at this series and this season and be very disappointed. At 37, Paul, who is only getting older, looked worn down in this series. In addition, they’ll have to figure out what they will do with Deandre Ayton, who can be a restricted free agent and played only 17 minutes Sunday night. The main goal for Phoenix was to return to the Finals and win a championship. Obviously, that’s not happening. 

Regarding the Mavs, they’re playing good defense and getting stellar play from Doncic. They have a legitimate shot at beating the Warriors as they won the season series 3-1. The Mavs will compete, and we’ll see if they can go back to the NBA Finals for the time since 2011.