Johnson: ‘I’d be a fool to say I’m not nervous going into something where I’m out of my element’

Fighters competing on the Mayweather-Paul SHOWTIME PPV undercard previewed their respective showdowns during a final press conference Friday before entering the ring this Sunday, June 6, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. 

Also participating in the press conference was former NFL star Chad Johnson, who will battle Bare Knuckle Boxing’s Brian Maxwell in an exhibition bout. 

Throughout his 11-year NFL career, Johnson used boxing to prepare for football, and as he prepares to step in the ring with Maxwell, Johnson expects to be a little nervous on fight night. 

“I’ve been using boxing to prepare for football throughout the years, but I’ve never done it to this magnitude,” Johnson said. “To prepare for an actual fight is something new. I’m facing a guy who does this for a living, so I’m not taking this lightly at all.

“I was always nervous before every kickoff. So I’d be a fool to say I’m not nervous going into something where I’m out of my element.”

Johnson has entertained on and off the field, and he expects to put on a show for the fans.

“One thing I’m extremely good at is when there’s lights, cameras, and a crowd is going in there and entertaining,” Johnson said.

To get ready for the Maxwell, the six-time Pro Bowler has been working with some of the top guys in combat sports, including the Charlo Brothers and Jorge Masvidal, and he hopes that will help him on Sunday night.

“I’ve been working with Jorge Masvidal a little bit, but the last few weeks have been in Houston with Jermall and Jermell Charlo,” he said. “That’s where most of my work has been. I’ve been doing everything possible to make sure I look the part Sunday night.

 “I’m out of my element, so of course, I’m approaching this fight humbly. He’s coming to knock my head off. Football is something I did all my life; that’s why I walked the way I did. I can’t be arrogant and take this fight lightly.”

You can’t play boxing. However, this is an exhibition, so no one will get seriously hurt, but it should be interesting to see how Johnson looks in the ring against Maxwell.
  
 

 

Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Suns’ Booker on 47-point explosion: ‘I was just locked in’

It’s hard to win back-to-back titles in the NBA; so much has to go your way, including staying healthy. Last season, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were healthy, which led to an NBA title for the Los Angeles Lakers. This season, both Davis and James miss extended time due to injuries, and both Davis and James were not completely healthy in the playoffs.

James battled an ankle injury, while Davis battled a groin injury that occurred in Game 4, which forced him to miss Game 5 and led to him leaving in early in the first quarter and not coming back after trying to give it a go in Game 6 on Wednesday night.

All that aside, this game was about the greatness of Devin Booker, who scored 22 of his playoff career-high 47 points in the first quarter as the Suns defeated the Lakers 113-100 at Staples Center. 

Phoenix led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter and by as many as 29 points in the game.

The Suns, who won the series 4-2 to capture their first playoff series victory in 11 years, move on to the Western Conference semifinals to battle the Denver Nuggets, while the defending- champion Lakers go home. 

Booker, who’s making his playoff debut after missing the postseason in the first four years of his career, shot 8-10 from the field in the first quarter and was 6/6 from three-point range(six threes is his regular-season career-high). He finished the game shooting 15/22 from the field and made a career-high eight threes.

Booker was ready for this game, which he discussed after the victory. 

“I was just locked in, to be completely honest with you,” Booker said. “I had a tough time taking my pregame nap, all out of excitement. We treated this game like a Game 7. We were stressing since we won the last game that we wanted to end it here on their home court.”

Booker is a huge fan of Laker great, the late Kobe Bryant, and he brought that “Mamba Mentality” in Game 6.  Bryant once gave Booker a pair of his sneakers and wrote ‘Be Legendary’ on them. Booker would later get that phrase tattooed on him. The two-time All-Star felt Bryant’s presence when he saw Kobe’s 8 and 24 resting in the rafters at Staples Center, which he discussed post-game.  

“Honestly, I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had, kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there,” Booker said. “So, seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at Staples has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you.”

Booker has star potential and talent, and now the world gets the see how good of a player he is and can be on the playoff stage.

Notes:

James, who led the Lakers with 29 points on Thursday night, lost for the first time in the first round of the playoffs.  Coming into this series, James was 14-0.

Chris Paul, who appeared to hurt his shoulder again in the first quarter, but would return, finished the game with eight points and 12 assists.

Jack to face Dervin Colina on Mayweather-Paul undercard

Two-division world champion Badou Jack will face undefeated Dervin Colina in a 10-round light heavyweight bout that serves as the Mayweather vs. Paul SHOWTIME PPV co-main event this Sunday, June 6 from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Colina replaces Jean Pascal, who was originally slated to face Jack before failing a pre-fight drug test.

The pay-per-view telecast will begin live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will feature former unified 154-pound champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd taking on Luis Arias in a 10-round showdown, plus former NFL star wide receiver Chad Johnson will make his boxing debut in an exhibition match against versatile fighter Brian Maxwell.

Born in Stockholm, Jack (22-3-3, 13 KOs), who represented his father’s home country of Gambia in the 2008 Olympics, now lives in Las Vegas. Jack won the 168-pound world title with a majority decision against Anthony Dirrell in 2015 and successfully defended the belt three times before being handed a hard-fought majority draw against James DeGale in one of 2017’s best fights. In his first bout at 175 pounds, Jack stopped Nathan Cleverly to pick up the WBA light heavyweight title before fighting to a majority draw against then WBC champion Adonis Stevenson in May 2018. After dropping a narrow fight to Pascal in 2019, Jack’s most recent outing saw him earn a unanimous decision over Blake McKernan in November 2020.

The 33-year-old Colina (15-0, 13 KOs) lives in Medellin, Colombia, and is a native of Venezuela. He steps in on short notice to make his United States debut against Jack. Colina has competed at both super middleweight and light heavyweight in recent years and is riding a six-fight knockout streak into June 6. Colina has been training with renowned coach Stacy McKinley for the last two months in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Jaguars’ sign WR Pharoh Cooper

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed former Pro Bowl and All-Pro WR Pharoh Cooper, the team announced on Thursday.

Cooper, 26, spent the 2020 season with the Carolina Panthers. Entering his sixth season, Cooper made his mark on special teams. He has 82 punt returns for 729 yards and 104 kickoff returns for 2,523 yards and one TD. Cooper was a Pro-Bowler with the Rams in 2017.

The Los Angeles Rams originally drafted Cooper in the fourth round of the 2016 draft.

In another move, Jacksonville placed WR Terry Godwin on the injured reserve list.

Luka Doncic on 42-point performance in Game 5: ‘I mean, I got to play way better’

After three quarters on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the first round series between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers, Mavericks star Luka Doncic was 16/29 from the field, including 6/9 from three-point range with 40 points and 12 assists, and the Dallas Mavericks had an 89-75 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

However, in the fourth quarter, Doncic and the Mavericks went cold. Doncic shot 1/8 from the field, including 0/3 from downtown, and finished with only two points in the quarter. The Clippers were able to cut the lead to one late in the game, but with a chance to take the lead, Nicolas Batum would miss a layup with 39 seconds left, and after two Tim Hardaway Jr. free throws, Kawhi Leonard would airball a corner three, and the Mavericks would defeat the Clippers 105-100 at Staples Center to take a 3-2 series.

The Mavericks have won three straight in Los Angeles and can close out the series in Game 6 on Friday night in Dallas.

Doncic finished the game shooting 17/37 from the field with 42 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds, and Hardaway Jr. had a bounce-back game with 20 points. Paul George had 23 points for the Clippers, Reggie Jackson and Leonard added 20 points apiece.

Doncic had a monster game and became the first player since 1997-98 to record 40-plus points and 10-plus assists through three quarters of a playoff game. But according to him, he could have been better.

“I mean, I got to play way better,” Doncic said. “I missed a lot of shots, some layups that I should make. But it wasn’t just me, man. It was the whole team, the energy, Boba(Boban Marjanovic) was unbelievable, DP, Dwight Powell, with his energy, KP(Porzingis) with a big shot, Timmy(Hardaway Jr.) with a big shot. The whole team was just there bringing up the energy.

Doncic was battling a neck strain in Game 4, and he clearly looked uncomfortable, but that was not the case in Game 5, and he explained why.

“The most important thing was rest and, like I said, massage,” Doncic said. “Today, I was feeling way better.”

After Dallas won the first two games in Los Angeles, you thought the Clippers were done, and after the Clippers won the next two in Dallas, you thought the Mavericks had blown the series.

Now, following their win in Game 5,  Dallas seems to be in control. Time will judge that, but it will be fascinating to see how the Clippers respond in Game 6.

76ers move to the next round; Wizards have questions about future

The Philadelphia 76ers are moving on to the Eastern Conference semifinals after defeating the Wizards 129-112 in Game 5 of their first-round series on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Philadelphia wins the series 4-1.

The 76ers will begin their second-round series with the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Without Joel Embiid, who is day-to-day with a small tear in his right meniscus, Philadelphia had six players in double figures. Seth Curry led the way with a playoff career-high 30 points, Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 19 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, and rookie Tyrese Maxey added 13 points off the bench.

“It was what you would call an all-hands in, team win, for sure,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said after the game.

Philadelphia will continue to need all hands in if Embiid can’t play against the Hawks. He’s their best player, and makes this team go.

The 76ers have a team that can make the Finals, but that won’t be possible without a healthy Embiid.

Regarding the Wizards, heading into their April 7 game against the Magic, Washington was 17-32 and 13th in the Eastern Conference. Washington rallied with the second-best winning percentage in the league from April 7 to finish 17-6 in the final 23 games of the season.

This team overcame COVID, injuries, and everything else to make the playoffs, but there could be some changes in the offseason. Head coach Scott Brooks five-year contract has expired, and his future with the team is uncertain.

Russell Westbrook, who started his career with Brooks in OKC, would like him to return, while Bradley Beal said, “That’s out of my hands.”

Beal, 27, can become a free agent after next season(player option), so they have to convince him to stay, but as he said after the loss to Philadelphia, he is in control.

Ultimately, I’m in control,” Beal said. “I think that’s my biggest thing. People are going to report whatever they want, but I know where my mind is, and I know if it’s not coming from the horse’s mouth, then it’s going to be rumors. I expect them. S—, they’re starting now.”

Washington is stuck at this point. They are too good to get a high lottery pick but not good enough to contend. It’s almost like they have to determine what direction they want to go in. If Beal is committed to staying, they need to try to get players to win now. However, if Beal wants out, they need to move him, Westbrook(if possible), and try to rebuild. 

What happens next for the Wizards should be very interesting, and whatever Beal wants could determine Washington’s future.

Logan Paul on Mayweather: ‘I’m going to break him down physically, mentally, everything’

 Social media sensation Logan “The Maverick” Paul showed off his skills during a media workout Wednesday at the historic 5th Street Gym in Miami as he nears his special exhibition showdown against all-time great Floyd “Money” Mayweather headlining a SHOWTIME PPV this Sunday, June 6 from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

The pay-per-view telecast begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and pits superstars from two different worlds in a must-see showdown for sports and entertainment fans around the globe.

Here is what Paul had to say Wednesday in Miami:

“This whole thing is surreal. Everything about it. I told my manager and we kind of had an inside joke that until I get in the ring with him, I didn’t think this fight was happening. But I think it’s safe to say that I can believe it now. I think it’s happening. It’s fight week. I can’t imagine Floyd would back out now, but who knows? Old man fakes an injury. Gets scared of the big kid. I’m excited.

“Weight is great and we’re about at 195. Energy is great and I feel strong, fast, sharp. I have no complaints. This is the best shape I’ve ever been in. And I need to be because it’s an eight-round fight. It’s the longest fight I’ve ever fought. So I have to be ready.”

On working out at the historic 5th Street Gym:

“There are greats who’ve fought in here. You have to put respect where respect is due. I just want to come in here and work my ass off. It’s such an honor to be in the presence of such great people in such a historic environment.”

Why this fight will be different than Conor McGregor or Canelo Alvarez against Mayweather:

“I’m just not them. I’m not going in there at 155 pounds. I’m not going in there with the fight meaning the entire world to me. I have nothing to lose. This whole thing is going to be fun for me. I’m going to play with Floyd – gonna dog him and hit him hard. I’m going to break him down physically, mentally, everything. I don’t like comparing myself to other guys. As great as they might be, I’m not them.”

Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

 

Triller announces additional fights for Lopez-Kambosos Jr. undercard

Triller Fight Club has announced undercard for Lopez-Kambosos Jr. set for Saturday, June 19 at Miami’s loanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins.

FITE will broadcast globally the undercard free-of-charge starting at 3:30pm ET with the Pay-Per-View starting at 9:00 p.m. ET.

The event is headlined by the first defense from Brooklyn, New York’s ‘The Takeover’ Teofimo Lopez, (16-0, 12 KOs), of his Undisputed Lightweight World Titles (WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF, RING) against Mandatory Challenger, ‘Ferocious’ George Kambosos Jr., (19-0, 10 KOs), of Sydney, Australia scheduled for 12-rounds.

Headlining the undercard, 2016 U.S. Olympian, Charles ‘Bad News’ Conwell, (14-0, 11 KOs), of Cleveland, OH seeks to continue his march up the world rankings against his toughest test as a pro against Mark ‘The Bazooka’ DeLuca, (27-2, 15 KOs), of Whitman, MA. The ten-round junior middleweight clash is contested for the USBA and WBC Continental Americas Title. The 23-year-old Conwell, one of the boxing’s top prospects, has stopped his last two opponents inside the distance, Wendy Toussaint and Madiyar Ashkeyev, both of whom were previously undefeated. The battle-tested southpaw DeLuca returns to action following a first-round knockout of Michi Munoz on February 6, 2021.

In the middleweight division two-time world title challenger, Willie ‘El Mongoose’ Monroe Jr., (24-3, 6 KOs), of Rochester, NY clashes with Juan ‘La Amenaza’ De Angel, (22-13-1, 20 KOs), of Barranquilla, Colombia over ten-rounds. Currently riding a three-bout winning streak, Monroe Jr. makes his long-awaited return from a ten-round decision victory over Hugo Centeno Jr. on June 1, 2019. De Angel challenges Monroe Jr. following hard fought loss to undefeated prospect Isaiah Steen on November 6, 2020.

In a battle of giant heavyweights, world ranked Zhilel ‘Bang Bang’ Zhang, (21-0-1, 17 KOs), of Zhouhou, China battles upset minded veteran Daniel ‘The Mountain’ Martz, (20-9-1, 17 KOs), of Clarksburg, WV in a scheduled ten rounder. The 6’6” southpaw Zhang returns to the ring following a hard-fought majority draw with Jerry Forrest on February 27, 2021 in Miami, FL. Standing 6’7”, Martz looks to stay in the win column following a first-round knockout of Michael Marrone on October 17, 2020.

Heralded 19-year-old junior welterweight prospect Aaron ‘The Alien King’ Aponte, (3-0, 1 KOs), will face fellow undefeated prospect Gerardo Contreras Gonzalez, (2-0, 1 KO), of San Diego, CA in a four-round bout. The former amateur standout, standing 6’1”, Aponte has quickly impressed boxing fans in South Florida fighting in front of his wealth of supporters from Hialeah Gardens, FL. Prior to turning professional Aponte compiled an amateur record of 98-18. Fighting on April 17, 2021, Aponte won a four-round unanimous decision over Javier Martinez in Hollywood, FL. In his last start, the 25-year-old Gonzalez won a four-round unanimous decision over Jesus Sotomea on November 14, 2020.

Fighting in the junior middleweight division in battle of southpaws over eight rounds, ‘The New Ray’ Robinson, (24-3-2, 12 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA faces Ramal Amanov, (16-3, 5 KOs), of Ganja, Azerbaijan. Facing two undefeated, world ranked contenders in back-to-back fights, Robinson will look to break his two-bout streak of majority draws against Josh Kelly and Egidijus Kavaliauskas while Amanov seeks his first win of 2021.

Top featherweight prospect Haven Brady Jr., (2-0, 2 KOs), of Albany, GA battles Manuel ‘Gansito’ Lara, (2-6), of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico in a scheduled four rounder. A 2019 Junior National Olympic Gold Medalist, the 19-year-old Brady has stopped his first two opponents, most recently knocking out Michael Land on December 12, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV.

Undefeated junior middleweight Nikoloz Sekhniashvili, (7-0, 5 KOs), of Gori, Georgia (country), will see action in a scheduled six rounder against an opponent to be announced. The 27-year-old Sekhniashvili hits the ring following a four-round knockout of Alexis Gaytan on September 4, 2020.

In the welterweight division, New York City’s Arnold Gonzalez, (6-0, 2 KOs), battles Gabriel Gutierrez, (7-9, 5 KOs), of El Paso, TX in a scheduled four-rounder. The 26-year-old Gonzalez heads back to action off a second-round knockout of Jeffrey Quintero on January 30, 2021. The upset-minded Gutierrez has stopped his last two opponents, the latest knockout against Jesus Aceves-Lopez in the fourth round on February 20, 2021

Previously announced on the main card and co-featured, competing for the Women’s Super-Middleweight Undisputed World Title, Franchon ‘The Heavy Hitting Diva’ Crews-Dezurn, (7-1, 2 KOs), holder of the WBO/WBC belts challenges WBA/IBF title holder Erin Cederroos, (8-0, 4 KO), over ten rounds. The victor will also receive the RING Magazine belt.

In a heavyweight clash, Las Vegas, NV resident Michael ‘The Bounty’ Hunter II, (19-1-1, 3 KOs), will battle Michael ‘White Delight’ Wilson, (21-1, 10 KOs), of Medford, OR in a ten-round WBA Heavyweight World Title Eliminator. Hunter is currently ranked #7 by Ring Magazine and #10 by ESPN.

Competing for the WBC International Super Featherweight Silver Championship, Andy ‘El Tiburon’ Vences, (23-2-1, 12 KOs) of San Jose, CA meets Jono ‘King Kong’ Carroll, (19-2-1, 5 KOs), of Dublin, Ireland in a scheduled 10-rounder.

James on Davis: ‘My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6’

The Phoenix Suns are one game away from advancing to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs after routing the Lakers 115-85 in Game 5 at Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday night.

The Suns lead the series 3-2 with a chance to close out the defending champions on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 30 points, and Cameron Payne, who continues to play well in the series, added 16 points off the bench.

Phoenix led by eight after one quarter and took a 66-36 halftime lead. The Suns led by as many as 36 points in this contest.

Phoenix got a little scare in the third quarter when Chris Paul appeared to re-injure his shoulder after trying to box out Wesley Matthews. Paul would leave the game and did not return. 

However, after the game, Paul seemed pretty confident that he would be good to go for Game 6.

‘It’s a little banged up, but I’ll be all right,” Paul said about his shoulder.

The Suns are clearly a better team with Paul on the court, while the Lakers are clearly a worse team when Anthony Davis is not on the court. Davis, who missed most of Game 4 and all of Game 5 due to a groin injury, is hoping to get back on the court for Game 6. 

But, according to LeBron James, who led the Lakers with 24 points on Thursday night, he’s going to prepare for Game 6 like Davis will not be there.

“My mindset is that he’s not going to be able to play in Game 6,” James said. “If something changes, then we’ll go from there. But I’m preparing as if he’s not.”

The Lakers cannot win this series with Davis in street clothes, so they need him on the court to beat the Suns, especially if Paul is healthy. However, never underestimate the heart of a champion. Expect Los Angeles to get a big-time effort out of James and the rest of the Lakers, but it might not be enough without Davis.

Notes:

Lakers’ Dennis Schroder struggled on Tuesday night. He finished 0/9 from the field with zero points and one assist.

Embiid to miss Game 5 against Wizards with meniscus tear

Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid has been ruled out of Game 5 against the Washington Wizards in their first-round series after the team announced on Wednesday that Embiid has a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee.

The four-time All-Star had an MRI on Tuesday, which revealed the injury. The team listed Embiid as day-to-day, and the injury will be managed through therapy and a treatment program.

Embiid left Game 4 after the first quarter when he lost his balance and fell to the ground after getting his shot blocked by Robin Lopez.

Philadelphia fell to the Wizards 122-114 in Game 4 and have a 3-1 series lead. The 76ers are hoping to close out Washington in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

In the regular season, Embiid missed 21 games for the 76ers, and in those games, Philadelphia was 10-11.