Posts Tagged ‘decision’

Fat Fernando Vargas Is Making a Comeback

January 29th, 2010

Approximately an hour north, depending on traffic, lays Oxnard, CA. Stationed right on the Pacific Ocean, Oxnard is primarily an agricultural community, and because of that, a Hispanic community.

It's not a wealthy town by any means. Odd, considering it lies between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

In fact, Oxnard is somewhat of the proverbial "arm pit." It has extremely poor sections, mostly where the migrant workers temporarily stay during fruit picking seasons.

It has the requisite strip malls and track housing.

Within the heart of Oxnard, is a notorious boxing gym known as much for it's dubious reputation as the boxers it produces.

Meet La Colonia Boxing.

Nestled within the La Colonia barrio, La Colonia boxing has turned out such famed fighters as Vargas, Robert Garcia, and Victor Ortiz.

I used to train up Highway 35 at Sylva's Boxing Gym. The edict was laid down to me my first week at Sylva's.

White boys don't step into La Colonia.

It's strictly a Hispanic gym, and it's not the kind of gym strangers just happen into, too.

I heard stories about boxers who would show up, agree to spar, and then do well against one of the La Colonia fighters.

Only to be beaten by three or four members in the parking lot and told never to come back.

Trying to get a decision as an outsider at La Colonia is easier than getting Brett Favre to actually announce his retirement plans.

The classic trick was to get an outsider to agree to spar one of the local professionals. To be told it will be a "light sparring match," only to be ripped to shreds.

Fernando Vargas calls La Colonia his home boxing gym.

How fitting.

I miss "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas if only because I despise him so much. Boxing needs it's "Bad Boys" and nobody has played that role better than Fernando Vargas.

He is the living embodiment of a "punk."

Floyd Mayweather Jr. tries to be the bad guy, but it's almost with a wink and a smile. I imagine Floyd is actually a pretty jovial fellow.

Vargas, on the other hand, is an a--hole to his core. There's nothing jovial about him.

His reputation was notorious around the Oxnard area. Even the locals couldn't stand him. A cocky jerk who strutted around in Adidas track suits, shade over his eyes, gold around his neck and on his fingers.

An attitude only a mother could love.

A well-known story about Vargas is that his father once came to watch him spar. Vargas, who hadn't seen his father in years, challenged him to get in the ring with him.

Then took him down with one good body shot—never to see his father again.

Vargas burned with hate. Burned with anger.

That attitude came about in epic bouts with Oscar De La Hoya, Winky Wright, Shane Mosley, and Felix Trinidad.

Each pre-fight was fueled by Vargas's penchant for trash talking and belittling his opponent.

He even went so far as to call out De La Hoya's wife.

Talk about class.

I'll give Vargas credit, to his detriment, he never ducked anyone, and that's probably why he was a shot fighter at 28 years old.

He hasn't fought in over two years since losing a decision to Ricardo Mayorga in November of 2007. Heck, he's lost his last three fights and hasn't won a fight in over four years.

What's he doing now at 33 years old?

Of course...he's talking about a comeback.

Never mind that he's put on about 50 pounds.

Never mind that he sounds punch drunk.

Never mind that he hasn't looked good in years.

What else could Fernando Vargas possibly do?

He tried being a promoter awhile back and that didn't work out. Being a promoter takes business and people skills—obviously not two of Vargas's strong points.

Rumor is that Floyd Mayweather Senior is now training him.

Man, what a perfect pair those two make!

Maybe it takes a punch drunk fighter to understand one?

If I was Cory Spinks, or Kermit Cintron, or Sergio Martinez, I'd take a bout with Vargas in a second.

Not only would it be an easy fight, I think people will tune-in just to see Vargas get a whooping.

I have no idea if Vargas is still a draw.

Either way, in five years he'll be eating soup out of straw and fighting for chump change at a casino in Walla Walla, Washington.

That's how guys like Vargas always end up.

Just ask Jake LaMotta.

Would it be sadistic to say I like watching Fernando Vargas get beaten to a bloody pulp?


But I'll say it anyway.

Duke Football Making Recruting Strides As Signing Day Nears

January 29th, 2010

David Cutcliffe has had a busy offseason and it has nothing to do with his decision not to leave Duke and take the Tennessee job.

Duke Football fans, meanwhile, are anticipating the influx of Cutcliffe's second full recruiting class as national signing day approaches.

The Blue Devils will have to replace 14 seniors who graduated, most notably quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase.

Fortunately for the Devils, Cutcliffe hasn't rested on the laurels of moderate success.

The culture at Duke is different now. While going 5-7 in Durham may have been a pleasant surprise, from here on out anything less than a bowl eligible season will be unacceptable for Cutcliffe and his players.

Replacing key components of this past years team will start at quarterback. Sean Renfree, once he returns from an injured knee, is expected to take over for Lewis.

Duke still needs to find a replacement on the defensive line and will have to replace long time center Brian Morgan, who also graduated.

The Blue Devils have targeted many in state recruits and are starting to make a dent there. But Cutcliffe hasn't shied away from the four or five star recruits just because it is Duke.

While the Devils missed out on defensive end Kareem Martin, a North Carolina product out of Roanoke Rapids High School, they are still awaiting the decision from highly touted offensive lineman Matt James.

James, a four-star recruit from Ohio, according to Rivals, has Duke listed among his college choices. He is also considering Florida, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Tennessee among others.

Whether Duke lands James it remains to be seen, but it shows that Cutcliffe isn't afraid to go to battle with the big boys for the best players.

Don't expect a highly regarded class for Duke in 2010 though. Duke still has years of negative stigma and a tough academic standard working against them. But Cutcliffe with results and reputation is changing things.

They, however, have already signed or gotten verbal commitments from 19 recruits, including quarterback Anthony Boone.

Duke, much like Wake Forest is trying to go after players deemed too small for the major programs.

So far Wake has managed to have successful seasons by redshirting lots of freshmen in order to make them stronger and bigger. In a way, Deacons Coach Jim Grobe has created a road map for Cutcliffe to build his program.

Not that Cutcliffe needed help from his friend in Winston Salem, but Grobe has shown that his model for recruiting can lead to success. That success includes one ACC Championship and an Orange Bowl berth.

Duke needs to land some offensive and defensive lineman in this latest haul. They have plenty of targets in both areas. 

Cutcliffe's dismissal of projected starter John Drew, who was expected to try and help fill the enormous void, both physically and skill wise, left by Oghobaase's departure is especially important.

Duke fans can still expect to see many freshmen getting playing time, but as Cutcliffe continues to improve the Blue Devils from the ground up, the future will include more redshirts.

Once Duke can do that, the future will be all the brighter.



Toronto Maple Leafs Nation: All We Need is Just a Little Patience

January 29th, 2010

Maybe MLSE should hold off on that terrible "Free To Be" song as the anthem of the Toronto Maple Leafs and adopt "Patience" by Guns N' Roses.  Just a thought.

I haven't weighed in on any of the speculation surrounding the Leafs yet during the 2009-2010 season, but now, I think that I'll start. 

Caveat: they are my favorite sports team, so this might get wordy.

The Leafs are in deep this season.  Everyone knows this.  So, what does it mean?  Predicting sports is like predicting the weather.  Sometimes you call for sunshine and end up with a tornado.  Such is the fate of the Maple Leafs this season.

First off, nobody expected Toronto's season to go as bad as it has.  There's still a mathematical chance that they could turn their fortunes around and, though a playoff spot is highly unlikely, they could still improve their overall league standing. 

Improbable, sure.  Unlikely, quite.  Impossible, no.

The fact that Brian Burke will most likely have to eat his decision to trade two first-round picks for Phil Kessel is a subject that is expectedly all over the media, and all over the respective comment threads that accompany them.  It may look foolish in hindsight, but for the majority of sports fans who have never gotten burned while taking risks, there were actually some pretty solid, calculated reasons for playing that gamble.

Phil Kessel is no slouch.  Sorry.  As this is being written he is in a goal-scoring slump, but he's sure been finding the open man enough to tie a team record, seven-game point streak.  He wasn't acquired by Brian Burke to make pretty passes, but he's still producing.  Wouldn't we all settle for 31 points in 42 games after major shoulder surgery?

Kessel's problem is mired in the fact that he's the one getting the puck up the ice.  Someone needs to do this for him so that they can be the set up man, not Kessel.  Bottom line, he will produce—and he's only 22-years old.

The other factor in the decision to ship away picks were the college free agents that Burke picked up.  Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak, and prospect Viktor Stalberg.  Ages 23, 23, and 24 respectively and they're not doing too bad either.

Stalberg was one of the best players in the preseason, Hanson is doing very well with the Marlies and it has been suggested that he need only to learn the pro game in order to succeed, and then there's Tyler Bozak. 

After a bout with H1N1, and some injury problems, Bozak's late call-up has been a bright spot for Toronto as he has 6 points in 9 games.  The kid can make plays, and he's putting chemistry together with Kessel.

The three of these players will be NHL regulars sooner than later.  In a good draft class, one can typically expect that the first five picks will be sure-fire, NHL stars.  The rest are a crapshoot. 

This is not my estimation, it's the conventional wisdom that I've heard for a few years from people who get paid to say things like that.  The next two draft classes are predicted to be some of the driest in recent memory.

There's little to no hope left for the Leafs this season, but one thing is certain, there is a plan.  That's something that is noticeably different from the John Ferguson Jr. days.  If anything, the blame is more on him than Brian Burke for the Leafs' current woes.  Anybody remember the Tuuka Rask for Andrew Raycroft trade?  Ouch!  How about the no-trade clauses that he handed out like candy? 

How many picks, prospects, or both did the Muskoka Five cost the Maple Leafs?

As with anything long-term, the beginning usually is rocky.  From wars, to relationships, to jobs, and finally, rebuilding sports franchises.  I certainly would not like to see any more first-rounders traded, but I think that the Leafs have the prospects to soften the blow from the Kessel deal. 

And, if Nazem Kadri comes in next season and helps ol' Phil net 45-50 goals, losing those picks would become ancient history in T.O.

As for the next step, I won't speculate too much because it's all wishful thinking from here until October 2010.  Who should stay and who should go? 

Tomas Kaberle should most definitely go.  The return is either a first-round pick, or an established player from another team.  Two players that I wouldn't mind the Leafs pursuing are Nathan Horton and Nicklas Backstrom.

Kaberle could be used in a deal to net either of them.  For Washington a Kaberle, Exelby, and/or Jamal Mayers package for Backstrom would be ideal.  The Caps want to resign Backstrom, but the headway is slow going.  Plus, Washington has virtually no muscle—which Exelby and/or Mayers provide (and they both want out of Toronto).  Kaberle replaces Backstrom's spot on the PP so that Ovechkin isn't playing the point anymore. 

Kaberle and Mike Green on the point?  That's like having Kaberle with what everyone in Toronto wanted out of Bryan McCabe.

The Leafs get another proven point producer.  Imagine Backstrom feeding Kessel?  The Leafs lose a little truculence, but they would definitely make up for it where it really counts.

As for Horton, he's young, he's a leader, he's a power forward who produces and his playing style fits what Burke's wants.  There have been rumblings all season that he isn't happy down in Sunshine, Florida.  Why not make an attempt to accomodate him?  On a line with Kessel he provides a little protection and offensive flair of his own.

The trade deadline is going to be where Burke can do the most catching up as the free agent pool, like the draft class, is quite dry.

Oh yeah, Leafs Nation—forget about Ilya Kovalchuk!

Before UFC 109: Seven Fights That Happened Past Their Prime

January 29th, 2010

At UFC 109, a battle of legends will take place between two true pioneers of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

For the first time in the 17-year history of the organization, two current UFC Hall-of-Famers will collide inside the Octagon.

While Randy Couture and Mark Coleman have both accomplished extraordinary feats in their respective MMA careers, fans can’t help but feel a bit cheated that it took over a decade for this fight to come together.

The pair was originally scheduled to meet at UFC 17, back in 1998, but a Couture injury forced the cancellation of the bout.

Had that fight taken place, Couture would have been defending his heavyweight belt against Coleman who defeated Dan Severn to become the first UFC heavyweight champion. 

Fast forward 11 years: a 47-year-old Couture taking on a 45-year-old Coleman isn’t exactly being viewed as a “must-see” headliner.

The argument can be made that both Couture and Coleman have the athletic ability and competitive drive to continue to perform at a high-level, but fans aren’t expecting the same pace from the fighters that they possessed in their prime.

Does this mean you shouldn’t shell out 50 bucks to order the event on Pay-Per-View?

Absolutely not – In fact, you might be surprised with the outcome of the matchup as it may turn out to exceed your expectations.

Just because a fight is taking place past its prime doesn’t mean it’s not going to translate into the thriller you dreamt of when you thought of the bout years ago.

Let’s take a look at seven UFC fights that would have been seismic if they happened sooner; some of them went down in history books as unforgettable wars, while others turned out to be just average or below that in their outcome.


Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson:

UFC 93 Before getting his face smashed in from the vicious knees of Anderson Silva, Franklin was the undisputed champion of the UFC’s middleweight division.

During the Franklin-era, fans fantasized of a battle between "Ace" and PRIDE champion Henderson to determine which organization's title holder was truly the best in the world.

They would eventually spar in the Octagon, in the UFC’s first trip to Dublin, Ireland, but in a non-title affair.

With Franklin losing his title in devastating fashion to the aforementioned Silva three years prior and Henderson failing to capture UFC gold in his bouts against Silva and Quinton Jackson, the attraction surrounding this fight has lost much of its lure.

Nevertheless, the fight was still glorified as a dream matchup and turned out to be a closely contested bout with Henderson earning the victory via judge’s decision.


Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua: UFC 97

From 2004-2006, UFC fans considered Liddell to be the baddest man on the planet.

With seven consecutive knockout victories under his belt, “The Iceman” seemed destined to fulfill his legacy as the king of the light-heavyweight division.

But while Liddell dominated inside the Octagon, another light-heavyweight wrecking machine was steam-rolling through the opposition in PRIDE.

“Shogun” Rua was ranked No. 1 in the weight-class, and with decisive victories over “Rampage” Jackson, Ricardo Arona, and Alistair Overeem, it was easy to see why.Still, UFC fans weren’t convinced that Rua would stand a chance against their beloved Liddell.

If the fight would have taken place in 2006, it would have been promoted as a battle between the two best light-heavyweights in the world, but in 2009 both competitors were coming off uninspiring performances and battling to stay relevant in the division.

It was “Shogun” who would make the comeback, knocking Liddell out in the first round and surprisingly earning a title shot in the process.


Matt Serra vs. Matt Hughes: UFC 98

These two former welterweight champions have been at each other's throats for years ever since the taping of season four of The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback.

However, the trash talking wouldn’t explode until after Serra shocked the world with his UFC 69 knockout over St. Pierre. Hughes called Serra’s victory a fluke win and said that despite winning the title, Serra isn’t a top five ranked welterweight.

The brash New Yorker didn’t take kindly to these words and fired back with insults of his own. The matchup was set to take place at UFC 79 after Serra and Hughes coached opposite each other on TUF season six.

Every week on Spike TV fans grew more and more anxious to see the two Matt’s throw down, but then the news broke that Serra had to pull out due to a back injury, and fans were highly disappointed.

Two years later, Serra and Hughes fought at UFC 98. At that point, fans were just glad the feud would finally find some closure. Serra rocked Hughes early on but the powerful farm boy came back to edge out the decision victory in the end. 


Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: UFC 102

Back when “The Natural” had UFC Heavyweight gold around his waist, MMA fans dreamt of matchups pitting Couture against PRIDE heavyweights Fedor Emelianenko and “Minotauro” Nogueira.

In fact, for a very long time, the thought of a Couture vs. Emelianenko bout would have fans wetting their pants in anticipation. Couture had fought some of the very best in both the UFC’s heavyweight and light-heavyweight division, but he had yet to challenge himself against the two best non-UFC heavyweights.

When Zuffa bought the assets of PRIDE, they were unable to sign the Russian heavyweight, but they were able to scoop up Nogueria’s contract and secure a deal with the legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt to fight for the UFC.

At the time “The Natural” was the reigning heavyweight champ and was going through a heated contract dispute with Dana White and the Fertittas. Couture turned down a fight with Nogueira because he had his heart set on a clash with “The Last Emperor”.

Considering Emelianenko already defeated “Minotauro” on two separate occasions, Couture didn’t think a fight with Nogueira would be beneficial to him.

Finally, Couture patched things up with UFC and returned to the octagon in 2008. After losing his title to behemoth Brock Lesnar, “The Natural” finally met Nogueira at UFC 102 in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.

The two legends fought their hearts out for fifteen minutes putting on not only one of the best fights of the year but one of the greatest main events in UFC history.

Not bad for two “past their prime” warriors, huh?

On that night Nogueira took the unanimous decision victory, but both fighters left the Octagon with their heads held high knowing they just satisfied millions of fans worldwide.


Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz: UFC 47

Ortiz and Liddell have known each other since the launch of their careers and have had quite a sordid relationship.

They started out as good friends and training partners but turned into bitter enemies seemingly overnight. When Ortiz was the reigning UFC light-heavyweight champion, “The Iceman” was knocking fighters out left from right and working his way into title contention.

Anytime that Ortiz was asked about a potential fight with Liddell, he would always be quick to say that he would never fight his friend. Liddell countered by claiming that he and Ortiz weren’t even close friends; in fact, they weren’t even allies at all, and he would love to fight him.  

Still, Ortiz argued Liddell was a very close buddy of his and refused to compete against him. This resulted in a ton of back-and-forth trash talking and Ortiz was viewed as a coward who was unwilling to defend his strap against the true No. 1 contender.

Whether or not that was in fact true is still being disputed by fans, but the two finally met at UFC 47 in a non-title affair. Ortiz had lost his title to Randy Couture, while Liddell was coming off of a stunning defeat at the hands of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in PRIDE.

Despite their losses, the bout was still highly anticipated and certainly didn’t disappoint: Liddell knocked Ortiz out in the second round and followed up with six consecutive victories to cement his legacy as one of the greatest light-heavyweights of all time.


Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock: UFC 40

After “The Huntington Beach-Bad Boy” defeated Guy Mezger at UFC 19, Ortiz turned over to Mezger’s corner and flipped off Shamrock, and his entire Lion’s Den fight camp, resulting in the birth of the most heated rivalry in UFC history.

Shamrock leaped onto the cage and started screaming and pointing his finger at Ortiz, demanding that the Team Punishment leader put an end to his disrespectful antics.

Often times in this sport, there are rivalries between fighters who don’t really dislike each other but are just merely hyping their eventual battle. This was not one of those feuds, as Shamrock and Ortiz genuinely hated each other to the point where anytime they came near one another they almost came to blows.

Three years following their initial confrontation, the two finally met at UFC 40 for the light heavyweight championship. Ortiz was victorious in a one-sided beating, but their feud was far from squashed.

The two would fight two more times with the result being exactly the same each bout.

Ortiz clearly was a few levels ahead of the UFC Hall-of-Famer but Shamrock, to this day, will claim otherwise despite getting dominated on three separate occasions by “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy”.

Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva: UFC 79

When “The Iceman” was slashing through the UFC’s light-heavyweight division in 2004, “The Axe-Murderer” was wrecking opponents with reckless intentions in the Japan-based PRIDE Fighting Championships.

Fight fans begged and pleaded for the UFC and PRIDE to come together and set up a mega-fight between the two striking machines. The UFC even sent Liddell out to Japan to compete in PRIDE’s 2003 middleweight Grand Prix hoping for a Liddell-Silva meeting in the finals.

Unfortunately, “Rampage” Jackson foiled those plans with a second round TKO victory over Liddell in the semi-finals of the tournament. Three years later at UFC 61: Bitter Rivals, UFC President Dana White announced that Liddell and Silva would fight at a UFC event in November so long as Liddell defeated Renato “Babalu” Sobral at UFC 62, which he did.

Silva and Liddell then had an intense stare-down inside the Octagon, which had fans on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the bout. Sadly, the fight did not happen when advertised, as PRIDE was unwilling to send “The Axe-Murderer” to compete in the UFC.

Finally, after the death of PRIDE, Zuffa purchased the assets of the organization and at last was able to finalize the bout at UFC 79 near the end of 2007.

Despite taking years to come about, Silva and Liddell put on a three-round war, with Liddell earning the unanimous decision win at the end of the final frame.

The greatness of this bout was proclaimed by millions of loyal UFC fans when they voted it into second place on the UFC's Ultimate 100 greatest fights countdown.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s Two-Match Ban Stands as Spanish FA Sticks with Perez Lasa

January 29th, 2010

"The Spanish FA's Appeals Committee denies Real Madrid's motion to throw out ban"

This was the sub-heading on Real Madrid's official Web site regarding the upholding of Cristiano Ronaldo's suspension, which he received for "deliberately fracturing the nose" of the Malaga player Mtiliga.

This news came as a big surprise to anyone who has watched the video of Cristiano "injuring" Mtiliga. How can anyone be so blind as to not realize that Cristiano's shirt was being tugged by Mtiliga and he just wanted to continue with the attack?

It is clear in the video that Cristiano's first nudge hit Mtiliga on the neck and chest, then Mtiliga lowered his head a bit and the second nudge hit Mtiliga square in the face, fracturing his nose. Cristiano never looked back once in the whole process.

The referee played on the game with Ronaldo in possession after Mtiliga went down, but stopped it immediately after protests from Malaga players, and produced a straight red card in an awkward change of decision.

So what can we make out from the video evidence? Only three things.

First, Cristiano did what every player would and tried to break free of the hold and unintentionally fractured Mtiliga's nose in the process.

Second, Perez Lasa is a poor official who cannot stand by his decision because he was pressured by the players.

And third, the Spanish FA will stand by their referees even when they are wrong.

Now I can go ahead and make it a "preferential treatment to Barcelona" article because Lionel Messi did something very similar (if not worse) a week ago against Sevilla at the Nou Camp and Marc Valiente was yellow carded. But I won't, because the right decision was taken at the Nou Camp as Lionel Messi wasn't the culprit there, and neither is Cristiano Ronaldo.

The two-match ban was decided on Tuesday in the preliminary meeting of the FA. Real Madrid made its appeal on Thursday in front of the Spanish FA's Appeal Committee but had the appeal turned down. Now Real Madrid will present its case before the Spanish Disciplinary Committee for Sports (CEDD).

I just hope that the correct decision is taken by the CEDD and the ban on Cristiano Ronaldo is lifted because he is being wrongly punished here.

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