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Wolves 3-0 West Ham: Sizzling second half at Molineux

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Following what has already been a pretty dramatic Premier League campaign, fans could’ve been forgiven for not really knowing what they were going to get from these two sides. They’ve both won plenty of games they were predicted to lose and lose games that seemed slam dunks for them, which is kind of the nature of the Premier League – especially with teams at this level. Both sides harbour realistic ambitions of finishing in the top half, but tonight, it was Wolverhampton Wanderers that were able to impress in an emphatic win over West Ham United.

Hard to call

Both sides came forward in their numbers during the first half, but were unable to break the deadlock. The Molineux faithful were more than willing to be patient, but for a while, it felt like another ‘same old, same old’ against a team they’d usually fancy themselves to beat. Wolves were attempting to push the ball out wide and work their way towards goal that way, whereas the Hammers were trying to push their way through the middle of the park.

The game was goalless heading into the second half, and then around half way through the second half, Romain Saiss scored the first goal of the game with a powerful effort from a set piece. Raul Jimenez, who is turning out to be one of the signings of the season, made it two from yet another corner which almost certainly would’ve frustrated the visiting fans in attendance.

Sealing the deal

Raul wound up scoring his second goal in just six minutes, before West Ham even knew what hit them. They were beaten and battered in the second 45 minutes with some Wolves fans even calling it the worst display they’d seen from a visiting team at Molineux this season. In the end, though, it was another ruthless display from Nuno Espirito Santo’s team, who will now have the belief within the squad that they could make a push for a Europa League spot to go alongside their FA Cup run.

Wolves will turn their attention towards a visit to Goodison Park in order to face Everton this weekend, meanwhile, West Ham will host Liverpool on Monday night.

Match Report

Wolves: Patricio (7), Saiss (8.5), Coady (6.5), Bennett (6.5), Jonny (7.5), Moutinho (9), Neves (8), Dendoncker (7.5), Doherty (8), Jimenez (9.5), Jota (8.5), Gibbs-White (6), Cavaleiro (6), Vinagre (6)

West Ham: Fabianski (6.5), Zabaleta (6.5), Diop (6), Ogbonna (6), Masuaku (6.5), Snodgrass (6.5), Noble (6), Rice (6.5), Anderson (6), Antonio (5.5), Arnautovic (6), Carroll (6.5), Obiang (6), Hernandez (6)

Referee: David Coote

Goals: Saiss, Jimenez x2

Yellow Cards: Bennett, Saiss, Neves, Jimenez, Snodgrass

Red Cards: N/A

by Harry Kettle in Editorial,

Arum says he killed Pacquiao vs. Terence Crawford fight

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Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank says he intentionally chose not to make the fight between Manny Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) and Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) in the past, because he felt that the Filipino star wound end up losing that fight.

Arum believes that there would be only winner and that would be Crawford. It’s a fight that Crawford wanted and needed to take his career to the next level, but Arum decided not to make it.

Pacquiao left Top Rank after losing a controversial 12 round unanimous decision to Jeff Horn in July 2017.

It’s unknown if Arum truly believes that Crawford would have beaten Pacquiao, because he’s still never matched the Nebraska native against anyone good during his time with Top Rank. Crawford’s biggest victories have come against smaller, flawed fighters for the most part like Yuriorkis Gamboa, Felix Diaz, Ricky Burns, John Molina Jr., Henry Lundy and Dierry Jean.

When Crawford has fought bigger guys, they were limited fighters that lacked talent. Crawford’s wins over bigger guys have been against these fighters: Viktor Postol, Jose Benavidez, Julius Indongo and Jeff Horn. Arum hasn’t put Crawford against the following talents: Ivan Baranchyk, Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis, Errol Spence Jr., Jose Ramirez, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, Kiryl Relikh, Manny Pacquiao and Maurice Hooker.

“Well, I killed the fight,” Arum said to Fighthub about his decision not to make the fight between Pacquiao and Crawford. “Yeah, because I know how it would end,” Arum said in giving his reason why he didn’t want to make that fight involving Pacquiao. “Not that I knew that it would end in serious disability for Manny; that I wouldn’t know, but as a fight it would only end one way.”

Now that Pacquiao is with Premier Boxing Champions, it’s not even open to debate whether he’ll ever fight Crawford. even if Arum now wanted the Pacquiao-Crawford fight, it probably will never happen. Pacquiao has enough fighters in Al Haymon’s PBC stable to keep him busy for a long time to come.

Some boxing fans think Arum didn’t do Pacquiao any favors in having him fight Jeff Horn his hometown in Brisbane, Australia. That move was perceived badly by a lot of boxing fans, because Pacquiao was the star and he matched up against a non-star in his home country of Australia. That was a bad move. What was interesting is that when it came time for Crawford to fight Horn, he didn’t have to fight him in Australia. The Crawford-Horn fight took place in the United States in Las Vegas, Nevada last summer. Crawford didn’t have to go all the way to Australia to fight Horn like Pacquiao did. Crawford is nowhere near the PPV guy Pacquiao is. The only PPV fight Crawford has had was his match against Viktor Postol in 2016. That fight brought in a little over 50,000 buys. Those are horrible numbers, even for a fighter just starting out in the PPV business.

“Forget my emotions, I wouldn’t want to see him [Pacquiao] take that kind of damage because it might affect his future life — quality of his future life,” Arum said.

Crawford is 31 now, and still not a star. Although he has a lot of boxing fans in Nebraska, he still isn’t a star in the rest of the U.S. Arum was able to get Amir Khan to agree to fight Crawford on ESPN PPV on April 20. The problem is, Khan has been over-the-hill since 2012, and there’s a lot of interest from boxing fans in paying to see Crawford-Khan on ESPN PPV. That’s not a PPV fight. Khan is shot to pieces. He almost lost his last fight against journeyman Samuel Vargas. Crawford needs a fighter like Pacquiao to agree to fight him, but right now that’s not happening.

By Mike Smith

Bob Arum: “I don’t think Keith Thurman can fight anymore”

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Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says he thinks Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is past his prime, and can no longer fight anymore after seeing him labor to an unimpressive 12 round majority decision last Saturday night against Josesito ‘The Riverside Rocky’ Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs).

Arum says the 34-year-old Lopez isn’t an elite fighter, and he arguably could have knocked Thurman out in the 7th round after he had him badly hurt. The referee Steve Willis let Thurman, 30, stay in there without stopping the fight, but he took some major shots. Many boxing fans wondered why the fight wasn’t stopped in the seventh, because Thurman was clearly defenseless and taking massive punishment. After the fight, Thurman looked like he’d a beating. Both eyes were blackened, and his face reddened and lumped up. You have to believe that most of the damage to Thurman’s face and eyes took place in the 7th round after he was hurt.

Two years out of the ring seems to have eroded Thurman’s physical boxing skills to the point where he’s no longer the same fighter he once was, and he’s not likely going to ever get back to that level.

“Well I don’t think Keith Thurman can fight anymore. I thought he was awful with Lopez,” Thurman said to Fighthub. “I mean let’s be honest about it: Lopez is not an elite fighter, never was an elite fighter, and he had Thurman out of there in the 7th round. And you know Lopez is not known for knocking anybody out, and the referee could’ve very well stopped the fight in that round.”

Lopez isn’t considered a big puncher, and he’s viewed as being in the same talent class as the likes of Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. The way that Lopez was able to get to Thurman repeatedly throughout the fight doesn’t instill confidence in him when it comes to picturing how he would do in a fight against Manny Pacquiao, Crawford, Spence, Porter or Garcia. We saw Thurman beat Porter and Garcia in the past, but that was when he was still an active fighter. Being out of the ring for 2 years is a long time.

In any sport, if you stay of competition for two years, you’re not going to be able to come back and be the same guy you were. You lose something from your game. The thing is, Thurman was barely beating the likes of Porter and Garcia when he was at his best. He clearly isn’t that fighter anymore from what we saw last Saturday. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Thurman’s power, and his running ability. He can still run like before, but that’t not going to help him beat Spence and Crawford. The judges aren’t going to give Thurman rounds with him back-peddling for 12 rounds to avoid Spence and Crawford’s steady pressure.

Thurman beat Lopez by the 117-109, 115-111 and 113-113. Forget about the embarrassingly bad 117-109 score turned in by Tom Schreck; Thurman appeared to lose at least four rounds, possibly five. Although Thurman didn’t go down in the seventh, the judges still scored it as a 10-8 round, due to him being badly hurt and out on his feet. Earlier in the fight, Thurman got a flash knockdown of Lopez

Arum thinks Pacquiao can beat Thurman possibly after seen how badly ‘One Time’ looked against Lopez.

“Yeah, I think that’s a winnable fight. Yeah I do,” Arum said about him believing that Pacquiao can beat Thurman. “Yeah, I think Freddie’s sees the same thing I did.”

Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach also believes that Manny will beat Thurman.

Thurman looked so bad against Lopez that it might not be worth it for Pacquiao to fight him, because he looks like a shot fighter at this stage in his career. Pacquiao won’t get any credit if he beats Thurman, given that the boxing public will likely say, ‘So what, Lopez almost beat Thurman before you beat him.’ Pacquiao would have to chase Thurman for 12 rounds, just as Lopez was chasing him, and it would be an ugly to watch fight. Pacquiao would have more interest from boxing fans if he fought Danny Garcia, Spence, Mikey Garcia, Crawford or Shawn Porter.

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By Sean Jones

The Saints really didn’t need Sen. Bill Cassidy to argue on their behalf in Congress

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It was a Friday in Congress with no significant votes on the docket, just a discussion about sending money and weapons to the Middle East. The U.S. Government was in the midst of a shutdown — the announcement of our government’s temporary re-opening had yet to come.

That made it the perfect possible time for one senator to … pander to the home crowd with a little discussion about football.

Yup. The growing wave of complaints of Saints fans cheated out of a Super Bowl 53 appearance crested to a logical escalation Friday. In the span of five days, New Orleans has leveled up from punched televisions to billboards to change.org petitions to class action lawsuits, and now, a debate on the floor of the United States Senate.

 

Was it weird that Senator Bill Cassidy called the fans watching the NFC title game a bunch of drunks? Sure! Was it reminiscent of Jonah Ryan rallying against school lunches in Season 6 of Veep? Kinda! Will Congress actually do anything to affect the outcome of a game played five days ago? Nope!

Cassidy’s speech came hours before President Trump announced he’d end the longest shutdown in American history for three weeks time. On this same day, a major airport in one of the largest cities in the world briefly grounded its departing flights due to a shortage of federally paid air traffic controllers.

Needless to say, there’s a lot going on right now … and we’re talking about football! Not even in the cutesy “I’d like to make a resolution honoring the Clemson Tigers for winning a national championship” way, either.

"Cassidy scored the cheapest of political points Friday, which is both brilliant and stupid."

Cassidy starts his argument with some lip service to the shutdown, but this presentation is all about one thing — football. He cites Hulk Hogan, yet cannot name any of the players involved in the controversial play aside from Drew Brees. This is doubly impressive because he has a giant, blown-up picture of the play in which Tommylee Lewis’ “LEWIS” nameplate is clearly visible.

He brings up “the integrity of the game,” which, somewhere in New York City, silently made Roger Goodell perk up and nod silently to himself. He suggests the referee who missed the call may have been biased because he lives in California, a state that wasn’t home to the Rams between the years of 1995 and 2015. He admits he doesn’t actually know how officiating crews are assigned to playoff games — a Google search that takes literally eight seconds to complete.

This is a man who does. not. give. a. shit. about. football, yet here he is campaigning to an empty Senate to score the cheapest of cheap political points at a time where there were simultaneously bigger fish to fry and nothing, really, to do. He knows there’s nothing meaningful the U.S. Government is going to do to reverse one blown call in an NFL playoff game, but he’s still going to be able to tell voters “hell, I tried” when he’s rubbing elbows with voters in Metairie.


It’s dumb and brilliant at the same time, a speech Cassidy can pull out at LSU tailgates and stick in the face of every opponent he’d like to hear say “well, he’s not all bad.” With the news of Trump’s decision to temporarily halt the shutdown, it’ll be lost to the ever-churning news cycle but remain in Cassidy’s archives, waiting for the right time to resurface. Just don’t confuse his argument for actual caring. And don’t think this will lead anywhere but to campaign ads in the New Orleans television market come October 2020.

“Bill Cassidy: standing up for Louisianans. Especially Drew Brees and that other guy. You know, the one who got hit. I want to say Tommy Lee Jones?”

By 

Atletico confirm Morata

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Atletico Madrid have confirmed the signing of Alvaro Morata from Chelsea.

The striker Morata, who fell completely out of favor with Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, will move to Wanda Metropolitano on an 18-month loan, as the two clubs agreed.

Morata spent four seasons at Atletico’s academy under the name “Alevin”, and during that time he played alongside Koke, and the La Liga side happily point out that the pair of them will now be reunited in the first team.

The Spanish international, however, made his name across town playing for Real Madrid for which he signed his first professional contract, before moving to Juventus in 2014. Real exercised their buy-back option two years later and sold them to Chelsea after a season of having him back. It’s fair to say he didn’t impress for the Londoners, and Sarri has recently preferred using Eden Hazard in a “false nine” role than giving Morata a chance to redeem himself.

A move away seems like a logical solution, one that should fit all parties’ interests, and Atletico are obviously happy to have him aboard.

by Veselin Trajkovic

Roach says Thurman is his #2 choice for Pacquiao if no Mayweather

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Trainer Freddie Roach says Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is his #2 choice for Manny Pacquiao’s next fight if they can’t get a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., which appears to be the case. Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) has heard no word from Mayweather about him wanting to come out of his two-year retirement to fight him in a rematch.

Getting WBA Super World welterweight champion Thurman (29-0, 22 KOs) to agree to a fight against Pacquiao will be as easy as pie. Thurman, 30, wants the fight against Pacquiao in the worst way, and made that clear before and especially after his warm-up level fight last Saturday night against fringe contender Josesito Lopez (36-8, 19 KOs) on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FS1 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Thurman told the fans after the fight that it would be an honor for him to share the ring with the 40-year-old Pacquiao. Since both of them are with PBC, it’ll be a snap to put the fight together. Pacquiao prefers to fight Mayweather, cause that’s the bigger money match-up for him. Pacquiao also would like to face the winner of the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia. Thurman might be a bigger fight for Pacquiao, however, being that he’s a little more verbal and outgoing than Spence Jr. and Mikey. Thurman makes a lot more noise in the media when it comes to promoting his fights. Thurman has a gift for gab, and he’ll work hard to sell a fight between him and Pacquiao, knowing that it’ll help his career, as well as bring in more pay-per-view buys on FOX or SHOWTIME.

It’s entirely possible that the 41-year-old Mayweather is playing coy with Pacquiao to feign indifference before pulling the trigger on the fight, but it could be that he really doesn’t want the fight and doesn’t care that he’s walking away from $100 million payday. Mayweather seemingly doesn’t care that he’ll miss that money, and possibly regret it one day. Right now, Mayweather is doing his own thing.

“I [want Pacquiao] to fight him. The thing is, if we don’t get Mayweather, Thurman’s my second choice,” Roach said to Fighthub in saying that Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is his second choice for Pacquiao to fight next. “I love him for Pacquiao’s style. I think he’s good for us. Not easy, though.”

Pacquiao will have to follow Thurman around the ring if he takes the fight with him. Thurman moves around a lot, and he’s not going to stand and make it a fight. Against Lopez last Saturday, it was boring to watch much of the time due to Thurman trying to get away from his pressure in the second half of the fight. Thurman can make it boring when he gets tired or when he’s hurt, like he was last Saturday. Thurman fought the same way against Danny Garcia when he got tired in the last six rounds in their fight in March 2017.

The way that Thurman looked last Saturday against Josesito Lopez may have cemented him in as Pacquiao’s next opponent. Thurman looked vulnerable throughout that fight, and was almost knocked out in the seventh round by Lopez. Thurman eventually prevailed in winning a 12 round majority decision by the scores 113-113, 117-109 and 115-111. Thurman didn’t look nearly as impressive in beating Lopez as guys like Marcos Maidana, Saul Canelo Alvarez and Andre Berto did in knocking him out.

If Thurman had looked sensational last Saturday night against the 34-year-old Lopez, would Roach still want him as Pacquiao’s Plan-B opponent if Mayweather doesn’t fight him again? Probably not. Roach wants Pacquiao to fight guys that he can beat, and Thurman looks beatable right now after his off performance against Lopez. Thurman didn’t look much better in his fights against Danny Garcia and Luis Collazo. Thurman was hurt by Collazo, and almost dropped. Thurman was also hurt by Diego Chaves and Jesus Soto Karass. Thurman’s punch resistance has never been good, but he was able to cover up for that vulnerability with his speed and footwork. Now that Thurman has slowed down a notch due to age and inactivity, he’s now showing how vulnerable he is. Lopez is a fighter that would have likely been destroyed by the likes of Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Terence Crawford and Danny Garcia last Saturday night.

“Well he [Pacquiao] told me we’ll take anyone out there,” Roach said of Pacquiao. “The thing is there’s one guy he really wants, and that’s Mayweather, and he had all intentions of Mayweather maybe taking the fight right away.”

Mayweather sounds like he’s going to stay retired, and walk away from the money that he would get from a second fight. It doesn’t make sense for a person to walk away from that kind of money, but that’s Mayweather. Pacquiao will need to make the decision to fight Thurman or the Spence-Garcia winner next. Thurman looked like he’d aged badly in his last fight. The two years that Thurman has been out of the ring haven’t done his boxing skills and chin any favors. Perhaps it’s just rust that was cause of Thurman looking like that. It’s more likely that Thurman has aged, and he’s not going to get back to the level he was at before. Thurman’s game is based on speed and movement, and those type of fighters don’t do well when they hit their 30s, and start to lose speed and mobility.

“No, we haven’t heard nothing yet. But, you know, we have to let them say it — just like last time. You know the drill. But, you know, he is the star though,” Roach said about Mayweather not having said anything about wanting to come out of his two-year retirement to fight Pacquiao.

Mayweather probably won’t come out of retirement unfortunately, and Pacquiao cannot wait for the next four months, hoping that he’ll take the fight with him. Pacquiao’s management will need to setup his next fight in a month or so in order to start getting the boxing public excited about it, be it Thurman or the Spence-Garcia winner. Mayweather will probably resurface in a year or two, fighting another MMA with no boxing background in order to try and sell another mismatch to the fans. Mayweather will soon find out that he’s getting diminishing returns for his fights against MMA guys, and he’ll need to make a decision whether to start fighting boxers again or stay retired. It would be in Mayweather’s best interest to make that decision now rather than waiting to get older. The longer Mayweather waits, the less popular he’ll become. The fans aren’t going to want to pay to see an old guy in his mid-40s, who they barely remember, fighting Pacquiao 2 to 3 years from now.

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By Sean Jones

Thierry Henry suspended by Monaco

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According to Sky Sports, Monaco have suspended head coach Thierry Henry until a decision is made on his future. The Arsenal legend has struggled to turn things around in the principality, with his team currently 19th place in the Ligue One table.

Henry has won just five times since joining Monaco three months ago. With the team two points from safety in the French top-flight, it seems that the former France international is set for the exit.

Reportedly, Monaco have decided that they wish to reappoint predecessor Leonardo Jardim, which would be a shock considering how he left the club.

Team was in a mess before Henry’s appointment

When Henry arrived at the club, he faced a massive challenge. The team had been decimated in recent years, as Monaco continually sold their star players and expected Jardim to find replacements.

The Portuguese boss had done an excellent job until this season when not only did the lack of quality show in the team, he also had to endure an injury crisis. In the end, the club dispensed with his services, as they believed a change would help the team out of the relegation zone. It has not, now it seems they regret their decision to fire Jardim.

The move was a gamble all round

Monaco hiring Thierry Henry and the Frenchman agreeing to take the job was a gamble all round. Henry had never been a boss. The closest he had been to being a boss was as assistant head coach to Roberto Martinez with the Belgium national team.

He has no managerial experience, so to take on the monumental job at Monaco was a brave decision. Henry had been linked with a number of managerial jobs in the past. However, his best role since retiring from playing so far has arguably been as a Sky Sports pundit.

The decision to appoint Henry was also a gamble from Monaco. It seems like a sentimental appointment. He had started his playing career at the club, so there was that attachment. Maybe Monaco believed that Henry’s character and legend was enough to lift the players.

Unfortunately, it seems it has not been enough, as the team’s fortunes have hardly sawed since the Frenchman’s appointment as head coach. In fact, some would argue that the team has been putting in worse performances than under the highly-rated Jardim.

Monaco can still survive the drop

Monaco have been poor for most of the season. However, the good news for the team from the principality is that they have been cut off at the bottom of the Ligue One table. They are just two points away from the relegation play-off spots and three points from safety.

The fact that Monaco are odds of 7/4, fifth favourites for relegation this season suggest that not many believe they will actually suffer relegation.

However, it is not impossible that Monaco could still suffer relegation, with or without Thierry Henry in charge of the team. Henry’s suspension suggests it will be without him in charge at the minute.

The former Arsenal star always seemed eager to get into management. However, despite his obvious football knowledge, maybe it was too soon for him. It was definitely not the right set-up to start his managerial career.

If as expected, Henry loses his job, no doubt he will look back at his spell in charge of Monaco as a tough, but a good learning experience. When he returns to management, the will be wiser and hopefully be able to make better decisions.

Will Thierry Henry recover from his time at Monaco to be a successful boss in the future?

by David Nugent in Editorial, Ligue 1

Kell Brook has a couple of options in U.S for next fight

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Former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook has a couple of options in the United States for his next fight, according to his promoter Eddie Hearn. He’s not sure if the 32-year-old Brook will move down to welterweight or continue to fight at junior middleweight. Brook did not look like a world beater in his last fight at 154 against Michael Zerafa on December 8.

There’s a possibility that Brook could face former WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas on April 6 in the U.S. Hearn isn’t confirming that Vargas is one of the two options he has for Brook to fight next in the U.S. Vargas (28-2-2, 10 KOs) is a step up for Brook from his last two fights against Michael Zerafa and Sergey Rabchenko, but he’s not what most boxing fans would consider a guy that would result in a big fight. Vargas’ record in his last four fights is 1-1-2. Vargas’ last two fights have been 12 round draws against Thomas Dulorme and Adrien Broner. Vargas was beaten by Manny Pacquiao in 2016.

“There’s a couple of big fights in the States that are available to him,”said Hearn to skysports.com. “The Liam Smith fight is another fight he will be looking at as well, so yeah he’s another guy that needs to pull the trigger in the next couple of weeks to decide his next step.”

Brook is the WBA mandatory for WBA 154 lb champion Jarrett Hurd. However, Hearn isn’t certain whether Brook will stay at 154 or move back down to 147 to resume his career at that weight. Hearn likes Brook’s weight discipline now, and he seems to believe that he can go back down to 147 if he wants to. Hurd, 28, would be a real problem for Brook due to his size, power and youth. The way that Brook had problems with 26-year-old junior middleweight Zerafa last December, he would be at the mercy of Hurd’s size and power if he dared to accept a fight against him for his World Boxing Association junior middleweight title.

Hearn signed former WBO 154 lb champion Liam Smith to a three-fight contract recently, and it’s thought that the sole reason why he signed him is so that he can put him in with Brook, and have an excuse not to match Kell against the lions at 154 like Hurd, Jermell Charlo, Tony Harrison and Erislandy Lara.

Brook vs. Vargas would interest some boxing fans in the U.S. It would obviously be shown on DAZN, so the American fans would be able to watch it as part of their monthly subscription price for that platform. Apart from that, it’s not a fight that would attract a lot of interest from people in the United States. Vargas’ 1-1-2 record in his last four fights has shown pretty clearly that he’s not talented enough to be a major player at 147. For Vargas’ sake, he should move back down to 140, if he can make the weight. However, there’s money for Vargas to make fighting Brook. Hearn will obviously make it worth his while to accept the fight.

By Tim Royner

Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona: The champions stumble

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Barcelona have had a vice-like grip on the Copa del Rey trophy for four years now, and in that time they’ve certainly been able to earn their place on the throne. Alas, while the past may favour them the present certainly isn’t on their side, as the reigning champions were defeated 2-0 in their quarter final first leg against Sevilla.

The favourites fall

Sevilla themselves have had a strong season thus far, and they certainly seem to be hellbent on picking up some silverware this season. That’ll be easier said than done, of course, but it’s not like they’re strangers to success in cup competitions. After all, their recent history in the Europa League has been one of the shining accomplishments for Spanish football on the European stage.

There probably should’ve been some warning signs from the word go in this one, with Lionel Messi being rested for Barca. As a result Kevin-Price Boateng started the game, before being replaced later on by Suarez. It was a relatively uneventful first half either way, but early in the second, things came to life in a big way.

Backs against the wall

Pablo Sarabia smashed home a nice cross to give the home side the advantage early in the second half, and from that point on they just seemed to dictate the pace of play. Wissam Ben Yedder poked in a second, meaning that Barca have some serious work to do in the return leg.

Barcelona’s next game will be a visit to take on Girona, whereas Sevilla will host Levante.

Match Report

Sevilla: Soriano (7.5), Mercado (7), Kjaer (7), Gomez (6.5), Amadou (6.5), Navas (7), Andre Silva (N/A), Sarabia (7.5), Vazquez (N/A), Banega (6.5), Escudero (6.5), Lopes (N/A), Promes (6.5), Ben Yedder (7.5)

Barcelona: Cillessen (6.5), Roberto (6), Pique (5.5), Lenglet (6), Semedo (6.5), Alba (N/A), Vidal (6.5), Rakitic (6), Ramos de Oliveira Melo (6), Malcom (5.5), Coutinho (6), Boateng (6), Suarez (6), Alena (6)

Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande

Goals: Sarabia, Ben Yedder

Yellow Cards: Gomez, Alba

Red Cards: N/A

By Harry Kettle in Editorial, La Liga

De La Hoya wants Canelo vs. Jermall Charlo & Munguia vs. Jermell Charlo doubleheader

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Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya says he’s thinking of putting together a double-header between Saul Canelo Alvarez and WBC interim middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, and Jaime Munguia facing Jermell Charlo. However, De La Hoya says Munguia isn’t ready to fght top level opposition yet because of his youth.

De La Hoya isn’t saying when he wants to make those two fights, but it’s going to have to take place soon, since the unbeaten Jermall (28-0, 21 KOs) is Canelo’s mandatory challenger for his WBC middleweight title.

The World Boxing Council will need to order the Canelo vs. Charlo fight sooner or later, being that Jermall has already been waiting two years for his mandatory title shot. Jermall earned the mandatory position in 2017, and the WBC has been slow in ordering the fight. Unless the WBC is going to let Canelo not defend against his mandatory for five years like the sanctioning body did with former WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, they’ve going to need to order that fight before long.

Munguia (31-0, 26 KOs) has a minor test that he needs to pass this Saturday against #3 WBC challenger Takeshi Inoue (13-0-1, 7 KOs) at the Toyota Center, in Houston, Texas. De La Hoya says he doesn’t know if the 22-year-old Munguia will be able to beat the 5’8″ Inoue, but hes hoping he will. Munguia vs. Inoue will be streamed on DAZN on the internet this Saturday, January 26.

“One of the problems with these young fighters winning world titles at such a young age, a lot of these fighters aren’t ready to fight the very top, the very best,”“Jaime Munguia, the fact that he’s 21-years-old, we have big plans for him, but first things first. We want to make sure he gets the experience. We want to make sure he’s solid at 154, and then we fight one of the best,” De La Hoya said.

It appears that De La Hoya is saying is that he’s not going to put Munguia in with any of the talented fighters at 154 until he gets more experience under his belt first. As such, it would seem highly unlikely that Golden Boy Promotions will make the move to setup a fight between one of the Charlo twins like Jermell (31-1, 15 KOs) anytime soon, Jermell is coming off of a 12 round unanimous decision loss in his last fight against Tony Harrison (28-2, 21 KO) on December 22 of last year, but he’s still a guy that is in the prime of his career at 28-years-old, and very experienced in comparison to Munguia.

If the fight between Munguia and Jermall Charlo is to be made, it’s hard to imagine De La Hoya making it in the the next two to three years. What that means is if De La Hoya is going to wait until he Munguia gains more experience before matching him against Jermell, it seems to indicate that Jermall Charlo will need to wait until Munguia is ready for his fight against Jermell before he can get his mandatory title shot against Canelo.

Hopefully it doesn’t workout that way, because it means that the boxing public is going to need to wait a long time before they see Canelo vs. Jermall, but it sounds like that’s going to be the situation. De La Hoya might choose to wait until Munguia has more experience under his belt before he makes the Canelo-Jermall and Munguia-Jermell double-header. Jermell isn’t ranked in the top 15 with the World Boxing Organization, so the WBO can’t force Munguia to fight him. And if Jermell does win back his WBC junior middleweight title after he faces Harrison in their rematch in April or May, Munguia still won’t have to face him until Golden Boy decides they want to make that fight.

The only guy that Golden Boy needs to worry about it Jermall, who is Canelo’s WBC mandatory. As long as the WBC let’s continue to bypass Jermall, then there’s no threat of him losing to the talented fighter. You can argue the WBC is making it difficult for Charlo to get his mandatory title shot against Canelo, as he’s already had to face Hugo Centeno Jr. for the interim WBC middleweight title, and then make a defense against Matt Korobov since he became the mandatory for the WBC 160 lb title. The WBC now wants Jermall to have to fight Gennady Golovkin to decide Canelo’s next mandatory. That move by the WBC doesn’t make sense, because Charlo is already Canelo’s mandatory challenger. He earned that spot in 2017 in beating Jorge Sebastian Heiland by a fourth round TKO. Charlo having to fight Golovkin in another eliminator is pointless. The WBC should be ordering Canelo to defend against Charlo, but for some reason they’re not going that.

“[Takeshi] Inoue, I don’t know how difficult he’s going to be. I don’t know if Munguia is going to lose or win,”“It’s going to be a great fight, but I have bigger plans for Jaime Munguia. I have plans. For instance, imagine Canelo fighting one of the Charlo brothers [Jermall], and imagine imagine Munguia fighting the other [Jermell] Charlo brother. That’ll be a great card. That’ll be a solid card, that’ll excite the people. Obviously, first things are first. Canelo has Jacobs in May. Jaime has Inoue this Saturday. I’m sure the Charlos have their plans, but that’s what I’m envisioning for the future of boxing, putting the best against the best each time,” De La Hoya said.

It doesn’t seem too likely that the Canelo vs. Charlo and the Munguia vs. Jermell doubleheader will get made anytime soon. One major stumbling block that could make those fights near impossible to put together is the different networks they fight on. Canelo and Munguia fight on DAZN, whereas the Charlo brothers are with Premier Boxing Champions and fight on FOX, FOX Deportes and SHOWTIME. PBC isn’t likely going to let the Charlos fight on DAZN, and a fight between them and Canelo and Munguia would need to be on PPV for it to be worth it. If those fights took place on FOX or SHOWTIME, those would easily be a PPV worthy card, but that might not be possible given that Canelo and Munguia are with DAZN. The fight card that De La Hoya talks about would be a great one if it happens, but could a deal be made between DAZN and PBC to have that card made? It’s unclear at this time. De La Hoya is talking a lot, but he might just be throwing names out there to help increase the popularity of his young fighter Charlo. Canelo is soon going to run out of opponents for him to fight. Even if Gennady Golovkin signs with DAZN, Canelo is still going to run out of popular fighters for him to compete against at 160. The guys at 168, Callum Smith, Gilberto Ramirez, George Groves and David Benavidez, aren’t popular enough for Canelo to bring in a lot of subscribers to DAZN in fighting them. Canelo needs the Charlo brothers, both of them, as well as Jarrett Hurd, and maybe even light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol, in order to continue to bring in great ratings. Canelo won’t be able to bring in a lot of subscribers once he exhausts the small number of top middleweights in the division. These are the most talented middleweights at this time;

Gennady Golovkin: recently beaten

Jermall Charlo: looking poor in last fight

Jaime Munguia

Rob Brant

Daniel Jacobs

Sergiy Derevyanchenko: recently beaten

Demetrius Andrade: looked poor in last fight

Billy Joe Saunders: tested positive for a banned substance recently

Saul Canelo Alvarez

By Sean Jones