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Monday, January 30, 2012

USA Boxing Central California Championships Results

Fresno's Shanne Ruelas, a finalist for's
2011 Female Amateur Fighter of the Year, will move on to Nationals. (Dominic Serna)

Per USA Boxing Central California chief Armando Mancinas, here is the list of winners from the Open Division for the Central California Championships, which were held in Lemoore, CA, last weekend. These fighters will now advance to the National Championships in Fort Carson, Colo., at the end of February.

Junior Flyweight (108 lbs.): No Entry
Flyweight (114 lbs.): No Entry
Bantamweight (123 lbs.): Gary Salazar - Fresno
Lightweight (132 lbs.): Luis Ambrosio - Fresno
Junior Welterweight (141 lbs.): Anthony Smith - Fresno
Welterweight (152 lbs.): Mark Hernandez - Fresno
Middleweight (165 lbs.): Daniel Valdivia - Bakersfield
Light Heavyweight (178 lbs.): No Entry
Heavyweight (201 lbs.): Josh Tovar - Fresno
Super Heavyweight (201+ lbs.): Ernest Allen - Bakersfield

Bantamweight (119 lbs.): Jaime Mitchell - Salinas
Featherweight (125 lbs.): Shanne Ruelas - Fresno

NOTE: Both Tovar and Allen will not make the trip to Fort Carson for undisclosed reasons. Of course, the most decorated amateur in the region, U.S. Olympic Trials lightweight champion Jose Ramirez, did not participate in the tournament, but he will be competing at Nationals.

Ward, Hunter Add BWAA Awards to Their Trophy Cases

Promoter Dan Goossen, Andre Ward, and Virgil Hunter can add more feathers to their
respective caps following a banner year in 2011. (Alexis Cuaresma)

The accolades continue to pour in for our Northern California stars.

Congratulations to Andre Ward and Virgil Hunter for winning the 2011 Fighter & Trainer of the Year Awards from the Boxing Writers Association of America!

From an e-mail sent out by the BWAA Monday afternoon:

JANUARY 30, 2012 -- Andre Ward has won an Olympic gold medal, professional world titles, and Showtime's Super Six super-middleweight tournament. Now the Boxing Writers Association of America has named Ward its Fighter of the Year for 2011. Ward will receive the BWAA's Sugar Ray Robinson Fighter of the Year trophy. Ward was chosen by an overwhelming margin over nominees Nonito Donaire, Wladimir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao.

Trainer Virgil Hunter has worked with Ward since Ward started boxing as a nine-year-old amateur. It is only fitting that in the year Ward won his first BWAA honor, Hunter has won as well. The BWAA electorate has voted Hunter winner of the the Eddie Futch Trainer of the Year award.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Video Excerpt of Interview with Eloy Perez

I caught up with Eloy Perez as he prepared for his Feb. 25 showdown with Adrien Broner at Oakland's King's Gym. Here's a preview of our interview, which will be broadcast in its entirety and accompanied with an article on the week of the fight.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

If Pacquiao Won't Fight Cotto Above 147, Will Floyd Step In?

A major barrier stands in the way of Top Rank CEO Bob Arum (center)
finalizing a rematch between Manny Pacquiao (left) and Miguel Cotto.

Yikes. Looks like WBO welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao doesn't care too much about fighting for Miguel Cotto's 154-pound WBA title and is drawing the line at 147 (funny how he didn't do that for Margarito at 150). If that holds up, then Cotto will likely fight WBC welterweight champ Floyd Mayweather, and Pacquiao will probably target WBO junior welterweight boss Tim Bradley.

It's a game of chicken now. I think Team Cotto is seeing how far up in weight they can lure Pacquiao, and they're using a potential Mayweather fight as scare tactics to leverage a better deal. I don't blame them. For the sake of avoiding any health controversies like last time, Cotto shouldn't fight Pacquiao at anything less than 152--if that.

I'll tell you one thing. I think Pacquiao-Bradley is a decent matchup, but it's wishful thinking to argue that the fight would fill the 38,000-seat temporary stadium off the Las Vegas Strip that Top Rank CEO Bob Arum described to me.

UPDATE (4:32 a.m. PST): No sooner than an hour and a half after I opined this, Cotto has told that "Floyd Mayweather Jr. said he has no problem going up to 154 to fight me." Interesting to see how Team Pacquiao responds.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

For Your Eyes: Video Interviews with Donaire, Mayfield, Conte, and More!

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NorCal Quick & Dirty: Mayfield, Moreno Announce Fights

S.F.'s Karim Mayfield, No. 5 in the latest CSNBayArea NorCal Pound-for-Pound Top 10, will make the first defense of his NABO jr. welterweight title against Aris Ambriz of Azusa, Calif., at the Landers Arena in Southaven, Mississippi, on Thursday, Mar. 29.

Watsonville's Carina Moreno, No. 10 in those same rankings, will get another crack at a belt when she faces Arely Mucino on Fri., Feb. 24 in the Mexican's hometown of Monterrey for the WBA interim flyweight title. If Mucino sounds familiar, it's because Ava Knight knocked her out in October to win the IBF flyweight title.

UPDATE (1/29/12): Eddie Croft, trainer and manager of San Carlos flyweight Melissa McMorrow, has informed me that his fighter will be replacing Carina Moreno, who has pulled out of the bout, which will now take place on Sat., Feb. 25., in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The man in the top spot, Nonito Donaire of San Leandro, went on the offensive after rumors surfaced regarding his promoter Top Rank. Such reports have CEO Bob Arum setting him up for a unification showdown with newly minted WBA junior featherweight champ Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba if he should get by Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in a WBO 122-pound title fight on Sat., Feb. 4.

“I want to fight the guys who are willing to fight, like Vazquez, [Jorge] Arce, [and Toshiaki] Nishioka,” Donaire said. “Rigondeaux, on the other hand, is a good fighter and all, and I congratulate him for it, but is it good for the fans? Is it good for boxing? Or, if I hurt him, is he going to do a Narvaez and just run around like he did in two fights ago or a fight ago when he fought on HBO? I don’t want that.”

In November of 2010, Rigondeaux defeated Ricardo Cordoba for the interim WBA 122-pound belt in one of the most action-deprived fights to ever air on HBO Pay-Per-View.

Still, the two-time Olympic gold medalist is a brilliant counterpuncher capable of offensive firepower at times; it is this inconsistency, however, that has turned Donaire off about the matchup.

“And as much as people say, ‘Oh, you’re running away,’ if I’m running away, [and] if you want a Cuban that wants to fight me, then let’s have [Yuriorkis] Gamboa,” Donaire said. “I think that’s an interesting fight. Don’t give me something that’s going to be boring for boxing. If you want a good fight, let’s get Gamboa, you know what I’m saying?”

A USA Boxing-sanctioned amateur card has been announced for Sat., Mar. 17, at L.A. Boxing Gym in Brentwood, per Joseph Garcia.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Harbaugh: Starting QB Position is "Earned"

At his Monday afternoon press conference following the loss to New York in the NFC Championship game, 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh addressed Alex Smith's status for next year and how Colin Kaepernick figures in the starting quarterback picture:

"Well I think we pretty much know how to go about that. Everything's earned. Everything is competed for. And that was the beauty of Alex Smith this past offseason. Many people had written how we told him the job was his. We never said that. We said that we'd get the best quarterbacks in here, and throw out the balls, and that's a position that's earned. That's never a, you know, an anointed position. I've always been very exact in the way we've said that, and not just the way we say it, but the way we do it."


"I'm not going to turn this press conference into a personnel meeting. There were a lot of factors. When you look at the Giants, in the last 11 series they gained 124 yards. Our defense was playing outstanding, but there were other factors." -Harbaugh when asked if they would make any changes at wide receiver given the unit's lack of production on Sunday

‎"The factors on both of those 4th downs was to punt them down, and get them backed up, and stop them, and get the return punt. We feel like if you can pin a team inside their own 10...then the numbers say when you get it back that the net field position should net you three points." -Why Harbaugh elected to punt instead of going for it on 4th down on two crucial series

-Kyle Williams hurt his left shoulder in the third quarter and attempted to play through it, something Harbaugh was unaware of the injury when it occurred.

-Harbaugh refused to give a direct response when asked about Crabtree's postgame comments that the wide receiver was left out of the offense late in the contest. Instead he alluded to the idea that when the media asks players questions immediately after a loss, they elicit raw, emotional answers.

-To be fair, some of these questions being asked were ridiculous, e.g., "How bad was Ginn's injury that it kept him out of the game?" "Enough to keep him out of the game," Harbaugh replied with a signature smirk.

-Another head-scratching question:
"Do you want to keep this coaching staff intact?" Come on, who asked that one? What's Harbaugh supposed to say other than 'yes' after a banner year? Hell will freeze over before a coach, much less Harbaugh, replies with something like, "Uh, no, I want some of these guys gone."

-Finally, someone asked what the aforementioned reporter was probably trying to convey: "Have other teams contacted you about your assistants?" Harbaugh said, "I don't talk about other people's jobs other than my own." Stonewalled again, but at least you got the answer you were looking for.

-Of course, he spoke about how proud he was of the team and the organization, and how difficult it was to go from 6-10 to an NFC Title Game berth in only one season. Then in true Harbaugh fashion, he ended the presser by ridiculing a question about how he spent his time after the game.

"Is this California that everybody wants to know how you feel, care about what you thought, what you did, how your pinky that just a California thing?" Harbaugh asked aloud. "Not where I come from. No one really's a Midwestern thing."

For the record, he went to Palo Alto High after spending the early part of his adolescence in Iowa and Michigan. Of course, the prickly pear refrained from answering the actual question, something of minimal consequence in this town when you win--and he did that in spades this season.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ryan's Reaction: 49ers' Improbable Year Ends at NFC Title Game

Kyle Williams sadly etched his name in Niners lore for all the wrong reasons Sunday night.

1) CONTROVERSIAL CALLS? I'm sorry, but I was listening to KNBR's Red & Gold Wrap-up on the drive back to my apartment, and some of these fans calling in were out of their minds. There was no controversy with any of the calls. The refs got every review right, and while pairing this defeat with the 1990-91 NFC Title Game loss on the same Candlestick field to the same Giants franchise made tonight even more painful, the Niners lost fair and square.

2) WHAT TO DO WITH ALEX? To the caller who argued we should lock up Alex Smith long-term because of his performance this year as well as his "selfnessness" in taking less money to stay in S.F. over the years, that is just untrue. He took a "paycut" from 2009-11 because there were NO OTHER TAKERS!

To be fair, he played well enough this year in a game-managing role to earn the right to return. But is one great drive last week combined with a 12-for-26 line tonight worthy of a long-term deal? He clearly didn't earn the first $35 million he got from 2005-10.

The truth is that Smith didn't lose this game, but as has been the case all season long with the exception of the Saints game, he didn't win it either. So the question becomes, do you upgrade?

Because they will draft Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, the Colts will figure out whether or not to put Peyton Manning on the trading block. While he's the only signal-caller whom I could think of that I would want, you don't know what his health is like, much less if he'll play again. And with the Raiders' deal with Cincinnati for Carson Palmer as a precedent, he'll command no less than two first-rounders and probably an additional second or third-rounder.

the Niners feel they must win now, and they can strike a deal with Indianapolis that would make the second of the two first-round picks conditional upon Manning playing a sufficient percentage of snaps next year, then it would be hard to pass up on that offer.

The team already has a young quarterback in soon-to-be second-year signal-caller Colin Kaepernick. However in his last job in the college ranks, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh did recruit Heisman Robert Griffin of Baylor. If he became available, you have to wonder if he and general manager Trent Baalke would pull the trigger. Maybe they include Kaepernick in a deal to trade up. The question becomes how Harbaugh feels about Kaepernick's future if he wasn't ready enough to beat out Smith this year.

My solution: If you can't find an upgrade through a trade or free agency (which will be hard given this market), sign him to a two-year deal (in the NFL that really means two one-year contracts), keep a vigilant eye on Kaepernick's offseason workouts, and acquire both a No. 1 receiver and a productive threat in the slot to compensate for whatever deficiencies Smith has--because it looks like you're stuck with him for 2012. Michael Crabtree disappeared tonight and perhaps would flourish without the pressure of having to be the Z pass-catcher.

3) BOLSTER THE SECONDARY. One thing Baalke should address in the offseason is adding more depth at cornerback. When Tarell Brown left the game via injury, the Giants went right at his replacement Tramaine Brock for what ended up being a crucial touchdown. That's the only hole in what I thought was the best defense in the NFC.

4) KYLE'S KATASTROPHIC KOUGHUPS. Your heart goes out to Kyle Williams. Those were some crucial fumbles (The first punt return gaffe was inexcusable; get out of the way!), but much like Roger Craig and Adam Walker in the Ghosts of Niners Playoff Past, you can't pin the loss solely on him. Both the offense and defense had several chances to put the game away and didn't come through, either. But unless he has a monster 2012, he will certainly be remembered for all the wrong reasons now.

5) GOLDEN LINING. Overall it was an amazing year that exceeded anything I would have hoped for out of the 49ers. To have the team just one field goal away from the Super Bowl, Harbaugh accomplished what I thought wouldn't be possible until Year Two or Three of his reign. The prickly pear deserves all the credit in the world for making the people of San Francisco proud of their professional football franchise again.

The staff, most of which consisted of his guys at Stanford like defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and his counterpart on offense, Greg Roman, meshed seamlessly with other assistants such as mainstay defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and well-respected special teams guru Brad Seely, who will undoubtedly be a head coaching candidate elsewhere this season. Hopefully for selfish reasons, the Niners can keep Seely on at least for one more year.

Baalke has also done a surprisingly commendable job in the draft. Frank Gore showed no signs of slowing down, and it was partially due to a lessened load alleviated by mid-round find Kendall Hunter, while all-world Patrick Willis finally found a partner in crime in tackling machine Navorro Bowman. Although free agent acquisition Braylon Edwards didn't quite pan out in the receiving corps, emerging team leader Donte Whitner turned out to be the pickup of the season. Still, Baalke will surely be on the clock this offseason to show he's worthy of his Executive of the Year title with the bar set so high for 2012.

But nobody has it better than the 49er Faithful after undeservedly spending nine years in the toilet. What made this franchise great under Eddie DeBartolo wasn't the expectation that the team would be a Super Bowl contender, but the legitimate feeling that it belonged because of the synergy and quality of the personnel and coaching on the field.

And they're here to stay.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rapid Reaction to Joel Diaz Jr. TKO7 Guy Robb

Bad stoppage by Vic Drakulich (what's new) spoiling what will surely be an early candidate for Fight of the Year!

Not a single moment do I remember sitting down at any point of the fight. When you're filled with suspense not knowing when the fight will end, it clearly has piqued your interest and has your entertainment meter buzzing.

Promoters, managers, and fighters take note. A loss on your record isn't the end of the world for your TV chances if you give the fans something they want.

A damn shame for people who don't have Showtime, because a fight like this is what would get you to love boxing again.

Either way, congrats to both Joel and Guy for taking us back to the glory days of the sport!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nonito Donaire Holding Public Workout in San Carlos this Saturday, Jan. 21

Nonito Donaire will hold a public workout at Undisputed Gym in San Carlos this Saturday, Jan. 21, from 1:00-3:30pm.

The "Filipino Flash" fights Feb. 4 in San Antonio on HBO against Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the WBO junior featherweight title, which is his first fight at 122 pounds after unifying two bantamweight belts at 118.

The gym is located at 883 E. San Carlos St. If you're taking Highway 101, exit Holly St.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012