Detroit boxing icon Emanuel Steward has died

By Mike Brudenell

Detroit Free Press Sports Writer

Emanuel Steward, the Godfather of Detroit boxing, is dead at 68, according to friends and heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, whom Steward trained.

Steward’s family has yet to confirm his death. A representative of the family also has told WXYZ-TV (Channel 7)that Steward is alive.

Steward nurtured and guided the likes of Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty and Milton McCrory to world titles in the 1980s at the Kronk Gym on McGraw in Detroit. He was hospitalized in September and underwent surgery for what his sister called diverticulitis, a stomach disorder.

A prayer vigil was held Sept. 23 in Walled Lake, leading those concerned to believe the illness may be more serious.

Klitschko said in a statement today: “Boxing has suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Emanuel Steward.”

Palace fight promoter Joseph Donofrio said: “The boxing world has lost one of its most valuable and honorable assets with the loss of Emanuel Steward.  He was not only my mentor in the world of promotions but also to thousands of others here in Detroit and his extended reach throughout the world.”

Jackie Kallen, former Kronk PR person, manager of James Toney and inspiration for the movie “Against the Ropes,” commented: “I will never get over losing Emanuel Steward. I can’t tell you how much he meant to a Jewish girl like me. I’d be nothing in my life and in the world of boxing without Emanuel. My heart is broken.”

Born in Bottom Creek, W. Va., Steward moved at age 12 with his mother to Detroit, where he became a street-smart kid with a short fuse and quick fists.

In a life-changing move away from the gangs, Steward joined the Brewster Recreation Center and began an amateur boxing career, winning the 1963 Golden Gloves tournament in the bantamweight division.

With his family needing his financial support, Steward became a lineman with the city before he and his half-brother James began coaching at the Kronk, a hotbed for young amateur fighters.

Steward took the Kronk and its fighters to dizzying heights, transforming a skinny Hearns into one of the most devastating punchers in the history of the ring and mentoring a gallery of supporting champs over the years, including Jimmy Paul, Duane Thomas, Dennis Andries, Steve McCrory, Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis and present-day heavyweight king Klitschko.

Although the original Kronk Gym, which was housed in the basement of the Kronk Recreation Center, was closed in 2006 by the city of Detroit because of financial hardship, Steward was able to relocate the heart and soul of Kronk to a small building on East Warren, a few blocks west of Southfield Road, where champions and street kids still train shoulder-to-shoulder.

Steward, who worked for years as an HBO color boxing commentator, was relentless in his charity work around Detroit, establishing the Kronk Gym Foundation to help endangered young boys and girls get an education and shot at a normal life.

He never turned a boxer or someone in need of a meal or a chat away from his home in Rosedale Park nor from his Kronk Gym.

“Emanuel was Mr. Boxing in Detroit,” said Frank Garza, a leading Michigan fight referee and close friend of Steward’s. “He was like Gordie Howe is to Detroit hockey and Al Kaline to Detroit baseball.

“He loved to live, and he loved to give. He was a down-to-earth guy when you were with him. As a trainer, he was a brilliant strategist. If you ever wanted to win a fight, you just listened to his advice.”

Nick Diaz Will Get Top Contender Not GSP/Condit Winner When He Returns in 2013

by MMA Weekly

When Nick Diaz is eligible to re-apply for a fight license in February 2013, a top fight in the UFC welterweight division will be awaiting him, but it won’t be a title fight.

Diaz lost his last bout by unanimous decision to current UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit. He was then suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after testing positive for marijuana following the bout.

Because it was his second infraction for the same substance, Diaz was handed a one-year suspension by the commission. The suspension runs through Feb. 4, 2013.

The UFC’s welterweight division will move on in Diaz’s absence, most notably on Nov. 17 at UFC 154 when Georges St-Pierre returns to action to face Carlos Condit to unify the welterweight title.

Also on that card, Martin Kampmann meets Johny Hendricks in what is presumably a No. 1 contender’s fight with the winner getting the next crack at either St-Pierre or Condit.

While the reigning UFC champion still has to get through Condit before anything else can happen, St-Pierre has had a long standing feud with Diaz over the last two years, and a fight between the two rivals could be one of the most requested fights in UFC history.

UFC president Dana White is well aware that many fans are still clamoring for a St-Pierre vs. Diaz showdown, but it won’t be the fight welcoming the Stockton bad boy back to the cage even if GSP defeats Condit.

“When Diaz gets off suspension, he’ll have a fight against one of the top guys at 170 pounds, and then we’ll see what happens,” White said this week.

“I agree, a lot of people want to see that fight.”

Diaz’s camp has pushed for a fight against pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva, although there’s not much chance that bout actually comes to fruition.

What’s more likely is Diaz returns in early 2013 and faces any number of top eligible welterweight contenders currently without a fight. Names would include Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, or Jake Ellenberger, but right now Diaz still has to wait for the suspension he’s currently under to be lifted and then he can book his next fight.

Garcia stops Morales in 4th round to retain titles

by Larry Fleisher

NEW YORK (AP) — Danny Garcia stopped Erik Morales at 1:23 of the fourth round Saturday night to retain his WBC and WBA super lightweight titles in the first boxing event at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Garcia (25-0) beat Morales for the second time this year, though this one was much easier than the unanimous decision he won from the 36-year-old in Houston on March 24. After a quiet opening two rounds, Garcia began getting the best of Morales with a series of body blows in the third.

Garcia continued firing blows at Morales in the fourth and ended it quickly it for his 16th career knockout. He hit Morales on the right side of the head with a sharp left hook, and climbed the ropes in triumph while awaiting the official announcement.

”I noticed when I was backing him up with the jabs a little bit and when I was in the pocket hit with a hook one time,” Garcia said. ”My dad was like, ‘You slapped him with a hook.’ So the second time I was backing him up. He was trying to take me to the body so I just stood in the pocket. I just turned my whole body. I hit him with a perfect left hook and it landed.”

Garcia remained unbeaten despite connecting on 26 percent of his 220 punches thrown. He dominated in power punching, by landing 47-of-91, including nine of his final 13 that led to his latest win.

The 24-year-old Philadelphia native had his second fourth-round knockout in three months. On July 14, he stopped Amir Khan in his first title defense, winning that fight with the same punch that stopped Morales.

”I showed him too much respect in the first fight,” Garcia said. ”You see the first fight, I thought this fight would be more of a war. I never duck anybody. I fought Khan and no one gave me a chance. Keep lining them up and I’ll knock them down.”

Morales (52-9) failed two random tests this month because of the diet supplement clenbuterol. He blamed the results on tainted meat, then passed a third test this week and remained on the card.

”Mentally when I found out that his urine was dirty, I was like that’s we took the test and I’m not going to do it,” Garcia said. ”I wanted a fair fight. But when I woke up in the morning, my mom told my dad that I should fight because she had a gut feeling that I would win. So I listened to my mom and I went on with the fight.”

Morales, who has held the super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight and junior welterweight titles, was fighting for the first time on the East Coast and lost for third time in his last four fights.

”I was prepared to come in and fight but I couldn’t get it done,” Morales said. ”I couldn’t get my movement.”

Morales said that he wants to fight one more time in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, and retire.

The fight marked the return of championship boxing to Brooklyn for the first time in more than 80 years and the card had a Brooklyn feel to it. Leading into the main event was an undercard featuring Brooklyn natives Paulie Malignaggi and Peter Quillan, who each won their fights.

According to Showtime boxing analyst and historian Steve Farhood, these were the first title fights in Brooklyn since Aug. 5, 1931, at Ebbets Field when light-heavyweight champion Maxie Rosenbloom retained his title with a 15-round decision over Jimmy Slattery.

Brooklyn natives Mike Tyson and Zab Judah were in attendance along with Nets point guard Deron Williams.

The crowd was announced at 11,112.

Brandon Rios hits back at detractors after win over Mike Alvarado in Fight of the Year candidate

by Kevin Iole

CARSON, Calif. – A pack of reporters pursued Brandon Rios into the bowels of the Home Depot Center. Moments earlier, Rios ended one of the great fights of the century by pummeling Mike Alvarado along the ropes and forcing referee Pat Russell to stop it at 1:57 of the seventh round.

Rios spied the reporters, many of whom had blasted him in December and then again in April for missing weight in a pair of lightweight title fights, and the broad smile across his face instantly turned into a sneer.

Brandon Rios celebrates his seventh-round TKO win over Mike Alvarado. (Getty)”Did I prove a point to you [expletives]?” Rios said, poking his finger at one reporter.

He’d won what most certainly will become the 2012 Fight of the Year in dramatic fashion, and likely earned a shot at the winner of the Dec. 8 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.

Yet, Rios wasn’t content. He hadn’t forgotten the slights directed his way and wouldn’t let them pass, even in the shining moment of his professional career.

His desire, his love of the battle and, most of all, his sheer will to prove his doubters wrong, is what makes him great. He’s as motivated to perform as any athlete in the sport and is willing to do just about anything to win.

“That,” Russell said in the quiet of the locker room a half hour later, “was one unbelievable fight.”

Bob Arum, who has promoted fights for 46 years, said it stands alongside the great matches he’s ever seen.

“I put it right up there with [Muhammad]Ali-[Joe]Frazier, their third fight, the one in Manila, with [Marvelous Marvin]Hagler-[Thomas] Hearns, right up there with those fights,” Arum said. “It’s definitely the Fight of the Year. How could it not be?”

The bout was reminiscent of the classic 2005 scrap between Jose Luis Castillo and the late Diego Corrales, a match which ended in an almost identical manner. After a back-and-forth battle, Corrales pinned Castillo on the ropes and fired away until the bout was stopped.

That stood as the greatest fight of the 21st century until Saturday, when Rios and Alvarado put on a brutal brawl that may edge it from its perch.

Alvarado threw 779 punches in less than seven full rounds, landing 175, yet he still came out on the short end. He was ripping Rios with right hands and uppercuts, but Rios would smile and keep coming forward.

“I’ve got a great chin and I proved that tonight,” Rios said. “I love getting hit.”

If so, Alvarado made him plenty happy. From the opening moments of the bout until the savage, unexpected finish, Alvarado was going toe-to-toe with Rios and giving as good as he got.

At the time of the stoppage, judges Max Deluca and Zach Young had it even, 57-57, the same score as Yahoo! Sports. Judge James Jen Kin had it 58-56 for Rios.

Alvarado’s right hand seemed to be finding a home until Rios landed a crushing right that changed the fight, and presumably the course of his career.

Mike Alvarado (R) lands a punch on Brandon Rios in the sixth round. (Reuters)

But it was the punch that preceded the right that did the real damage. He grew up a huge fan of Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. and watched how Chavez would brutalize opponents to the body.

Rios was an apt student. He went after Alvarado’s body, and hard.

“Julio Cesar Chavez taught me, if you break the body, the head will fall,” Rios said. “[In the sixth round] I hit him to the body and I saw he was hurt. I hit him with the right overhand and I felt I stunned him. But it was the last 30 seconds of that round. I knew I couldn’t get him then, but I did it in the next round and I hurt him pretty good. If the referee hadn’t stopped it, I think I would have hurt him pretty bad.”

Alvarado’s failing was not keeping the fight at distance. Rios closed the gap early and the two traded inside much of the night, with less than two feet separating them. They would just put their hands down and punch.

By about the fourth round, though, Alvarado began to create the space he needed. He was pumping his jab and following it with a vicious right that was consistently finding its home.

“I figured it would be a tremendous, tremendous fight because of the styles of the two guys,” Arum said. “… This exceeded what I thought. These two guys stood in the center of the ring and they didn’t clinch once. They threw every punch they had until one guy went down and the referee stopped the fight. You just didn’t know who was going to win. I thought Alvarado was coming on strong at one point there, but then Rios would come back. The back-and-forth was amazing.”

It wasn’t exactly the greatest show of defense ever, as their faces attested afterward. But it was a fight fan’s dream, action from bell to bell in round after round.

“God, that was a great fight, and I don’t think any of those punches missed,” Russell said.

Brandon Rios (L) and Mike Alvarado trade punches in the third round. (Reuters)

The fight will launch Rios into stardom with a mega-fight in early 2013. Alvarado, too, will get a big fight, but he lamented what might have been.

Holding an ice pack to his face, both of his eyes swollen grotesquely, Alvarado grinned when asked if being part of such an epic bout was of any consolation.

“It’s still exciting to know [people think] that, but losing, man it sucks,” Alvarado said, grinning wanly. “I hate losing, but it’s only going to make me stronger. I’m going to come back twice as strong. Maybe it’s just what I needed to be a better fighter.”

It’s scary to think either of them could come back any better than they were on Saturday.

If Rios is any better, the Pacquiao-Marquez winner is going to have a major problem on his hands next year.

“If Pacquiao beats Marquez, Pacquiao with Rios next year would be an unbelievably huge draw, because people would know they’d see crazy wild action,” Arum said.

True. But if they don’t know they’ll see crazy wild action in a Brandon Rios fight by this point, they’re just not boxing fans.

Is Shane Andreesen Canada’s Top Heavyweight? We will find out December 14th.

Is this Canada’s top Heavyweight Boxer?  Shane Andreesen has made a name for himself in his last two fights, vaulting him into a Canadian Heavyweight Title shot on December 14, 2012 in Toronto.  Be sure to watch Canada’s next great heavyweight.

Shane Andreesen
sex male
birthdate 1983-07-19 / age 29
suspensions
manager/agent
division heavyweight
rating

91 / 1117

3 / 30

stance orthodox
height 6′ 4″   /   193cm
US ID 074152
alias Shotgun
country Canada
residence Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada
birth name Shane Arthur Andreesen
won 12 (KO 7) + lost 3 (KO 2) + drawn 0 = 15 rounds boxed 67 KO% 46.67

Jones-Sonnen may be a financial windfall, but it denigrates the UFC light heavyweight belt

by Kevin Iole

Chael Sonnen was on the phone, a hopeful sound in his voice.

“Please,” he asked, “please, please tell me that I’m fighting Jones. Please.”

When the answer was yes, that he would indeed be coaching opposite UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones on the 17th season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and then fighting him in a pay-per-view bout on April 27, Sonnen unleashed a long, sustained roar.

Jon Jones talks to the media after his UFC 152 win over Vitor Belfort. (UFC)

“Oh thank you,” he said, as he cheered his own good fortune. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And let me call you back. I’ve got to call my Mom and tell her.”

And with that, what should be one of the biggest pay-per-view cards in UFC history, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, officially kicked off.

You don’t have to like it. I sure don’t. I’d much rather have seen Jones fight middleweight champion Anderson Silva in his next bout in a match that would have pitted far and away the two best fighters in the world. The reality, though, is that there are 800,000 or so out there, maybe even a million, who will pay the $50 the UFC asks to see Jones and Sonnen fight.

The match came about, UFC president Dana White said, because of yet another injury. The company has been plagued by major, long-term injuries to its biggest stars and top fighters throughout 2012.

This time, it was an injury to Jones himself that led to the coaching stint on TUF and the fight with Sonnen being made.

Jones injured his right arm when he was arm barred by Vitor Belfort in the first round of his Sept. 22 title defense at UFC 152 in Toronto. Doctors told White that Jones couldn’t fight again until April.

White said Tuesday the plan had been for Jones to defend the belt against Dan Henderson at the company’s annual Super Bowl weekend card in February in Las Vegas. Henderson was injured in August, which forced the cancelation of UFC 151 when Jones declined to face Sonnen with just eight days notice. As a result, that put Jones onto the UFC 152 card against Belfort.

Now, with Jones unable to go until April and thus, not available to fight Henderson on Feb. 2, White had to adjust. The irony of the situation is that if Jones had taken the fight against Sonnen at UFC 151 when it was offered, he likely wouldn’t have injured his arm and wouldn’t be hurt now.

“This wasn’t where I was going,” White said. “But when this happened and Jones was going to be out for so long, it made sense. I understand completely [about Sonnen not having won a fight at light heavyweight], but it’s a fight people want to see.”

The UFC is in the business of making fights people want to see. People want to see the fight because of Sonnen’s incessant trash talking and the way Sonnen has tweaked Jones publicly, particularly on Twitter.

Sonnen trashed Silva and wound up getting two fights against the man most consider the greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all-time. Those fights, and particularly his performance at UFC 117 in 2010, helped make Sonnen one of the company’s five biggest pay-per-view stars.

White said at the postfight news conference at UFC 152 that Jones, Sonnen, Silva, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans are its biggest pay-per-view attractions.

Putting two of them together is almost a slam-dunk megafight.

That, though, doesn’t make it right.

Sonnen was knocked out in devastating fashion by Silva in the second round at UFC 148. That dropped him to 0-2 in his two bouts with Silva. Whether or not he won five of the seven rounds against Silva, he didn’t win the fights. He lost.

One of the things that White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta did in taking control of the company in 2001 was to try to structure the titles in a way that they meant something.

There has been a path to a championship that is transparent and understandable. No one was given title shots just because of their name or who their manager happened to be, as has been the case far too long in boxing.

Chael Sonnen shakes Anderson Silva’s hand after his loss at UFC 148. (UFC)

By adhering to that rule as strictly as possible, White and Fertitta gave the UFC title belts meaning. Not many boxing fans care much for the WBO, the WBA, the IBF or the WBC. Very few can name all of their champions or their top contenders.

In the UFC, with some exceptions, it’s clear. One must win his way to a title shot.

Sonnen, though, is getting a title shot simply because he’s outspoken and because there is no better self-promoter in the sport.

He didn’t earn this shot. He was given it. And that demeans the belt.

It will, though, make Jones, Sonnen and the UFC a lot of money and figures to immeasurably help the ratings on TUF. The reality series created by White and Fertitta, and that helped turn the UFC into a multibillion dollar business, has been listing recently.

Ratings are down and interest seems to be waning.

White, though, insisted he was not asked by Fox officials to put Jones and Sonnen on the show and that it wasn’t done as a means to boost ratings. He said the show is doing what it is supposed to do.

“That’s what the word is, that TUF needs the help?” White asked in response to a question whether the decision was driven by a desire to give the show a boost. “People love to speculate and talk [expletive], but the truth of it is, they don’t know what the [expletive] they’re talking about. I have all the answers. The Internet does not. We built this company and we know what we’re doing. That had nothing to do with it.”

White also said having Jones and Sonnen coach on “The Ultimate Fighter,” did nothing to interfere in a potential Jones-Silva superfight. He said Jones-Silva “was never going to happen that soon,” and said Silva will face St-Pierre long before he fights Jones.

Thus, White was able to put Jones and Sonnen on TUF, where the exposure on FX each week will undoubtedly make the pay-per-view bigger.

It’s hard to argue with the business logic of the decision, but from a purely sporting angle, it sucks.

A guy who did nothing to qualify for a title shot is getting one for no reason other than that he’s quick with a quip.

The UFC bills itself “as real as it gets,” but this time, it’s nothing but a fairy tale.

Anderson Silva ruins another light heavyweight, stoking fire for a superfight against Jon Jones

by Dan Wetzel

Maybe it was when Anderson Silva, in an attempt to make the UFC 153 main event competitive, kept standing flat footed and leaning back against the Octagon, literally positioning himself in the ideal spot for his opponent, Stephan Bonnar, to attack him.

Or when he dropped his hands and dared the bigger, heavier Bonnar to punch him. Or when he actually took a few of Bonnar’s fists and elbows and just smiled. Or when his corner told him to knock it off and he laughed and reassured them that he was in no danger.

Anderson Silva’s knee to the Stephan Bonnar’s stomach was the beginning of the end. (Getty)

Or, perhaps, it was when, deciding he’d done enough to give his home nation fans a show in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, Silva grabbed Bonnar, threw him to the ground and then delivered a crushing knee to the solar plexus. The fight ended seconds later at 4:31 of the first round.

Somewhere in there, in a performance that was a complete folly mostly because of Silva’s complete genius, was the renewed desire to see the middleweight champ stay up at light heavyweight and finish off his incomparable career with a series of big-money, big-moment fights.

Like against Jon “Bones” Jones, UFC light heavyweight champ and perhaps the only man on earth with the physical tools and skill set to beat Spider Silva.

“No I’m not going to fight at 205 again,” Silva said after moving his UFC record to 16-0 and his overall mark to 33-4. He hasn’t lost in nearly seven years.

“I fought at 205 to save the event,” he continued. “I fight at 185 pounds. I was doing this just to save the show and put on a show for everybody.”

The name Jones wasn’t mentioned in the question that spurred that answer but Silva’s answer was pointed to everyone around the globe wanting to see the sport’s two best and most dynamic talents square off. Silva has been consistent that the fight won’t happen. Jones has said the same thing.

They are probably correct. But no one has to be pleased about it, including UFC president Dana White, who thinks he could put enough money on the table to change Silva’s mind.

“The amount of money offered for that fight,” White said at the post-fight press conference, “I guarantee you I’ll make him say, ‘yes, yes, yes.’

White always believes money talks and he’s often correct. Silva remained unmoved though.

“It’d be a travesty,” if Jones-Silva doesn’t happen, said Joe Rogan, the UFC color commentator after the fight.

“For history’s sake,” Rogan implored. “For history’s sake.”

Historic it would be. A dream bout, one where no one could be overly confident in their guy. The current best against what looks like the future best. If Jones goes on to have the career everyone projects, there will forever be debates about who was greater. It’d be nice to see them settle it in the Octagon.

Anderson Silva dropped his hands and let Stephan Bonnar take his best shot in the first. (EFE)

“I’m not the best,” Silva said after recording his 16th consecutive victory in UFC. “I just believe I can do things other people think are impossible.”

Well, he’s wrong on both accounts. He is the best; Jones, just 25, is still developing. And there can’t be anyone left that believes there is something impossible for Silva to do once he steps inside the Octagon.

All of which makes these fights like Bonnar a bit melancholy. Other than two battles with Chael Sonnen at middleweight, Silva has rarely been challenged during his epic run of success. Three times he’s stepped up to 205, and all three times he made a mockery of what were supposed to be stronger guys.

Bonnar isn’t an elite fighter and isn’t a tune-up for someone the caliber of Jones. Any good fighter at 205 would beat Bonnar.

Still, the way Silva tried to make the fight competitive made this an absurd exhibition of his skill. It was like Michael Phelps swimming with an anchor wrapped around one ankle … and still winning handily.

At age 37, there is nothing left for Silva to accomplish at 185 and few, if any, interesting fights on the horizon. He’s cleaned that division out multiple times. He could beat Sonnen a third time, but other than that, the only reason to watch Silva fight is to watch the pyrotechnics of his finishes.

He’s turned into a greater showman of late, moved on from a stretch of his career when he’d occasionally pout in the Octagon and not finish with authority. Even with his age climbing, he’s never looked better.

Anderson Silva celebrates after beating Stephan Bonnar for his 16th straight UFC win. (USPW)

So if only before he retired or lost a step he’d attempt to make the fight with Jones, a mega-bout that would likely shatter all UFC records for anticipation, PPV buys and live gate.

And, as Rogan noted, there’s “history’s sake.”

None of this is Silva’s obligation. He can go back to 185 and make millions and cement his legacy as the Greatest of All-Time. Fans will continue to tune in just to see what he can do next, what impossibility he makes possible.

It just sure would be great if he tried it against Jones though, where leaning back against the cage and taking punches wouldn’t be advisable.

Brandon Rios sees opportunity for all-time classic in fight against Mike Alvarado

by Kevin Iole

Winning, Brandon Rios says in one breath, is all that matters. Getting his hand raised at the conclusion of his super lightweight fight with Mike Alvarado on Saturday in Carson, Calif., is all that matters to him.

Rios goes on to talk about the impact of a win, how it might position him for a 2013 match with either Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez.

“The most important thing is coming out of that place with the win,” he says.

Brandon Rios celebrates his win vs. John Murray for the WBA lightweight title. (AP)

But his voice lacks conviction as he speaks those words. Rios is the ultimate fan’s fighter and he knows that, in this bout at least, it’s not only that he wins but the manner in which he does that it is going to matter most.

This is a 26-year-old who is keenly aware of the expectations surrounding his fight, which will be the opener of an HBO doubleheader on Saturday. Promoters toss around the moniker, “Fight of the Year candidate,” lightly, but this is one of those events in which they don’t need to do much hyping.

All they need to do to fill the Home Depot Center on Saturday is make certain that boxing fans have seen a Rios or an Alvarado highlight tape.

Promoter Bob Arum calls it “a can’t miss fight.”

There have only been a handful of fights in the last few years which have been as hotly anticipated among the cognoscenti going in as Rios-Alvarado. They’re aggressive, offensively oriented fighters with mean dispositions and killer instincts.

Rios, though, doesn’t have that one fight that truly stands out yet. Muhammad Ali had Joe Frazier. Diego Corrales had Jose Luis Castillo. Marvelous Marvin Hagler had Thomas Hearns. And Arturo Gatti had Micky Ward.

No memorable bout graces Rios’ resume yet. He hopes that Alvarado becomes the one, though that he knows as much means absorbing a lot of punishment himself in order to get it.

“Even in the amateurs, I had a style where I went for it,” Rios said. “I always loved the way Arturo Gatti fought. He wasn’t going out there looking to score points. He was going out there to [expletive] you up and beat the [expletive] out of you.

“I go out there that way. But I want to have my Gatti-[Micky] Ward fight, my Corrales-Castillo. You make your name in those fights. Those are the kinds of fights people never forget.”

A Rios-Alvarado fight has the potential to be in that class. Rios is 30-0-1 with 22 knockouts, while Alvarado is 33-0 with 23 knockouts. More to the point, though, they fight the way Ray Lewis plays linebacker: Fiercely, courageously and with a chip on their shoulders.

Neither of them has faced an opponent as talented or as tough as they’ll face on Saturday.

Mike Alvarado sees plenty of opportunity in his fight against Brandon Rios. (AP)

Rios, who has been heavily criticized in his last two outings for struggling to make the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, sought Alvarado against the advice of his manager, Cameron Dunkin.

Dunkin is one of the more sage men in the game and he knew better than most how difficult a fight with Alvarado would be. He also knew that Alvarado still hadn’t made his name among the casual fans and that, as a result, it was a high risk, low reward-type of fight.

Dunkin, though, was unable to convince Rios to go in a different direction.

“This is a fight that Brandon really asked for and it was a fight that I was real hesitant to take, of course,” Dunkin said. “I wanted to get him a couple of other fights and I talked to trainer Robert Garcia about that. When it presented itself, Brandon was so excited and I didn’t want to disappoint him, so we went to work on this fight and boy, everyone is very excited about it.”

Few are more amped than Rios. He’s usually a cool customer until the bell rings, but he’s so anxious to get it on in this one that he has had to constantly remind himself to relax.

He idolized Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., the sport’s ultimate tough guy. Fight after fight, Chavez Sr. would go out and out-will and out-tough his opponents.

Rios has proven so far to have that kind of dedication, but he hasn’t had an opponent who could help him put together a fight for the ages.

“I talk to Robert about it all the time, how I want my war,” Rios said. “Ever since I came into this sport, I was saying I want to be in a Corrales-Castillo type of fight. I want to experience that. This fight right here, this could be the one, it really could.

“When you talk about all these legendary fights we’re talking about, I want someday for the reporters to be asking some other fighters about one of my fights. I want that classic battle so bad, you can’t even imagine.”

Bigfoot Crushes Travis Browne at UFC on FX: “Browne vs. Bigfoot”

by Jim Genia

Brazilian behemoth Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva came into his UFC on FX bout against Travis Browne riding a two-fight losing streak, but the 266-pound heavyweight employed his fists — particularly, a massive right hand — to right his course and notch a much-needed win via technical knockout in the early half of the first round.

Of course, it helped that Browne — himself 246 pounds and on a three-fight win streak — injured his knee with the very first high-kick he threw.  To Browne’s credit, the bum knee didn’t visibly manifest itself until about a minute in, by which point he’d already picked at the former EliteXC champ with low-kicks from the outside and squirmed out of a potentially deadly tie-up against the cage.  But with each subsequent step Browne grew more and more hobbled, and sensing vulnerability, Bigfoot lunged in and planted his fist squarely against Browne’s jawline.  The smaller man crumpled against the cage, and when Bigfoot followed up with a barrage of punches, referee Herb Dean wasted no time jumping in.

The stoppage was official at 3:27 of the first round.

With the win, Antonio Silva reestablishes himself as a force in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Jeremy Stephens Arrested on Outstanding Warrant; Bout at UFC on FX 5 in Jeopardy (UPDATED)

by MMA Weekly

UFC on FX 5 fighter Jeremy Stephens was arrested Friday morning  in Minneapolis in connection to an outstanding warrant and his bout with Yves Edwards is currently in jeopardy.

Representatives of the Minneapolis Police Department confirmed to MMAWeekly.com on Friday that Stephens was arrested and taken into custody in connection with an outstanding warrant. Stephens’ arrest was first reported by MMAJunkie.com.

Unfortunately the police could offer no further information in regards to what the outstanding warrant was in reference to. Stephens is originally from Iowa, which borders Minnesota to the south, so it could be from an incident in his previous residency in the area, but no details were available at the time of the arrest.

Stephens is currently being held at the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility, according to an online database for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department.

Calls to Stephens’ representatives and UFC officials were not immediately returned.

It’s unclear at this time if Stephens will be released or even allowed to compete at tonight’s UFC on FX 5 card against Edwards. UFC officials have made no announcement about the arrest or the bout as of yet.

UPDATE: Stephens’ arrest has now been updated by the Minneapolis Police Department and he has been listed as in custody without bail due to an out of state felony charge. A further update indicated the arrest warrant is from the state of Iowa.

Shortly after the Minneapolis PD updated its arrest record on Stephens to indicate he was being held without bail, UFC president Dana White tweeted, “Don’t listen to the media! Nobody ever told them Jeremy isn’t fighting. He is fighting!!”

Neither the police department or other UFC officials added any further comment to the situation.