Efrain Alvarez Selected by Mexican & United States Under-23 National Teams

Efrain Alvarez is weighing his options…

The 18-year-old professional soccer player and LA Galaxy forward has been selected by both the Mexican and United States under-23 national teams, as the two nations compete to have Alvarez represent them at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

Efrain Alvarez

This week, CONCACAF announced the official preliminary rosters for all eight teams participating in the 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament, set to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico from March 18 to March 30. Though Alvarez appears on both the rosters for Mexico and the United States, the player will need to make a decision by March 8, the latest any country can submit their final 20-player roster.

Alvarez, who was born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, is eligible to represent both countries under FIFA‘s statutes for dual-nationals. In the past, he has played for the United States at the under-15 level before switching to participate with Mexico’s under-15 and under-17 squads. With El Tri, Alvarez played in the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, scoring four goals and guiding Mexico to a second place finish.

However, Alvarez accepted a call into the United States men’s national team last December, for a training camp that included fellow dual-national and LA Galaxy teammate Julian Araujo. Afterward, USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter gushed over Alvarez, praising his ability to play in multiple positions on offense.

“What I saw today in training is [that] he’s a guy you want to be around the ball, a very creative player, has a good change of pace, very good in tight spaces,” Berhalter said at the time.

Berhalter admitted that despite the invitation, Alvarez had not decided whether to pursue a one-time switch to join the United States and cement his international future. Under the new FIFA eligibility rules, players like Alvarez are able to change allegiances before the age of 21 if they have played less than three competitive matches at the senior level.

Mexico will face the United States in the final Group A match on March 24.

Gio González Agrees to Minor League Deal with Miami Marlins

Gio González is returning to his home state…

The 35-year-old Cuban American professional baseball player and veteran left-handed pitcher has agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins and will take part in the team’s major league camp.

Gio Gonzalez

González, a South Florida native, pitched in 12 games last year for the Chicago White Sox with four starts and had an ERA of 4.83. He has a career record of 131-101 with a 3.70 ERA in 13 seasons for four teams.

At 35, González provides experienced depth for the Marlins’ talented young rotation. He is a two-time MLB All-Star, with the Oakland As in 2011 and Washington Nationals in 2012.

Edson Barboza Agrees to New Deal with UFC, Sets Fight Against Shane Burgos

Edson Barboza is staying put in the UFC, and he’s lining up his next opponent…

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former Muay Thai kickboxer, a UFC featherweight, has agreed to battle Shane Burgos  in May, according to their teams.

Edson Barboza

The 145-pound bout will take place at UFC 262 on May 15. The UFC hasn’t announced an official venue for the pay-per-view event.

In addition to the bout, Barboza (21-9) has signed a new deal with the UFC. The Brazilian fighter had expressed interest in testing free agency in 2021 but ultimately elected to sign an extension with the promotion he has fought for since 2010.

“We’ve renewed with the UFC, with the understanding Edson wants to be extremely active,” Barboza’s manager Alex Davis told ESPN. “We believe Edson has a good chance to be a contender at featherweight. All the conditions are there now. It’s up to the UFC to give him fights that make sense, and it’s up to Edson to win those fights.”

Burgos (13-2), of New York, shared his excitement on the matchup.

“This is the one,” Burgos told ESPN. “I only want big fights, and this one feels huge. Everyone knows Edson. I’ve been watching him fight in the UFC since I was fighting amateur. I plan on making the absolute most out of this opportunity.”

Burgos is coming off a decision loss to ranked contender Josh Emmett in June, which was his only appearance of 2020. Before that setback, the 29-year-old had won three in a row.

Jose Ramirez to Fight Josh Taylor in Junior Welterweight Unification Title Bout

Jose Ramirez is ready to expand his belt collection…

The junior welterweight unification title bout between the 28-year-old Mexican American boxer and Josh Taylor will take place on May 22 at a to be determined Las Vegas venue.

Jose Ramirez

Ramirez, the WBC and WBO champion, and Taylor, the IBF and WBA champion, had initially been planning to fight on May 8, but the fight was moved as to not conflict with the Canelo AlvarezBilly Joe Saunders title fight. Instead, they’ll fight later in the month, headlining a card on ESPN and simulcast on ESPN+.

“This is the best boxing has to offer, two elite fighters in the prime of their careers colliding in a legacy-defining matchup for the undisputed championship of the world,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said in a news release. “It’s a true 50-50 fight, one that the fans and both fighters demanded.”

Ramirez (26-0, 17 KO) last fought in August, winning a majority decision over Viktor Postol in his first defense as both the WBC and WBO titleholder. He has held the WBC belt since March 17, 2018, when he beat Amir Imam and the WBO belt since July 27, 2019, when he TKO‘d Maurice Hooker in the sixth round.

Taylor (17-0, 13 KO) won the IBF title in a May 2019 decision over Ivan Baranchyk and the WBA belt in a majority decision win over Regis Prograis in October 2019. Taylor, 30, last fought in September 2020, knocking out Apinun Khongsong in the first round.

Both Taylor and Ramirez fought as lightweights in the 2012 London Games, each losing in the quarterfinals in a division won by Vasiliy Lomachenko. On the same side of the bracket, they would have met up in the semifinals had they kept winning. Now, they’ll fight to unify a professional world title instead.

Terence Crawford was the last fighter the unify the division, a feat he accomplished in 2017. Crawford then vacated the titles with a move up to 147 pounds.

Juan Agudelo Signs One-Year Contract with Minnesota United FC

Juan Agudelo is heading to the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Minnesota United FC has added a much-needed striker on a free transfer by signing the 28-year-old Colombian professional soccer player, veteran MLS forward and former USMNT player to a one-year deal.

Juan Agudelo

Last season, Agudelo played 14 games and scored three goals with Major League Soccer side Inter Miami CF. Before that, he played most of his career in MLS with the New England Revolution, scoring 35 goals in 156 regular-season games.

“The crazy thing about Juan [Agudelo] is, you forget he’s just 28. He seems to have been around for years and I go back to Juan, all the way back to the beginning of Orlando,” said Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath. “He was going to go to England, Stoke City, and he was trying to get the paperwork through. He came in and asked if he could train for a week.

“Six weeks later he was still training for us, so we have got a little bit of a connection there. We just think he’s going to be another really valuable squad player for what’s going to be another really hectic year with the condensed program schedule, and for us to bring somebody in who we know can play in the MLS, play three or four positions, he can play through the middle, he can play wide right, wide left.

“Nothing is going to faze him. He had a really good impact last year when he played for Inter Miami. I think it’s a really good pick up for us.”

Agudelo began his professional career in 2010 as a Homegrown Player for the New York Red Bulls, playing his first two seasons in New Jersey. In his time with the club, he made 33 regular season appearances, totaling six goals and two assists.

Internationally, Agudelo has represented the United States at various age levels, having moved to the U.S. from Colombia at the age of seven.

He made appearances for the U17, U20 and U23 teams before earning senior call-ups.

In total, Agudelo has earned 28 senior appearances. He made his debut in a 2010 match against South Africa and scored the game’s only goal, at the time becoming the country’s youngest ever goal scorer in a senior game.

Canelo Alvarez Makes Quick Work of Avni Yildirim to Defend WBA & WBC Super Middleweight Titles

Canelo Alvarez didn’t take long to defend his titles…

The 30-year-old Mexican boxer, the sport’s biggest star and best pound-for-pound fighter, made quick work of his limited foe, Avni Yildirim, to defend his WBA and WBC titles at 168 pounds via third-round TKO at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

Canelo Alvarez

Needing to clear the hurdle of his mandatory challenger in order to begin an ambitious 2021 plan to unify all four super middleweight world titles, Alvarez looked every bit of the audaciously large betting favorite he was coming in.

Alvarez put on quite the performance amid fireworks and a live concert on his walk to the ring alone. After Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) hid behind his high guard for the first two rounds, he finally succumbed to a stiff right cross from Alvarez that dropped him in Round 3.

After trainer Joel Diaz warned his fighter between rounds that he needed to show something or the fight would be stopped, Yildirim stared with a blank expression on his face that caused his corner to stop the fight.

“It doesn’t matter if they are taller and have more reach or whether they have a good new trainer or no trainer, it doesn’t matter,” Alvarez said after the win. “I come here to do my job and win and I come to make history and I have the best trainer in the world [Eddy Reynoso] in my corner.”

Alvarez made a quick return to the ring just two months after dominating unbeaten champion Callum Smith to unify a pair of super middleweight titles. But he opened as an alarming 50-1 favorite over Yildirim, a native of Turkey who didn’t seem to deserve the mandatory shot considering he was fresh off a two-year layoff and a loss in his last fight.

“It’s great to be active. It’s wonderful to be here in Miami. I wanted to have a great fight here and I’m happy it’s a knockout. That’s what I wanted to do,” Alvarez said. “I will fight anyone. I fight the best and I always fight the best. I fight the best at 168 and here I am, making history. I had to fight Yildirim to get the opportunity to fight the best at 168 and I had to do it. I defended my titles and am ready for what’s next.”

What’s next was confirmed for May 8 by promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, who has one fight remaining on a two-bout deal Alvarez signed to open the year. Hearn said Alvarez will challenge unbeaten WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders at a location to be announced.

In addition, Alvarez is hoping to fight twice more in 2021 after the Saunders bout and has shared his interest in closing the year by defeating Caleb Plant, the unbeaten IBF champion, to become boxing’s first undisputed super middleweight champion.

“[Saunders] is a very difficult fighter and he has the championship, the WBO. We want to unify,” Alvarez said before being asked about Saunders’ ability to trash talk his opponents. “People talk but I’m a mature fighter. I know how to control myself. All I have to do is get into the ring, win and make history. Words are just that.

“I [want to unify] because it hasn’t been done. At 168, no one has done that in the world. I want to make history.”

“I want to make my own history. I don’t want to be equal to anyone. I respect everyone in history but I want to make my own history so that when they one day talk about the sport of boxing, they talk about Canelo.”

McWilliams Arroyo Defeats Abraham Rodriguez to Become WBC’s New Interim Flyweight Champion

McWilliams Arroyo is the WBC’s new interim flyweight champion…

The 35-year-old Puerto Rican boxer dominated Mexico’s Abraham Rodriguez in less than five rounds to claim the title during Saturday’s Canelo AlvarezAvni Yildirim co-main event at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

McWilliams Arroyo

It became clear early on that Arroyo also had the realistic edge against Rodriguez, a late replacement who arrived in Miami on Friday.

By the fourth round, it showed.

Arroyo (21-4, 16 KOs) pummeled Rodriguez (27-3, 13 KOs) throughout the round, eventually forcing him to one knee and knocking him down. The onslaught continued in the fifth round, although Rodriguez held up well considering the lack of time to properly train. It led to Rodriguez’ corner waiving the white towel midway through the fifth round to stop the one-sided fight.

Arroyo was dominant throughout a fight that was supposed to be against Julio Cesar Martinez.

Martinez had to withdraw from the bout on Thursday with a small right hand fracture suffered during a sparring session. He had hoped to continue to train, but the injury got worse earlier this week.

Marc Castro Defeats Former MMA Fighter John Moraga by Second-Round KO

Marc Castro has taken down a UFC veteran…

The 21-year-old Latino boxer needed a single punch, eight seconds and a massive left jab to knock down UFC veteran John Moraga in the first round.

Marc Castro

From there, it was a matter of time before the junior lightweight prospect earned his second career KO in his second pro fight.

Castro (2-0, 2 KOs), of Fresno, California, knocked down Moraga (1-3, 1 KOs) three times in two rounds to register the knockout, finishing the fight with a left uppercut.

Moraga, of Phoenix, has had an impressive MMA career, with a 19-7 record and a UFC flyweight title shot in 2013 that he lost to Demetrious Johnson. His first knockout loss in boxing was Moraga’s third defeat in four pro bouts.

Castro is still very, very early in his pro career, but the friend of star fighter Ryan Garcia made easy work of an overmatched opponent.

Jesse Chavez Signs Minor League Deal with the Los Angeles Angels

Jesse Chavez is springing into action…

The 37-year-old Latino veteran right-hander has re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels on a minor league deal.

Jesse Chavez

Chavez will join the Angels’ spring training camp in Tempe, Arizona, after he clears their intake protocols, according to the team.

Chavez appeared in 38 games for the Angels in 2017, making 21 starts. He left for the Texas Rangers as a free agent after one season, and he excelled after being traded in July 2018 to the Chicago Cubs, where he was managed by current Angels skipper Joe Maddon.

Chavez spent the past two seasons back with the Rangers, struggling last season with a 6.88 ERA in 18 appearances.

With experience as a starter, long reliever and late-inning reliever, Chavez could provide versatility for the Angels, whose long-struggling pitching staff can use all the depth it can get.

Chavez is a native of the Los Angeles area, graduating from high school in Fontana before pitching in junior college in Riverside. He has also pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo to Face Brandon Moreno in Highly Anticipated Rematch

Deiveson Figueiredo is getting a rematch…

The 33-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and reigning UFC flyweight champion will fight Brandon Moreno once again on June 12, according to ESPN.

Deiveson Figueiredo

A location for the event, which is expected to be UFC 263, isn’t set yet.

In December, Figueiredo (20-1-1) and Moreno (18-5-2) fought to an exhilarating draw that was considered one of the best bouts of 2020.

The fight capped off a memorable year for Figueiredo, the UFC’s flyweight champion, who went 3-0-1 last year and was considered the consensus male fighter of the year. He won the flyweight title in July when he defeated Joseph Benavidez.

 

Both Figueiredo and Moreno are unbeaten in their past six fights.