Emanuel Navarrete Defeats Chris Diaz to Retain WBO Featherweight Title

Emanuel Navarrete is keepin’ his crown…

The 26-year-old Mexican professional boxer defended his WBO featherweight title with an action-packed 12th round TKO over Chris Diaz during Top Rank‘s main event on Saturday night.

Emanuel Navarrete,

Known for his awkward and relentless style, Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs) knocked Diaz down four times — but it was the final one with just seconds remaining in the 12th round that was the finisher.

Puerto Rico’s Diaz (26-3, 16 KOs) was a very game opponent, particularly as he laid it all out going for a knockout in round 12, but ultimately Navarrete’s power was too much as he dropped Diaz with a combination. Diaz appeared to beat the count with about 15 seconds left in the fight but his corner and the referee stopped the bout as it was clear he was hurt.

Navarrete consistently landed his go-to leap uppercut, but his best weapon on Saturday night was a barrage of power hooks that landed in combination leaving Diaz moving backward.

Navarrete landed 257 of 744 punches (34.5%) and an eye-opening 241 of those landed were power punches.

It was Navarrete’s second title defense. Attention now turns to whether he will remain at featherweight or move up to junior lightweight division where there are several contenders in Top Rank’s stable that could make great fights, including rising star Shakur Stevenson.

The bout was held in front of 3,262 socially distanced fans at sold-out Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. It was Top Rank’s second boxing card in front of fans since the pandemic began.

Edgar Berlanga’s First-Round KO Streak Ends, But He Still Scores Win Against Demond Nicholson

Edgar Berlangas impressive streak is over, but his undefeated record is still intact…

The 23-year-old didn’t finish his opponent in the first three minutes during his bout on Friday night, ending his streak of first-round knockouts.

Edgar Berlanga,

But Berlanga still defeated Demond Nicholson.

Berlanga (17-0, 16 KOs) knocked Nicholson down four times — including one in the final seconds of the fight — but couldn’t get a stoppage in a 79-68, 79-69, 79-69 unanimous decision victory at the Silver Spurs Arena on Kissimmee, Florida, on Saturday.

“It’s kind of f—ed up that I had to go those rounds with the people here,” Berlanga said in his postfight interview on ESPN. “I know that they wanted a first-round knockout. But I enjoyed getting the experience.”

Entering his bout on the Emanuel NavarreteChristopher Diaz undercard, Berlanga had knocked out all 16 of his previous opponents in the first round. Nicholson (23-4-1, 20 KOs), 28, of Laurel, Maryland, became the first to make it back to his corner.

Nicholson met Berlanga’s power early after knockdowns in the second and third round, albeit the latter occurrence a questionable ruling by referee Emil Lombardi. But the veteran Nicholson steadied himself beneath his wide stance and even found success at times against Berlanga.

Berlanga capped his performance with a short right hook that floored Nicholson with 13 seconds left in the fight, the punch easily being his hardest of the night. Nicholson wobbled on his feet as he made the count but was steady enough for the ref to allow Nicholson to make it to the final bell.

“I wanted to get him out,” Berlanga said. “But I didn’t. But listen, I got the experience.”

Josue Vargas Scores 13th Win in a Row Against Willie Shaw

Make it 13 in a row for Josue Vargas

The 22-year-old Latino boxer soundly outboxed his opponent Willie Shaw for his 13th straight win on Saturday evening in front of a sellout crowd at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.

In the first round of his junior welterweight bout against Shaw, Vargas’ knees buckled in the corner as Shaw looked to pick up a surprise knockdown or even a stoppage. Instead, Vargas rallied.

And while he was stunned once more, Vargas was too much for Shaw in what was ultimately judged a unanimous decision by scores of a 98-92, 99-91 and 99-91. It was Vargas’ 13th consecutive victory.

Vargas (19-1, 9 KOs), 22, of Bronx, New York, was more compact than Shaw (13-3, 9 KOs), 28, of Oakland, California, who had a much longer frame and threw punches from awkward angles.

While that was effective for Shaw at times, it wasn’t enough to put Vargas on the canvas. After the early blip, Vargas utilized his technique and a ripping body attack to keep Shaw from inflicting too much punishment in coasting to victory.

Rafael Nadal Outlasts Stefanos Tsitsipas to Win Record-Extending 12th Barcelona Open Title

Rafael Nadal has persevered to continue his winning ways on clay…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star saved one championship point on Sunday to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-7(6), 7-5 and collect a record-extending 12th Barcelona Open trophy.

Rafael Nadal

The top seed was one point from defeat at 4-5, 30/40 in the decider and he carried the momentum from that moment to win three straight games and overcome the Monte-Carlo champion after three hours and 38 minutes.

The championship match was the longest best-of-three-set ATP Tour final since statistics started being tracked in 1991.

Rafael Nadal

This is the second tournament where Nadal has captured 12 or more titles. The 13-time Roland Garros (French Open) champion, who failed to convert two championship points at 5-4 in the second set, will return to No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday.

“I think I never played a final like this in this tournament, so it means a lot to me against a player like him, [after what] he achieved in Monte-Carlo and [that he reached] the final here without losing a set,” Nadal said. “It is an important victory for me. I think I have been increasing my level during the whole week and this victory confirms it. That’s important for today.

“To have the trophy with me here at home means a lot, but at the same time for the future.”

Rafael Nadal Defeats Pablo Carreno Busta to Reach Barcelona Open Final

Rafael Nadal has punched his ticket to the Barcelona Open final…

The 34-year-old Spanish tennis star will face a red-hot Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final after the 11-time champion eased past compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal roared out to a 5-1 lead before Carreno Busta pulled back a break. Carreno Busta then had three break chances on Nadal’s next service game, but the latter saved them all and closed out the set.

Any thoughts of a Carreno Busta comeback were snuffed when Nadal broke his first service game of the second set in intimidating fashion. Carreno Busta thought he smashed the ball well beyond Nadal’s reach, only for the 20-time Grand Slam winner to angle into position and blast the ball right back past him as Carreno Busta lost his footing and tumbled to the clay.

The top-seeded Nadal improved to an 8-0 career record against the 13th-ranked Carreno Busta.

“I am very happy to be back in a final here at an historic event, a home event, an important one for me,” Nadal said. “I have been improving every single day a little bit more.”

Tsitsipas advanced after beating Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-3 for his eighth consecutive straight-set victory, including last week’s title run at Monte Carlo. The Greek’s 26 wins this season are matched only by Andrey Rublev on the men’s circuit.

 

Tsitsipas beat Nadal in their past meeting in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February, when Tsitsipas rallied from a two-set deficit over four hours.

Nadal will try to stop Tsitsipas’ winning streak on Sunday.

“Tomorrow will be a very tough one. (Tsitsipas) is playing probably better than ever,” Nadal said. “Not one set lost in Monte Carlo and here, so it will be the toughest opponent possible. I hope to be ready.”

Overall, Nadal holds a 6-2 head-to-head record with Tsitsipas, including a victory in the 2018 Barcelona Open final.

“It feels great to be back [in the final]. I will try to redeem myself from last time,” Tsitsipas said.

Nadal has won all 11 finals he has reached in Barcelona. He dominated the tournament in his home country from 2005-09, 2011-13 and 2016-18. He lost in the 2019 semifinals to eventual champion Dominic Thiem. Last year the event was not held because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pete Alonso Ready for This Year’s Home Run Derby

Pete Alonso is ready to take a swing at the title…

The 26-year-old Spanish-American New York Mets slugger is in for this year’s Home Run Derby at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Pete Alonso

Alonso won the contest the last time it was held, in 2019, edging fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at Cleveland’s Progressive Field for his first derby title.

“I’m all-in,” Alonso said Thursday afternoon from Wrigley Field, where the Mets finish up a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. “I’m ready. If I get invited, I’d love to do it. I’d love to defend my title.”

Last year’s Home Run Derby was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 2021 edition will take place July 12 at Colorado’s Coors Field after Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game and related festivities from Atlanta.

Alonso committed to the derby the day after hitting a monster home run that landed on the street beyond the left-center-field bleachers at Wrigley Field. It was measured at 429 feet.

“I’m very happy that ball went far,” Alonso said. “I think Statcast kind of stumped me. I think that ball did not go [only] 429 feet, but that’s what the computer says, and I think the computer is wrong.”

Alonso’s longest home run of his career was measured at 485 feet. He thinks Wednesday’s long ball was closer to that figure than 429 feet.

“If that ball went 429 feet, that’s the shortest ball that’s ever left this stadium,” Alonso said. “I’ve hit plenty of balls here that have gone 430 feet, but if a ball leaves the stadium, there’s no way that ball went only 429 feet.”

Alonso has three home runs this season entering Thursday night’s game against the Cubs. He led the majors with 53 in 2019, his rookie year.

He enjoyed Wednesday’s homer as much as any he has hit.

“That was one of my favorite home runs I’ve hit,” he said. “That’s top five for me.”

Elwin Soto to Defend WBO Flyweight World Title Against Katsunari Takayama

Elwin Soto is going on the defense…

The 24-year-old Mexican professional boxer will defend his WBO flyweight world title against former strawweight champion Katsunari Takayama on the Canelo AlvarezBilly Joe Saunders undercard on May 8 at AT&T Stadium, according to ESPN.

Elwin Soto Elwin Soto

Soto (18-1, 12 KOs) will be making the first defense under the Matchroom Boxing banner, after agreeing to a co-promotional contract on April 9. Soto is also promoted by Zanfer Promotions. 

Soto won the title in 2019 with a 12th-round KO of Angel Acosta. He has made two defenses of the belt, including a unanimous decision victory over Carlos Buitrago last October.

Takayama (32-8, 12 KOs), 37, of Japan, is a five-time strawweight titlist. He moved up in weight in December in a six-round unanimous decision victory over Reiya Konishi in Osaka.

Houston Astros Agree to One-Year Contract Extension with Martin Maldonado

Martin Maldonado is staying put…

The Houston Astros have reached a one-year contract extension with the 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher, according to general manager James Click.

Martin Maldonado

Under terms of the deal, Maldonado will make $5 million in 2022, according to sources. The deal, which includes a $500,000 buyout, also has a $5 million vesting option for 2023 that becomes guaranteed if Maldonado plays in 90 or more games this season.

Maldonado has served two stints with the Astros and has emerged one of their core vocal leaders over these last couple of years. He’s making $3.5 million in 2021, the second season of a $7 million, two-year contract.

He’s off to a slow start offensively this season — with only three hits and 17 strikeouts in 34 at-bats — and has batted only .216/.291/.352 throughout an MLB career that spans 11 seasons. But his value comes in his handling of the pitching staff and his defense, particularly his arm strength.

Maldonado won a Gold Glove Award in 2017 and ranks as the game’s best pitch-framer in 2021.

He would have been eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Laurie Hernandez to Appear in Peacock’s Women’s Gymnastics-Themed Docuseries “Golden”

Laurie Hernandez is golden

The 20-year-old Puerto Rican Olympic gold medal gymnast and Dancing with the Stars champion will appear on Golden, a docuseries about women’s gymnasts vying for a spot on the U.S. team heading to the Tokyo Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez

The six-episode series, which hails from Peacock and LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted will track five hopefuls competing for four spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

A premiere date hasn’t yet been confirmed for the show, which is part of a broad array of live and on-demand Tokyo programming heading to NBCUniversal platforms.

In addition to Hernandez, the series also features Morgan HurdSunisa LeeKonnor McClain, and MyKayla Skinner.

A major theme will be the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the postponement of the Games from 2020 to 2021 and also dramatically altered athletes’ preparations and training.

Each hour-long episode of Golden will center on one of the individual gymnasts, with storylines of the other competitors woven into the narrative.

Hernandez is known to Olympic viewers for winning a gold medal as a member of the “Final Five” team and an individual silver on beam at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The series will cover a five-month span and milestones like national team training camps, the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which start June 24.

Three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes is executive producing, along with James, Carter and Uninterrupted’s Jamal Henderson and Philip Byron.

“When I look back, I remember the tremendous sacrifice it took me to achieve my own Olympic pursuits,” Dawes said. “Similarly, these gymnasts have and will continue to endure physical, emotional and mental hurdles that most cannot fathom. The millions of viewers who watch the Summer Games are accustomed to witnessing the short-lived glory of the podium without truly understanding the demands these young female athletes face.”

Roberto Durán to Be Featured in Showtime’s Docuseries “The Kings”

Roberto Durán is returning to the limelight…

The 69-year-old Panamanian former professional boxer, known as “Manos de Piedra,” will be among four high-impact boxers featured in the Showtime docuseries The Kings.

Roberto Durán

In addition to Durán, who held world championships in four weight classes: lightweight, welterweight, light middleweight and middleweight, the docuseries will also feature Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns.

The first of the show’s four episodes will premiere on Sunday, June 6, at 8:00 pm ET/PT on linear and streaming, the ViacomCBS premium network announced.

Nicknamed the Four Kings during their remarkable, overlapping careers, the quartet contested nine championship fights among them from 1980 to 1989. Their distinct styles and vivid personalities helped spark a renaissance in the sport of boxing, which had endured a downturn after Muhammad Ali’s storybook run concluded.

The backdrop of the series is the 1980s, a go-go decade marked by pronounced socioeconomic and political upheaval in the U.S. as President Ronald Reagan left his mark.

Hagler died last month at age 66.

“These four men defined an era in boxing,” said Stephen Espinoza, president of Showtime Sports, in a press release. “Their individual stories, forever linked by the spectacular battles they waged, reflect a tumultuous period in American culture and history. The Kings takes the viewer beyond the glorious action of some of history’s most memorable prizefights to illuminate each man’s dramatic journey and the societal context that made them stars of sports and popular culture.”

Leonard’s first fight with Durán came in 1980 and kicked off years of tightly contested battles in the ring and surging global popularity outside of it. The four boxers, joined in the latter years of the 1980s by the up-and-coming Mike Tyson, became some of the biggest names in sports and popular culture.

The Boxing Writers Association of America voted each of the four Fighter of the Year every year but one from 1979 to 1985. The Ring magazine named three of their title bouts Fight of the Year and picked Round 1 of Hagler-Hearns as Round of the Year.

The show is premiering during a year that marks the 45th anniversary of Leonard’s Olympic gold medal win and the 40th anniversary of a high point for the Four Kings: Leonard vs. Hearns.

The Kings is produced by Box To Box Film in association with Ingenious Media.