Seniesa Estrada Signs Multiyear Deal with Boxing Promotional Company Top Rank

Seniesa Estrada is switching promotional teams…

The 30-year-old Mexican American boxer, the WBA strawweight and WBO junior flyweight champion, has left Golden Boy and signed a multiyear deal with Top Rank.

Seniesa EstradaEstrada is the second female fighter to sign with Top Rank, joining Mikaela Mayer, who signed a three-year contract extension earlier this year.

“It’s awesome,” Estrada told ESPN. “It’s like, I’m excited to get back in the ring.”

Estrada’s first Top Rank fight will be later this year, with the possibility of being in November. She said her contract is similar in finances to that of Mayer, who signed a deal for seven figures over the length of the agreement.

Estrada said she and Mayer talked a lot about the financial side of their contracts — a first for Estrada in speaking with another fighter — and it gave her comfort in what she was asking for.

Mayer and Estrada have become friendly in recent months — Mayer even convinced Estrada to join Twitter in April — and now the two will be the main women’s faces for the same boxing promotion.

Money, Estrada said, was part of this. Golden Boy had been her initial high-level promoter and she had done well there, reaching a 22-0 record with nine knockouts — including a seven-second knockout of Miranda Adkins on July 24, 2020 that was the fastest in women’s boxing history.

Estrada, originally from East Los Angeles, had been an active fighter for much of her pro career other than longer breaks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Estrada had hoped to be in the ring earlier this year — she was going to fight in August — but terms couldn’t be agreed upon.

Estrada said part of the reason for her departure from Golden Boy was “I wanted more money, what I felt I deserved.”

Estrada said she also spoke with Eddie Hearn at Matchroom Boxing when she sought a new promoter and almost went with the United Kingdom-based boxing promotion.

Hearn had given her a competitive offer, Estrada said, and the chance to main event and co-main event on DAZN cards. But Estrada said the Top Rank offer made more sense for her — in part because of the platform her fights would be on due to the deal between Top Rank and ESPN.

“Just the whole platform wise and exposure wise would be so much better for me so besides them giving me what I was happy with,” Estrada said. “Yeah, I’m looking forward to that. I’m excited about it.”

Estrada is also the rare women’s fighter who has fought a three-minute round fight as a professional — her technical decision win over Marlen Esparza on November 2, 2019 was a 10-round, three-minute-per-round contest that was stopped after the ninth round due to a cut Esparza suffered as part of an accidental head butt.

Estrada said Top Rank has told her she will often be the main event or co-main event on cards she is on. She also offers the promotion another chance to build fights in Los Angeles, where the No. 6 pound-for-pound fighter in ESPN’s ratings is a draw both because of her Mexican American heritage and because she grew up in and still lives in the area. The 5-foot-2 Estrada has fought 17 of her fights in California.

“That’s definitely something that they want, so I’m happy with that,” Estrada said. “Especially in L.A., they want to put on more shows here in L.A. and knowing that I’m from here, they are hoping I can be able to sell.

“…In L.A., definitely, yeah. I would like to get the chance to show that. That would be great.”

NEO Studios Developing Docuseries “He Was My Father” About Diego Maradona’s Formerly Unknown Son Diego Maradona Jr.

There’s another Maradona documentary project in the works… This time about the formerly unknown son of the Argentinean soccer legend.

A docuseries about Diego Maradona Jr., the formerly unknown son of Diego Maradona Sr., is in the works.

Diego Maradona Jr. & Diego Maradona Sr.Maradona Jr., who also goes by Diego Sinagra, was born in 1986 but it took until 1993 for an Italian court to recognize the World Cup winner as his paternal father and another 13 years before Maradona himself acknowledged him as his son.

Over the course of four years, the two strengthened their relationship, bonding over their passion for football, before Maradona passed away in 2020.

He Was My Father (w/t) comes from NEO Studios, the production arm of sports media group Eleven, and Italian producer Roma Press.

It will see Maradona Jr. celebrate and analyze the life and legacy of his late father and chronicle his experience growing up as the unknown son of one of most celebrated and controversial soccer players of all time.

Unable to attend his father’s funeral due to COVID-19, the four-part series will also follow Diego Jr. as he travels to Argentina to gain insight into his father’s life off the pitch. It will delve into Diego Jr. and Maradona’s complex relationship, the emotional challenges Diego Jr. faced growing up with a father who refused to acknowledge him, and living in his father’s shadow, while also highlighting their special bond, reconciliation, and the time they shared before Maradona’s passing.

Analyzing the final moments before his passing, He Was My Father will also include never-before-released recordings of Maradona, as well as interviews with his family, friends and former teammates who offer untold stories about the legendary footballer and provide viewers an exclusive window into the life and world of Diego Maradona.

Diego Jr. said, “My father lived in the public eye, with all the controversy and speculation that goes along with that. Though it was a challenging road, it was also a great one that ultimately brought us together. It was important to me to set the record straight and to share my story – which is also my mother’s story – while honoring the true legacy of my father, Diego Maradona.”

“Maradona is widely regarded as one of the best soccer players of all time, but his life off the field was sensational as well, often drawing criticism,” added Mertens. “Through the lens of his first-born son, viewers will get unprecedented access into Maradona’s life and impact on sport. We’re excited for Diego Jr. to finally share his story, as he honors his father’s legacy.”

Rafael Nadal Edges Past Novak Djokovic to Reach French Open Semifinals

Rafael Nadal is one step closer to reclaiming his throne…

The 35-year-old Spanish tennis star, known as the King of Clay, claimed a quarterfinal victory over longtime rival Novak Djokovic that began in May and ended in June at Roland Garros.

Rafael NadalWith a mix of brilliant shot-making and his trademark resilience, Nadal got past the top-seeded defending French Open champion Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4) to move a step closer to his 14th championship at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament and what would be a 22nd major trophy overall, adding to records that he already owns.

“One of those magic nights for me,” Nadal said.

The match began a little past 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, and concluded more than four hours later, after 1 a.m. Wednesday, June 1.

The bracket said this was a quarterfinal, but it felt like a final — from the quality of play to the quality of effort, from the anticipation that preceded it to the atmosphere that enveloped it.

The only missing ingredient: There was no trophy handed to the winner.

Nadal turns 36 on Friday, when he’ll face third-seeded Alexander Zverev in the semifinals. When the subject of Nadal’s future was brought up during his on-court interview, he smiled.

“See you, by the way, in two days,” Nadal said. “That’s the only thing that I can say.”

It’ll be difficult for any match the rest of the way to live up to this one.

“I lost to a better player today,” said Djokovic, who had won 22 sets in a row until the 49-minute opener against Nadal. “Had my chances. Didn’t use them. That’s it.”

This showdown was their 59th, more than any other two men have played against each other in the Open era. Nadal narrowed Djokovic’s series lead to 30-29 while improving to 8-2 against his rival at Roland Garros.

Nadal is now 110-3 for his career at the place. Two of those losses came against Djokovic, including in last year’s semifinals. This time, Nadal made sure Djokovic remains behind him in the Slam count with 20. Nadal broke their three-way tie with Roger Federer at that number by capturing the Australian Open in January, when Djokovic was not able to play because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina Pulls Off Upset Win Against Novak Djokovic at Monte Carlo Masters

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina is celebrating an upset…

The 22-year-old Spanish professional tennis player pulled off a stunning victory against Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Alejandro Davidovich FokinaDavidovich Fokina stunned the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-1 in the second round to hand Djokovic another setback as he tries to move on from the controversy surrounding his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

It makes for rare back-to-back losses for Djokovic, who had not played since being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February — his only previous tournament this year after he was barred from playing at the Australian Open.

Djokovic struggled from the start as the 46th-ranked Spaniard broke him early to pull ahead 4-1 before another break handed him the first set. Davidovich Fokina kept up the pressure and led 3-0 in the second before Djokovic clawed back. But the Serb continued to struggle on his serve and was broken three times in the decider.

“He was the better player,” Djokovic said. “I was hanging on the ropes the entire match.”

The Serb said he was too exhausted to put up a fight in the third set.

“I collapsed,” Djokovic said. “I just ran out of gas completely … If you can’t stay in the rally, not feeling your legs on the clay, it’s mission impossible.”

Djokovic had beaten Davidovich Fokina in straight sets twice last year, in Rome and at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Djokovic could not defend his Australian Open title in January after he was deported from the country for not being vaccinated. He had to skip tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Miami because he couldn’t travel to the United States for the same reason.

The authorities in France and Monaco lifted most COVID-19 restrictions last month, allowing people who aren’t vaccinated into the country and back into restaurants, sports arenas and other venues.

That means Djokovic will be able to play at the French Open, which remains his “big goal of the clay season.”

“I knew that it’s going to take some time for me to really feel my best on the clay,” Djokovic said. “I have to accept defeat and keep working … and hopefully build my form for Roland Garros.”

The French Open starts on May 22 in Paris.

In the meantime, Davidovich Fokina is moving on to the Round of 16 at the Monte Carlo Masters.

Jesse & Joy Performance Clip to Be Featured on “MusiCares: Music on a Mission” Special

Jesse & Joy will be heading on a special mission

Fans will be able to view a previously recorded performance clip of the Mexican duo, comprised of brother Jesse Huerta and sister Joy Huerta, will at “MusiCares: Music on a Mission” on Wednesday, March 30.

Jesse & JoyThe virtual event will also feature a performance clip by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, taken from the MusiCares Person of the Year gala on February 10, 2017, where Petty was the honoree. Petty died less than eight months later, one week after the end of the band’s 40th anniversary tour.

Other performances include Brandi CarlileJason Isbell, k.d. lang, Shawn ColvinFantastic Negrito, Gian Marco, Dante Spinetta, Amythyst Kiah, morgxn, Zach Person, Emily Wolfe and Fitz of Fitz and the Tantrums .

According to a statement, the event will celebrate the power of music and also Joni Mitchell as the 2022 MusiCares Person of the Year honoree.

Every dollar from ticket purchases will be distributed to those in need in the music community.

The event will include testimonials from members of the music community who have been helped by MusiCares. MusiCares’ partner in the event is Gibson, the Nashville-based instrument brand.

Music on a Mission will air on Mandolin, the concert livestream platform, on March 30 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET.

Music on a Mission was first held in March 2021 to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 17,000 people bought tickets. The event raised more than $2 million.

“We were blown away by the support from the music community, industry professionals and of course music fans,” Laura Segura, executive director of MusiCares, said in a statement. “We’re so thankful that Gibson recognizes the importance of this event to both fans and professional musicians and that they’ve signed on to help us make Music on a Mission a reality again this year.”

Tickets are on sale now for $25 at  https://bit.ly/MusiconaMission.

Rosie Perez to Take Part in “Stars in the House” Telethon to Benefit Victims of the War in Ukraine

Rosie Perez is helping raise money for the people of the Ukraine

The 57-year-old Puerto Rican Oscar-nominated actress is among an all-star roster of film, television and theater performers who’ve signed up for a 10-hour telethon to raise money for the victims of the war in Ukraine.

Rosie PerezEntitled “Stars in the House,”the special will air on Saturday, March 26 from noon-10:00 pm Eastern.

In addition to Perez, the other celebrities scheduled to appear on the telethon include Steve Martin, Annette BeningBilly PorterAudra McDonald, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Chenoweth, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin, as well as Tituss Burgess, Kelli O’Hara, Donna Murphy, Annaleigh Ashford, Jessie Mueller, Josh Groban, Judith Light, John Stamos, Lindsay Mendez, Laura Benanti, Norman Lear, Betty Buckley, Mandy Patinkin, Rachel Bloom, Patrick Wilson, Shoshana Bean, James Monroe Iglehart, Brittney Johnson, Santino Fontana, Judy Kuhn and Norbert Leo Butz.

The event also hopes to feature Ukrainians, including Oleg Karpenko, a Ukrainian theater and film actor who co-starred with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Servant of the People.

The special can be viewed and listened to on the series’ site, the Stars in the House YouTube channel, as well as SiriusXM Stars109.

Donations made during the event will benefit the International Rescue Committee and its humanitarian efforts for those affected by the war in Ukraine.

Stars in the House is a live-streamed concert series created by SiriusXM Broadway host Seth Rudetsky and producer James Wesley that has raised over $1 million for the Actors Fund’s COVID-19 relief program and other nonprofits.

It’s just one way the theater community has tried to help Ukrainians: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS awarded $300,000 in emergency grants to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and a portion of ticket sales for “The Minutes” will go to Save the Children’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

Rafael Nadal Starts Season with Impressive 18-0 Record

Rafael Nadal is still finding ways to impress after all these years…

Nursing a nagging foot injury, the 35-year-old Spanish professional tennis player became only the second player in ATP Tour history to start a season 18-0.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal edged past Reilly Opelka 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) on Wednesday in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Only Novak Djokovic has gotten off to better starts since 1990. The Serb went 26-0 to begin 2020 and 41-0 to open 2011.

“I can’t say it’s a dream because I even couldn’t dream about that three months ago, two months ago,” Nadal said. “I am just enjoying every single moment.”

Last year, Nadal’s playing time was interrupted by COVID-19 and injuries, creating doubt about his ability to recover well enough to maintain his exacting standards. But he won his record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January and has continued on a tear.

“I am just very happy to be playing tennis,” said Nadal, who turns 36 in June. “Today was a little bit worse than other days. It’s true that the last couple of days the foot has been bothering me a little bit more.”

Nadal has already withdrawn from the Miami Open that follows Indian Wells. He wants extra time to prepare for the clay court season that isn’t as punishing as hard courts.

Nadal rallied from a 2-4 deficit in the second set to lead 6-5. Opelka held after three deuces when Nadal netted a forehand chasing the American’s drop shot to force the second tiebreaker.

Nadal led 4-1 in the tiebreaker when Opelka struggled on his service returns. On his serve, though, the 6-foot-11 American closed to 4-3, hitting winners on a drop shot and a forehand.

Again on his serve, Opelka closed to 6-5.

But Nadal closed it out by pulling Opelka out of the court and the American’s backhand landed wide.

“It’s about trying to hit balls that you don’t take a lot of risks, but at the same time don’t allow him to go in and go for the shot,” Nadal said. “Is trying to find the right balance between these two things.”

There were no service breaks in the first set. Opelka fought off the only break point in the seventh game with a smash and forehand winner. Nadal held at love for 6-all, forcing the tiebreaker. Opelka led 3-2 with a forehand winner down the line. Nadal won the next five points, all on errors by Opelka, to take the set.

Nadal improved to 19-0 against American opponents since losing to John Isner at the 2017 Laver Cup.

 

Nadal, a three-time champion in the desert, advanced to the quarterfinals against wild-card Nick Kyrgios. The Australian advanced to his first ATP Tour quarterfinal since winning Washington in 2019 after 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner withdrew because of illness.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez Defeats Julio Cesar Martinez By Unanimous Decision

Roman Gonzalez is celebrating a big win…

The 34-year-old Nicaraguan professional boxer, known by his nickname “Chocolatito“,  schooled Julio Cesar Martinez and once again demonstrated why he’s a future first-ballot Hall of Famer with a unanimous-decision victory over the weekend in San Diego.

Roman "Chocolatito" GonzalezGonzalez was “very surprised” that Martinez made it to the final bell after absorbing a brutal beating, and the scores (118-110, 117-111 and 116-112) belied how truly one-sided the contest was.

“My corner told me not to give him any rounds,” Gonzalez, ESPN‘s No. 2 115-pound boxer, said in Spanish via a translator. “He was very courageous. He took a lot of punishment.”

The punishment was inflicted by combinations delivered in classic “Chocolatito” fashion: with precision and impeccable technique. The beauty of Gonzalez’s game is the way he flows offense and defense. Even as he unloaded 1,076 punches, Gonzalez was able to fend off Martinez’s reckless attack with a high guard tightly wrapped around his ears.

Gonzalez landed 374 punches, more than double Martinez, who landed 182 of 713.

Gonzalez landed 58 of 129 punches in the final round, displaying the sort of elite condition that is a hallmark of his game.

Martinez, fighting out of Mexico City, held his hands low, providing an easy target for Gonzalez’s well-placed shots. The victory was Gonzalez’s 21st against a boxer from Mexico, the lone loss a highly controversial decision defeat to rival Juan Francisco Estrada in a 115-pound title unification last March. They were set to meet a third time on Saturday, but Estrada withdrew after he tested positive for COVID-19. Gonzalez defeated Estrada in a 108-pound title fight in their first fight in 2012.

Martinez, ESPN’s No. 1 112-pounder, stepped in for his countryman on six weeks’ notice and agreed to move up one weight class to 115 pounds. However, he was overweight Friday at 116.4 pounds. The fight proceeded after Martinez weighed 122.6 pounds Saturday, within the 126.5-pound rehydrating limit governed by the California commission (10% of contracted weight).

Martinez was also fined 20% of his $250,000 purse, with $25,000 paid to Gonzalez and the other half to the commission.

“He looked too small, he looked too inexperienced,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “He’ll go back to flyweight.”

At 112 pounds, Martinez could be matched with fellow champion Sunny Edwards in a title unification bout.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, has plenty of options to sort through with Hearn. The trilogy battle with Estrada remains a compelling matchup for supremacy at 115 pounds.

“Everyone knows that the last fight I had with ‘Gallo’ Estrada, I won,” Gonzalez said.

Another tantalizing trilogy possibility: a meeting with Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who owns a controversial decision victory over Gonzalez but also a devastating fourth-round knockout that left many wondering if “Chocolatito” would ever return to form.

Surprisingly, Gonzalez didn’t just return to the pound-for-pound list but clearly remains better than ever. Even against a highly regarded 27-year-old power puncher, Gonzalez was in total control from bell to bell in a masterclass performance that adds to his Hall of Fame legacy.

Age is particularly unforgiving to smaller boxers who rely on speed and reflexes and absorb more damage than bigger boxers, but Gonzalez has never been held back by conventional wisdom.

“‘Chocolatito’ seems to be getting better and better, that was just a sublime performance tonight,” Hearn said. “You saw the difference between a very good world champion and a pound-for-pound legend.”

First Trailer Released for Judd Apatow’s Lockdown Comedy “The Bubble,” Starring Pedro Pascal

Pedro Pascal’s latest project is bubbling up

The first trailer has been released for Judd Apatow’s lockdown comedy The Bubble, starring a stacked cast that includes the 46-year-old Chilean actor.

Pedro Pascal, The BubbleThe film looks at the high stakes and high jinks involved in filming a studio tentpole film during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scenario unfolds somewhere in England during the dark days of October 2020 as a group of actors is quarantining at a posh hotel while shooting Cliff Beasts 6the latest in an action franchise about people battling dinosaurs. And it’s no walk in the Jurassic Park.

“Thank you for wearing proper PPE,” the ensemble is told. “Physical touch is, of course, off the table, so I would recommend making sweet eyes at each other.”

But there’s an incentive to keep the cameras rolling: “We are one of two movies in production right now — if we fail, the studio’s going to go down.”

So the show goes on, and we get the lighter side of greenscreen acting.

Karen Gillan, Iris Apatow, Fred Armisen, Maria Bakalova, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Leslie Mann, Kate McKinnon and Peter Serafinowicz also star in the Apatow-directed film.

Apatow wrote the script with Pam Brady.

The film-within-a-film will hit Netflix in the spring.

Renato Moicano Replacing Rafael Fiziev for This Weekend’s Bout Against Rafael dos Anjos

Renato Moicano is stepping up for a battle royale…

The 32-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will step in on just four days’ notice to battle Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event of UFC 272 on Saturday, according to ESPN sources.

Renato MoicanThe fight has been reportedly verbally agreed to and both sides are awaiting contracts.

dos Anjos, the former UFC lightweight champion, originally was scheduled to fight Rafael Fiziev this weekend, but Fiziev withdrew Monday due to being sick with COVID-19. dos Anjos wanted to remain on the card and UFC was able to come to an agreement with Moicano.

The new fight will be contested at a catchweight of 160 pounds over five rounds.

A few other names, including top lightweight contender Islam Makhachev, were in discussions to replace Fiziev but Moicano won out.

dos Anjos tweeted that he called Makhachev’s bluff and Makhachev “folded.” Makhachev beat Bobby Green in the UFC Fight Night main event just three days ago.

Moicano is in Brazil and still waiting to find out when he’ll be able to travel to Las Vegas, per his manager, Oren Hodak of KO Reps. Fighters traditionally arrive Tuesday of fight week if the card is on Saturday.

dos Anjos (30-13) has not fought since a split-decision win over Paul Felder in November 2020. That was the Brazil-born fighter’s return to the lightweight division from welterweight. dos Anjos was the UFC lightweight champion in 2015 and 2016 and has one of the toughest strengths of schedule in the promotion’s history.

Moicano (16-4-1) has won two straight and three of his past four, with the lone loss during that span coming to Fiziev. Training out of American Top Team in Florida, he is coming off an impressive, second-round submission win over Alexander Hernandez at UFC 271 on February 12 in Houston.