Teofimo Lopez to Fight Sandor Martin Next Month in New York

Teofimo Lopez has reportedly locked in his next opponent…

The 25-year-old Honduran American boxer and former lightweight champion has agreed to fight Sandor Martin on December 10 in New York, according to ESPN.

Teofimo Lopez Jr.Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) replaces Jose Pedraza, who withdrew from the 140-pound Top Rank on ESPN bout with a non-COVID illness.

Martin, a 29-year-old Spaniard, scored a career-best win last year with a major upset of Mikey Garcia. Martin had never competed outside Europe but traveled to California as a 10-1 underdog to defeat Garcia, a former four-division champion, via majority decision. Garcia announced his retirement afterward. 

Now, Martin has parlayed that victory into another career-defining opportunity. He was considered for the Lopez assignment before Pedraza landed the fight, but he remained in training.

A tricky boxer with an impressive jab, Martin will once again be facing long odds.

Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) was recognized as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters before he dropped a decision to George Kambosos last November in ESPN‘s upset of the year. It was later revealed that Lopez fought Kambosos with a slight esophageal tear.

Lopez, who fights out of Las Vegas, returned from his first defeat in August with a seventh-round TKO over Pedro Campa in his 140-pound debut. His 135-pound campaign included a victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko to capture the undisputed lightweight championship.

This will be Lopez’s third fight following ESPN’s annual coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation. He’s rated No. 9 at junior welterweight.

Several European Soccer Clubs Vying for Brazilian Wonderkid Endrick

He’s still a teenager, but Endrick could be playing soccer in Europe soon…

Paris Saint-Germain has made a €45 million offer for the 16-year-old Palmeiras teenager, but the Brazilian team swiftly dismissed the proposal for the forward, according to ESPN Brazil sources.

Endrick, In a meeting with the player’s agents, the Ligue 1 champions said they were willing to extend the negotiations and meet the player’s release clause of €60 million, sources said.

PSG has been in contact with Endrick’s family for some time and have enlisted their Brazilian forward Neymar to reach out to him. The French giants are confident of getting a deal over the line, sources added.

Chelsea is another team that have been following Endrick’s development and showed interest in matching the €60 million price for the Brazilian wonderkid.

Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea has hosted the player and his family at the club’s training ground, with the Blues’ Brazilian defender Thiago Silva invited to meet his compatriot and convince him to move to London.

People close to Endrick tell ESPN that the final decision will rest with the player and that his dream is to play in the Premier League.

“I don’t pay attention to rumors, I know that to play in Europe, I have to perform well here,” Endrick said this week to the French website So Foot.

“I watch the Champions League, the Premier League, LaLiga, the French championship, the Bundesliga. I look to learn from these stars and see what I can imitate, but I don’t have a favorite club.”

Sources told ESPN that Real Madrid and Barcelona also showed interest in acquiring Endrick and may intensify their pursuits in the coming days.

Endrick could only go to Europe in 2024 when he turns 18. His contract with the Brazilian champions runs until 2025.

Since his debut with Palmeiras on October 6, Endrick has scored three goals and provided one assist in six matches, helping the Sao Paulo team win the 2022 Brasileirao title.

Aged 16 years, three months and four days, he became the youngest goal-scorer in Palmeiras history when scoring twice against Athletico Paranaense on October 25.

Rafael Montero Agrees to Three-Year, $34.5 Million Contract with Houston Astros

Rafael Montero isn’t leaving Houston in the near future…

The 32-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher has agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million contract that will bring the right-handed reliever back to the Houston Astros‘ dominant bullpen a week after the team rode its pitching staff to a World Series title, according to ESPN.

Rafael Montero,  Montero thrived in his first full season with the Astros, posting a 2.37 ERA in 68⅓ innings and allowing just three home runs while striking out 73.

Re-signing Montero deepens an Astros bullpen that already will return closer Ryan Pressly, right-handed flamethrowers Ryne Stanek and Bryan Abreu, and solid righties Hector Neris and Phil Maton.

It likewise continues the early trend in free agency of high salaries for relief pitchers, after the New York Mets signed Edwin Diaz to a five-year, $102 million contract and San Diego gave right-hander Robert Suarez a five-year deal worth $46 million.

Houston acquired Montero in a July 2021 trade from the Seattle Mariners and watched him blossom into the hardest-throwing version of himself yet, with a fastball that averaged 96.5 mph. Of the remaining relievers available in free agency, Montero topped a number of teams’ lists.

The contract is a bet on Montero’s 2022 more than his previous seasons. Once a well-regarded starting-pitching prospect, Montero bounced from the Mets to the Texas Rangers to the Mariners before landing in Houston, where he allowed two runs in 9⅓ innings this postseason and struck out 10.

With a ground-ball rate of greater than 50% and high strikeout numbers, Montero was bound to generate widespread interest and took advantage of it with a deal that exceeded industrywide expectations. In 182 career games, Montero has a 4.43 ERA as a reliever and struck out 213 in 201⅓ innings.

Edwin Diaz Agrees to Five-Year, $102 Million Contract with New York Mets

Edwin Diaz isn’t going anywhere…

The 28-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball pitcher, a star closer for the New York Mets, has agreed to a five-year, $102 million contract, pending a physical, according to ESPN.

Edwin DiazThere’s an opt-out and a full no-trade clause plus a sixth-year option in the contract, sources said.

The Diaz deal is the first nine-figure contract ever for a closer, and for the first time, it takes the position into the $20 million-plus range.

Diaz, who made $10 million this year, earned the big payday after a dominant 2022 season that saw him finish with 32 saves, a 1.31 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 62 innings for a Mets team that won 101 games.

New York’s bullpen finished 10th in the majors in ERA, and its top relievers in innings pitched (Adam OttavinoSeth LugoTrevor Williams and Diaz) were among the 131 players across the major leagues who were declared free agents Sunday, the day after the 2022 season ended.

Keeping Diaz is a massive move for the Mets to start the offseason, as one of baseball’s top free agents is now off the board.

Diaz was part of a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Mariners in December 2018, one that saw him and veteran second baseman Robinson Cano go to the Mets for a prospect-heavy package.

Diaz had starred in Seattle, leading the majors with 57 saves in 2018 — which tied Bobby Thigpen (1990) for the second most in a single season in baseball history, trailing only Francisco Rodriguez‘s 62 in 2008.

But his early tenure in New York was anything but successful. In his debut season in the Big Apple, he had a 5.59 ERA (seventh worst among relievers), 15 homers allowed and -0.6 bWAR in 58 innings, as Mets fans routinely booed him while on the mound.

Diaz has righted the ship since, culminating with the dominant 2022. And he’s become a fan favorite in New York, with the hit song “Narco,” by Australian musician Timmy Trumpet, played at Citi Field every time he exits the bullpen before an appearance.

Amanda Lemos Pulls Off Upset Win Over Marina Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night

Amanda Lemos has pulled off an upset…

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist finished Marina Rodriguez via TKO at 54 seconds of the third round on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Rodriguez was poised for a title shot if she won, but now Lemos has snatched her spot near the top of the rankings.

The finish came after a big counter overhand right by Lemos. The punch landed to Rodriguez’s forehead, as Rodriguez was coming in for a combination of her own. It stopped Rodriguez in her tracks and left her rocked. Lemos pressed forward with another big right hand and then flurried with right and left hooks until referee Jason Herzog stepped in to stop it.

“Her legs started wobbling a little bit,” Lemos said in her postfight interview. “I didn’t think twice. I’m going to finish the fight right there.”

ESPN had Rodriguez ranked No. 4 in the women’s strawweight division coming in, with Lemos at No. 9. The big stoppage victory should push Lemos closer to title contention.

She proposed the idea of being the backup fighter for the women’s strawweight title fight next week at UFC 281 between champion Carla Esparza and former champ Zhang Weili in New York.

Lemos (13-2-1) has won two straight and seven of her past eight fights. The Brazilian-born slugger has finished five of her seven UFC victories. That ties her with Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade for the most finishes in UFC strawweight history.

Lemos was coming off a second-round submission win over Michelle Waterson-Gomez in July. Her only loss at 115 pounds came against Andrade in April.

Rodriguez (16-2-2) had a four-fight winning streak snapped. The Brazilian-born fighter had only lost once before in her MMA career, to Esparza in July 2020.

Rodriguez, 35, was coming off signature wins against contenders Yan Xiaonan and Mackenzie Dern.

David Benavidez Agrees to Fight Caleb Plant in Early 2023

David Benavidez is headed back to the ring for a highly anticipated bout…

The 25-year-old Mexican and Ecuadorian American boxer and Caleb Plant, both former super middleweight titleholders, have announced that they’ve struck a deal for a long-awaited fight.

David BenavidezThe 168-pound bout will be presented by Premier Boxing Champions on pay-per-view in the first quarter of 2023, according to ESPN.

Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) and Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) have circled each other for years with plenty of barbs in both directions. Besides a genuine grudge, Benavidez-Plant is a fascinating clash of styles.

Benavidez is a volume-punching pressure fighter who’s been among boxing’s most avoided fighters.

Plant, 30, is a stick-and-move boxer whose only defeat came last November in an 11th-round TKO loss to Canelo Alvarez, the undisputed super middleweight champion.

But after Alvarez, Benavidez and Plant are widely considered the two best fighters who campaign at 168 pounds (Benavidez is ESPN’s No. 2 super middleweight; Plant is No. 3).

“You can’t hide from me anymore, I’ll see you soon,” Benavidez wrote on Instagram.

“I went and made it happen,” Plant wrote. “Contract signed. See you early next year.”

Benavidez was slated to meet Jose Uzcategui in January before the fight was scrapped. The Phoenix-born boxer twice held a super middleweight title but both times lost his belt outside the ring.

First, a positive test for cocaine in 2018 led to him being stripped. Benavidez regained the title with a ninth-round KO of Anthony Dirrell in 2019 but was forced to relinquish his belt the following year when he failed to make weight.

Most recently, Benavidez scored a third-round TKO of former middleweight titleholder David Lemieux in May.

Plant, who fights out of Las Vegas, won the IBF super middleweight title in 2019 with a unanimous decision victory over Uzcategui. He made three successful defenses before he lost the belt in the undisputed championship fight against Alvarez.

Plant rebounded last month with a spectacular ninth-round KO of Dirrell.

Emanuel Navarrete Finalizing Deal to Fight Oscar Valdez in Q1 2023

Emanuel Navarrete could be heading back to the ring in early 2023…

The 27-year-old Mexican professional boxer, a two-division world champion, and Oscar Valdez are in the process of finalizing a deal for a fight in the first quarter of 2023, according to ESPN.

Emanuel Navarrete,It’s expected one of the two 130-pound titles vacated by Shakur Stevenson will be on the line in the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event.

There are no signed contracts at this time, sources said, for a matchup that will feature fellow action fighters from Mexico. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told Fight Hype on Wednesday “that fight, I think, is definitely gonna happen.”

Navarrete, ESPN’s No. 1 boxer at 126 pounds, will move up to junior lightweight for the biggest fight of his career. He is the WBO‘s featherweight champion; he’s made three defenses of the belt he won in October 2020.

Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs) also held a title at 122 pounds. A volume-punching brawler, Navarrete is coming off a sixth-round KO of Eduardo Baez in August.

Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) is a former champion at featherweight and junior lightweight. The 31-year-old Olympian suffered the first loss of his pro career in April, a lopsided decision against Stevenson in a unification bout.

ESPN’s No. 3 boxer at 130 pounds, Valdez tested positive for the banned stimulant phentermine last summer ahead of a decision victory over Robson Conceicao.

Jessica Andrade to Fight Lauren Murphy at UFC 283

Jessica Andrade is preparing a highly anticipated bout…

The 31-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, a former UFC women’s strawweight champion, and Lauren Murphy – two of the top women’s flyweight fighters in the world – will meet in Brazil.

Jessica AndradeAndrade and Murphy has agreed to fight at UFC 283 on January 21 in Rio de Janeiro.

Andrade is ranked No. 9 on ESPN‘s pound-for-pound women’s MMA list. At flyweight, Andrade is ranked No. 3 and Murphy is No. 4.

Andrade (23-9) has won two straight and three of four with the only loss in that stretch coming to flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.

The Brazilian-born fighter held the UFC women’s strawweight title in 2019. Andrade is the only woman in UFC history to win fights in three different weight classes.

Murphy (16-5) is coming off a unanimous decision win over former women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate in July. The Alaska-born fighter, who lives in Texas, has won six of her past seven fights with the only loss during that stretch coming in a title fight against Shevchenko. Murphy, 39, is 7-3 since starting her UFC run with two straight losses.

David Benavidez in Final Talks to Fight Jose Uzcategui in Super Middleweight Bout

David Benavidez is nearing a deal to return to the ring…

The 25-year-old Mexican and Ecuadorian American professional boxer, a two-time WBC super middleweight champion is finalizing a deal with Jose Uzcategui for a super middleweight bout slated for January, according to ESPN.

David BenavidezThe pair were set to square off in November 2021 before Uzcategui tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug rEPO (recombinant erythropoietin), a synthetic version of EPO. Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) instead faced Kyrone Davis and scored a seventh-round stoppage.

 

Benavidez went on to defeat former middleweight titleholder David Lemieux via third-round TKO in May, but the marquee matchups continue to elude Benavidez, perhaps boxing’s most avoided fighter.

He has called for a fight with boxing’s top star, Canelo Alvarez, along with bouts against fellow PBC boxers Caleb Plant and Jermall Charlo.

With a win over Uzcategui, Benavidez will remain in prime position for one of those matchups.

ESPN‘s No. 2 boxer at 168 pounds, Benavidez is feared for good reason. He’s over 6 feet tall, throws a seemingly endless amount of punches and does so with tremendous power.

He twice held a super middleweight title but both times lost his title outside the ring. First, a positive cocaine test led to him being stripped. Benavidez regained the title with a ninth-round KO of Anthony Dirrell in 2019 but was forced to relinquish his belt the following year when he failed to make weight.

Benavidez will look to continue his impressive string of stoppage victories against Uzcategui, a former super middleweight titleholder. A Venezuelan boxer who fights out of Mexico, Uzcategui (32-4, 26 KOs) has fought once since the revelation of the banned substance, a second-round KO of journeyman Felipe Romero in May.

The 31-year-old’s career-best victory remains an eighth-round TKO of former titleholder Andre Dirrell in 2018. Uzcategui went on to lose his title to Caleb Plant via decision in 2019. Two fights later, Uzcategui dropped a decision to Lionel Thompson in an upset.

Now, he’ll head into a fight with Benavidez as a major underdog against the backdrop of his failed drug test last year.

“EPO is possibly the most powerful PED that can be used by a boxer,” Victor Conte, the founder of Balco, told ESPN last year after news broke of Uzcategui’s adverse finding. Conte served time in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute performance-enhancing drugs before founding SNAC, a sports nutrition company.

“It increases oxygen uptake and utilization which drastically improves stamina and endurance,” he said. “Some have described the benefits to making an athlete like a machine.”

Joshua Franco Reportedly Agrees to 115-Pound Title Unification Bout Against Kazuto Ioka

Joshua Franco is hoping to expand his belt collection…

The 26-year-old Mexican American boxer and Kazuto Ioka have agreed to terms for a 115-pound title unification bout on December 31 in Japan, according to ESPN.

Ioka (29-2, 15 KOs) holds the WBO junior bantamweight title, while Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) was elevated by the WBA in August after its super champion, Juan Francisco Estrada, relinquished his belt.

Ioka, a 33-year-old who fights out of Tokyo, won the title with a split-decision victory over Donnie Nietes in 2018. He has made five successful defenses, most recently a unanimous-decision win over Nietes in a July rematch in which he left no doubt.

Franco, from San Antonio, closed out three consecutive fights against Andrew Moloney with a decision victory last August. He hasn’t competed since and secured his release from Golden Boy Promotions in August.

Ioka is rated No. 4 by ESPN at junior bantamweight, one of boxing’s most stacked divisions. Franco, the brother of Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, is No. 7.

Future Hall of Famers Roman Gonzalez and Estrada meet in a trilogy on December 3, and the winner could meet the victor of Ioka-Franco next year.