Robson Conceicao to Fight O’Shaquie Foster for Foster’s WBC Junior Lightweight Title

Robson Conceicao is gunnin’ for a title…

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional boxer, a two-time super featherweight world title challenger and an Olympic gold medalist, will fight O’Shaquie Foster for Foster’s WBC junior lightweight on July 6 in Newark, New Jersey, per ESPN.

Robson Conceicao,The 130-pound title fight will serve as chief support to the Shakur StevensonArtem Harutyunyan lightweight title bout on ESPN.

Foster (22-2, 12 KOs) is ESPN’s No. 2 junior lightweight. The 30-year-old, who fights out of Houston, made his second title defense in February with a split decision victory over Abraham Nova. A 12th-round knockdown helped Foster avoid a draw.

Foster blamed a “bad weight cut” for his performance and vowed to come back stronger for his next title defense. He won the title last February when he defeated Rey Vargas and then successfully defended it in October with a 12th-round TKO victory over Rocky Hernandez. Foster was down wide on two of the three scorecards when he scored the come-from-behind KO to retain his title.

Conceicao (18-2-1, 9 KOs) is 0-2-1 in title fights, but his two losses came when he was at a disadvantage. He dropped a disputed decision to Oscar Valdez in September 2021 just weeks after Valdez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Conceicao’s second crack at a title was a decision loss to Stevenson, who was stripped of his belt due to being 1.5 pounds overweight.

Conceicao’s third title bid was in November, and he suffered two knockdowns but still pulled out a draw with Emanuel Navarrete.

Conceicao returned last month with a seventh-round TKO victory over Jose Ivan Guardado.

Aitana Bonmatí Helps Lead Spain to Inaugural Women’s Nations League Title

Aitana Bonmatí has helped Spain make soccer history again… 

The 26-year-old Spanish professional soccer star and Ballon d’Or winner scored to help Spain beat France 2-0 in the Women’s Nations League final on Wednesday, giving the world champions the inaugural Women’s Nations League title and another trophy.

Aitana Bonmatí, Spain, Women's Nations LeagueBonmati and Mariona Caldentey scored a goal each for Spain in front of 32,657 fans at La Cartuja Stadium in southern Spain. It was a record crowd for Spain’s women’s team in the country.

Spain also holds the men’s Nations League title, having beaten Croatia in the final in June.

“Really happy to win another trophy. What more can you ask for? It’s incredible what we have achieved,” Bonmatí said. “It seems easy, that winning is an obligation for us, but it’s not easy at all.

“We have so much ambition and, despite some rough patches, here we are lifting another trophy. We deserved the win. The first half was quite good, albeit with some lapses. I think we controlled France quite well in the second half. This team has no ceiling. We keep demonstrating that. We have won the Nations League and now we want to win the Olympics.”

Spain had its breakthrough tournament at the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, winning the title in their third appearance.

“We always want more. Now is the moment for all the staff and players to savour and enjoy,” Spain coach Montse Tomé said. “You’ve seen on the pitch against a great opponent how we managed to limit them to very few chances and control the game. Our play has been evolving. We have a great group of players.”

The celebrations were marred by one of the country’s worst crises, though, as the then-president of the Spanish soccer federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the awards ceremony to spark an outrage in soccer and Spanish society in general. Rubiales eventually resigned, and prosecutors later accused him of sexual assault.

“Today we get to celebrate again. We deserve it,” Hermoso said. “We try to enjoy ourselves but we also have the responsibility that there are so many people behind us who want to follow in our footsteps. We are so proud that there are so many girls who want to be champions in the future.”

Tomé took over the team in September after World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda was fired amid the fallout from Rubiales’ behavior.

But Spain haven’t lost momentum since becoming world champions. They defeated the Netherlands 3-0 in last week’s semifinal, a result that also secured the team a place in the 2024 Paris Games.

The final was Spain’s first victory over France, who had already qualified for the Olympics as the host country.

“They’ll be the team to beat at the Olympics, it won’t be easy,” France coach Hervé Renard said. “We are going to have to keep improving, learn lessons and keep moving forward. Let’s say we have taken one step but we haven’t taken the second. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Jenni Hermoso & Aitana Bonmatí Help Spain’s Women’s Soccer Team Qualify for First Olympic Games

Jenni Hermoso and Aitana Bonmatí have helped Spain make Olympic history…

The Spanish tennis stars helped Spain beat the Netherlands 3-0 in the UEFA Women’s Nations League semifinals on Friday, a victory that secured the world champions a spot in the Paris Olympics.

Jenni Hermoso & Aitana BonmatíHermoso opened the scoring with a nice solo effort in the 41st minute before Ballon d’Or holder Bonmatí doubled the lead in the 45th. Left back Ona Batlle added the third in the 77th to complete the dominant performance by the hosts.

Spain will face France in the first Women’s Nations League final in the same La Cartuja Stadium on Wednesday. France beat Germany 2-1 in Friday’s other semifinal.

Qualifying for Spain’s first Olympic Games is the first important success for the team since Montse Tomé took over in September following the scandal that erupted when former Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales kissed Hermoso without her consent at the World Cup final.

“[I and my staff] took charge in a difficult moment that nobody wanted and we took a step forward,” Tomé said. “We are proud of the work we have done. This team deserves to play an Olympic Games after all the prior generations who fought for it and came up short.”

Spain started strong in front of their fans in southern Seville.

Striker Salma Paralluelo, who scored the winner to help Spain beat the Dutch in last year’s Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, missed twice from close-range before she was stopped by goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar in a one-on-one opportunity early on.

More shots came from Olga Carmona and Irene Paredes, while the Netherlands could threaten only through Lineth Beerensteyn‘s powerful shot saved by Cata Coll.

The Dutch resistance finally faltered when Hermoso used two slick changes of feet to avoid three defenders and beat Van Domselaar for the opener.

Bonmatí added a quick second blow when she raced forward to volley home a cross from Barcelona clubmate Mariona Caldentey.

The Netherlands improved after half-time, but Battle caught the visitors off guard when she finished off an attack that started with her own cross.

Spain coach Tomé gave a debut to 17-year-old Vicky López in the second half.

A moment of silence was held before kickoff in memory of the victims of a deadly fire in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia.

Inter Miami In Talks to Sign Federico Redondo

Federico Redondo could be heading to South Florida soon…

Inter Miami is in talks to sign the 21-year-old Argentine soccer player, an Argentinos Juniors and Argentina youth international midfielder, according to ESPN.

Federico RedondoRedondo is the son of former Real MadridAC Milan and Argentina national team midfielder Fernando Redondo.

Cesar Luis Merlo was the first to report Inter Miami’s attempts to sign Redondo. One ESPN source described the talks as “advanced.”

Redondo qualifies as a U22 signing, a roster designation that allows him to be signed with a reduced hit of $200,000 on Inter Miami’s salary budget.

According to the Miami Herald, Inter Miami is set to offer an $8 million transfer fee in order to sign Redondo.

Redondo first broke into the Argentinos Juniors lineup during the 2022 season. He’s gone on to make 59 league and cup appearances, scoring two goals.

At youth international level, Redondo made four appearances with Argentina at the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup, as well as six appearances with the U23s in the ongoing CONMEBOL pre-Olympic qualifying tournament.

Were he to make the move, Redondo would also join Argentine great Lionel Messi on Inter Miami’s roster.

Diana Taurasi Named to U.S. National Team for Upcoming Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament

Diana Taurasi is getting back in the international game…

The 41-year-old Argentine American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury, a five-time Olympic champion considered one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has been selected as part of the U.S. national team that will play in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgium this week.

Diana TaurasiTaurasi is one of seven former Olympians on the roster.

She’s joined by Ariel AtkinsNapheesa CollierJewell LoydKelsey PlumBreanna Stewart and Jackie Young.

Additionally, 2022 World Cup champions Kahleah CopperSabrina Ionescu and Alyssa Thomas will be part of the team.

Aliyah Boston and Rhyne Howard round out the squad. Both players will be making their debuts with the senior national team.

Former Olympians A’ja Wilson, Brittney Griner and Chelsea Gray are unavailable to play in Belgium this week.

The U.S., which has already qualified for the Olympics thanks to a gold-medal finish at the 2022 World Cup, will open play against host Belgium on Thursday. More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for that game, and coach Cheryl Reeve expects a loud crowd that will be rooting for the home team.

“We’re expecting to go over there and be in a really tough environment,” the U.S. coach said on Sunday at the end of a three-day training camp in New York. “There’ll be 14,000 people rooting against us. It’s obviously a really good team as we open it, open the tournament. I’m hoping to experience that adversity in a way that helps prepare us for the next step.”

Reeve also feels potential adversity will help the team get ready for the Paris Olympics, where the U.S. will be trying for an eighth consecutive gold medal.

“It’ll be illuminating as far as maybe what we need to do as a coaching staff. How we can better utilize players,” she said. “Those challenges are what we are looking forward to.”

The Americans will also face Nigeria and Senegal. The top two teams other than the Americans will qualify for the Paris Games.

There are three other qualifying tournaments in Brazil, China and Hungary being played at the same time to help round out the 12-team Olympics field. France also has already qualified as the host nation.

The Americans will have another training camp at the Final Four in Cleveland in April before getting together right before the Olympics in Phoenix for a few days.

is getting back in the international game…

The 41-year-old Argentine American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury, a five-time Olympic champion considered one of the greatest players in WNBA history, has been selected as part of the U.S. national team that will play in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgium this week.

Taurasi is one of seven former Olympians on the roster.

She’s joined by Ariel AtkinsNapheesa CollierJewell LoydKelsey PlumBreanna Stewart and Jackie Young.

Additionally, 2022 World Cup champions Kahleah CopperSabrina Ionescu and Alyssa Thomas will be part of the team.

Aliyah Boston and Rhyne Howard round out the squad. Both players will be making their debuts with the senior national team.

Former Olympians A’ja Wilson, Brittney Griner and Chelsea Gray are unavailable to play in Belgium this week.

The U.S., which has already qualified for the Olympics thanks to a gold-medal finish at the 2022 World Cup, will open play against host Belgium on Thursday. More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for that game, and coach Cheryl Reeve expects a loud crowd that will be rooting for the home team.

“We’re expecting to go over there and be in a really tough environment,” the U.S. coach said on Sunday at the end of a three-day training camp in New York. “There’ll be 14,000 people rooting against us. It’s obviously a really good team as we open it, open the tournament. I’m hoping to experience that adversity in a way that helps prepare us for the next step.”

Reeve also feels potential adversity will help the team get ready for the Paris Olympics, where the U.S. will be trying for an eighth consecutive gold medal.

“It’ll be illuminating as far as maybe what we need to do as a coaching staff. How we can better utilize players,” she said. “Those challenges are what we are looking forward to.”

The Americans will also face Nigeria and Senegal. The top two teams other than the Americans will qualify for the Paris Games.

There are three other qualifying tournaments in Brazil, China and Hungary being played at the same time to help round out the 12-team Olympics field. France also has already qualified as the host nation.

The Americans will have another training camp at the Final Four in Cleveland in April before getting together right before the Olympics in Phoenix for a few days.

South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso to Miss Upcoming Games to Join Brazilian National Team for Olympics Qualifying Event

Kamilla Cardoso will be missing several South Carolina Gamecocks games… for good reason.

The 22-year-old Brazilian college basketball player, the top scorer and rebounder for NCAA Women’s Basketball’s South Carolina is leaving the team to join the Brazilian national team for its Olympic qualifying event this week.

Kamilla CardosoShe’ll miss the Gamecocks’ next two games at home, against Missouri on Thursday night and No. 11 UConn on February 11.

“We want the best players on our team,” Staley said. “But sometimes the best players are the best players that represent another country. When we recruited her, we said if there’s an opportunity to go with your national team, go with your national team.”

Brazil is hosting one of the four-team tournaments that serve as Olympic qualifiers. The Brazilians have a tough pool with Germany, Serbia and Australia in the group. The top three teams qualify for the 2024 Paris Games this summer.

“It only makes us feel good,” said Staley, who was the U.S. Olympic coach for the 2020 Tokyo Games in 2021.

Cardoso, at 6-foot-7, has been the best player on the Gamecocks and a top candidate for Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, averaging 13.7 points and 10 rebounds this season.

Her value was apparent in an 85-56 win over Ole Miss on Sunday. Cardoso picked up two quick fouls and had to sit much of the first two quarters as the Rebels got within 32-31 right before halftime.

When Cardoso returned to the court, she fueled a 16-2 run as South Carolina (21-0, 9-0 SEC) took control.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said Cardoso will be missed. But her time on the bench in the first half gave South Carolina forwards like Ashlyn WatkinsChloe Kitts and Sania Feagin more necessary minutes as they prepare to make up for Cardoso’s points, rebounds and blocks.

“No one has a rim protector like her,” Mississippi coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said.

South Carolina will find that out for itself over the next two games.

Mexico’s Osmar Olvera Ibarra Wins Men’s 1-Meter Springboard Gold at World Aquatics Championships

It’s the golden hour for Osmar Olvera Ibarra.

The 19-year-old Mexican diver has given his country its second diving gold medal in the history of the World Aquatics Championships, winning the men’s 1-meter springboard Saturday.

Osmar Olvera IbarraOlvera became the first diver from a country other than China to claim the top spot in the event since Alexandre Despatie of Canada in 2005.

Paolo Espinosa is the only other Mexican diving world champion, capturing gold on the 10-meter platform at Rome in 2009.

Olvera was a silver medalist on both 1- and 3-meter springboard at last summer’s world championships in Fukuoka, Japan. Now, he’s got some gold-medal momentum with the 2024 Paris Games just five months away.

Osmar Olvera IbarraOlvera led the morning preliminaries and cruised through the final, posting a score of 431.75 points over six dives. The silver went to Li Shixin of Australia at 395.70, while Ross Haslam of Britain took the bronze in 393.10.

China, which has dominated diving at both the Olympics and world championships, claimed its first gold in Doha when 13-year-old Huang Jianjie and Zhang Jiaqi won the mixed 10-meter synchronized platform.

With its focus firmly on Paris, China sent a scaled-back team to Doha, giving other nations a chance to shine. The diving superpower didn’t enter the first two events Friday and is assured of its fewest gold medals at worlds since settling for eight in 2017.

Over the past three championships, China has claimed 37 of 39 gold medals.

Zheng Jiuyuan of China lost any chance of cracking the 1-meter medal stand with a botched dive in the fifth round, nearly landing on his knees. He finished 11th out of 12 finalists.

Li’s silver-medal performance marked another remarkable turn for the 35-year-old diver, who captured 1-meter gold for his native China at both the 2011 and 2013 worlds before moving to Australia.

In the mixed event, Huang and 19-year-old Zhang romped to victory for China with 353.82 points. Zhang added to the gold won at Fukuoka while paired with Wang Feilong.

Jo Jin Mi and Im Yong Myong of North Korea took the silver with 303.96 points, while the bronze went to Kevin Berlin Reyes and Alejandra Estudillo Torres of Mexico at 296.13.

In other finals on Day 2 of the first world championships held in the Middle East, Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands pulled off a thrilling victory in the women’s 10-kilometer race and Evangelia Platanioti of Greece took artistic swimming gold in women’s solo technical.

Van Rouwendaal touched first in 1 hour, 57 minutes, 26.80 seconds — one-tenth of a second ahead of Maria de Valdes of Spain. The bronze went to Angelica Andre of Portugal, who was 1.4 seconds behind the winner.

On the last of six laps around the Old Doha Port, Moesha Johnson of Australia faded from the lead to fourth as van Rouwendaal showed off her finishing kick in the final 500 meters of the rough-and-tumble race.

The 30-year-old van Rouwendaal regained the title she held at the 2022 world championships in Budapest, Hungary. She finished fourth last summer in Fukuoka, where Leonie Beck of Germany swept the 5K and 10K titles. Beck finished 20th at Doha, 45 seconds behind the winner.

Van Rouwendaal is a longtime star on the open water circuit. She won gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and grabbed a silver at the Tokyo Games three years ago.

The 29-year-old Platanioti paced the final of solo technical with 272.9633 points. Jacqueline Simoneau of Canada claimed the silver (269.2767), and Xu Huiyan of China took bronze (262.3700).

Many top athletes are skipping Doha, which is hosting the worlds a year behind schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first time the world championships have been held in the same calendar year as the Summer Games.

Jose Ramirez Signs Multi-Fight Deal with Golden Boy Promotions

Jose Ramirez is entering his Golden era….

The 31-year-old Mexican American former unified junior welterweight titlist has signed a multi-fight deal with Golden Boy Promotions.

Jose RamirezThe newly formed deal was announced during the Vergil OrtizFredrick Lawson DAZN broadcast from Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

“I’m ready to be a two-time world champion, and do it right now as well as stay active this year,” said Ramirez. “I felt Oscar [de la Hoya] and Golden Boy could deliver both immediately as well as some big fights at this point in my career that I want. This is the most motivated I have been since I turned pro.”

Ramirez and Ortiz are both managed by Rick Mirigian, who also recently brought over Arnold Barboza to the Golden Boy family. Barboza won via technical knockout after nine rounds in his Golden Boy debut Saturday evening.

“We know our value, and had to get a plan,” said Mirigian. “Golden Boy stepped up and showed that Jose would be a priority to them with the deal he was given. The fights that can now be made at 140 in house are among the best in all of the sport, as Golden Boy has now taken a strong hold on the most exciting division in boxing.”

Terms of the deal were not revealed. Boxing Scene reports that Ramirez could potentially challenge for the WBA junior welterweight title within his next couple of fights, depending on how the process plays out regarding current beltholder Rolando Romero and whether he next defends against the interim titlist.

Regardless, it’s a fresh start for Ramirez (28-1, 18KOs), who fought just once in each of the past four years.

An eleventh-round knockout of Richard Commey last March 25 in Fresno, California—the heart of Ramirez’s fan base as he hails from nearby Avenal—marked the final fight of his near 12-year-run with Top Rank. Ramirez signed with the Las Vegas-based outlet shortly after he represented the U.S. during the 2012 London Olympics.

During that time, Ramirez emerged as a sizeable draw in California’s Central Valley and won the WBC and WBO titles at junior welterweight. He came up just short versus then-unbeaten Josh Taylor in their May 2022 undisputed championship clash at Virgin Hotels, where he was in attendance on Saturday to confirm his new promotional deal.

In between the Taylor loss and Saturday’s news came just two ring appearances and a number of opportunities left on the table for various reasons. He eventually broke from Top Rank after his team could not reach terms for an offered shot at two-division lineal and current WBO junior welterweight champ Teofimo Lopez, who’ll instead face Jamaine Ortiz atop a February 8 ESPN show from Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

All signs, however, point to a more optimistic future.

“An Olympic pedigree. An incredible resumé that features two world titles. A massive and loyal fan base — José Ramirez has it all, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Golden Boy family,” said Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy de la Hoya. “Our plan for Ramirez is simple: get him back in the ring quickly, keep him active against the best of the best and show the world that he is still among the cream of the crop in the super lightweight division.”

Details of his first fight under the Golden Boy banner are forthcoming.

Jose Pedraza’s Bout Against Keyshawn Davis Rescheduled for February 8

Jose Pedraza is preparing to fight a former champion…

The 34-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer and former two-weight world champion’s lightweight bout versus Keyshawn Davis has been rescheduled for February 8 in Las Vegas, sources told ESPN on Friday..

Jose PedrazaThe bout will serve as the ESPN co-feature to Teofimo Lopez‘s junior welterweight title defense vs. Jamaine Ortiz.

Davis (10-0, 6 KOs) was set to meet Pedraza this past Saturday in South Florida before he was suspended 90 days by the Texas commission for a positive marijuana test following his October win over Nahir Albright.

The Olympic silver medalist from Norfolk, Va., was recently named ESPN‘s No. 3 fighter under 25 years old. Now, the 24-year-old will step up against a former champion for the first time as he looks to rise from prospect to contender.

Pedraza (29-5-1, 14 KOs) is a former two-division champion, though he’s winless in his last three bouts. All three fights took place at 140 pounds.

A draw with Richard Commey was sandwiched in between close decision losses to junior welterweight contenders Jose Ramirez and Arnold Barboza. Pedraza’s title reigns came at 130 and 135 pounds.

Pedraza last competed at 135 pounds in May 2019. Both of Pedraza’s title defeats came against the sport’s elite. He lost his 130-pound title via TKO to Gervonta Davis in 2017. The following year, Pedraza dropped his 135-pound title via decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Davis is coming off the toughest fight of his career, a majority-decision victory over Albright. He’s trained by Brian McIntyre, who also guides Terence Crawford.

Rafael Espinoza Upsets Robeisy Ramirez to Claim WBO Championship

Rafael Espinoza has pulled off a massive upset…

The 29-year-old Mexican boxer, an unheralded featherweight contender, shocked the boxing world on Saturday, after upsetting two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez to claim the WBO championship.

Rafael Espinosa, Espinoza (22-0, 18 KOs) entered the bout with a pristine professional record, although the majority of his work had come against relatively unknown competition in Mexico.

Ramirez (13-2, 8 KOs) was a 15-1 betting favorite, and the bout took place in front of a very pro-Ramirez crowd at Dodge City Center near Miami. It was seen as Ramirez’s fight to lose.

Espinoza clearly didn’t see it that way. The lanky featherweight, in his first world title appearance, threw nearly 1,000 punches over the course of 12 rounds and won a majority decision via scores of 115-111, 114-112 and 113-113.

The 12-round affair immediately qualified as a fight of the year candidate. Espinoza went down from a right hook to the chin in the fifth, while Ramirez took his turn on the canvas from a barrage of punches in the 12th.

Despite not having fought past a third round in three years, Espinoza looked as if he could have fought another 12 at the conclusion. Volume was his greatest weapon, and he out-landed Ramirez 103 to 33 in the final three rounds.

The fight played out in three chapters. Espinoza’s length and volume frustrated Ramirez early, and Espinoza jumped out to a four-round lead on most scorecards. Everything turned in the final second of the fifth, when Ramirez dropped Espinoza with a short right hand. Espinoza barely survived the count and was saved by the bell as soon as action resumed.

Ramirez, 29, of Cuba, hurt Espinoza several more times in the middle frames. Espinoza’s right leg also appeared compromised at one point, after an awkward lower body clash between the two competitors. By the eighth round, it looked like normalcy had returned to the ring and Ramirez was in control, but Espinoza then somehow hit another gear.

The gutsy fighter from Guadalajara threw 995 punches to Ramirez’s 376, according to Compubox. Ramirez was far more consistent, as Espinoza only landed 222 to Ramirez’s 119. But there was no question the volume had taken its toll on the defending champion by the 12th round, and Ramirez was running on fumes. Espinoza threw 120 punches in the 12th round alone.