One of the most-highly anticipated fights in boxing is now official for Saturday, Oct. 17 as WBA and WBO champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and IBF champion Teofimo Lopez will battle in a lightweight unification bout. The fight has long been planned but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The contracts are now signed, though, and the bout is set to go down at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. After tweeting Monday that the fighters had signed the deal, Top Rank made the official announcement on Tuesday.
Lomachenko vs. Lopez is the biggest fight to be made official during the pandemic, and Top Rank was able to put it all together to air on ESPN rather than pay-per-view as many expected.
“Lomachenko-Lopez is the best fight that can be made in boxing, and we are delighted that it will be available to fans for no extra charge live on ESPN,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum stated in a press release. “Teofimo and Vasiliy demanded the fight, and we are glad we could make it happen. Vasiliy has never backed down from a challenge since he turned pro under the Top Rank banner, and Teofimo is a fearless young champion daring to be great. This has all the makings of a modern boxing classic.”
Lopez (15-0, 12 KO) and Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KO) have a long history, with Lopez’s father taunting Lomachenko for years and predicting a dominant win for his son over one of the best fighters in the sport.
“I will beat up Lomachenko and take his belts,” Lopez stated in the press release. “Simple as that. I’m coming to Las Vegas to make history. I don’t like the guy, and I’m going to have fun as Lomachenko’s face is beaten and marked up by my hands. The Takeover is here, and the reign of Lomachenko, the little diva, is coming to an end.”
Lomachenko’s response to Lopez’s trash talk was swift and to the point.
“Teofimo Lopez can talk all he wants. He’s very good at talking. He has done nothing but say my name for the past two years. I am a fighter, and my goal is to win another world title. Good for Teofimo. When we fight in Las Vegas, he will eat my punches and his words. I will be the better man, and four world titles will come home with me to Ukraine.”
Virat Kohli – ‘Yuzvendra Chahal was the one who changed the game’
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli reckoned Yuzvendra Chahal‘s final over was where the match turned in his side’s 10-run victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their IPL 2020 opener.
Sunrisers were 121 for 2, needing 43 to win from 30 balls with Jonny Bairstow batting on 61, but Chahal took two wickets in 16th over – Bairstow included – to swing the match his team’s way. Earlier, Chahal had also got Manish Pandey to end a 71-run stand for the second wicket, and he finished with 3 for 18 in four overs and the Man of the Match award.
“We kept our composure tonight,” Kohli told Star, the host broadcaster. “When they needed 43 I think off five, just had a chat in the middle saying ‘no shoulders dropping till the last run is scored. The game can change anytime.’ And Yuzi comes in, the strike bowler that he’s been for us, and changes the game completely in that over.
“Not many other spinners got too much out of the pitch, but tonight he showed that if you have skill in the wrist, you can purchase on any track,” Kohli added of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium pitch. “That’s why he bowls well in Bangalore too. The dew was a big factor tonight, the pitch was decent to bat on in the second half I thought – much better than the first half. But the way he came in, backed his skill and got the ball to turn and bowled attacking lines. He was the one who changed the game, in my opinion.”
Chahal had a different plan for each of the three wickets he got, and all of them worked out. “When I bowled to Pandey I had the cover fielder back, so maybe he thought I’ll bowl outside offstump.” Chahal explained. “But that ball, I bowled on the stumps.
“For Bairstow, I knew that we need his wicket that over to come back into the game, even if I go for runs. That’s why I bowled it a bit fuller, but a bit on the legside, because it is very hard to hit from there since the ball is turning. And when Vijay (Shankar) came, Virat bhaiyya and AB (de Villiers) sir, we had decided that the first ball I will bowl a googly.”
Kohli said that the way his side had not given up even when the equation was in the Sunrisers favour augured well for the season.
“In the past if we had 43 off five, you would probably see shoulders dropping. The fact that we didn’t let the negativity seep into the bowling group even when there was dew and it was difficult to bowl, the guys kept believing and kept bowling attacking areas. Someone like Shivam (Dube) coming in and bowling three proper overs was an outstanding sign for us… a part-timer coming and doing the job means the guys want the opportunity, they want to be in pressure situations. And that’s the kind of mindset we want to be in.”
The Royal Challengers total was built on half-centuries from debutant Devdutt Padikkal and AB de Villiers, and de Villiers admitted to having doubts about his form coming into the game without having played competitive cricket for months.
“I surprised myself to be honest,” he said of his 30-ball 51. “As a 36-year-old to come here, without having played a lot of cricket, you do doubt yourself. But we worked really hard the last four weeks as a team and individually as well to get myself in some kind of form. Tonight was a very pleasing start. Unfortunately got run out there at the end but I’m pretty happy with the basics that seem to be in place.”
Chiefs survive mistakes to register sloppy win over Chargers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs were nearly flawless in their Week 1 win over the Houston Texans. They proved Sunday they can win when things don’t go quite so smoothly.
The Chiefs were penalized 11 times for 90 yards, had a handful of dropped passes and struggled to get into any offensive rhythm until the second half of their 23-20 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. They also made the kind of mental miscues that generally leave coach Andy Reid seething in his postgame news conference.
One of them occurred when wide receiver Mecole Hardman didn’t touch down a defensive player following an interception — it wound up being a moot point because of a penalty. Another came when wide receiver Tyreek Hill removed his helmet after a long touchdown reception for what should have been a penalty; he claimed it already was coming off.
“I would never take my helmet off,” Hill insisted. “When I’m on the field it’s my responsibility to always keep my helmet on. That’s one of Coach Reid’s biggest pet peeves, taking your helmet off after a touchdown.”
Regardless, all the miscues left Reid with this assessment: “We have to do better,” he said. “There are no excuses.”
Especially in an empty stadium. The Chiefs should have had no problem with communication with fans barred from Sofi Stadium for the Chargers’ debut in their new digs because of the coronavirus pandemic. But they still had costly holding and offsides penalties along with a roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs managed to overcome the mistakes, though, thanks to another starring turn from Patrick Mahomes, a couple of crucial grabs by his wide receivers and a defense that was pushed around the first half but suddenly showed up.
“Obviously, we didn’t play the way we wanted to play,” Mahomes said, “but to find a way to win, I think that when you get to the playoffs or when you get later in the season and you try to make a run, not every game is going to be a blowout.”
Harrison Butker gives the Chiefs the chance to score points any time they cross midfield. His two 58-yard field goals, which matched Nick Lowery’s franchise record, included the game-winner in overtime. Butker already has made 11 kicks of at least 50 yards in three-plus seasons; Lowery hit 20 of them from 1980-93. And he passed Pete Stoyanovich for sixth in franchise scoring with 445 points; next up is Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who scored 462 points from 1997-2008.
“I mean, what can you say?” Reid said of Butker, who has hit a field goal in a Chiefs-record 16 straight games. “He’s a mentally tough kid and we appreciate him and how he goes about his job.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The secondary is woefully depleted. Bashaud Breeland is only halfway through his four-game suspension and fellow starter Charvarius Ward is still dealing with a fractured hand. Antonio Hamilton went down Sunday with a hamstring injury.
CB L’Jarius Sneed is looking like a fourth-round steal in last April’s draft. He’s been pressed into service because of injuries and suspensions and has risen to the occasion, picking off a pass in each of his first two games.
“That’s the reason why we went out and got him,” Chiefs defensive backs coach Sam Madison said. “He is able to run, he’s tall, he’s long and you look at our corners from last year, you know he just fit that mold.”
DT Chris Jones, who signed a four-year, $85 million deal in the offseason, was beaten regularly at the point of attack in the run game. He also was penalized for offside early in the game and roughing the passer on third down in the fourth quarter, giving the Chargers a first down and leading to a field goal that made it 20-17 with 2:30 left in the game.
RB Darrel Williams left with an ankle injury, DE Frank Clark was ill and WR Sammy Watkins took a blow to the head that drew Reid’s ire. “I thought it was questionable,” he said. “We’re not supposed to have those in our game here.”
28: That’s the number of wins the Chiefs have over the AFC West in their past 30 games.
Mahomes and the Chiefs visit Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in a matchup of 2-0 teams next Monday night. They were on a collision course in last year’s AFC playoffs before the Titans upset Baltimore in the divisional round. Kansas City then beat Tennessee in the conference title game before winning its first Super Bowl in 50 years.
David Benavidez vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo: Fight preview, prediction, start time, card, odds, Showtime Boxing
When ranking the most TV-friendly boxers in the game today, no list would be complete without unbeaten David Benavidez. It just so happens the 23-year-old is also one of the best fighters in the world at 168 and in possession of the WBC title he first won while still a teenager.
Or maybe we should say, was in possession. Two years after having been stripped of his title following a positive drug test for cocaine, only to win it back last fall, Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) missed weight on Friday and lost his title on the scales ahead of Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET).
Benavidez was nearly three pounds over the 168-pound limit, meaning only his opponent, hard-hitting Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) will be eligible to win the title at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Benavidez also declined the additional hour provided by the commission to try and shed the weight to keep his title.
“I put the blame on myself, the last three pounds wouldn’t come off,” Benavidez said after stepping off the scales on the Showtime weigh-in live stream. “Maybe it was not having the proper things I needed [during the quarantine]. It was just a couple of different things and I’m obviously disappointed but I still have a job to do tomorrow.
“I’m definitely 100 times angrier coming into this fight. I don’t have my belt no more and the best I can come out of this fight is winning.”
Benavidez will still get to showcase his pressure stye and doesn’t plan on changing his approach anytime soon.
“I really don’t feel any pressure. I’m going to continue doing what I have been doing since I was 18,” Benavidez told CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast earlier this week. “I feel like that’s why I have got to where I am at. I won the belt when I was 20 years’ old. I just go out there and do what I do. I’m an exciting fighter and the fans love me. My style brings out exciting fights. I don’t shy away from a fight. I’d rather bring the fight and make it a war.”
Benavidez rebounded in resounding fashion when a personal setback cost him the title the first time around by stopping division stalwart Anthony Dirrell to regain his crown.
A native of Phoenix, Benavidez was quick to point out that Angulo has a style that is nothing like the counterpunching and technical boxing style of Dirrell, which only raises the expectations for violence when they touch gloves this weekend.
Anuglo, a 36-year-old Colombian with a big right hand, is peaking at the right time in his career despite his age. Although his lone defeat came two years ago in a title loss by decision to Gilberto Ramirez, he has won two straight including an upset of unbeaten Anthony Sims Jr. in January.
“This fighter Angulo is more of a pressure type of fighter,” Benavidez said. “He likes to go forward and throw a lot of big shots. It will be a different kind of game that I’m playing this Saturday. I feel like my fights are exciting when the person I’m fighting comes forward and forward. I’ve seen that type of style a lot in my career and I’m used to it. I’m looking to have a great fight.”
No stranger to the highlight reel, Benavidez made plenty of them in a 2017 knockout of Rogelio “Porky” Medina that saw him finish the fight with a flurry of clean punches that nearly reached double digits as Medina fell under the bottom rope and was counted out.
“That was probably one of my favorite knockouts I ever had,” Benavidez said. “I watch it quite a lot and I feel like [Angulo] is kind of a replica of ‘Porky’ Medina. He’s the same type of fighter who comes forward and throws big shots. It could possibly be the same night. I’m looking to have a spectacular performance.”
Tall for the division at nearly 6-foot-2, Benavidez has given up his height often to fight on the inside. He claims he hasn’t done so to a reckless degree, however.
“If you look at my fights very closely, by the time the fights are done I don’t come out with black eyes, I don’t come out with cuts,” Benavidez said. “It’s fighting in the pocket but it’s being very careful with your defense, too. Just because I’m fighting on the inside a lot doesn’t mean I’m taking the shots and just coming forward. Just because it’s hitting on the gloves doesn’t mean it’s hitting on your face and I feel like that creates room for counter shots and more room for opportunity like body shots. If I’m in close to the pocket, it’s definitely going to be a short night for whomever I’m in there against.
Benavidez believes he “put the whole division on notice” with his stoppage of Dirrell via cuts and hasn’t hidden his disdain for or intention of seeking a unification bout against IBF champion Caleb Plant. Those plans will be delayed due to Benavidez missing weight.
“That’s the fight that we want to make happen as soon as possible,” Benavidez said. “I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me and I want his belt. That’s the fight I feel like has been cooking up and that’s the kind of fight that fans are excited about. That definitely has to happen as soon as possible. That’s the fight I want and the person I want to knock out. When we get in the ring, it’s going to get ugly. Trust me. I’m going to end up leaving with his belt.
“He thinks he’s better than me. It’s just the way that he is. It’s his persona. Sometimes there are just these two dudes that don’t like each other. I don’t like the way he is and acts. I don’t like how he thinks he’s better than everybody. He thinks he’s going to rule the division and I’m not going to let that happen. This is my division.”
Also featured on the card are a pair of heavyweights looking to get back in the spotlight when Otto Wallin takes on Travis Kauffman. Wallin famously battled WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury ahead of his rematch with Deontay Wilder and cut Fury’s eye open early in the bout. Many were worried that the cut was bad enough that the fight could be stopped and put the Wilder rematch in jeopardy. Fury survived, however, and went on to win a very gruesome, bloody decision. It’s the only loss of Wallin’s pro career.
Kauffman has been in some brawls in his career, but at 34, his best days are behind him. He’s lost two of his last three, including a TKO defeat at the hands of Luis Ortiz in his last bout in December 2018. He’s only fought four times since 2016.
Plus, one of Floyd Mayweather’s rising prospects is back when Rolando Romero takes on Jackson Marinez for the WBA interim lightweight title in the co-main event. Romero boasts incredible power with 10 knockouts in 11 career wins. Marinez is no slouch himself, however, as he boasts an undefeated record at 19-0, though a more technical fighter with just seven career knockouts.
Fight card, odds
David Benavidez -1200
Roamer Alexis Angulo +750
Rolando Romero -550
Jackson Marinez +400
WBA interim lightweight title
While Angulo is certainly the clear underdog due to his lack of speed and overwhelming craft, he has proven an ability to demand respect with the threat of his right hand and lower his opponent’s output because of it. Whether that will give Benavidez any pause likely will be decided when Angulo is forced to fight at close range where his opponent excels with short combinations.
The propensity for fireworks is big in this one and Benavidez’s pressure style does welcome the threat of getting caught, like he did when he was dropped in the final round of his first meeting with Ronald Gavril that ended via split decision. The difference, however, is the advantages in speed and technique that Benavidez will hold in the pocket, which allows him to stand closer to fire without getting burned.
As long as Benavidez maintains his poise and avoids an emotional reaction to missing weight, this is still a fight he should win.