Fury and Wilder

This is the third fight between the two. In their first fight, Fury barely survived a knockout in the twelfth as he managed to get up and get a draw. In their second fight, he won rather easily, pounding Wilder all over. Wilder is a good athlete who boxes, Fury is a boxer who has athletic skills. In their second bout, Fury adjusted and was more aggressive, using his heights and weight to his advantage.

Wilder problem has been that he has depended upon his power but not boxing skills. He has not improved his boxing skills and until his second fight with Fury, if he was behind on points, he would depend upon his power. Against the Cuban fighter Ortiz, he was behind on points in both fights but his power save him and his power allowed him a draw against Fury and Fury own guts and ability to get up from a devastating knockout save Fury from defeat.

In their last fight, Wilder did not change his strategy but Fury did by not just boxing but he opened up more and took advantage of Wilder defense liability. Wilder must use his athlete ability and move side to side before unleashing his punches. In the past, he has often move in a straight line back ward to escape and against a good boxer like Fury, this made Wilder vulnerable to Fury own power.

Wilder has a puncher chance to win and he has the power to do that. Fury, whose own goal is Joshua to unite the titles but that fight fell through and now he is fighting Wilder, who he prefer not to fight. Will Fury come in overconfident? If so he could run into a Wilder’s right hand.

Fury is the favorite and he is the better boxer and if he boxes, he will set up combinations to win this fight easily. Wilder will win only by knockout, and that is not out of question.

Djokovic wins number 20

We are witnessing greatness in Tennis as we witnessing the final endgame of who will be greatest of all time. Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have won 20 majors and since Roger won Wimbledon in 2003 for his first major, these three men have won 60 majors over the past 18 years. That represent 80 percent of the majors played over the period.

Roger is nearly 40 and I would be surprise if he wins another. Nadal is 35 and Djokovic is 34. They are still playing near their best despite their age. Normally, 34 is the point where men tennis player are on their way down but both players are still playing well and are still among the best in the game.

Federer last major win was Australia three years ago when he was 36 so we can assume that either Nadal or Djokovic have one or two more majors left in them and Djokovic is the youngest by one year to Nadal but appears to be better on more surface than Nadal who has won 13 of his 20 majors on the clay surface of French Open.

Over the next three or four years, the GOAT in Men’s Tennis will be settled.

Royals nearing the All Star Break

Royals are approaching the all Star break as a team in a disarray. Pitching so far dismal as I have observed before, four of the starters have ERA of 5.97, 5.50, 5.36, and 4.52. Greg Holland is tied with five saves but he also has blown4 saves. Barlow has 4 saves and blew 3 others.

Holland is interesting case since he has leads the team in save opportunities and there are times that he looks like the Holland of old. And there are times that he is an old Holland. His ERA of nearly 5 runs sums up where he is in his career. He is not the consistent closer of years past but so far no one else has yet to take the closer role. Staumont looked like he was headed in that direction but a stint on IR slowed Staumont down. Royals are closer by committee and Holland is not what he was but there are very little choice not to use him.

Royals are near last with a 5.04 ERA, given up 112 homers and have blown 15 saves as a team. Can’t win with that.

I had high hopes for this team, since it is a better team than what we have seen over the past three years. Bringing in Benintendi and Santana has worked out. Benintendi is close to the Benintendi of 2018 an Santana is hitting .250, getting walks and have 14 homers. Where you expected him to be. 2019, Dozier and Soler showed that they were ready to be power hitters and RBI’s producers but since then, they have gone south. It leaves a big hole when your power hitters are hitting below .200 and Ryan O’Hearn is hitting .217. Merrifield leads the league in stolen bases but is hitting 20 points below his lifetime .293 but Perez is hitting well with 20 homers and 51 RBI’s going into the All Star Break.

In spite of Soler and Dozier failures, the Royals are number 10th in batting average.

From the Past, China is the new National Socialism

China National Socialism

In the 1990’s, a good friend told me a few years after the collapse of Soviet Empire that he was surprised how communism ended up as National socialism.  National Socialism will not run by small little dudes with funny looking mustaches yelling “Sieg Heil” but leaders in finely tailored suits and look more like a Wall Street banker than a nasty dictator.  This is the face of the new Hitler, President Xi.

China has concentration camps that holds millions, they use social media to control the population and President Xi is the George Orwellian 1984 Big Brother.  No freedom, and while China Communist Party allows profits to be made but the state controls all and companies may make money, but they serve the state. It is state corporatism and China view itself as the new center of the universe, with all nations bow to Beijing.  While I don’t view China’s National socialism means conquest of nations, it does mean that their ideology reign supreme but there is one exception to conquest: Hong Kong and Taiwan which would bring “All of China” under Beijing. 

I have asked the question, what will a world be like if China was the most powerful country in the world?  It would be a poorer world, less free and we will see other nations or group of nations copy Chinese National socialist movement.  We see many of own elites who for years admire China, just listen to Mike Bloomberg own view of China in the primary. Mike Bloomberg has stated that “Well, it’s a question of what is a dictator. They don’t have a democracy in the sense that they have general elections. That is true. They do have a system where a small group of people appoint the head. And they churn over periodically. If you go back and look at the last two or three decades, there have been a number of people that have had the same position that Xi Jinping has.”

China is the modern version of National Socialism, and now this is that moment to ask will we allow China to become the number one power?  If China is number one power, only means the United States will decline in both economic power and freedom we take for granted will slowly disappear.

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NBA Playoffs

The Phoenix Suns have been the luckiest team. In their opening round, Anthony Davis was injured during their playoff series and Lebron James was forced to carry the Lakers.

Nuggest were missing Jamal Murry, their top guard and the outside compliment to Most Valuable player Jokic and the Suns took advantage to sweep the Nuggets.

Clippers were missing Kawhli Leonard over the last three games of their series and while Paul George had a great series, but Suns played well and even won two games with Chris Paul out for Covid restrictions.

Now they play Milwaukee who managed to win their last two games against the Hawks without Giannis Antetokoumpo, but the Hawks were missing Trae Young with sore ankle for one game and Young was hampered by his ankle in the deciding game.

Will Antetokoumpo be available for the final series? While the Bucks have a good team even without Giannis but he is one of the two super stars in this series, with Chris Paul the other. Both teams have good players, Suns have a rising star in Devin Booker and Bucks have Kris Middleton. Brooks Lopez was a regular 20 point scorer with the Brooklyn Nets and while he has averaged 12 to 13 points a game since leaving the Nets but he was playing with Lebron James in LA and Giannis was the super star who along with Middleton, who are the two scorers. Lopez is support and Suns have the young Deandre Ayton who has a good playoffs. Both teams have talented support players.

This NBA playoff has been as much a survival match as key injuries have hurt teams during the playoffs. Celtics began the playoffs without Jaylen Brown, Nets played without Irving and Hardin much of their playoff run and in their last two games with Bucks, Irving was out and Hardin was playing with one leg.

So the NBA playoffs is now headed into its final stage and the survival of the fitness.

Royals Watch

The Royals continue their slide, and it is easier to see why.  First, your starting pitching sucks as your starters have ERA of 5.33, 6.60, 4.47, 4.60 and two of your pitchers are not even averaging 5 innings per start and quality starts are a rarity.  Your bullpen is overworked, and it is starting to show up as reliable relievers are showing signs of wearing and the bull pen ERA is over 4. 

Which means you have to out hit opponents to win and even if your offense is among the best, it is still a difficult task to out hit your opponents on a consistent basis, but the Royals’ offense are not among the best.

Two of your best hitters, Mondesi and Benintendi injured, and your power hitters are slumping.  Dozier is hitting .160 and just 7 homers and Soler is hitting .186 with 6 homers.  Your leadoff hitter, Merrifield has more homers than your power guys.  Outside of Perez and Merrifield, the rest of the lineup is mediocre.  O’Hearn has hit better since his return from Omaha but Taylor is hitting .237, Santana .239 (he is second in homers with 13 so that is a silver lining), Gutierrez .215 when he was called up.  Lopez is hitting .260 and adding good defense so he is doing beyond what you expect but Santana, Taylor, Dyson, Soler and Dozier have not performed to make up the difference with Mondesi and Benintendi out.

Merrifield is back to be being like the Whit we love as he heads the league in stolen basis and hitting .287 and Perez has 19 homers to go with his .282 average but they can’t carry the offense by themselves.

Didn’t expect this team to be a playoff but felt this team would be similar to 2013, a shot of a .500 season and much improved.  Month of April showed the potential of what this team could be, but this team is underachieving, and it begins with pitching. 

Bubic and Singer has not improved from their 2020 performances and taken steps backward. Keller has been a disaster and Minor has been a disappointment.  Only Duffy so far has shown improvement and he has spent a significant time on the IR.  Younger relievers have shown potential like Bentz, Zimmer, Staumont, and Barlow but others like Junis and Zuber have not.  Wade Davis is on his last leg and Swarzak is showing why Arizona let him go.  Holland leads the team in saves but he is not the Holland of 2014 as he has been inconsistent.  There are games he is light out and there are games that he looks like a pitcher in his mid-30’s.  Lynch and Kowar have done well at Omaha but their brief stay in Kansas City has been disastrous.   There has been a call to fire Cal Eldred and maybe it is time to ask, is he the pitching coach for an upcoming and young staff.  Singer, Bubic, Kowar and Lynch are part of a future rotation that potentially looks good and there are other young pitchers in the minors with their own potential, but that potential has to be delivered and the Royals have to look at coaching staff and ask are these the guys to take this team to another level.

The good news is that Bobby Witt, Jr and Nick Pratto are hitting their strides in the minors and Edward Olivares has shown that he has nothing left to prove in the minors.  It is time to start looking at the youngsters and see what we have.  Emmanuel Rivera has done well at Omaha, and it is time to see what he can do in Kansas City.  Lovelady and Speier have not performed well in Kansas City in past stints, but it is time to see if they have learned from their past experiences and now ready for the show.  They can’t be worse than Davis or Swarzak who are not part of the Royals future anymore. 

I like Mike Matheny and in 2020, he looked like the guy to take Royals to the next level but this year, the Royals have taken steps backward.  It is always easy to blame the manager and there is still a half a season left to turn things around.  Royals are not going to the playoffs this year, but they are better than the team on the field now.  They need to improve and set the stage for 2022.    I would love to see Witt in Omaha now that he has figured out double AA pitching and has shown so far, he is worthy of his number draft pick. It would be nice to see him as part of the September call up. 

The Royals have enough talent to compete in the next two years but there are some questions that need to be asked of the organization. Moore decision to grab Benintendi was a good one as he has performed well both offensively and defensively.  Taylor was worth a look since he has the speed to cover center field, but Soler has yet to show he is worth a long-term contract and Dozier was signed for a long-term deal.  Moore can’t be blamed for Benintendi or Mondesi injuries and the decisions he made on paper looked good, but players need to execute.  Santana has hit for power but at .239, he could be better, and Dozier has been a disaster and not the Dozier of 2019.  Soler had his good year in 2019 but before or since then, there is nothing to indicate that he is part of the Royals future.  No team can afford a DH who is hitting .180 and only 6 homers plus Soler is a defense liability.   Dozier may need some time in Omaha to get his form back since the Royals have committed themselves to him.   It is time to say goodbye to Davis who has been a great performer in the past for the Royals, but he is not Davis of old but is an old Davis.  Holland still has something left and leads the team in saves.  

It is Ime Udoka for Boston

Boston went the assistant coach route to pick their next head coach and for those who care, he is the sixth black head coach of the franchise. (Boston picked the first black head coach in NBA and professional sports history in Bill Russell.)

We don’t know how Udoka will do as the head coach but he has worked under Greg Popovich, the best head coach in NBA presently working and he has additional experiences with Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets this past year.

The Celtics have a young core ready in Jason Tatum and Jaylon Browh and are close to being a NBA title contender. They have been the NBA Eastern conference finals three times in the Stevens’ era and now with Stevens in the front office, Udoka is starting at a good place. A young team close to title aspiration.

This weekend in boxing

Charlo by “Decision” over Montiel … Inoue by “Knockout” over Dasmarinas (6-19-21)

By Tom Donelson / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA)

Jermall Charlo defended his Middleweight title against Juan Montiel in a fight that while Charlo won easily on the judges’ scorecard, it still had its drama.   While the stats would show Charlo throwing nearly double the punches and connecting on nearly double of punches, there were moments that maybe the underdog Montiel could pull something out of the hat with his power. 

Charlo began the fight dominating with his skills as Montiel awkward style which included switching from orthodox to southpaw didn’t really fool Charlo.  As Showtime Al Bernstein noted, Montiel was better in the orthodox and recommended that he shouldn’t switch.  When he stayed Orthodox, he was more effective against Charlo .

The first four rounds, Charlo dominated with his skills and Charlo had Montiel in trouble in both the fifth and sixth round.  Charlo right hand stunned Montiel and sent the challenger reeling to the rope but he still survived.  In the sixth round, Montiel started to connect on his own punches and landed several good body shots. 

Montiel toughness saw him through this fight and as the fight progressed, he actually got stronger and in the eleventh round, he hurt Charlo with some vicious body shots and open a cut over Charlo’s eye, the first cut in Charlo career. 

I had the score 119-109, not a hard fight to score but, yet Charlo never seemed to have this fight under control as the eleventh round showed.  Montiel took Charlo best shots and was still standing at the final belt.  Charlo had a tough fight against a heavy-handed opponent and won. 

Charlo is undefeated but still only owns one of the Middleweight belts and he made it clear, he is ready to reunite the belts. 

Naoye Inoue came into his fight with Michael Dasmarinas as the heavy favorite and he did not disappoint.   Dasmarinas began the fight on his bicycle and moved away from Inoue . He had no desire to mix it up with Inoue and a liver shot that sent Dasmarinas down in the second round showed that Dasmarinas fear were not mistaken.  Dasmarinas managed to get up from that punch and make it to the third round.  He didn’t make it to the fourth.  Inoue nailed Dasmarinas with vicious body shots and sent Dasmarinas down twice.  After getting nailed with another vicious body shots, the referee stopped the fight as Dasmarinas wasn’t getting up from that last blow . Inoue continued on his path as one of the best pound for pound.

In August, Nonito Donaire will fight John Riel Casimero for a WBC / WBO title unification and if he wins that, another title and unification bout will be with WBA / IBF champion Naoya Inoue .

Inoue showed in his brief three round why he is one of the most electrifying fighters today as he can stop a fight with just one punch.