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.

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. 

Celtics Center

With Horford back, the center position is crowded. You have Williams, thought to be the future and a super athlete but often injured. Tristan Thompson, a tough rebounder but doesn’t have the ability to stretch the center. Tacko Fall, an interesting projects but how long do you wait to decide if there is a long term investment? Luke Kornet is the odd man out and Fall may be not be around next year as well if Celtics view Brown as a potential future center to compliment the rest of the team. Horford is a short term similar to Thompson. Look for more dealing.

Celtics trade: Walker for Horford

In the NBA, the Celtics traded Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City and got back Al Horford and Moses Brown. This was a combination of money exchanges as Walker had a big contract that the Celtics wanted to unload and Horford had almost as big of contract. Thunders get a 2016 draft pick as part of their rebuild.

Walker is one of the NBA good guys but his knees gave him trouble as he missed 45 games over the past two years including playoffs. As for Horford, he signed with 76ers as a free agent but it didn’t work out as he didn’t meld with Embiid and the rest of 76ers. So he was shipped off to Oklahoma City where he did well enough but as the season progressed, he was told to take the rest of the year off as Thunders decided to tank the season.

Walker when healthy was very good but his bad knees proved problematic. The wild card is Moses Brown who is a 7’2″ center with potential. He averaged nearly 9 points and 9 rebounds in his second season. In his last five game, 11 points and 11 rebounds a game including a 24 points game. Against Celtics, he had 21 points and 23 rebounds so the Celtics saw potential.

Rob Williams shows potential but keeping him on the court has been a struggle. Brown may have the potential to plug up the center position. They gave up a first round draft point but at 21 years, Brown may be the replacement for that missing draft pick.

Royals weekly

I will do a weekly observations of the Royals and this is number one. It is said you are as good as your record after 67 games, the Royals are playing like their record 30-37.

First, four of your starting pitchers era are as following: 6.14, 4.63, 4.76, 4.01. The only pitcher with an ERA under 4 is Duffy who ERA is 1.94, but he has been on the injured list so he has not pitched for while. The replacement starters Kowar and Lynch have been clobbered. Minor is the only starter with a winning record at 5-4 and your ace, Keller is 6-6 but with a ERA of 6.14.

Kellers has averaged 4.7 innings per start, Singer 5.1 innings start, Minor 5.7 innings and Bubic over his last three start has failed to make it to fifth inning. Hard to win if your starters having problems getting quality starts and often the team finds themselves behind in most games. Starters have to get better.

Second, your two power hitters are hitting .152 and .185 and with a combined 13 homers between the two. Soler and Dozier have been abysmal. Perez by himself has hit 17 homers but your big boppers are missing in action.

At this point Merrifield is hitting .269 which is 25 points behind his life time average but he does lead the league in steals.

The good news, Perez is playing like an All-Star and Andrew Benintendi is hitting .283 and returned to his pre 2019 Red Sox days and added 8 homers. Zimmer, Barlow, Staumont, and Bentz have performed well but these four are your dependable relievers and Ervin Santana has had his moments. I would love to see more of Ronald Bolanos, who has pitched well when given the chance.

As for Greg Holland, he has his moment but he is not the pitcher of 2014 and Wade Davis, his career is over and his ERA accurately reflects where he is at 8.34. Davis was one of the best relievers in 2014 to 2016 but now, he is at the end of his career.

I had high hopes for this team at the beginning but we have seen winning streaks followed by even longer losing streaks. This is the team we have and we have to accept that. So for this team to improve the following has to happen.

  1. Your starting pitchers have to start getting into the deeper innings and need to add one inning to their present starting pace. You have four or five good relievers but if they are coming into the fifth inning or sooner, they will wear out. The 2014-15 team succeeded because starters knew get to the sixth inning with the lead, the bullpen would shut the other team down.
  2. Soler and Dozier have to start hitting. You need your power hitters and big RBI guys to hit homers and average at least .260.
  3. Mondesi has to stay healthy for when healthy this year, he has been very good this year, but keeping him between the lines has been the biggest struggle.
  4. Merrifield need to add 20 points to his average and Benintendi and Perez need to keep up their pace.
  5. It is time to say good bye to Davis and bring up either Lovelady or Speier and see if they can finally take that next step. They won’t do worse than Davis. It is also time to review Holland as well. He has had his moments but he is not getting better and is not the relief pitcher we remembered seven years ago. His blown save against the Tigers may be more reflective of where his career is at. He is not as far gone as Davis but he is not what he was.

GOAT In Men’s Tennis

We maybe in the midst of the deciding who is truly the GOAT in men’s tennis. Novak Djovokic won his 19th major and is now just one major behind Federer and Nadal. Djovokic won his semi-final match against Nadal and had to come back from two sets deficit to win in five set in the finals. At 34, Djovokic is at the stage where most men players are in the decline phrase of their career but Novak now has won two majors in a row. Since 2017, Federer, Djovokic and Nadal have won every majors but one, the 2020 US Open.

Federer for years was considered the GOAT but since 2017, Nadal and Djovokic have caught up. Nadal now has as many majors as Federer and when this year is over, we may have a new GOAT. Djovokic is the youngest of the three and Federer at 39 most likely finished winning majors but Nadal and Djovokic are still in the hunt for every majors over the next year or two.

By the time, 2023 rolls around, we may know who is the GOAT of all time but for now, the debate continues on the court between Nadal and Djovokic.