Monday, May 9, 2022

WWE Wrestlemania Backlash

By Steve Ward

WWE returned for their first pay-per-view (sorry, “Premium Live Event” as they are labeled on Peacock) since Wrestlemania as Wrestlemania Backlash emanated from the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. This evening’s card boasted only six matches with a mere one title contested and was headlined by a six-man tag team match which pit The Bloodline against the collective of Drew McIntyre and RK-Bro.

Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins

Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

This evening’s card opened with a grudge match following their encounter at Wrestlemania last month. Since Cody was introduced at the last minute as Seth Rollins’ mystery opponent, Rollins has cried foul ever since claiming his loss was a fluke because he had no time to prepare. Despite my thoughts of Cody departing from AEW, the company he helped to build to return to the company where he was once bestowed with the gimmick of Stardust, Cody still put forth a solid effort against Seth Rollins in this match. In a classic back and forth battle, both competitors unleashed several of their signature moves - Rollins the frog splash and Falcon Arrow, Rhodes the Cody Cutter and Cross Rhodes, however, this match would be decided as Cody reversed a rollup pin attempt by Rollins and grabbed Rollins tights to secure the pinfall.


Bobby Lashley vs. Omos w/ MVP

Winner: Omos via pinfall

After Lashley was victorious over Omos at Wrestlemania, MVP would return the following night on RAW only to turn his back on Lashley and align himself with the aforementioned Nigerian Giant. Under MVP’s guidance, Omos segued his way into a rematch this evening at Backlash. Bobby Lashley dominated Omos for the duration of the match showcasing his unearthly power as he manhandled seven foot three inch giant. Unfortunately for Lashley, MVP would prove to be the x-factor late in the contest. As the referee was distracted, MVP struck Lashley in the head with his cane which allowed Omos to capitalize with a two-handed choke slam for the victory.


AJ Styles vs. Edge

Winner: Edge via submission

In another rematch from Wrestlemania where Edge was able to pull out a victory after the shocking appearance of his new cohort, Damian Priest, he found himself toe to toe with The Phenomenal AJ Styles again tonight. The difference this time would be Priest being banned from ringside following his loss to Styles this past Monday on RAW. Late in the contest, Styles appeared to have Edge in dire straits after he executed the Styles Clash and dealt further damage with the calf crusher submission. Damian Priest would make his way down the aisle stopping just short of ringside as Styles stood on the top turnbuckle. As Priest and Styles jawed back and forth, Finn Balor would attack Priest from behind to neutralize the threat. With the referee distracted, a hooded figure would emerge to shove Styles off the top turnbuckle which opened the door for Edge to cinch in a crossface submission for the victory. Following the match, the unknown assailant would enter the ring and reveal herself as Rhea Ripley.


Smackdown Women’s Championship “I Quit” Match

Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

Winner: Ronda Rousey

In another return match from Wrestlemania, Charlotte Flair once again put her Smackdown Women’s Championship on the line against “The Baddest Woman on the Planet.” This time around things would be more interesting as Rousey pushed for an “I Quit” Match where one must make their opponent actually mutter the words “I Quit” in order to claim victory. These women beat each other with kendo sticks and steel chairs and attempted to make each other utter the words “I Quit” several times throughout the contest. In the closing moments, Flair introduced a chair once again which would prove to be her downfall. Rousey would turn the tide on Flair and drag her arm through the chair as she cinched in an armbar and finally made Flair exclaim “I quit” crowning herself as the new champion.


Madcap Moss vs. Happy Corbin

Winner: Madcap Moss via pinfall

Following Moss’ win in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal the night before Wrestlemania and Corbin’s loss at Wrestlemania, the duo of Moss and Corbin finally had a falling out on RAW several weeks ago which brings us to their encounter tonight. Late in the match, Corbin executed the Deep Six but was unable to put away Moss. This would prove to be costly as moments later, Moss would propel himself over Corbin with a Sunset Flip as he stunned Happy with a pinfall.


Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman & The Usos vs. Drew McIntyre and RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle)

Winners: Roman Reigns & The Usos via pinfall

The Usos were originally set to square off with RK-Bro tonight in a title unification bout until Roman Reigns and Drew McIntyre inserted themselves into the equation and expanded this match into a six-man tag team affair. The main event locked in at a feverish pace for the duration of the bout. In the closing moments, Riddle thought he had victory at his fingertips after he executed a top rope RKO on Jey Uso, however, Reigns had initiated a blind tag before Uso was propelled across the ring. As Riddle returned to his feet, The Tribal Chief met him with a rib-breaking spear which allowed him to easily secure the pinfall for The Bloodline.


Sunday, April 3, 2022

WWE Wrestlemania 38 Night Two

By Steve Ward

WWE returned this evening to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX with night number two of Wrestlemania. Last night’s edition was entertaining for the second half of the show and was excessively littered with ads hyping tonight (so many that the tag team match featuring Sheamus and Ridge Holland taking on The New Day was cut). I will admit that last night’s show would not have been nearly as entertaining if not for Stone Cold Steve Austin’s first match in 19 years to close out the evening. Even the “surprise” return of Cody Rhodes seemed to fall flat initially as the WWE Universe was either disinterested, in shock, or felt the same way they did about him in the final months of his AEW run. This evening’s show was promoted with the ability to surpass last night. The card featured eight matches (originally, however, it ended up as nine) with three titles contested and of course the main event would feature WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar, versus Universal Champion, Roman Reigns - winner takes all.


The show kicked off in electric fashion as Triple H made his way to the ring to a deafening ovation. Triple H simply welcomed everyone to Wrestlemania and left his wrestling boots in the ring as a final gesture of his previously announced retirement from in-ring competition.


RAW Tag Team Championship

RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) (c) vs. The Street Profits vs. The Alpha Academy (Chad Gable & Otis)

Winners: RK-Bro via pinfall


The unlikely duo of Orton and Riddle kicked off Wrestlemania Sunday with a defense of their RAW Tag Team Championship against stiff competition in the form of The Alpha Academy and The Street Profits. The conclusion of the bout saw Riddle deliver an RKO to Montez Ford off the top rope and moments later Orton hit the RKO Out Of Nowhere on Gable as he attempted a dive off the top turnbuckle in The Viper’s direction. Orton then easily covered Gable to retain the titles for RK-Bro.


Bobby Lashley vs. Omos

Winner: Bobby Lashley via pinfall


Following months of domination over every man in his path, Omos’ challenge was answered this past Monday night by Bobby Lashley who made his return from injury for the first time since Elimination Chamber. As the their verbal exchange erupted into an all out brawl Monday, Lashley also became the first individual to take the seven footer off his feet. After being thrown around like a rag doll for much of the bout tonight by the 7-foot, 400 lb Omos, Lashley rallied late and executed a suplex on his much larger opponent and finished him off with a devastating spear for the win.


Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn

Winner: Johnny Knoxville via pinall


After months of one upsmanship games with each other, including Zayn crashing the premier of Jackass Forever and Knoxville costing Zayn the Intercontinental Championship, their rivalry culminated with a meeting tonight in Dallas. The encounter quickly evolved into a hardcore match involving much of the Jackass crew coming to the aid of Knoxville. The closing moments saw Zayn laid out on a giant mouse trap which Knoxville triggered to close on Sami allowing him to secure the pinfall.


Women’s Tag Team Championship

Naomi & Sasha Banks vs. Liv Morgan & Rhea Ripley vs. Shayna Baszler & Natalya vs. Queen Zelina & Carmella (c)

Winners: Naomi & Sasha Banks via pinfall


In the WWE’s way of packing the majority of the women’s division who did not compete yesterday into one segment, a fatal four way for the Women’s Tag Team Championship was booked for the reigning champs, Queen Zelina and Carmella, to attemp to retain their titles. The conclusion of this match arrived as Carmella fell victim to a tandem version of X-Pac’s finisher, the X-Factor, at the hands of Banks and Naomi which allowed Sasha to cover for the victory.


Edge vs. A.J. Styles

Winner: Edge via pinfall


Edge made his way to the ring on RAW several weeks ago soliciting for an opponent at Wrestlemania with his challenge being answered by “The Phenomenal” A.J. Styles. Edge proceeded to go into full-on heel mode as he kicked Styles between the uprights and delivered a one-man con-chair-to sparking a bitter rivalry heading into this weekend. Edge withstood all of Styles’ offense just long enough for his window of opportunity to open in the form of Damian Priest. In the closing moments, Priest emerged at ringside and distracted A.J.’s delivery of the Phenomenal Forearm long enough for Edge to return to his feet and deliver a body breaking spear to Styles in mid flight which allowed him to secure the pinfall.


Sheamus & Ridge Holland w/ Butch vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods)

Winners: Sheamus & Ridge Holland via pinfall


This match was supposed to take place last night, however, WWE aired too many promos for tonight’s show and ran out of time. This match didn’t last long as Butch created enough of a distraction at ringside to allow Holland to hit the Northern Grit on Xavier Woods sealing the victory for his team.


Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory

Winner: Pat McAfee via pinfall


During his recent appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Mr. McMahon granted the former NFL punter and current Smackdown commentator a match at the Showcase of the Immortals against his protégé, Austin Theory. McAfee who trained as a professional wrestler following his NFL retirement showed proficient wrestling acumen during the match and in the end found his way off of Theory’s shoulders for a rollup pinfall. 


Mr. McMahon vs. Pat McAfee

Winner: Mr. McMahon


After Theory’s loss, Mr. McMahon took exception to McAfee’s celebration, removed his tie and dress shirt, entered the ring, and challenged McAfee to an impromptu match. The capacity crowd went insane as a jacked and tanned 76 year old Mr. McMahon began strutting around the ring and threw a few clotheslines at McAfee. With a few distractions and cheap shots from Austin Theory at ringside, Mr. McMahon finally took a football and punted it into McAfee’s ribs before he covered him for a pinfall victory.


As McMahon and Theory celebrated, the sound of glass shattering echoed throughout AT&T Field as Stone Cold Steve Austin made his way to the ring! First, Austin delivered a Stunner to Theory. Next, Austin lulled Mr. McMahon into a beer celebration that ended in a Stunner for Mr. McMahon. Finally, Pat McAfee was invited into the ring for another beer celebration and received a Stunner himself.


Champion vs. Champion - Winner Takes All

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall


The main event of Wrestlemania’s stakes could not be any higher as Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, and WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar, put their respective titles on the line in a winner takes all affair. This hard hitting encounter was shockingly stopped dead in it’s tracks as Brock Lesnar seemed to be in total control. Lesnar cinched in the kimura, however, Paul Heyman pushed the bottom rope within The Tribal Chief’s grasp to break the hold. Lesnar then hoisted Roman up for the F5, however, Reigns was able to escape and propel Brock towards the ropes setting him up for a spear and subsequent pinfall to become undisputed champion.


Saturday, April 2, 2022

Wrestlemania 38 Night One

By Steve Ward

WWE kicked off the “Showcase of the Immortals” with night one of a two night extravaganza from AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX. Some may say two is better than one or that they had grown weary of how long Wrestlemania had become each year prior to COVID, however, the event which for over 30 years has equated itself to the Super Bowl of professional wrestling now feels as if it’s lost some of it’s luster. No longer is it the one day of the year that die-hard and casual fans alike would mark on their calendars but instead an opportunity for WWE to capitalize on two days of massive ticket gates and merchandise sales with an overproduced product. Nonetheless, that’s what we have and can only hope that two days worth of shows can produce one equivalent in entertainment value to AEW Revolution last month. Night one’s card featured seven matches with three titles contested and the main event segment would highlight the return of the legendary Stone Cold Steve Austin as the guest of Kevin Owens on the KO Show.


Smackdown Tag Team Championship

Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs vs. The Usos (c)

Winners: The Usos via pinfall


The night opened as The Usos put their 257-day title reign on the line against the duo of Nakamura and Boogs (who has replaced Elias as WWE’s resident guitar player - although I still wonder if he’s actually playing at times). As Nakamura and Boogs seemed to have all the momentum midway through the match, Boogs knee gave out as he attempted to carry both Usos on his shoulders effectively removing him from the match. The numbers game was too much for Nakamura as he finally succumbed to the 1D (The Usos version of the Dudley Death Drop) allowing Jimmy and Jey to retain their titles.


Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin w/ Madcap Moss

Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall


In a rivalry that has seemingly been carried out for way too long, not only because of a lack of creative ideas but also to ensure both men had a spot on the Wrestlemania card, McIntyre and Corbin’s months long rivalry hopefully reach it’s conclusion tonight. In what should be the final chapter of this long running program between the two, McIntyre withstood Corbin’s End of Days in order to execute the Claymore Kick moments later to seal the victory.


Rey & Dominic Mysterio vs. The Miz & Logan Paul

Winners: The Miz & Logan Paul via pinfall


This bout came to fruition after The Miz ridiculed Dominic Mysterio for having a contract only because of his father (which is not completely false) and later introduced YouTuber and “boxer” Logan Paul as his tag team partner. It appeared that The Mysterios were poised for victory as The Miz was seemingly out of the picture. Logan Paul fell victim to a dual 619 and then back to back frog splashes. As Rey went for the pinfall attempt, Miz reemerged and dropped Dominic on top of Rey. Miz then executed the Skull Crushing Finale and pinned the elder Mysterio for the win. As The Miz and Logan Paul celebrated, Miz back-stabbed Paul and delivered another Skull Crushing Finale to his tag team partner to ensure he was the only one in the spotlight as the dust settled.


RAW Women’s Championship

Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair

Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall


Following the shocking return back at Summerslam by Becky Lynch where she took Belair’s title in 26 seconds, Belair finally finally found her way into a rematch with “Big Time” Becky Lynch on the grandest stage of them all. This match would have been significantly more entertaining if it was about five minutes shorter as it just seemed to drag on and on between a few highlights such as Lynch delivering a senton-like heel kick from the top rope and Belair executing a 450 splash from the middle rope. The conclusion arrived after Belair executed the KOD for the win as a new champion was crowned.


Seth Rollins vs. An Opponent of Mr. McMahon’s Choosing (Cody Rhodes)

Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall


After Seth Rollins missed out on every opportunity for securing a match at Wrestlemania, Mr. McMahon told him this past Monday night on RAW that he would indeed have a match - against an opponent of his choosing. This caused speculation to run wild…would it be Cody Rhodes? Shane McMahon? Or my guess Corey Graves? Seth would not know until he made his way to the ring. After a few minutes of suspense, Cody Rhodes was revealed as Rollins’ mystery opponent. Interestingly enough, Cody made his way to the ring with his identical AEW entrance theme song and a near identical entrance through the floor of the entrance stage. This was enough to make me wonder for a split second if Vince McMahon had opened the “forbidden door” again after he allowed Impact Knockouts Champion Mickie James to compete in this year’s Women’s Royal Rumble Match. Seth Rollins seemed in prime position to spoil the return of Cody, however, he  was stopped dead in his tracks before attempting the curb stomp. Rhodes then countered with consecutive Cross Rhodes, The Bionic Elbow, and one final Cross Rhodes as he put away Seth Rollins in his return following a six year absence from the company.


Smackdown Women’s Championship

Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

Winner: Charlotte Flair via pinfall


Ronda Rousey not only made her shocking return to the WWE at the Royal Rumble but also won the match. Following her victory, she decided to challenge The Queen for her coveted title at Wrestlemania. Late in the match Ronda Rousey first executed the Piper’s Pit, however, Charlotte got her foot on the rope to break the pinfall attempt. Next, Rousey cinched in the armbar causing Charlotte to tap, however, referee Charles Robinson had been knocked out moments earlier. As Rousey attempted to stir him, Flair rolled up Ronda for the pinfall to retain her title.


Night one concluded with Kevin Owens hosting the KO Show with special guest, Stone Cold Steve Austin! After Austin made his way to the ring to the loudest pop of the entire show, Kevin Owens told Austin he didn’t bring him out to talk but rather to challenge him to a no holds barred match. Austin called for a referee and the fight was on!


Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kevin Owens

Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin via pinfall


Steve Austin looked like he never left a WWE ring as he beat Kevin Owens all over the stadium. In the closing moments, Owens was unable to capitalize on a Stunner he delivered to Austin as the Texas Rattlesnake rallied to deliver the real Stunner and pinned KO for the victory. This match was by and large the absolute highlight of the evening and arguably the most entertaining thing I’ve seen on WWE programming in years. If this was the last hurrah, it was fitting for one of, if not the, greatest of all time. Not only did Austin score the victory in his home state, but also had an epic beer celebration in the ring that featured a Stunner delivered to Byron Saxton and a beer shared with his brother.


Friday, March 25, 2022

Betting on Boxing with Milo @ The US Gambler

By TWI Staff

Check out Milo Taibi's recent story on The US Gambler:








MARTINEZ VS. WARRINGTON 2 + UNDERCARD PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

Matchroom Boxing Press Release

Kiko Martinez:

“I’m confident because as I said last time, I was going to become World Champion and I did it. I said I was going to beat Kid Galahad within the distance, and I did. The same will happen on Saturday, I will beat Josh Warrington within the distance. Maybe he’s too confident and doesn’t understand he’s facing Kiko Martinez.

“Josh is a great boxer, he’s won some fantastic fights in his career, beating Frampton, Selby, Galahad and many more. He’s still a big name in boxing, I think he was doing well in the Lara fight until the accidental clash of heads. He’s still got credibility in the world of boxing, and I want to go on and beat him, knowing last time it wasn’t just luck when I won the world title against Kid Galahad.

“I’m confident because I’ve visualised this in training, I’ve visualised knocking Josh Warrington out. When I say something, I’ll do it, so you can’t just believe it and not follow through and do it. When I say things, I’m going to do it and I’m going to do it on Saturday night.”

Josh Warrington:

“I’m very excited, I’ve had a few sunbeds and my hair is looking on point, suit on. It’s a good occasion, the sun’s out, it kind of reminds me of four years ago when I first become World Champion – same kind of energy. I feel like the city is excited for Saturday night because they know what’s to come, World Championship will be staying in Leeds. I’m very grateful to Kiko for giving me this opportunity but the belt is staying here on Saturday night.

“I must have upset him in some way because he’s demanded this fight. I’ve said it in many interviews, it’s how this sport work, it goes in circles. We were meant to be sparring partners for the Lara rematch, it’s funny he’s gone on to win a World Title and his first defence is against me. He’s confident and I’m sure he would have trained hard, but I’ll be ready for everything he brings on Saturday night.

“I’ve trained for a hard twelve round fight, 5 years ago we shared some hard rounds but those five years ago my stock has risen since then. I’ve only gotten better and better, I’ve had some slip-ups in the last year but it’s time to get back on top.

“I only focus on winning; I know Kiko’s mentioned himself win or retire and putting himself under that pressure. I’m just focused on winning and having that hand raised, that’s how I see myself, being in that arena. And the new.

“My book has gone from potentially being in the bargain aisle of Asda to a best-seller, what a chapter this is. It’s all in my hands, I’ve got to do the business, it’s funny how this sport works. I’ve got to make sure my stars have aligned for a reason and go out there on Saturday night and do what I’ve done all camp. I’m trained hard, I’ve worked hard and I’m ready for anything.

Maria Cecilia Roman:

“First and foremost, thank you to all the people who have made this possible. It’s a big night for me on Saturday, in my boxing career I’ve always set myself objectives and I’ve always managed to achieve those objectives – it comes from working hard. Now my ambition is to be the best in my division and Saturday will be another step to go on, my plan is going on and win other titles. This is going to be another objective I’m going to achieve on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a total war on Saturday, I think it’ll be great for all boxing fans and in particular female boxing fans. It’s going to be another successful defence for me on Saturday night.”

Ebanie Bridges:

“It’s absolutely unreal, to be a co-main event fighting in Leeds for a World Title, I just feel so grateful. Cecilia coming over here to fight me, I’m just so excited about this fight, I’ve been excited about having this for before it was even happening. 

“I wanted this fight because I knew it was going to be a great fight, as in a fan-favourite kind of fight. Having the World Title on the line just makes everything even more exciting for me.

“Moving over here and doing my camp here with Mark [Tibbs] has been amazing, we’ve definitely gelled well, and I think I’ve definitely changed his opinion – how women train and our mindsets. I’m really excited to be Mark Tibbs and the whole families first female World Champion.

“This fight and becoming a champion is the exclamation mark on this part of my story, having the belt around my waist and proving you can really do things if you set your mind to it. Everything that I stand for, having that belt, for me is the final point of it.

“Without being a World Champion it’s a great story but being a World Champion means everything to me, it means a lot for the women out there. Being a World Champion would change my life and I’m really excited for that.

“I’m always ready, I’ve come through a lot of adversity in all of my fights, I don’t see me losing this fight. I’m literally going for it all and I believe it’s my time to win this fight.”

Maxi Hughes:

“We wanted this and not someone to come in and lay down, the last fight I was a massive underdog, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In my mind it’s the same again, I like that he’s here talking, it takes words like that for the bookies to think he’s the favourite.

“I’m glad he’s up for it because I’ve had this fire in my belly for a while, but this fight in particular gives me this bit between my teeth. I’m glad it’s like this.

“One thing of how I approach every fight, I haven’t got that mindset or that chip on my shoulder. I’m the champion and he’s got to come and take my belt, although I’m the owner of this belt it can just be vacant, I’ve got to go and prove I’m worthy and that I deserve it. I’ve got to show I’m worthy to be the owner of that belt, it’s great being full-time but I haven’t taken it for granted because it’s taken me such a long time to be full-time.

“I know what it’s like going to work, getting up in the morning in shit weather and having to squeeze training in, a run here and there. I’m doing it properly now and I appreciate it, I’m not taking it for granted. I know how much it means and I’m not letting it slip. I’m not here enjoying it as a fan to enjoy the fight, this is how the rest of my career is going.

“Ryan’s cast his net out there but I’m not taking the bait. It doesn’t matter however the fight goes, I’ll do what necessary to win, however it comes. I’m fully prepared for whatever it is, just expect me to win.”  

Ryan Walsh:

“I’m really enjoying not being hungry, thirsty, and just the usual stuff I think all my counterparts are feeling. It’s very alien to me.

“I do call to Maxi, you showed it when you caught Saffron that you’ve got that in you. It’s not a natural thing for you, you’re a southpaw. I’m calling that upon you, I’m beckoning you, I’ll stand in the middle of the ring, let’s adhere to the warrior god.

“No one’s fought me yet and not for a sustained period, even the two that beat me, that haven’t fought me. You want to fight Maxi, you want to inspire everyone else, I was inspired by Conlan and Wood.

“I haven’t had a fight of the year; I haven’t even been close and you [Maxi] have just been nominated for one of the boxers of the year. Let’s do it, why not, we’ve got twelve rounds which is a long time, and a fight will break out. When it does, I don’t want you to run away, let’s entertain the people.

“It’s a good story but let’s have it right, Liam won that fight against Maxi. As far as ending Liam’s career, he was sparring me at the start of this. I think Maxi should have a lot to thank Liam for because without COVID, he can’t be British Champion, he can’t IBO Champion because he was there. It’s my duty to step it, Maxi’s story doesn’t happen if Liam doesn’t get it.

“I haven’t even thought about defeat, I’ve never gone into a fight ever believing that the man can beat me. I’ve been told and I’ve got really honest brothers, when I fought Lee Selby, my brother didn’t want that fight. When we fought, I wasn’t good enough and was beat by experience, beat by the better man but he understood that I did have the style to beat that man, but I wasn’t good enough that night. I’ve made mistakes in the sport, but I won’t be making those mistakes against Maxi.

Dalton Smith:

"My last couple of fights now have been step ups and these are the fights we have been asking for for the more titles. The fight that was originally scheduled got removed so we looked to Ray Moylette and thought he was the perfect opponent for my next fight. 

"I know what Ray’s about and he knows what I’m about. 

"We [Ray and Dalton] haven’t achieved what we have achieved by just playing around. 

"There’s obviously going to be pressure on the ones who are coming up but I am confident in my abilities. I know the level where I am going to get at and this is just a stepping stone for me. 

"Ray is no easy opponent. It’s a tough challenge, what I’ve got on Saturday night. I’ve got to bring something more than what I have in my previous 9 fights as a professional. And you’re going to see that.

Ray Moylette:

"I’ve been reaching out to Matchroom for a long time because Matchroom is the benchmark for boxing especially in England and Ireland. I’m just grateful to have the opportunity and I’m excited to take it, so I’m ready for it. 

"We all started boxing years ago and it’s always the dream to fight on the big shows and the big cards and thankfully now I have the opportunity to do that. I’ve been on the count for the last three years and then I can was sidelined for other boxers. I didn’t have the backend. But thankfully I kept myself in shape, ready, and in the position that when the opportunity came – I knew you’d come calling at some stage, but I didn’t think it would take three years to get on a card. – thankfully it did and I’m ready for it. 

"I’m here as an opponent for Dalton on paper but in reality when I heard I got the opportunity to fight him, I was expecting a much harder fight on one of your shows.

"I’m coming off the couch and I’m ready to fight. I’d be daft not to take this fight that I know I can win.

Skye Nicolson:

"I’m very excited. I promised the fans that I was going to be active and I’m definitely living up to that 3 weeks out and I’m back in. 

"I have confidence in my ability, and I know what I’m capable of. I want to test myself against the best so I’m going to keep putting my hand up to fight the best girls. 

"I’m expecting a tough fight and I know that Bec comes fighting. She’s no pushover so I’m just focusing on having a good performance and showing everyone a side of me that they haven’t seen yet."

Bec Connolly:

"There wasn’t a role for me, as far as I know, I went out and got what I wanted and created my own role for myself because I was never going to be a walkover. I’m not the elite but we know if you want to get to the top, you’ve got to get through the gatekeeper. 

"I’ve trained anyway, even if I wasn’t boxing, I love training. I have taken quite a few fights on a day’s notice because I do stay ready, and I do love what I do. Some things have gotten in the way and I’ve made some mistakes with opportunities that I’ve had but I’m not going to let that stop me. I’ll keep the smile on my face and keep trying until the day that I retire."

Cory O’Regan:

"Obviously, this stage is a big stage so I want to put on a big performance in front of my home crowd. 

"The preparation for this one has been ideal really. 

"Looking forward to watching some really good boxing from not just Josh but everyone on this card."

Mali Wright:

"Yeah 100%, I’m ready for this one. 

"I’m going to put on a spectacular performance. Not sure how many rounds we are doing this time, 4 or 6, doesn’t make much of a difference. 

"No slip-ups. You’ll see what I am about this time around. 

"I’ve been traveling, sparring, getting in more rounds and I’m putting in the right work with the team in the gym."

Calum French:

"Thank you, Eddie, Matchroom and DAZN for getting me on a massive card. These are the cards you dream of being on when coming through the amateurs. 

"It was a good debut. I was pretty good with it. … I’m looking to be as active as possible this year. I want to push on a get as much as experience as I can. 

"I honestly don’t know why I need to be held back at all at the moment. I’m taking it one day at a time. I’m looking past the old ones especially on Saturday night. 

"Matchroom need a few North East stars especially up in Newcastle and I believe I am the one for the job."

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Live Boxing Returns to AC's Boxing Mecca this Saturday

By Matt Ward

For nearly a century, Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall has hosted some of the biggest fights in the city's rich boxing history. Notable fighters such as Joey Giardello, Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Arturo Gatti all fought under the legendary venue's lights. This Saturday, Thomas LaManna's Rising Star Promotions fight card will join a list of over 200 boxing shows that the venue has played host to date. 

The 11 fight card, the first in three years at Boardwalk Hall, will feature a main event WBA-NABA GOLD Jr. Welterweight title fight between Bowie, Maryland's Greg Outlaw (9-1, 4 KOs) and New Orleans' Jonathan Montrel (12-0, 7 KOs). Outlaw fought twice in 2021, suffering his first career loss to Andrew Rodgers in June. The 28-year-old orthodox fighter bounced back from this upset loss in September to defeat Edgar Torres by second-round technical knockout. 

Montrel, who is making his AC debut, won four fights in 2021, one by way of technical knockout. Montrel's last fight was on July 3rd in Agua Prieta, Mexico, where he defeated veteran fighter Mauro Loreto by unanimous decision in an eight-round contest. 

Philly fan favorite Chris Brooker (16-9, 6 KOs) makes his much anticipated return to the ring, when he squares off against Brooklyn's Omar Salem (10-1, 4 KOs) in a six-round, super middleweight, co-feature bout. Brooker, who is no stranger to AC, is coming off two defeats to tough opponents in 2021. He traveled to Montreal on December 12th where he lost to Steve Rolls by knockout, and Newark, NJ on July 31st where he suffered a technical knockout defeat to former world title contender Andre Dirrell. Never one to shy away from a tough opponent, Brooker looks to halt his losing streak at two when he steps into the ring with Salem. 

Salem, who has one career loss by split decision, last fought on September 3, 2021, a four-round fight he won by unanimous decision. His match with Brooker will be the fourth time the fighter has fought in AC. A review of Salem's resume indicates that he may have his hands full with the tough veteran Brooker. 

Popular local attraction Decarlo "3Mendo" Perez (18-6-1, 6 KOs) will take on New Orleans' Rance Ward (6-3-1, 2 KOs) in a super middleweight bout scheduled for six rounds. The AC native, Perez, has fought in his hometown nine times over the course of his career. Perez is coming off a two fight winning streak, having last won by technical knockout in 2021. Ward looks to continue his winning ways this Saturday, having won two of his last three fights in 2021. 

Other Jersey Shore area fighters on the card include Lanoka Harbor's Danny Murray (5-5) and Manalpan's John Leonardo (6-0-1, 4 KOs). Murray, who has lost his last three contests, looks to rebound in the resort city against New York's Michael Hughes (2-1, 1 KO). Hughes last fought in July of 2021, when he was defeated by technical knockout. Murray and Hughes will meet in a six-round, junior welterweight bout. 

John Leonardo will continue what appears to be a busy year, when he takes on Aguadilla, Puerto Rico's Alberto Nieves (4-1-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round, bantamweight bout. Leonardo, who is scheduled to fight again in May, is coming off a second-round technical knockout victory on January 29, 2022. Nieves last fought in 2019, a bout in which he was knocked out in the first round. 

The card also features the following bouts: 

Kurt Scoby (6-0, 4 KOs) vs. Emmanuel Rodriguez Morales (10-4, 6 KOs) - six-rounds, junior welterweight 

Andy Dominquez (5-0, 3 KOs) vs. Jeronil Borres (11-5-1, 6 KOs) - six-rounds, flyweight 

Khalid Twaiti (9-0, 4 KOs) vs. Juan Centeno (6-5-3, 1 KO) - six-rounds, bantamweight 

Gabriel Gerna (pro debut) vs. David Ashely (0-1) - four-rounds, lightweight

Felix Parrilla (4-0, 4 KOs) vs. vs. Jenn Gonzales (9-12-1, 5 KOs) - six-rounds, featherweight 

Michael Ruiz (0-1) vs. Derrick Vann (1-0) - four-rounds, super middleweight 

For more information on Saturday night's card at historic Boardwalk Hall, check out the Rising Star Promotions Facebook page. To order tickets to this great night of boxing, click here

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

LOVE VS. VALENZUELA LANDS ON CANELO-BIVOL UNDERCARD

Matchroom Boxing Press Release

Super-Lightweight battle to light up Las Vegas on May 7; Heavyweights Hrgovic and Zhang set to clash

Montana Love and Gabriel Valenzuela will clash in a mouthwatering Super-Lightweight battle on the undercard for Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 7, live on DAZN, excluding Latin America and Mexico. In the U.S. & Canada, the event will be offered exclusively on DAZN Pay-Per View (PPV). Tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, March 23.

Love (17-0-1, 9 KOs) will fight under the Matchroom banner for the second time and on back-to-back Las Vegas fights, having dispatched Carlos Diaz inside three rounds at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in December. The Cleveland man is ranked #12 with the IBF and will look to crash into the top ten in style on The Strip but will need to be on his A-game against Valenzuela (25-2-1, 15 KOs).

The Mexican crashed into top ten with a road-win over Robbie Davies Jr. in London last February and has recorded a pair of KO wins in his homeland since that night. The May 7 showdown is a huge opportunity for him to sparkle in the spotlight alongside his fellow countryman Canelo, in a fight in association with Clase Y Talento and Canelo Promotions.

“Nothing changes on May 7,” said Love. “He’s just another body in the way.”

“I’m so proud to be sharing a spot on the card with such a great Champion, Canelo Alvarez,” said Valenzuela. “We’re prepared for this and training very hard for this fight against Montana Love. He’s a tough opponent but we’re going to come very hard to get the victory. That night Mexico is coming with everything we have.”

Hrgovic (14-0, 12 KOs) sits #3 in the IBF rankings and the giant Croatian has been hunting a dance partner for a showdown to name the mandatory challenger for the title held by Oleksandr Usyk. The 29-year-old Olympic bronze medalist has cut a lethal swathe through the pro ranks to sit in a prime position for a deserved shot at the big prize, ending all but two of his fights inside the distance, and not going past the fifth round in his last seven outings.

A host of Heavyweights were offered the clash with the dangerous Croat, but not until it came to #13 ranked Zhang (23-0-1, 18 KOs) was a dance partner found, with the lofty Chinese star accepting the challenge. The 38-year-old has been circling for a major showdown, and ‘Big Bang’ gets his wish against Hrgovic in Sin City with the two KO artist promising to leave it all in the ring with the stakes so high.

“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for more than year,” said Hrgović. “Finally, I have an opponent willing to face me for the chance to fight for the IBF World title. So many fighters turned down this challenge so credit to Zhang for being brave enough to accept.

“I know he’s a good opponent. He won silver at the Olympics so that means he’s a good boxer, but he is too slow on his feet, and I believe I have better the qualities. My speed, stamina and footwork will be too much for him. I will break him down and I will beat him.

“I’m now only one fight away from my dream of boxing for a World title and nothing is going to stop me. Canelo is the face of boxing and I’m excited to get this opportunity on such a big show. I'm ready to show the whole world that ‘El Animal’ is coming!”

“I am very happy that this fight is going to happen,” said Zhang. “I’ve been waiting on an opportunity – now it’s here and I’m not going to let it pass. When no-one else from the top 15 wanted to face Hrgovic, I told myself I had to do it for me and for the sport of boxing. This is the most important fight of my whole career. I’m all in. Don’t miss it!”

“Finally, we’ve found an opponent willing to accept the challenge,” said promoter Kalle Sauerland. “Having gone through the IBF rankings twice, Zhang has stepped up to face Filip Hrgović in an IBF World title final eliminator. We now have ‘El Animal’ versus ‘Big Bang’ for a shot at the biggest prize in boxing. This epic battle is going to light up T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where fans can witness the next Heavyweight Champion of the World in action.”

Love-Valenzuela and Hrgovic-Zhang lead the undercard for a blockbuster main event that sees pound-for-pound Mexican king Canelo looking to become a two-time World ruler at 175 lbs against long-reigning WBA champion Bivol on Cinco De Mayo weekend.

Tickets will go on sale starting at $105 (plus fees) on the following dates and times (all times PT) at AXS.com.

“These are two great fights for a massive night in Las Vegas,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Montana Love is ready for big fights now and in Gabriel Valenzuela, he’s got a huge test of his ambitions at the very top level – Gabriel will lay everything on the line and will have the Mexican fans roaring him on, so Montana will need to produce his best.

“I love the Heavyweight dust-up between Filip Hrgovic and Zhilei Zhang. It’s been a long-time coming for someone to step up to the plate and fight Filip, credit to Zhilei and his team for taking on the challenge. Both men carry huge power, and they know that victory takes them one step closer to sport’s ultimate prize – Heavyweight Champion of the World. There won’t be a backwards step taken when they rumble, it’s going to be fireworks on an already electric night.”

Monday, March 21, 2022

BUATSI AND RICHARDS COLLIDE IN HUGE LIGHT-HEAVYWEIGHT CLASH

Matchroom Boxing Press Release

South London rivals meet on May 21

Joshua Buatsi will face former World Title challenger Craig Richards in a huge all London Light-Heavyweight clash on Saturday May 21, live worldwide on DAZN (excluding New Zealand and Australia).

Croydon’s Buatsi (15-0, 13 KOs) scored his tenth knockout in a row when he stopped Latvia’s Ricards Bolotniks in the eleventh round of their WBA Light-Heavyweight World Title Eliminator on the third and final week of Matchroom Fight Camp in August. 

The 29-year-old was set to face Russia’s former World Title challenger Maxim Vlasov on the undercard of Joseph Parker’s rematch with Derek Chisora at the AO Arena in Manchester in December before suffering a hand injury. 

Crystal Palace’s former British Light-Heavyweight Champion Richards (17-2-1, 10 KOs) put in a spirited display as he pushed WBA Light-Heavyweight World Champion Dmitry Bivol all the way in his first World Title attempt in May 2021.

‘Spider’ returned to winning ways at The O2 last October on the Cameron vs. McGee undercard, impressively stopping Poland’s Marek Matyja in six rounds to earn the vacant WBA International Light-Heavyweight Title. 

“Two London boys coming together, it’s going to be a huge night,” said Buatsi. “The Light-Heavyweight scene in this country is thriving and I’m glad that we are able to get one of the biggest fights made. The crowd are going to be in for a treat. I am coming to win and nothing else, I am sure Richards is doing the same. He had a close fight with Bivol so will want to make things straight, but I have other plans. Win well and then push onto the World Title by any means necessary.”

“We’re two top tier fighters from the UK,” said Richards. “This is one of the biggest London domestic clashes for a long time. This is a very exciting fight for us both, but also one the fans will enjoy. Buatsi has got his plans and I’m sure he be well prepared, but nobody is going to stop me from fulfilling my destiny of becoming a World Champion! He is a solid competitor and will be coming to win, but I am confident and believe I have the tools to get the job done. I proved myself at world level and I’m eager to prove that’s where I belong.”

“A big well done and thank you to Joshua and Craig for taking this fight, it’s exactly the kind of fight boxing should be making,” said Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman. “Two domestic Light-Heavyweights on the verge of a World Title shot decide to put it on the line rather than wait in a queue, giving us a fantastic battle of London that can only be a thriller."

“Who doesn’t love a big domestic dust up? And this certainly fits that description, what a fantastic fight this is set to be,” said Ed Breeze, EVP Rights at DAZN. “With an electric Light-Heavyweight scene in the UK, Joshua Buatsi will face a big test on May 21 against former World Title challenger Craig Richards. This will be all out action from start to finish, all live and exclusively on DAZN.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Scott Hall Tribute

By Steve Ward

The pro wrestling world lost another legend Monday afternoon as Scott Hall died at the age of 63 after he suffered three heart attacks Saturday. Hall began his career in 1984 in the territories of the NWA before short stints with the AWA, WCW, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. In 1990, he returned to WCW where he wrestled under the moniker of The Diamond Studd before he caught his big break upon signing with the World Wrestling Federation in 1992 where he was bestowed with the persona of Razor Ramon. Hall catapulted to superstar status as he feuded with other legendary competitors such as Shawn Michaels and Goldust on his way to winning the Intercontinental Championship on several occasions. 

Hall’s first stint with the WWF/WWE was probably best highlighted by his ladder match with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X - a match still considered one of the greatest of all time. Hall again made history in 1996 when he and longtime friend Kevin Nash, began their “invasion” of WCW angle which culminated in the creation of arguably the greatest wrestling stable of all time, the NWO, along with Hulk Hogan at WCW’s 1996 edition of Bash at the Beach. After a successful run in WCW where Hall again saw several more title runs, both  as a singles competitor and one half of The Outsiders, he again had short runs in WWE, TNA/Impact Wrestling, and other various promotions before making his final major appearance in April 2021 when he was honored as an inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame for the second time as a member of the NWO. 

On a personal note, this writer was a huge fan of Hall’s career and even found myself temporarily banned from watching wrestling after I was caught emulating him as I gave my youngest brother The Razor’s Edge when he was maybe six year’s old. In my defense, I delivered it with perfect execution into a pile of pillows. 

The legacy Hall leaves behind is undeniable and it is sad that he never found his way into a managerial role much like fellow legends Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Tully Blanchard have carved out in AEW as his mic skills were superior to many of his peers and what he may have lacked in that department was more than made up with charisma. From all of us at The Weigh-In, we express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Scott Hall and if you believe in the afterlife, I would expect him to eloquently introduce himself to St. Peter with a simple, “Hey Yo.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

MATCHROOM RETURN TO SPAIN WITH UPCOMING EVENTS IN BARCELONA AND BILBAO

Press Release

SPAIN’S GOLDEN BOYS SANDOR MARTIN AND KERMAN LEJARRAGA SET TO HEADLINE EVENTS IN APRIL AND MAY

Matchroom Boxing will return to the Palau Olímpic Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, Spain on Friday 1 April for a huge night of action topped by Sandor Martin taking on Jose Felix for the WBA International Super-Lightweight Title, live on DAZN.  

Following his sensational victory over Mikey Garcia in October last year – Barcelona’s Martin (39-2, 13 KOs), is set for a homecoming event against the all-action, hard hitting Felix (39-5-1, 30 KOs). In what was arguably one of the biggest wins in Spanish boxing history, Sandor Martin will be looking to maintain momentum towards a World Title shot against the dangerous Mexican.

Unbeaten Olympian Samuel Carmona builds on his impressive and destructive performance in December, with his toughest assignment to date – taking on the seasoned Super Flyweight Fadhili Majiha (28-14-4, 14 KOs). After taking on Galal Yafai four times as an amateur, Carmona looks to keep winning and target an eventual meeting in the pro ranks with the Olympic Gold Medal winner Yafai.

Barcelona’s exciting Super-Lightweight Spanish Champion Alejandro Moya (15-0, 10 KOs) takes a step up against Liverpool’s Tom Farrell (20-5, 5 KOs) and Ricards Bolotniks (18-6-1, 8 KOs) is back in action against unbeaten Croatian Hrvoje Sep (11-0, 8 KOs). 

Following the return of one Spanish golden boy, Matchroom head to the hometown of another on Friday May 20 – as Kerman Lejarraga (34-2, 26 KOs) takes on another British rival James Metcalf (21-2, 13 KOs) at the Bilbao Arena, Bilbao. After a brutal KO win in December, ‘The Revolver’ will be looking to pull the trigger on another standout performance which would propel him towards a first World Title shot.

“I’m so excited to fight again in Barcelona, for me it is a very special comeback after beating Mikey Garcia in California. I needed to fight in front of my people again and feel their support. It could be my last fight before fighting for the world title. I don't want any surprises, I've worked hard and I want to show that I'm ready,” said Sandor Martin.

"I’m happy to return to Bilbao before a great fight with Metcalf and then I’m ready for a World Title. My team knows it!" said Kerman Lejarraga.

“Spanish boxing is on the up and we’re thrilled to work with Matchroom Boxing to bring Spanish boxing fans, and fans around the world, the best fighting the best,” said Ed Breeze, EVP Rights at DAZN. "Sandor Martin faces a tough challenge in Jose Felix for the WBA International Super-Lightweight title, after a career changing win last time out against Mikey Garcia. Hometown hero Kerman Lejarraga take on another British rival James Metcalf, looking for a statement and future first World title shot. Don’t miss all the action, live worldwide on DAZN.”

“We’re really excited to be returning to Spain with these two consecutive events, live on DAZN,” said Matchroom Boxing CEO Frank Smith. “There is absolutely no doubt that Spanish boxing is in the healthiest position it has ever been in – with huge wins by last year for Sandor Martin, Kerman Lejarraga and of course Kiko Martinez. We want to ride that wave and keep delivering big events to the market! The atmosphere in Barcelona and Bilbao is always special and we look forward to two massive events over the coming months.”

Further details; including full undercard and ticket information will be released in due course.