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by Paul Smyth 07.23.2012
Posted In: Boxing at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Cincinnati's Broner Scores Fifth Round TKO, Loses Title

Cincinnati's Adrien "The Problem" Broner won the fight Saturday night, but he lost the title.

Broner, contracted to defend his WBO Junior Lightweight title (130 pounds) against Vicente Escobedo on Saturday in a fight broadcast nationally on HBO, failed to make weight, coming in more than three pounds heavy.

The undefeated Broner automatically lost his title, while Escobedo, who faced more risk fighting the heavier Broner, had the option to cancel the fight. After negotiating substantial additions to his share of the purse, Escobedo agreed to proceed.  

No longer a title fight, the 12-round bout began with a pattern Broner continued throughout the night:  jabbing low to the body early each round, then mixing his punches — crosses, hooks and uppercuts with both hands — with jabs higher up. Broner struck at first in single or a few shots, but increasingly unleashed torrents of hard shots with speed and power in both hands throughout the first four rounds.     

Both men landed punches, but Broner landed significantly more jabs and the more telling power shots. For four rounds Escobedo stayed in the center of the ring with Broner, though faring worse in the exchanges.  

At the end of the fourth round, both men headed back to their corners. Broner gave Escobedo a long look then told his trainer, "I'm going to walk him down." Calm in his corner, Broner remained sitting until the final moment when the bell signaled the beginning of the round.  

Broner's pace and intensity ratcheted up. The battered Escobedo barely forced his way off the ropes through a barrage of punches, circling not Broner but the whole ring, his back to the ropes.  

The final, measured attack saw Escobedo bent double, nose bloodied, unable to respond to Broner's attack. The referee halted the bout in the fifth round as Escobedo's corner threw in the towel. 

"It was time to open up," Broner said after the fight. "I was opening up every round, getting closer and closer. He's a world class fighter who has a chance win a world title one day, but today was not his day."

"I felt his power. He's fast and hard to hit," Escobedo said. "I did my job and came in here like a professional and he didn't. That's the past, and he was the better man tonight." 

For Broner, the TKO victory means he can explore bigger possibilities in higher weight classes as an unbeaten, phenomenally skilled, yet only modestly, tested pound-for-pound candidate.  

Broner's trainer Mike Stafford said Broner "can be comfortable at 135; he can be comfortable at 140. But right now, we're going to [135]. We're not going up two weight classes because we don't have to." 

Broner, who previously has said he might go as high as 154, said, "The task only gets bigger from here, going to lighweight. We'll give them all hell: [Antonio] DeMarco can be next, after that, [Juan Manuel] Marquez, [Brandon] Rios ... anybody."

Broner's failure to make weight on Friday has been criticized by many and interpreted to reflect his attitude toward life both in and outside the ring. It's too soon and the situation too complex — networks, promoters, pundits, the fighters and camps are all in play — to reach definitive conclusions about how Broner will continue to develop as a person and a fighter.

In the meantime, the measured approach of Broner and his team gives him the best chance to demonstrate possibly elite skills against more challenging competition. 

Three other Cincinnati-area fighters on the undercard won their bouts Saturday night, including middlewight Chris Pearson, junior lightweight Brandon Bennett and heavyweight Danny Calhoun.                                              

 
 
by Paul Smyth 07.20.2012
Posted In: Boxing at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Hometown Boxer Adrien Broner to Defend Title on Saturday

Westwood resident will defend Junior Lightweight World Champion title at U.S. Bank Arena

Cincinnati resident and elite boxing prospect Adrien "The Problem" Broner will make his second WBO Junior Lightweight World Champion title defense at the U.S. Bank Arena Saturday.

The Cincinnati pugilist (23-0, 19 knockouts), who lives in Westwood, faces Vicente Escobedo (26-3, 15 knockouts). The fight will be broadcast on HBO's Boxing After Dark and represents the next step in a career that may propel Broner into the highest levels of the sport. This will be Broner's fifth appearance on HBO.  

Broner is the youngest current U.S. title holder after winning the WBO Junior Lightweight belt with a third-round knockout of Vicente Rodriguez last November. His first title defense came in February of this year, also in Cincinnati. He easily defeated Eloy Perez, prompting additional fan, cable and promoter attention. His second title defense this Saturday may be a turning point, leading to the next tier of exposure and reward — and perhaps much tougher fights.   

Escobedo is a 2004 US Olympian, though he did not medal. He's fighting at 130 pounds, having tasted defeat as a pro at 135 pounds in a split-decision title fight loss versus Michael Katsidis in 2009. After four victories in the new weight class, the 30-year-old Escobedo now faces one of the most highly touted prospects in boxing today in Broner. 

In the ring, Broner's athleticism, speed, power and preparation, as well as his side-on fighting style and offense-from-defense positioning, have led to comparisons with current pound-for-pound great Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Broner says he doesn't watch tape of opponents but prefers to adapt in the ring.  

Outside the ring, he's known for a flamboyant style that also has brought comparisons to Mayweather's flashy persona, but Broner shows adaptability in the arena of life as well. Broner describes strong and apparently nourishing interests, including recording his own music. So far, when it's time to focus — in the ring or answering serious questions about his claims to elite status — the 22-year-old can be frank, direct and thoughtful.  

But he's also being called over-the-top. A rare talent. And, of course, undefeated.  

Cincinnati sports fans are on notice that maybe, just maybe, they have a new, hometown, world-class athlete worth following on the international stage.  

Broner-Escobedo headlines an extensive undercard on Saturday, July 21. U.S. Bank Arena doors open at 5 pm. HBO Boxing After Dark coverage begins at 10 pm. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

 
 
by Mike Breen 05.23.2012
Posted In: baseball at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
Reds fan two homers

Reds Lead League in Fan Web Gems

Two Reds supporters make three spectacular plays in the stands over four-day span

When Reds pitcher Mike Leake hit his first career home run Monday night off Braves starter Mike Minor at Great American Ballpark, it landed directly in the lap of 20-year-old casual-turned-hardcore fan Caleb Lloyd, who was sitting at the edge of the left field bleachers.

It was also Lloyd's first home run catch, he said later.

When Zach Cozart hit a homer to mark the occasion of the Reds first back-to-back jacks since last season, the ball headed toward the same general vicinity of the first homer, bounced a couple seats away from where Lloyd was sitting and landed directly into his free hand (the other was occupied by his previous homer catch).

The last time that happened was never. I think dude should call Guinness.

(Drew Stubbs followed Cozart's jack with a home run of his own, making it a rare back-to-back-to-back homer hat trick. Sadly, it went to right center field, not directly in Lloyd's pocket.)

The Reds' TV crew invited Lloyd up to the broadcast booth to hang out for a bit. He spoke to the media before last night's game, where he was also named the team's honorary captain and delivered the game card to the ump before the first pitch.

To make the story even more perfect, Lloyd reportedly returned to Leake his first home run ball to keep as a memento and he gave the friend who he said "dragged" him to the game the other ball. What a guy!



That wasn't the first Reds fan's fancy fielding move this year to trump any made on the field (at least for the day). At Yankee Stadium just four days before Monday's miraculous catches, a young Reds fan amongst the savage Yankee masses gracefully swooped a Joey Votto foul ball out of mid air with his glove while his father (also decked out in Reds gear) hoisted him up a good four feet into the air.



The father/son combo was up for ESPN's Web Gem that night, put up against a play at home by Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers. The Reds fans won the vote 63 percent to Andrus' 37 percent. (He's probably pissed. I mean, he had to perform his play all by himself!)

The cool surprise ending to this story — according to Jim Day's postgame report on Fox Sports Ohio, the man from the two-person foul-ball catching team was Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan's brother-in-the-law; the kid was the catcher's nephew.

 
 
by Brian Dill 05.11.2012
Posted In: baseball at 09:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Reds Are On a Roll

Team hosts first-place Washington this weekend

The Reds are on a roll. They haven’t lost any of their last six series — discount the two-game series against Chicago. Despite all the successes the Reds have had there are still some things that need to be addressed.

Numero uno: When is Mike Leake going to get off that fat goose egg in the win column? Indications are that it will be soon, as Leake pitched a great game against Pittsburgh last week only to receive minimal run support in a 3-2 loss. Although the Reds have again lucked out in not having to face Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg during this weekend's series, Leake opens the series against the Gio Gonzalez (3-1), the Nationals' number two. The Nationals have received plenty of hype this year between their first place standing in the NL East and the introduction of 19-year-old standout Bryce Harper. Surprisingly, Washington’s offensive numbers are far from gaudy, in the bottom third of major league ranks in three major offensive categories — the Reds are only slightly better.

Secondly, while the likes of Ryan Ludwick and Scott Rolen are still struggling with the sticks, Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman have been nearly flawless from 60 feet 6 inches. Wednesday night is a perfect example: Cueto threw seven scoreless innings tallying five strikeouts; Brewers all-star, Zack Greinke was even better, pitching eight innings of 11-strikeout, two-hit baseball. Chapman came in for the eightth and struck out two, including Rickie Weeks with a 101 mph eye-high heater. Sean Marshall came in to close the game but made things interesting with a solo bomb to Ryan Braun and putting two on before Logan Ondrusek got Travis Ishikawa to fly out to left.

Clearly the Reds have decided to save the arm of Chapman for later in the season. He could have stayed in for the ninth, but limiting his innings will keep him fresh. I expect to see Chapman inserted into the starting rotation sometime in July if the Reds remain the hunt for a playoff spot. With clutch performances like last night the Reds can only continue to improve — a must considering their next five series are against winning clubs.

 
 
by Mike Breen 05.10.2012
Posted In: baseball at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Hang with Pete Rose at a Casino

The Cincinnati Reds' star/Hit King to appear at Belterra next weekend

No matter how many times Pete Rose makes an appearance at a casino, it still just screams, "INAPPROPRIATE!" in light of his place in baseball history (the bad stuff, not the greatness). Guess a guy's gotta make a living somehow. Next weekend you can once again hang with the Hit King and play the slots when he makes an appearance at Belterra Casino in Indiana. He'll appear in the casino/resort's "CenterStage Showroom" (now THAT's appropriate). The event is being billed as "An Evening with Pete Rose: 4,192, The Making of the Hit King."

Here's what you can look forward to, per the press release:
Baseball enthusiasts will witness Belterra’s CenterStage transform into a ballpark atmosphere for a 90 minute interactive celebration of Pete Rose and the great game of baseball.

The one night only event will give fans an inside look at what it was like be on the ride as Rose reached key milestones and earned his place among baseball greats. Unique video and photo highlights serve as the backdrop for Rose as he shares personal stories from his playing career and fields questions from the event host.

Join Pete Rose as he recounts the greatest moments in his legendary career from his glory days with the Big Red Machine and playing in the World Series to his 44 game hitting streak and the epic collision in the 1970 All-Star game.  Rose will recount his feelings as he chased the 3,000 and 4,000 hit plateau and the emotion he felt when he reached the pinnacle of his career, hit number 4,192.

Tickets are available here or here and cost $30.

 
 
by Brian Dill 05.01.2012
Posted In: baseball at 01:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Reds On the Upswing

Clubs sits in second place at 11-11 after slow start

Maybe what Joey Votto said after the Reds' latest victory rings true: “I think a losing record early in the year can be a good thing."

The Reds have reeled off three straight series wins and a fourth is not out of the question as the last-place Cubs come to the Queen City. Votto ended a homerless streak in game three versus the Astros and drove in four runs as the Reds came from behind to clinch a 6-5 win. The Reds have won seven of their last 10 games and face three division foes in their next three series’.

After the Cubs, the Reds travel to Pittsburgh and Milwaukee, the two teams nipping at the Redlegs (pun absolutely intended). Series victories can put some distance between the Reds and their division rivals and with some outside help could even see the Reds jump over the Cardinals for first. Jay Bruce has been paramount in the Reds' recent run, as he has hit a home run in four straight games and leads the Reds in nearly every offensive category.

The hot bat of Bruce along with continued solid performances from Votto, Zack Cozart and a recently more effective Drew Stubbs are a must. Now the tail end of the Reds' starting rotation has to bust out of their slump — Homer Bailey and Mike Leake have a combined record of 1-5. The two can start a positive trend against an inept Cubs offense sans shortstop Starlin Castro (.333).


Look for the Reds to win six out of their next nine and keep in touch with St. Louis before a huge series with a surprisingly good Washington team.
 
 
by Brian Dill 04.19.2012
Posted In: baseball at 09:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Reds Slip in Rankings

Team sits in second place despite anemic offense

With all the talent the Reds have on their roster the bats just aren’t blazing like we all suspected they would. The Reds rank 27th or lower in four major offensive categories, including runs scored — a woeful 31 runs in 10 games. Luckily for the Reds, outside their current opponent — St. Louis — nobody in the division can win games, either. The Reds sit in second place along with Houston and Milwaukee. The one thing Dusty’s boys can’t afford is to continue with the Drew Stubbs special — swinging and missing. If the Cardinals sweep the Reds — which is looking probable — then they would be six games back, not insurmountable but far from ideal.

A healthy Brandon Phillips will go a long way in getting putting runs on the board. Wilson Valdez and Willie Harris did a commendable job in their time replacing Phillips, but any extended absence from Phillips results in a significant drop in offensive production. In addition to Phillips recovering from a hamstring injury, much of the starting lineup will have to overcome a plague-like slump. Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, Devin Mesoraco, Ryan Hanigan, Drew Stubbs and Scott Rolen are all hitting .205 or worse. Production from the cleanup spot is hurting badly; Rolen has no dingers and only two extra-base hits. Joey Votto and Zack Cozart — the only to hitting worth a damn — need production behind them if the reds are going to reverse their current run scoring trend.


The Reds have Bronson Arroyo taking the hill tonight against the only St. Louis starter without a win this year, Adam Wainwright (0-2.) Wainwright enters the game with an 11.42 era, if the Reds can’t stop their anemic offensive output against Wainwright it may be a long next couple of weeks.

 
 
by Danny Cross 04.17.2012
Posted In: baseball at 12:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Canseco: ‘Global Warming Could’ve Saved Titanic’

Former ballplayer says no icebergs = no shipwreck

When Jose Canseco last month offered his sincere concern over the world’s energy consumption and various global warming issues that have resulted, we at CityBeat were quick to report such thoughtful commentary. In a story titled “Ranking Jose Canseco’s Global Warming Tweets” we provided some background on the former Major League Baseball player/steroid user/author and recapped his series of hilarious tweets.

Most of us believed that our immense enjoyment of Canseco’s socio-political commentary would be short-lived — after following him on Twitter for a few days we were offered only recaps of him winning long drive competitions and pleading with Major League clubs to sign him even though he’s 47.

Then on Sunday something awesome happened. Apparently inspired by the recent release of Titanic 3D, Canseco in fewer than 144 characters again blew everyone’s minds: “Titanic 100 years wOw. Global warming couldve saved titanic. Sad to say.”

Canseco was prompted by skeptics to elaborate: “Because we don't recycle and consume like crazy icicles are non existent. Titanic wouldve still existed today," he wrote.

He then showed frustration with the people who didn’t understand the irony he was describing: “You clowns it's very simple. With global warning the weather is hotter so the icebergs would be melted and titanic saved.”

Skeptics satisfied, Canseco went back to blasting our wasteful lifestyles: “100 years ago people actually cared about planet and respected nature. Now we can care less and consume energy like it's free.”

And then, for good measure, he offered a couple slices of personality that prove follow Jose Canseco on Twitter will continue to be a worthwhile endeavor, political activism or not: “Titanic reminds me of the days I had two yachts in Miami but no icicles" and “I had a bat I named Titanic .It was biggest rawlings ever made and beautiful and unbreakable dont know where Titanic is now.”

It’s good to know that influential people like Jose Canseco are taking on such causes, even after learning that Al Gore is not dead. Hug 4 u, Jose.

 
 
by Danny Cross 04.11.2012
Posted In: Basketball, football at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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The Helicopter Is Back!

Former UC basketball player Eric Hicks to suit up for Cincinnati Commandos

Anyone who misses the days of Eric “The Helicopter” Hicks jamming on people’s heads for the University of Cincinnati basketball team will have a chance to see Hicks suit up for another local team later this month, but this time he’ll be playing football.

Hicks signed a one-day contract to play in the Cincinnati Commandos game against the Marion Blue Racers on April 28. He’ll be in town practicing with the United Indoor Football League team during the next couple of weeks. He calls it his “OchoCinco moment.”

Although he never played in the NBA, Hicks has been a professional basketball player since leaving UC after his senior season in 2006. Hicks has been a very good player in several European leagues, having played on championship and All-Star teams in such countries as Belgium, Poland, Russia, Israel, China and Spain.

Several notable NFL players had college basketball experience, including tight ends Antonio Gates, Jimmie Graham and Rob Gronkowski. Hicks, who is 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, hasn’t played football since his sophomore year of high school in North Carolina. Although he doesn’t expect to end up in the NFL any time soon, Commandos coach Billy Back says his size and athleticism could be real advantages in this league.

“He’s an all-time fan favorite Bearcat and one of my favorites as well,” Back said. “He’s an athlete, and we can use his height to our advantage.”

Hicks plans to return to Europe soon to resume his basketball career, but said in a release that he’s excited about playing for the Commandos.

In addition to the April 28 game in which Hicks will play, the Commandos have home games at the Cincinnati Gardens May 12, May 26 and June 2. Tickets are $10-$22 and available through Ticket Master or the Cincinnati Gardens ticket office, 513-631-7793 or 2250 Seymour Ave. Find the team's website here.

Here’s a video showing a bunch of cool stuff Hicks did as a Bearcat.

 
 
by Brian Dill 04.04.2012
Posted In: baseball at 09:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Opening Day on the Horizon: A Reds Preview

With Opening Day fast approaching, you now have 225 million reasons to go watch the Reds this year. Bob Castellini opened up the checkbook and Walt Jocketty busted out his best persuasive vocabulary and Joey Votto accepted; to the tune of a 10-year, $225 million contract extension — the fourth largest in major league history.

Reds ownership — unlike our dear friend, Mike Brown — has embraced the recent successes of their young nucleus of talented players and has spared no expense to keep the "Little Big Red Machine" well-oiled. Votto joins fellow all-star Jay Bruce, who signed a six-year, $51 million deal after the 2010 season. It’s nice to see a professional sports owner in Cincinnati who actually loves the sport and is in it for the right reasons.

The Reds will have plenty of offensive talent this year, something that really has not been a problem over the past couple of seasons. Any lingering doubt has to relate to the recent injuries that have plagued the bullpen. Ryan Madson is out for the year after Tommy John surgery while Nick Masset will start the season on the DL with shoulder cuff inflammation. This means that Aroldis Chapman will start in the bullpen even though most Reds fans — and manager, Dusty Baker — know his services would be better used as a starter. Sean Marshall will step in to the closer role until the Reds have more depth in the bullpen; he isn’t a bad option and has consistently kept a low ERA in a relief role.

One thing hasn’t changed, the Reds still play in Great American Ballpark and they have an abundance of young, strong bats in the lineup. Between Votto, Bruce, Todd Frazier and Chris Heisey, expect the Reds to be amongst the league-leaders in home runs. Drew Stubbs will hit some too, but if he could take a little constructive criticism to heart: Please, learn to bunt. This will be a key in the Reds venture for success this year.

If Stubbs can get on base, he is going to steal — there are very few players in the majors that have his kind of speed. If the bats behind Stubbs perform up to expectations, the Reds will score more than enough runs to support the pitching staff. And the single most important key to success this year is battling through injuries; if the young guys can step in and compete there is no reason the Reds won’t win the division — after all, we do have the best first baseman, if not player, in the National League.

The Reds will open their season against the Miami Marlins at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday following the Findlay Market Opening Day Parade. For more celebration of Opening Day, check out C. Trent Rosecrans' column from this week's CityBeat here.

 
 

 

 

 
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