Archive for the ‘BOXING’ Category

By W.G. Ramirez

Go to comedian Aries Spears’ twitter page (@AriesSpears) on any given day, at any given moment, and there’s no telling what you’ll find.Aries_Photo

One moment he’s breaking down the NBA like a sports analyst, the next moment you’d think he was on stage in the city of the team he’s bashing. Other times he’s simply offering up questions to his followers, and from what I can tell, is as serious as Kobe Bryant’s comeback on Sunday in looking for answers.

Like on Dec. 1, when he posed the question: “If u had no way out n had to pick ur demise which would u choose: tangle wit a grizzly bear or deal with an angry out of control elephant?” Or on the more serious side, like the one he tweeted on Friday: “Question of the day: if you could only pick 1 for the rest of ur life which would be mandatory to feed ur soul MUSIC OR COMEDY?”

Regardless of the tweet – be it G-rated, PG-13, R, X or Sports Related (yeah, athletics gets its own rating) – there’s no doubt about it, the 38-year-old stand-up genius who can make you think you’re listening to LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, DMX and Jay-Z all in one rap, is as entertaining as they come.

And even if a town like the entertainment capital of the world – my own Las Vegas – is missing out on his live show, following Spears on Twitter not only provides followers with a healthy dose of daily laughter, but also introduces the many personalities and thoughts of a star that has yet to shine his brightest beam.

“I get a lot of love from fans across the world,” said Spears, during a recent phone interview, after he returned home from a show in Northern California. “I almost feel like – how there’s a people’s champ and there’s a paper champ – in this industry I’m the people’s champ, but I’m not the paper champ.

“There are only so many people they let into that country club and put on that letterman’s jacket.”

Metaphorically speaking, of course, Spears may not be allowed into comedy’s country club, but it’s very easy to see him being the headliner for those wearing the letterman’s jackets inside those clubs.

Ranging from movie stars, rap artists to NBA stars, Spears has become a hit with his impressions, to accompany his smack-you-in-the-face humor that may deal with relationships, to society, to racial issues. He’s not a modern day Don Rickles, who was known for attacking every nationality known to mankind, but Spears’ “real talk” humor hits home, at times without anyone noticing the reality of his concept, because they’re caught up in laughter.

The only time that stands out for Spears, in which he second-guessed doing an impression was when former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin put him on the spot to do a Mike Tyson impersonation – with Tyson sitting alongside him.

“He was like an unchained lion back then,” Spears said. “He might be trained, but any given moment he can flip the switch and claw your face off. He took it with a grain of salt.”

Other times he admitted he’s become giddy when his impressions are brought to light, like the first time he heard Turner Sports basketball host Ernie Johnson mentioned Spears’ impressions of Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley to the two former NBA all-stars.

“It threw me, I was a like a little girl screaming,” said Spears, who transitioned from being a Bulls fan to the Miami Heat when his good friend Shaq signed with the Heat in 2004.

Born in Chicago and raised in New York, Spears makes no qualms about what he was most passionate about growing up – Michael Jordan.

Of course, right?

“I was a Jordan fanatic,” said Spears, a diehard NBA fan, to go along with his fascination for pro boxing. “When Jordan was playing, I was with the Bulls. When he retired, I lost interest in the game.”

It’s no surprise, as most young NBA fans in the mid- to late-80s grew to love His Airness, and then follow him through his championship run(s) in the 1990s. After all, when all you could do was watch TV, and you’re a basketball fan like Spears, Chicago’s flagship station WGN was a cable television goldmine when Jordan played for the Bulls.

“I grew up a television fanatic,” Spears admitted. “My mother had two jobs, so television raised me.”

But something else happened along the way, while Spears would watch TV until he fell asleep, leaving TV to watch him.

“I began mimicking stuff I saw on TV,” Spears said. “I honestly believe it’s something you’re born with. Like the ability to sing, doing an impression is like hitting a note. It’s something I am talented enough to be blessed with.”

But there are serious sides to Spears as well, like when asked his opinion on use of the ‘N’ word, as it’s become the hot topic in the sports world more than ever in 2013.

“It’s never okay for anybody outside out of Blacks to say that, cause history says so,” said Spears, who then rattled off countless historic times of struggle for his race, so fast I couldn’t keep up, but it was clear he was ardent in making his point, from as far back as slavery, through the Civil Rights Movement, to present-day struggles with racism. “Nobody is allowed to say that. I would never say it to a white guy, because if I say it in front of a white guy, I don’t want him to feel comfortable in saying it in front of me. But when we’ve been called that, we’ve always been able to flip that and make it work for us.

“One thing Black people know: not all white people are racists, but as a race they’re known for racism.”

Aries_TwitterThat last line might have been one of the most philosophical things I’d heard surrounding the issue, or anything for that matter, concerning racism. Quick, to the point, and made much more sense than trying to figure out if a glass is half-empty, or half-full.

A lot of our conversation made a lot more sense than plenty of things, like why Spears hasn’t been moved up to comedy’s big leagues, or so it seems. He’s put in his time, he’s leaves audiences in tears and he’s someone to be admired for his climb in a rough-and-tumble business.

“I’m in an industry that’s political,” Spears said “It’s like high school, not everybody gets to sit at the cool kids’ table. I gotta figure out how to play that game. Anybody who has seen my body of work has respect for what I do. Kevin (Hart) can sell out Madison Square Garden. I can’t do that yet.”

I’m not sure how much of that has to do with marketing, rather than talent, quite honestly. Spears has seen and done more than people actually know. His television credentials run deep, dating back to 1993, when he first appeared on A Different World, and includes an eight-year stint on MADtv. Plus, his list of movie credits currently sitting at 10, includes the role of Tee Pee, Rod Tidwell’s “militant brother” in the hit Jerry Maguire.

Spears promises he has some surprises for his fans in 2014, and says he’s yet to peak.

One thing is for sure, after being a fan of Spears for a while now, and speaking at length to him on the various topics, I’d be first in line to pay for a ticket at Madison Square Garden, or even comedy’s country club that has yet to enshrine him.

Heck, I’d just like to see him play Las Vegas.

I guess for now, I’ll stick with Twitter and answer his Questions of the Day.

World boxing champion Floyd Mayweather may appear in at least one episode of the soon-to-be-appearing reality show Money Talk$, which will take viewers inside the world of sports betting via Steve Stevens, owner of Las Vegas-based VIP Sports.

CNBC recently said it would be developing a primetime slate featuring reality programming, and one of those hours will include the sports betting industry.

Produced by Turn Left Productions with Todd Crites and Jackson Nguyen as executive producers, the show will feature Stevens and his representatives (ahem, salesmen), who keep the phone lines open for all interested sports bettors.

VIP Sports is located near the Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas, and as the boxer has risen as one of the most prominent bettors in the world – just see his tweets – he and Stevens have become close.

Ads are expected to begin running July 31 on CNBC, while the show is expected to debut on Sept. 10. The pilot episode will run roughly 90 times before subsequent episodes pick up in December.

I’ve covered and attended just about every sport possible.

And I can tell you there is still nothing like Fight Night in Las Vegas. Back in the day, when I was covering the beat regularly, it was the heavyweights that dominated the neon lights on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Now, Floyd Mayweather electrifies Sin City like no other.

Tonight in my own backyard, at the MGM Grand Garden, Mayweather returns to the ring to take on Robert Guerrero. And though in any other sport I’d never advise laying a price like this, understand THIS is Boxing, and you lay a price with the smart fighter when need be. Pretty Boy Floyd originally opened up as high as -900 at most places, but due to the media hype on Guerrero, the line has come down thanks to the SUCKER SQUARE BETTORS playing the underdog.

I have it on good authority the wiseguys and sharps are playing Floyd Mayweather tonight, and they should.

I know he is 36 years old, and I know there are some who like to believe he has ring rust, but you have to understand the man you’re dealing with here. Forbes magazine recently named Mayweather the highest-paid athlete overall. You know why? Cause he hand picks his opponents, and manages himself better than anyone else. He’s as shrewd a businessman as he is a tactician in the ring.

“I’m in the sport to go down as the best and I’m not going into a fight thinking I’m beatable,” Mayweather said this past week.

Exactly.

Don’t think for a moment he’s lost his edge at 36, not when he has Floyd Sr,. and uncle Roger training him. I’ve been to Floyd’s facility, and I’ve seen the workouts he puts in. I’ve watched him fight in person, and I’ve listened to him speak.

Mayweather has at least five good fights left in him. Guerrero, he’s good. But he ain’t Mayweather good. I don’t care what the so-called experts say. Far as I’m concerned, these guys have done a damn good job as shills for Golden Boy Promotions, in saying Guerrero is the best shot at beating the Money Team.

Guerrero has appeared nervous all week, if you ask me. Call it nervous energy if you like, call it what you want, I don’t think he believes he’s as ready as he says he is, and is more apprehensive than you might think.

Guerrero’s father didn’t do his kid any favors this past week, either, shooting off his mouth at a press conference by repeatedly shouting ‘woman-beater’ in reference to Mayweather’s reason for incarceration last year. Trust me, kid Guerrero looked uncomfortable as his father went off, and it added pressure to the 30-year-old southpaw.

Whether he was trying to sell tickets or Pay-Per-View buys, or sincerely thinks his son is “gonna beat that woman beater down,” I enjoyed seeing Mayweather’s coy smile while he sat on his smart phone during the diatribe.

Calmly, during an interview on CBSSportsNet afterward, Mayweather said he had nothing to say about the tirade, as he is an older and wiser man, and would let his fighting do the talking in the ring.

“I try not to worry about that, I go out there and do what I got to do,” Mayweather said. “That’s keep my composure, box and listen to the game plan. It’s been a long and very comfortable camp. I’m happy and I’m pretty sure my team is happy.”

Hey, I’m happy. Floyd Mayweather is back in the ring in my hometown, and I get to watch it with my son.

And once that bell rings, you can forget about the calm, older, wiser Mayweather, as I completely expect to see that Money Team, bad-boy persona that has kept him undefeated in 43 fights.

I’m laying the money with The Money Team, as I like Floyd to win this bout.

I doubt the promoters of Saturday’s big Showtime PPV card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, pitting Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Robert Guerrero, are ready to add another fight to the card on short notice; but the fathers of both fighters wouldn’t mind stepping in the ring against one another.

Ruben Guerrero lit things up during a rather boring press conference, littering Mayweather’s dirty laundry across the dais, while defending his son.

“We’re going to beat up that woman beater, the one that beat up his wife; his wife in front of his kids,” said Guerrero. “You guys like that shit, you like this guy, a woman beater? He must have learned that from his dad. A woman beater baby, we’re going to beat that woman beater see how he’s gonna like it, he’s gonna get it from a real man.

At this point promoter Oscar De La Hoya put his hand on Guerrero and tried to calm him down, and took his place at the podium to diffuse the situation.

Walking away, Guerrero continued: “Damn woman beaters. We’re gonna beat that woman beater down. You guys hear me… beat up his wife in front of his kids. Nah, that’s bullshit baby… he talks about my son, he’s a hypocrite.

“How about him, woman beater! He beats up women and goes to jail.”

Mayweather eventually made his way to the podium, and didn’t acknowledge the tirade, simply thanking everyone and saying he was expecting a good fight on Saturday but he was ready.

In an interview on CBSSportsNet afterward, though, Mayweather did say: “My thing is, I’m a lot older and I’m a lot wiser. … If I did or didn’t do a crime, I served the time. And it’s about being classy. I was wild when I was younger.

“I try not to worry about that, I go out there and do what I got to do. That’s keep my composure, box and listen to the game plan.”

Mayweather said he enjoyed getting back to training with his father Floyd Sr., and his uncle Roger.

“It’s been a long and very comfortable camp,” Mayweather said. “I’m happy and I’m pretty sure my team is happy.”

At this point in the interview, there was a disruption in the middle of the dais, where both fathers were jawing at one another and had to be separated.

“It’s not about the fathers fighting,” Mayweather said laughingly.

But if both Pops had their way, they probably wouldn’t mind stepping in the ring.

Mike Alvarado is catching plenty of value at +350 in his Saturday night bout against Brandon Rios, who won the first match in October of last year.

Mike Alvarado is catching plenty of value at +350 in his Saturday night bout against Brandon Rios, who won the first match in October of last year. PHOTO: W.G. Ramirez

LAS VEGAS — Mike Alvarado will defeat Brandon Rios in their rematch of last year’s epic battle in October.

In their Oct. 13 bout last year, judges Max Deluca and Zach Young had the fight scored even, 57-57, while judge James Jen Kin had it 58-56 for Rios, whose crushing right hand changed the complexion of a fight that had gone back and forth the entire bout. Rios’ onslaught was relentless enough for referee Pat Russell to step in and stop the fight at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the seventh round.

Here we are less than six months later and the two will step in the ring at approximately 8 p.m. inside the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and yes, I’m taking the underdog to be victorious in the second of what could end being another great trilogy in boxing.

I’ve been to just about every media event, spoken with both fighters, chatted it up with media sorts and Top Rank and HBO executives. And let me be clear – not one other person I’ve spoken to is picking Alvarado to win this fight.

Everyone I’ve shared conversation with says Rios wins again.

Personally, I say be careful where you’re laying your money tonight. Of course, as close as the first fight was, it’s only smart to have something on an underdog as big as Alvarado. Rios was installed as high as 5-to-1, and has settled back at -450 at most places offshore and in Las Vegas. Alvarado is bringing back a price of +350.

But tossing the numbers out to just picking a winner, and all due respect to Rios, something tells me Alvarado is taking this fight a little more serious. I know Rios is a jovial and nonchalant guy who likes to joke and have fun, but there comes a time when you have to focus in on what is sure to be your toughest fight.

Just because it’s the same opponent, doesn’t mean it’s equally as tough as the first time. Alvarado is pissed. He wants revenge, and this one will be tougher on Rios.

“I don’t really have to prove a point, I’ve already proved I’m a great fighter,” Alvarado said. “I just want to win this fight.”

To Rios’ credit, he has stated he did some different training for this fight, and that’s great. But those plyometrics and strength and conditioning drills won’t shake the ire Alvarado has for his opponent. After all, Rios dealt the Denver-native his first career loss 168 days ago.

Don’t laugh, Alvarado’s been counting the days. I’m pretty sure he’s had this fight on his mind since the post-fight interviews in the ring after the first bout. His mind has been on nothing else. And it’s shown all week with his business-like attitude.

Alvarado also took on some new training, going back to Denver to train in the high altitude, intensifying his conditioning and cardio, and bringing in new sparring partners, who in hs words applied “pressure, pressure, pressure.” Saying that Rios was in his face the entire fight, he needed his sparring partners to do the same during fight camp.

And again, I’m not saying Rios hasn’t trained hard, but my take is he might be overconfident and I think I’m going to make him prove me wrong.

Alvarado is the clear value with how big a price he’s getting; but more than importantly, I like what I’ve seen and heard all week.

My money is on Milehigh Mike!

#RiosAlvarado #RiosAlvarado2 @MileHighMike303 @Brandon_Rios1 @HBOBoxing @TRBoxing