Trade Talks Heat Up Over Bosh

June 30, 2009

By Brady Rynyk…

Reports out of Miami suggest that a trade is in the works with the Heat and Raptors in an effort to move Toronto’s franchise player Chris Bosh before he becomes a free agent at the close of the 2010 season.  The Heat have been open about their desire to pick up CB4 to compliment Dwayne Wade in an effort to prevent their own star from jumping ship next off-season.

Rumoured to be on the table is Heat’s first round draft pick from last year Michael Beasley packaged with a series of other mid level players like power forward Udonis Haslem.

The deal is certainly in the preliminary stages and is by no means a done deal as clubs around the NBA have voiced interest in Toronto’s all-star and the clubs GM is obviously taking calls from other teams with legitimate offers.

Although it is hard to believe that the team has thrown in the towel with respect to contract negotiations with Bosh, after the raptors franchise player decided to forgo his player option in order to test the free agent market is has become apparent that CB4 wants out of Toronto.

Unfortunately for the Raptors front office, the window of opportunity to trade the superstar is quickly closing.  Many teams are not likely to make concrete offers for Bosh in fear that the superstar will head to the highest bidder at seasons end in 2010.

Prior to this year recent NBA entry draft, the rumour-mill included a possible trade with the Chicago Bulls who reportedly were willing to part with draft picks, 6th man of the year Ben Gordon and either the young talent of Joakim Noah or Tyrus Thomas.  The Atlanta Hawks had also thrown their hat into the ring offering up their high flying premier player in Josh Smith and a series of picks.

Both offers obviously fell through the cracks as the draft came and went, but it is becoming apparent that GM Bryan Colangelo is looking to make a move and retool a roster that that is made for an up tempo style of play.

There is no question that the Raptors have an up hill battle ahead of them in the Eastern conference and will not likely make the playoffs this year. That being said the team has a decent enough players in Andrea Bargnani & Jose Calderon that if the team can lockdown Shawn Marian, sign a player like Hedu Turkoglu, Chris Bosh easily becomes expendable - especially if the team can create similar trade to that which were proposed by Miami. A tentative Bosh trade coupled with this year’s 1st round draft pick, USC star De Mar DeRozen, who draws comparisons to Kobe Bryant and could be breakin’ ankles and posterizing opposing players by December, the team might actually have a chance…to break 500.

Which Jays Will Fly to St. Louis?

June 30, 2009

By Ian Hunter…

It’s just over two weeks until the 2009 MLB All-Star Game and there are quite a few Blue Jays who have impressed so far this season. Here’s a rundown of which Blue Jays should be on the American League All-Star squad:

Aaron Hill - 2B

Although Aaron Hill has slipped down to fourth place in voting for starting second baseman, he should be at the forefront of voter’s minds when casting their ballots. With 19 home runs in just 75 games, Hill has already set a new record for home runs in a season by a Blue Jays second baseman.

Adam Lind - DH/LF

In the off season, J.P. Ricciardi was criticized for not signing a “big bat” free agent to fill the DH spot. It turns out that Adam Lind would fit the bill perfectly. Just like Aaron Hill, Lind leads most offensive categories at his position. The only disadvantage Adam Lind has is that this year’s All-Star Game is at a National League park, which eliminates the need for a designated hitter. Regardless, Lind has shown he is worthy of a spot on the AL roster.

Scott Rolen - 3B

During his short tenure in Toronto, Scott Rolen has already experienced many highs and lows due to several injuries and setbacks. Now after bouncing around the lineup, Rolen has settled in very nicely as the cleanup hitter for the Blue Jays. Although his power numbers are down from previous years, Scott Rolen is still manages to get on base consistently and is one of the hottest hitters in the American League with a .329 average.

Roy Halladay - SP

It’s not a question of if Roy Halladay will pitch in the All-Star Game, it’s a question of when. Even after missing a few weeks to injury, Halladay’s 10-1 record still stands as the best in the league. Whether Halladay starts the All-Star Game for the American League or if he pitches second or third, there is no denying that Roy Halladay is the best in the game.

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite Blue Jays players to start at the 80th MLB All-Star Game. Voting closes on July 2nd, so hurry over to and cast your vote!

Check out The Blue Jay Hunter, oh yeah!!

Toronto Blue Jays: Statistical Position-by-Position Analysis

June 30, 2009

By Adam GreuelAs we approach the middle of the season and the All-Star break, I thought it would be a good idea to see how our position players stack up against the rest of the league.

To be eligible for the batting average and on-base percentage category, a player must have 150 at-bats or more up to this point in the season.

Catchers: Out of 21
Rod Barajas

AB: 214 (8th)
OBP: .303 (16th)
BA: .266 (8th)
HR: 7 (T-10th)
RBI: 37 (3rd)
R: 23 (T-11th)
OPS: .728 (15th)
Average Rank: 10.1

First Basemen: Out of 29
Lyle Overbay

AB: 185 (26th)
OBP: .402 (7th)
BA: .276 (T-18th)
HR: 9 (T-20th)
RBI: 41 (17th)
R: 26 (26th)
OPS: .921 (12th)
Average Rank: 18

Second Basemen: Out of 30
Aaron Hill

AB: 334 (1st)
OBP: .344 (16th)
BA: .305 (4th)
HR: 19 (1st)
RBI: 56 (1st)
R: 48 (T-5th)
OPS: .856 (4th)
Average Rank: 4.6

Third Basemen: Out of 32

Scott Rolen

AB: 243 (18th)
OBP: .397 (5th)
BA: .333 (3rd)
HR: 5 (T-19th)
RBI: 29 (T-18th)
R: 41 (T-8th)
OPS: .883 (T-7th)
Average Rank: 11.1

Shortstops: Out of 29
Marco Scutaro

AB: 308 (1st)
OBP: .386 (3rd)
BA: .286 (10th)
HR: 6 (T-8th)
RBI: 32 (7th)
R: 58 (1st)
OPS: .808 (7th)
Average Rank: 5.3

Outfielders: Out of 93
Vernon Wells

AB: 314 (1st)
OBP: .302 (79th)
BA: .248 (70th)
HR: 7 (T-44th)
RBI: 36 (32nd)
R: 46 (T-14th)
OPS: .694 (74th)
Average Rank: 44.9

Alex Rios

AB: 312 (2nd)
OBP: .321 (64th)
BA: .263 (48th)
HR: 9 (T-29th)
RBI: 37 (31st)
R: 38 (T-33rd)
OPS: .744 (53rd)
Average Rank: 37.1

Designated Hitters: Out of 11
Adam Lind

AB: 290 (1st)
OBP: .385 (2nd)
BA: .307 (2nd)
HR: 15 (1st)
RBI: 52 (1st)
R: 45 (1st)
OPS: .930 (2nd)
Average Rank: 1.4

As you can see from these numbers, nearly every hitter on our team is somewhat close to the top and pulling there weight except for the outfielders.

The numbers look a lot better this year then last, and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we combined this year’s hitting with last year’s pitching. One can only dream.

Free Agent Frenzy- Part I

June 30, 2009

By Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter…

With NHL free agency just hours away, many NHL fans are excited at the prospect of landing the right players to put their beloved team over the top and into Stanley Cup contention. Make the right move and your general manager is a hero, misstep and your team could pay the price for years to come.

This years crop of free agents is full of very average players. Sure, the likes of Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat, Jay Boumeester, Nikolai Khabibulin and the Sedin Twins are available, but the bulk of the crop is unimpressive. There is a glut of 5th and 6th defenseman available and the list of 3rd and fourth line forwards is enormous. The lack of top tier talent should ensure a bidding war, but the lesser players will likely suffer, settling for 1 or 2 year deals and less money. That’s right folks, the NHL is just like society, the rich will get richer, the middle and lower class will get the squeeze!

For many teams what their competitors do can force them into a buying frenzy. If the Sedin Twins sign with the Vancouver Canucks than Edmonton Oilers will feel pressure to add more scoring, if Mike Komisarek signs with the New York Islanders, then the Montreal Canadiens will have to look elsewhere to replace him. For every action there is a reaction, or so the story goes. With that in mind, let’s look at the top free agents and where they might end up, let the guessing games begin…

Skilled Forwards-

Right Wingers- Marian Hossa, Mats Sundin, Marian Gaborik, Martin Havlat, Alexei Kovalev, Brian Gionta, Petr Sykora.

Left Wingers- Alex Tanguay, Daniel Sedin, Erik Cole, Keith Tkachuk.

Centers- Henrik Sedin, Mats Sundin, Joe Sakic, Saku Koivu, Mike Comrie, Robert Lang, Mike Cammallari.

Realistically, Mats Sundin is probably going to retire, Joe Sakic should be back with the Colorado Avalanche and Keith Tkachuk should be back with the St. Louis Blues. That leaves a total of 14 top tier Skilled forwards for 30 teams to fight over, see what I mean by slim pickings? Of those 14 Hossa, Gaborik, the Sedin Twins, Kovalev and Cammallari should see the most interest.

The Sedin Twins- will get offers from the Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Montreal Canadiens.
Marian Hossa- is waiting from an offer from the Detroit Red Wings, but if that doesn’t transpire the Edmonton Oilers, and depending on what the Sedin Twins do, Vancouver Canucks  will likely kick the tires on Hossa.

Marian Gaborik- The Minnesota Wild want him back, but Gaborik has a history of injury problems, so the Wild will be weary of a long term/overpriced deal. Gaborik, while talented, is being viewed as a poor mans Hossa. Once again, if the Sedin Twins sign elsewhere the Vancouver Canucks will try to lock Gaborik up.

Martin Havlat- Chicago would like to have him back, but may not be able to afford him. Havlat would look good on any team, he could get offers from the Los Angeles Kings,  Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and, depending on what they do, the Montreal Canadiens.

Alex Kovalev- Despite rumors suggesting Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey is willing to give Kovalev the “C” next season it’s not a certainty, not by a long shot. Kovalev has long had the reputation of taking games off and being a problem in the dressing room and at 36 years old Kovalev is a diminishing asset. Other destinations may include Washington, Los Angeles, and San Jose.

Mike Cammallari- The Toronto Maple Leafs have some interest, but don’t expect Brian Burke to break the bank on him. If Cammallari comes he will need to give the Leafs a hometown discount. Cammallari is plan B and C for many teams, his destination will likely be determined once 2-3 free agents have signed. Cammallari is a great addition to your team, but he is not the type of player you can build around. With that in mind, teams like, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars should have some interest.

Other thoughts- Petr Sykora would like to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Saku Koivu may opt to play in Minnesota, Erik Cole likely signs a discounted contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, Mike Comrie should get a second chance with the Senators, Nashville or New Jersey Devils, Where Robert Lang ends up is anyone’s guess, Alex Tanguay will get several offers, but not from Montreal, and Brian Gionta will come back to the Devils.

Stay tuned, Power Forwards and Grinders are up next….

Until next time,


Leafs Draft Analysis: An In Depth Look

June 30, 2009

By Shane House… Going into this year’s draft, there were a lot of expectations for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brian Burke held a season ending press conference saying that he would attempt to move up in the draft and attempt to go after John Tavares, which essentially got every Leafs fan excited for the future and excited for the draft.

Of course once again, Leafs fans were let down. Burke did not move up in the draft and didn’t pull off a miracle in getting John Tavares. But still there was hope to look forward to. Luke Schenn’s brother Braydon was projected to go fifth overall. So still there was hope for a big deal that would see the Leafs move up and get Braydon Schenn.

Once again Leafs fans were disappointed and the Los Angeles Kings did not part with their pick.

So what were we to do next?

With the seventh overall selection, there was a lot of speculation that the Leafs might still trade down to get Zack Kassian, while also getting more draft picks.

But instead of something exciting happening, the Leafs uneventfully drafted Nazem Kadri of the London Knights. A good player and a solid prospect, but not what Leafs fans exactly imagined. He is a small forward with a lot of skill and a nose for the net. Not your typical Brian Burke player. Plus to boot he was a Montreal Canadiens fan, which to be honest, didn’t sit with me well.

So after Friday and Saturday passed, I looked at who we got and was puzzled. I didn’t know how to take it. No big names and nothing flashy. So I thought I would give it a couple days and wait to see how I felt about the draft after I sat on it for a while.

What I came up with is that the Leafs had an amazing draft, taking all players that would fit the mould of a Brian Burke team. Kind of like the draft, none of them are flashy or the types of players that jump off the page, but if all pan out, will each contribute in a big way with the team.

Here is my scouting report for each player drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2009 NHL Draft.

1st Round, 7th Overall - Nazem Kadri – London Knights – C

56GP – 25G – 53A – 78PTS – 31PIM

Nazem Kadri is a tall, lanky prospect who has the potential to be a number one center down the road, something that the Maple Leafs have not had for some time. His stick handling is considered to be one of the best from the draft and is also considered a clutch playoff performer, scoring 21 points (9G and 12A) in 14 playoff games. Finally, before his jaw injury, people worried about his toughness. But after coming back from a broken jaw after only missing 17 games, there is no question that he can play through the pain, which obviously caught Brian Burke’s eye.

Player Comparison: Marc Savard

2nd Round, 50th Overall – Kenny Ryan – USNDP – RW

53GP – 21G – 20A – 41PTS – 44PIM

Kenny Ryan is a strong skater that plays a very solid two-way game. He is very hard to knock off the puck because of his big size and is a very hard worker in the corners. One thing to note is that he is also very gritty, with Darren McCarty being his favourite player growing up. The difference between the two is that he is also very fast on his feet, being one of the fastest to come from the United States National Development Program.

Player Comparison: Todd Bertuzzi

2nd Round, 58th Overall – Jesse Blacker – Windsor – D

67GP – 4G – 17A – 21PTS – 54PIM

Although at first it does not look like it, Jesse Blacker is a great two way defender with great defensive presence and an ability to always be in position. He is good in the corners, almost always being able to come out with the puck. He also has an under-rated ability to move the puck, something that was not able to be shown with limited ice time last season. Finally, unlike most two-way defenseman, he is a really sound and fast skater, being able to skate back on the rare occasion that he is caught out of position.

Player Comparison: Dennis Wideman

3rd Round, 68th Overall – Jamie Devane – Plymouth – LW

64GP – 5G – 12A – 17PTS – 92PIM

Even though Devane was unranked by most NHL scouts, this pick makes all the more sense when you look into it. Jamie Devane was one of the biggest fighters in the OHL last season, getting into 14 fighting majors last season. What that also tells us is that in playing 64 games, he only got 22 actual penalties, which means that he is not dirty by any means. One thing you can count on with this kid is that he will come into every game playing as hard as he can while doing everything possible to win. The two big knocks on this kid is that he is not a good skater and has no scoring touch, but in all honesty, I really don’t think Burke drafted him for his gracefulness and scoring touch.

Player Comparison: Chris Neil

5th Round, 128th Overall – Eric Knodel – Philadelphia Jr. Flyers – D

51GP – 13G – 32A – 45PTS – 30PIM

The first thing that stands out about this kid is his size, standing at 6′6″ while weighing an astonishing 216 pounds. That size is very rarely seen from a high-school kid. Another thing that stands out about the kid is his ability to shutdown opposing players, saying that he takes a pride in always having a good plus/minus. Finally, and the most important reason why I think Burke drafted him, is his heart. He is the type of guy that always has a team first mentality and is always willing to do whatever needs to be done to win, which means that Burke can mold his 6′6″ frame into whatever style player he wants, something that is very hard to find in a hockey player.

Player Comparison: Pavel Kubina

6th Round, 158th Overall – Jerry D’Amigo – USNDP – RW

44GP – 19G – 24A – 43PTS – 53PIM

Jerry D’Amigo was ranked 67th by central scouting for this year’s draft. So why did he fall so far? The reason is because of his decision making. Although he does possess great offensive abilities and great puck-handling skills, he sometimes has the habit of losing focus which in turn hinders his decision making on the ice. Plus not to mention his defensive game could use some work. But still, you cannot deny his scoring potential and his tenacity with the puck, being another player drafted that has a lot of heart and leadership abilities.

Player Comparison: Brian Gionta

7th Round, 188th Overall – Barron Smith – Peterborough - D

34GP – 0G – 2A – 2PTS – 57PIM

Son of former NHLer Steve Smith, he is considered more of a project at this point. But standing at 6′4″, there is potential here. He has a great physical aspect to his game, being able to dish out crunching hits. Besides that there is a lot of work to be done here. His positioning is average at best and his skating leaves a lot to be desired. But I imagine with more playing time in the OHL next season, a lot of those issues will be addressed.

Player Comparison: Greg Zanon

Scorch Is Back, Again!

June 30, 2009

By Eric Homes… The Toronto Argonauts Football Club is thrilled to announce that veteran long snapper Randy Srochenski has re-signed with the club after retiring from the CFL following the 2008 season. Randy will dress for Wednesday’s CFL Canada Day season opener at Ivor Wynne Stadium, kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.

Known to teammates simply as ‘Scorch’, the 15-year CFL veteran will begin his eighth year with the Argos this week. He has started all 18 regular season games at long snapper for the past three seasons and is considered one of the best long snappers in the business. Srochenski has started in several playoff games and has one Grey Cup championship (2004) to his credit. A minister by trade, he was lured out of retirement by the Argos for the first time during 2008 training camp.

For more information on the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, please visit

Ivo Karlovic: I Love the ’90s!

June 30, 2009

By Rob York… There’s something about Ivo Karlovic’s current run through the Wimbledon draw that makes me want to turn on my favorite Soundgarden record and rent my favorite Jeff Goldblum sci-fi summer action flick.

Watching the 6′10″ Croat pound ace after ace, suddenly I feel like it’s the ‘90s all over again.

When most tennis fans think fondly of the last decade of the previous century, it’s usually for the Agassi-Sampras duels, or the Agassi-Rafter duels, or sometimes just Agassi. But there was a unique type of player that thrived in those days, especially on grass, that is often not remembered; at least not fondly.

I call them the Pure Power Players (PPP), while some refer to them as the Super Servers. Others fall asleep just thinking about them.

Individually these players could be quite charming; for example, Goran Ivanisevic ranks alongside Ilie Nastase and Mansour Bahrami among the game’s quirkiest players, with a distinct service motion and a knack for unpredictable shot attempts.

Richard Krajicek, on the other hand, was an underrated athlete with perfect technique on the serve, the volleys and the forehand. Mark Philippoussis lived a life of rock-and-roll excess and attacked every ball as if it had insulted the honor of his family.

It’s just that whenever these PPPs met each other on grass—or faced more well-rounded big servers like Pete Sampras and Boris Becker—the matches more resembled trap shooting than actual tennis. Sampras’ 1994 victory over Ivanisevic in the Wimbledon final was notable for featuring not one point with more than four shots.

The decline of the PPP in favor of power baseliners who were more reliant on defense and consistency is something the majority of tennis fans consider a positive development.

The tremendous play of Karlovic at this year’s event is unlikely to change that perception. It’s not just that the big Croat is one-dimensionalthough he makes Philippoussis and Krajicek look positively well-rounded by comparisonbut the man has no visible personality.

His serve, however, has character to spare. Thanks to his 6’10″ height he is capable of reaching the 150 mph range while hitting spots and angles others can only imagine. In fact, it’s possible that Karlovic is actually the biggest server of all time.

Consider: Near the end of his career at Wimbledon, Sampras’ first serve averaged at about 119 mph and his second came in at about 109. Philippoussis often averaged 124 mph on the first and 111 on the second.

At this year’s Wimbledon, Karlovic’s average first and second serves were 129 and 115 in Round Three, then 130 and 114 in Round Four.

What’s more, Andy Roddickno slouch in the service department himselfsaid that even the Croat’s flat serves take a wicked bounce after landing thanks to the downward angle the towering Karlovic hits at.

“I don’t think you can compare my serve to his,” said Roddick a few years ago, despite holding the record for fastest serve ever at 155 mph.

And yet the towering Croat has done little damage in majors since shocking Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of Wimbledon in 2003. This year’s Wimbledon is his first ever trip past the fourth round of a major, and his four wins at this year’s event come after four straight years of first-round losses there.

Part of this can be attributed to Wimbledon’s slower surface speed since the ‘90s, and also to the fact that racket technology has empowered baseliners to greater heights of consistency.

In this regard Karlovic is out of step with the times; he has a solid volley, but his movement is poor for a pro and he slaps wildly at his groundies, hoping four of them go in on any one of his opponent’s service game so he can serve out the set.

With a weapon like his, however, it was perhaps inevitable that he’d put together a run at a major. Perhaps it was the wisdom he’s accumulated over the years on tour, or the sense that, at 30, he needs to act now. Whatever it may be, his play in this event should strike fear in the heart of power baseliners everywhere.

After two straight-set wins, he defeated the athletic all-courter Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Round Three and the hard-hitting lefty Fernando Verdasco in the Round of 16, both in four sets.

Tsonga’s average first serve was only four mph faster than Karlovic’s second delivery, and Verdasco’s average first serve was actually two mph slower than the Croat’s second.

Against Tsonga, he hit 46 aces, made 77 percent of his first serves, and won 90 percent of the points when his first delivery went in the box. Against Verdasco, he hit 35 aces and won 93 percent of his first serve points. Neither Tsonga nor Verdasco held so much as a break point in eight sets.

In four matches, Karlovic has not lost serve once.

Now in the quarters, the man who makes Ivanisevic look patient faces the player who makes Sampras look one-dimensional. One could feel pretty good about Karlovic’s chances of a semi or maybe a final were he not lined up against Roger Federer next time out.

It’s not just that Federer has won eight of their nine career meetings; breaking the Swiss’ serve is no easier than it is to break the Croat’s.

While Federer’s serve is not nearly as big as Karlovic’s (he has 59 aces through four matches, less than half of the Croat’s 137) he backs up his service games better than anyone. To win, Karlovic is somehow going to have to break him, or win three of the first four sets in tiebreakers.

Both seem unlikely.

What you can count on in their Wednesday meeting is tiebreakers and short points. So crank up Superunknown, tell your favorite Bill Clinton-intern joke, and get ready for the pure power.

Visit Rob York at his blog… check out

Before UFC 100: The Modern Welterweight Era was Born at UFC 46

June 30, 2009

By Brian Oswald… Much hype has been bestowed upon UFC 100 and the title fights which will anchor the most seismic fight card in MMA history—and rightly so.

The co-main event will showcase Georges St. Pierre defending his welterweight title against a very dangerous Thiago Alves. For St. Pierre, it will likely be his toughest test to date as he looks to bolster his MMA legacy while potentially securing a super fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

If St. Pierre looks past Alves though, he could be looking at the canvas floor.

To get a full a sense of the current era of the welterweight division, one must step into their MMA time machine and travel back to Jan. 31, 2004. UFC 46 was a fight card of great significance to the modern welterweight division.

Matt Hughes stepped into the octagon that night having successfully defended his belt five times. On the night in question though, Hughes would not be as opportune as he succumbed to a rear naked choke at the behest of B.J. Penn at 4:39 of round one.

For Penn, who stepped up a weight class for the first time in his career, he delivered one of the biggest upsets in the UFC welterweight history at that time.

Also of significance that night was the UFC debut of current welterweight champion George St. Pierre. St. Pierre rushed through his first opponent to secure a decision win over Karo Parisyan.

With Hughes, Penn and St. Pierre all in place the welterweight stage would bet set in some form or fashion for the next four years plus.

Penn would go on to be stripped of the UFC welterweight title in February after cutting ties with the organization while Matt Hughes would go on to regain his title in October at UFC 50 by defeating the young phenom George St. Pierre.

Matt Hughes would successfully defend his welterweight belt another two times—at UFC 52 against Frank Trigg and UFC 63 against B.J. Penn respectively. In the process, Hughes secured his hall-of-fame status and also his place as the best welterweight in the UFC history…for now.

It is worth noting that the title fight did not originally include Penn, rather George St. Pierre. B.J. Penn had lost in his UFC return agaisnt St. Pierre at UFC 58 which earned St. Pierre his second title shot agaisnt Matt Hughes.

But a groin injury pulled St. Pierre out of his long-awaited rematch with Hughes, allowing Penn capitalize—only to be beaten in the process.

St Pierre was finally able to position himself as the kingpin of the welterweight division on November 18, 2006 when he defeated Matt Hughes at UFC 65, becoming UFC champion by TKO at 1:25 of round two.

While the welterweight division was turned on its head, with Hughes losing his belt for a second time, the sense of a new era felt firmly in place.

That notion was quickly evaporated when Matt Serra turned the entire MMA community on its head with the biggest upset in UFC history.

On April 7, 2007, at UFC 69, TUF 4 finale winner Matt “The Terror” Serra rocked Georges St Pierre by technical knockout at 3:25 of the first round to become the latest UFC welterweight champion.

In loss, St. Pierre was forced to take a fight with Josh Koscheck at UFC 74 while Serra got to bask in the glory, albeit momentarily.

Matt Serra was supposed to defend his title against Matt Hughes at UFC 79 but injuries prevented him from doing so. In stepped St-Pierre, fresh off his win over  Koscheck.

St. Pierre would defeat Hughes for a second time to claim the interim welterweight title on Dec. 29, 2007 and

While a second win over Hughes was rewarding, the only thing Georges St-Pierre had on his mind was beating Serra to unify the two belts and once again be crowned undisputed welterweight champion.

He got that chance April 19, 2008 at UFC 83 which took place in his hometown of Montreal, Quebec. The rematch looked nothing like their first fight.

In an effort to avoid Serra’s knockout power, St. Pierre took Serra down at will and pounded him on the ground. The referee finally intervened at 4:45 of Round Two to stop the barrage of knees St. Pierre was delivering to the body of Serra.

St. Pierre has had defended his belt twice since. The first defense came against Jon Fitch at UFC 87. Fitch was gritty in defeat but was completely outworked by St. Pierre in route to a lopsided decision loss.

In one of the most hyped fights in UFC history, B.J Penn moved up to welterweight to exact revenge upon St. Pierre at UFC 94. It didn’t happen, not in the least. St. Pierre trounced Penn through four rounds until Penn was forced to throw in the towel and sit dejected on his stool.

That brings us to UFC 100 where St. Pierre will look to defend his belt for a third time. While many feel that St. Pierre has already surpassed Matt Hughes as the best welterweight in UFC history, St. Pierre must still live up to the Matt Hughes’s record of defending the belt seven times.

Not a Ray of Hope for the Jays

June 30, 2009

By Brady Rynyk…  After a 2 week stint on the DL with a groin injury, Jays ace, Roy Halladay returned to the mound to take on the soaring Tampa Bay Rays who are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League for the month of June.  It didn’t take long for Doc to find his rhythm as he struck out the Rays leadoff power hitter BJ Upton and continued to mow down 7 batters over the course of 6 innings.

But alas, another lacklustre offensive performance from the Jays bats hung Halladay out dry with what seemed like an endless series of 3-up 3-down innings filled with pop-ups, fly balls, and weak grounders.

The teams seemingly lack of patience at the plate allowing Rays starter Jeff Niemann to pitch deep into the 8th inning, having only made 100 pitches.

The only promising moments in the game came in the bottom of the 2nd when Scott Rolen extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a double into the gap, and proceeded to take third with a stolen base – there was also Vernon Wells’ single in the 5th that snapped a 0-12 draught, but should not really be considered a highlight considering he is the sixth highest paid player in the MLB.

After singling on his first at bat, Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford stole his 40th bag of the year, a major league record for stolen bases prior to the all-star break.  Crawford would follow his first at bat with a 2-run homer in the 3rd inning, that proved to be Doc’s only costly mistake after walking the previous batter, BJ Upton.

A late rally in the 8th produced an RBI single by Rod Barajas which forced Manager Joe Madden to make a pitching change. The hit finally produced a little excitement from the meagre crowd of 15,665 whose cheers where sparse, dismal and practically faded to dead silence - unless otherwise directed to cheer by the jumbotron.

As Tampa Bay skipper went to the bullpen in the ninth to put in sidearm slinger Randy Choate the fans that still remained fled for the exits and little hope was left that jays could actually make a comeback.

The Jays have now dropped three straight games, and the 4-1 loss puts them 2 games behind the Rays, making the final two games of this series crucial if Toronto wants to stay in the division hunt as the all-star weekend approaches.

Photos by Paolo Cescato

Amir Khan May Be on a Collision Course with Marcos Chino Maidana

June 30, 2009

By Stoker MacIntosh… It’s no secret that the great success of Filipino boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao is partially due to the genius of Los Angeles fight trainer and famous Wild Card Gym owner Freddie Roach.

Roach’s name has become synonymous with boxing.  He is quite possibly one of the most recognized trainers in the history of the sport, second only to the great Angelo Dundee—legendary trainer and mentor of Muhammad Ali.

So, once again—in a little less than 20 days from now at the MEN Arena in Manchester England—Roach’s solid reputation as one of boxing’s foremost instructors will be put to the test.

That’s when 22-year-old, 140 lbs. British pugilist Amir Khan faces what could be his toughest test so far when he squares off against Ukrainian Andreas Kotelnik.

A real, or fabricated, war of words has recently developed between the two fighters, which was said to have been initiated by the alphabet light-welterweight champion Kotelnik.

The statements were supposedly regarding Khan being knocked out at the hands of Briedis Prescott in 2008, adding also that Khan was merely a spoiled little boy who needed a bad beating.

Khan immediately fired back, “If he’s going around saying that I am a kid then he’s going to be in for a huge shock” Khan told

“It will be an exciting fight, but at the end of the day it will be me with the belt around my waist and we will see who the child is then,” he added.

Khan became defensive when informed of Kotelnik’s statement that he will repeat the Prescott first-round KO victory from September of last year.

“The loss against Prescott, it just happened, it was just a mistake,” said Khan.

“My defense has really come on now. I don’t think that Andreas Kotelnik can get a shot on me I’ll be too quick and sharp.”

“I’m not going to get too big-headed, but I don’t think he has ever been in with someone like me.

“Moving to 140 pounds has made me stronger, fitter, and more explosive. I hit harder.”

“I’m going to be the first guy to knock him (Kotelnik) out.”

Well, if Saturday night’s performance from former Kotelnik opponent Marcos Chino Maidana is any indication of the Ukrainians merit in the ring, then we can only deduce that young Khan is in a world of trouble.

Maidana, who lost a close decision to Kotelnik earlier this year, rallied back from being knocked to the canvas repeatedly to stop highly touted Golden Boy/HBO prospect Victor Ortiz in the sixth round.

It was noted in the post fight interview by HBO commentator Max Kellerman that, due to the way this certain alphabet sanctioning body is set up, it is a strong possibility that Maidana could meet either Khan or Kotelnik sometime within the next 12 to 18 months.

Maidana—through a translator, informed Kellerman that he will be more than willing and also ready to meet whoever it is next, he has no preference.

After witnessing Maidana’s hunger, heart, and destructive punching power, I have a strong tendency to agree with him.

“If my body dies, let my body die, but do not let my country die.”—Genghis Khan quotes

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