SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

GGG scores violent KO in return to ring

Photo by Amanda Westcott/courtesy of DAZN

Former unified middleweight champion Gennadiy Golovkin made his return to the ring Saturday in New York, and showed the rest of the division that he is still a force to be reckoned with. Golovkin knocked out Steve Rolls in the fourth round of a non-title bout to end his nine month layoff away from the sport.

It was a vintage Golovkin performance in many ways. The 37-year old Kazakhstan native spent much of the first two rounds feeling out the relative unknown Rolls, who attempted to jump on Golovkin in round two with several flurries of punches. Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KO) turned up the pressure in round three, cutting off the ring and using his signature stalking style to control the pace of action. By round four Golovkin made his move. He landed a looping shot to the head, which badly hurt Rolls (19-1, 10 KO.) Then Golovkin pounced. Rolls tried to tie up Golovkin, but Golovkin refused to accept a clinch, continuing to apply pressure. Golovkin then landed a left hook to the jaw of Rolls which sent him to the canvas in violent fashion. Rolls went down face-first, and was unable to beat the referee's count.

It was the first fight under new trainer Jonathan Banks for Golovkin, who previously spent his entire North American career under the tutelage of Abel Sanchez. Golovkin didn't appear to make any major tactical changes. He worked behind a stiff jab, stayed in the pocket and seemed content to trade getting hit for dishing out a harder blow. The trademark power, which made Golovkin the middleweight boogeyman for nearly a decade, seems to have gone nowhere.

In addition to a change it trainers the fight was also a new beginning in other ways for Golovkin. It was the first fight of his six-fight deal with streaming service DAZN. It was also the first time since August of 2010 that Golovkin fought without possessing one of the four major middleweight world title belts. Golovkin lost his belts to Canelo Alvarez in September, and as you can imagine Golovkin seemed interested in regaining them. He told DAZN's Chris Mannix after that he intended to have a third fight with Canelo as soon as September. Golovkin added that he hoped the third fight in the trilogy would take place in Madison Square Garden, saying it was his preferred place to fight.


SATURDAY IN RENO: VALDEZ ROUTS SANCHEZ TO RETAIN FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE

WBO champ Oscar Valdez turned in the most well-rounded performance of his career, cruising to a unanimous decision victory over challenger Jason Sanchez. Valdez (26-0, 20 KO,) who made his name as a brawler, looked to be greatly improved defensively as he used superior head movement to inflict punishment to Sanchez (14-1, 7 KO) while suffering little in return. Valdez won by scores of 117-110 and 118-109 (twice.) SportsMap.com scored the fight a 120-107 shutout for Valdez.

Valdez send Sanchez to the canvas via a flash knockdown in round five. Following the knockdown Valdez continued to counter Sanchez, and repeatedly baited him into leaving his head open for Valdez's long looping hooks, which he landed at will.

By round seven Sanchez realized his best shot was to try to turn the fight into an old-school brawl, something a younger version of Valdez would have welcomed. But he didn't take the bait; As Sanchez attempted to take the fight to the inside Valdez stuck to using his jab and fighting off his back foot.

The fight was the second for Valdez under new trainer Eddy Reynoso, who is best known of training middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. Reynoso appears to have been instrumental in the remaking of Valdez' fighting style for the better. Following the victory Valdez said he was undecided as to if he would fight at featherweight again or move up to the 130 lb. weight class.

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These numbers are sobering to say the least.Composite image by Brandon Strange.

A few years ago, a group of basketball writers took a dark turn and ranked the “50 Worst Coaches in NBA History.”

Topping the list was Sidney Lowe, who compiled a 79-228 record for a .257 winning percentage (more appropriately a .743 losing percentage) while coaching the Timberwolves and Grizzlies during 2000-03.

That made Lowe the worst of the worst.

Well, Rockets’ current coach Stephen Silas is worse.

Silas’ first year at the Rockets’ helm was 2020-21. The team went 17-55 and finished with the worst record in the NBA.

In 2021-22, the Rockets went 20-62 and finished with the worst record in the NBA.

So far in 2022-23, the Rockets stand at 10-34, the worst record in the NBA. Let’s play a drinking game, you have to take a shot each time I write the word “worst.”

Silas’ career record as an NBA coach is 47-151 for a winning percentage of .237. Take that, Sidney Lowe.

Put it this way, if Silas somehow keeps his job as Rockets coach, hard to believe, the Rockets would need to compile six consecutive seasons of 50 wins to get Silas’ career mark to .500. That scenario is unlikely on so many fronts, especially with the sword of Damocles hanging over Silas’ job security these days. As in any day now.

The Rockets are mired in an 11-game losing streak, and have dropped 16 of their last 17 games. Monday night, they followed three consecutive 20 point-plus blowouts by giving up 140 points, their worst defensive effort of the year, to the struggling Lakers.

How much more of these nightly drubbings can Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta take? Fertitta isn’t exactly a guy who takes losing easily. He is a firebrand with a ferocious personality. I remember sitting and talking with Fertitta in Hilton Garden Inn lobbies during Little League tournaments. He knew all the players and their batting averages. He’s intense.

Fertitta and Silas are a match made in personality hell. Silas is a laid-back, soft-spoken dude who doesn’t lose his cool on the bench as the Rockets go into hibernation during the third quarter (not that they’re so great during the first, second and fourth quarters, either).

The Rockets are a young team, which could use a raving maniac on the bench who’s kicking their asses to start winning games. In fact, the Rockets are a last-place team and trending downward.

Earlier this month, 15-year veteran guard Eric Gordon was asked if the team at least has been playing better since the start of the season.

His disgusted answer: “There’s no improvement. Same old thing all year.”

That’s an honest answer, and 100-percent accurate, but not what you want to hear from your team leader.

Meanwhile Toyota Center, where the Rockets have a 6-14 home record, has become a hospital quiet zone. The ticket office is getting by on smoke, mirrors, bobbleheads and cheap seats that include beer and hot dogs. The biggest crowd roar goes up when Boban Marjanovic takes the floor in garbage time.

If the worst team in the NBA isn’t getting better, what hope is there for the future under current management? Things can’t go on like this.

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