Sports

Dwight Howard spent one season with the Los Angeles Lakers resulting in a 45–37 record and a first-round loss in the playoffs. The failure of that season has stuck with him and his reputation, going from a top player in the league to someone who has struggled to find a fit in the NBA.

Howard was asked about this time in his career on "FairGame" with FS1's Kristine Leahy. He recalled an interaction with Kobe Bryant after he was traded from the Lakers to the Houston Rockets where the Lakers legend called him "soft" and challenged Howard saying, "try me".

Any NBA fan who hears Bryant and Howard discussed in the same sentence will most likely immediately think of this interaction, which Howard did not hold back on.

Howard said he hated Bryant for years for his comments saying, "He had a comment about me being soft. And I think for years, I kinda hated him for saying that."

The now Grizzlies center says how he initially took the comments in a different way than Bryant may have intended them. He said, "I think he was more so talking about my mentality. Not my physique, not how I am on the court. Like my edge. And I didn't realize that because of all the noise surrounding him saying I was soft. And I hated it. I hated him for that moment. But I realized what he was talking about."

He is now thankful for the comments saying, "Everybody reaches different levels of maturity at different times. I think at that time I was ignorant to the level that he was at. So I appreciate you, Kobe. Thank you for saying I was soft. I didn't realize what you meant until now."

The 33-year-old eight-time All-Star spent last season with the Washington Wizards, and is now on his fifth different team since leaving the Lakers in the summer of 2013.

ABS-CBN brings to the entire country the much-awaited fight between Filipino boxing pride Sen. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and World Boxing Association (WBA) super welterweight champion Keith Thurman on July 21 through its broadcast and digital platforms.

As the official fight broadcaster, ABS-CBN will air the match from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, USA on ABS-CBN Ch.2 at 10:00 a.m. with immediate replay on ABS-CBN S+A at 3:00 p.m.. Filipinos can catch the fight live, without commercials and in high definition on SKY Sports PPV on cable TV. Fans can also follow the blow-by-blow coverage of DZMM Radyo Patrol 630 with seasoned sports anchor Dyan Castillejo and respected boxing analyst Quinito Henson starting at 9:00 a.m.

The entire fight will also be made available online via ABS-CBN’s popular streaming service iWant on July 22.

Pacquiao (61-7-2; 39 KOs), the WBA regular welterweight champion, is fresh from decisive victories over formidable opponents like Adrien Broner last January and Lucas Mathysse in 2018. Undefeated Thurman (30-0; 22 KOs), meanwhile, will be putting his unblemished record on the line for the first time in two years.

In an interview with Castillejo on S+A’s The Score, the General Santos City native explained why he continues to fight despite his age and the success he has already attained. “I want to prove to people that even at the age of 40, I can still fight. I thank God because he gave me good health and strength that not all boxers continue to enjoy,” she said.

With reports about his unusual drive during his training for the fight he said, “I am motivated for this fight. He’s been trash-talking and I want to bring to him all that he’s saying inside the ring.”

Don’t miss ABS-CBN’s exclusive coverage of the Pacquiao-Thurman welterweight unification fight LIVE on SKY Sports PPV and DZMM Radyo Patrol 630. The fight will also air on ABS-CBN Ch.2 at 10:00 a.m. and on primetime at 7:00 p.m. on S+A, and will be available online on iWant starting July 22.

SANTA MONICA, CA. (July 20, 2019) - Unbeaten super middleweight contender Mike Lee
shared his thoughts on his upcoming title showdown against super middleweight champion
Caleb “Sweethands” Plant from his training camp at Gloveworx in Santa Monica, California
before he steps into the ring Saturday, July 20 in the FOX PBC Fight Night main event from the
MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

FOX PBC Fight Night action begins at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and features rising unbeaten
heavyweight sensation and 2016 Nigerian Olympian Efe Ajagba squaring off against undefeated
2016 Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen.

Tickets for the event, which is presented by TGB Promotions and Sweethands Promotions, are
on sale now and can be purchased online through AXS.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711
or in person at any MGM Resorts International box office.
Lee is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he earned a finance degree from the
Mendoza School of Business before embarking on his pro boxing career. Here is what Lee had
to say about his training camp, his journey to fighting for the title and more:

MIKE LEE

"I have strong belief in my power. I think to put yourself out there and drive through adversity,
it's going to be more mental than physical and God knows I've had my ups and downs
especially with my illness and being in and out of hospitals. But I'm here now and I've won
seven fights since I was diagnosed with my auto-immune disease and I'm here doing what
people thought I could not do. Whether it's the boxing media or doctors, I'm defying the odds, so
why should July 20 be any different.

“What's kept me going through the ups and downs is the love for this sport and the love for
moments like this. I always knew this world title shot would come if I kept grinding and grinding
and putting in that work when people weren't watching. Ultimately, I wanted to prove to myself
that I could do it on the days that I doubted myself.

“I've fought on big stages before. I've headlined a card at Notre Dame that had 6,000 people.
I've headlined Chicago fights too, so this is nothing different. It's not like I'm some unknown
challenger coming in to the spotlight. I thrive in the spotlight and have had some big moments
since the beginning of my career. This is just another day in the office.

“I think Caleb Plant is going to see a Mike Lee he's never seen. He's going to feel that power.
He's talking about knockouts, but he hasn't knocked anyone out in his past seven fights. Wait
until he feels my power. It'll only take one and you'll see the doubt that will plant in his head.
“Notre Dame means so much to me. I worked so hard to get into that school and that school
gave back so much to me as well. To be a part of that Notre Dame community and have friends
like Golden Tate and Justin Tuck, who won Super Bowl rings, I want to be a part of that. I want
to be a part of that championship legacy and continue to keep giving back.

“For me I moved from Houston to Los Angeles because for a couple of years when I got sick, I
was back home in Chicago trying to figure out how to become healthier. Ultimately moving to
California has been a phenomenal move for me. I loved my team in Houston but I love being by
the beach and by the water. California has been an awesome training spot. You've got some of
the best fighters and athletes in the world that come here. Being immersed in that type of culture
has been phenomenal."

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (June 26, 2019) - Keith Thurman’s head trainer Dan Birmingham is a man of few words who likes to keep his focus on his job; which is training, coaching and creating world champion boxers. So when Dan speaks, people listen. His Mr. Miyagi message ahead of Keith’s blockbuster PBC on FOX Sports pay-per-view showdown versus Manny Pacquiao?

“Freddie Roach is going to lose a lot of money,” said Birmingham. “When the fight is over Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman’s hands will be raised. Keith is going to win this fight and win it in fine fashion.”

KEITH QUOTE - on his relationship with Dan

Trained by Birmingham since his original coach Ben Getty passed away ten years ago, Thurman continues to hone and develop his boxing prowess at Birmingham’s St Pete Boxing Club gym in St. Petersburg, FL. The Florida Boxing Hall of Famer knows what is needed for his pupil to win this historic fight on Saturday, July 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

“This is a very important fight for Florida boxing and for our gym,” said Birmingham “From Winky to Jeff Lacy and all the guys who train and fight for titles, we have a lot of pride in Keith. This fight and holding this title means everything to our gym.

“Manny knows Keith’s a puncher, and that he brings youth and experience like Manny does. But Keith wants to fight, he’s anxious to fight and he’s got someone to fight for besides himself.”

One of the keys to Thurman’s impending victory is very simple, said Birmingham. “It’s been the rest factor. He’s rejuvenated his body and mind, he got married and as I said before, he has someone to fight for.”

Thurman’s over two-year recovery have allowed him to fully heal and its made for a powerful training camp. The undefeated, two-time world champion is operating at his very best – showing glimpses on his Instagram channel (@KeithOneTimeThurman) of his high intensity workouts.

THURMAN QUOTE - on intensity of workouts and how he’s feeling physically

“He has a renewed vigor - more energy - and he’s anxious to fight and anxious to train,” said Birmingham. “His power, ferociousness and tenacity will be a problem for Manny. We’ve only escalated that in this camp. He has two strength and conditioning coaches - NFL great Yo Murphy and leading strength coach Kimberly Doehnert. The core team includes post-workout trainer Eric Wilson for stretching and recovery in addition to myself and Chris Getty for strategy and training.

“We’ve mixed up sparring with some guys who emulate Manny but are tougher, stronger fighters who can take a punch. You’ve got to be tough to box with Keith.

“We’re going to win this fight.”

 

LAS VEGAS (July 20, 2019) – Undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb
“Sweethands” Plant hosted a media workout on Wednesday at his Las Vegas training camp as
he discussed his first title defense against unbeaten Mike Lee that headlines FOX PBC Fight
Night on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday, July 20 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las
Vegas.

FOX PBC Fight Night coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and will precede the PBC on
FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event that also takes place at MGM Grand and is headlined by eightdivision
champion Manny Pacquiao facing WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith Thurman.
Tickets for the live event, which is presented by TGB Promotions and Sweethands Promotions,
are on sale now and can be purchased online through AXS.com, charge by phone at 886-740-
7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts International box office.

Plant (18-0, 10 KOs) captured his world title in January on FS1 when he dropped Jose
Uzcategui twice on his way to a unanimous decision victory. Here is what he said about his first
world title defense and more from training camp with trainer Justin Gamber at City Boxing Gym
in Las Vegas:

CALEB PLANT

"Camps been great. It's been a long camp and we are working hard. It's been the best sparing
that we've ever had. I've worked the hardest I have ever worked and I am fully prepared to
defend my world title successfully on July 20.
“My training has been great. This is the best training camp I’ve ever had. I worked harder in this
camp than I have in any other camp, and I expect for you guys to see the best Caleb Plant you
have ever seen come July 20.

“We haven’t changed up a whole lot of things. Just working harder, throwing in a few extra
rounds here and there. The work load has increased slightly, but we haven’t really changed
anything other than that, it’s all been the same.
“A lot of people are going to be tuned in watching on July 20. There are a lot of eyes on us. I’m
expecting to go out there and defend my world title successfully and in fashion and put a show
on for everyone that’s tuned in.

“I may reside in Vegas, but Nashville and Ashland City will always be my home. I appreciate all
the continued support from back home. I’m really hoping they will be tuned in because I’m going
to put a show on and it’s going to be fun.

“I promised Aliyah that I would win a world title and bring it to her, and I’m promising my mother
that I’ll defend it. I did what I said I was going to do last time, so you can expect me to do what I
said I would do this time as well.

"This is a huge platform. PBC and FOX have put together an amazing platform for world
champions like myself to display their talents. But at the end of the day it's just another day in
the office. I hope the viewership is high and I think it will be leading into the Pay-Per-View and I
am just looking forward to putting on a great show."

JUSTIN GAMBER, Plant’s Trainer

“We’re winding down. We’re toning everything down. We’ve already climbed the mountain and
now were getting ready to climb the next mountain. We’ve already climbed the mountain of our
training camp and now were going to get a little break, and recover some so we’re 100% on
fight night.

“He’s looking great right now I couldn’t ask for a better version of Caleb Plant, this is the best
version I’ve ever seen. I would describe him as a boxing god looking at the last time he sparred.
“As far as skill, technique, and just zeroing in. It’s not playing around and showboating during
the sparring. It’s straight to business, it’s all business right now and I see it in his eyes. You see
it in his focus. He’s zeroing in the fight, we’re ready.”

LAS VEGAS (July 20, 2019) - An exciting array of undercard attractions will support a blockbuster night of boxing on Saturday, July 20 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas including once-beaten prospects Austin Dulay (13-1, 10 KOs) and Justin Pauldo (12-1, 6 KOs) battling in an eight-round lightweight fight.

Unbeaten rising prospect Rolando “Rollie” Romero (9-0, 8 KOs) will return to action in a six or eight-round lightweight bout, while welterweight Abel Ramos (24-3-2, 18 KOs) steps in for an eight-round fight. Rounding out the card are a trio of Filipino contenders as Genesis Libranza (18-1, 10 KOs) battles in an eight-round flyweight battle, Jayar Inson (18-2, 12 KOs) competes in an eight-round welterweight affair and John Leo Dato (11-0-1, 7 KOs) enters the ring for a six-round featherweight bout.

The event is headlined by boxing’s only eight-division world champion and Philippine Senator Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao taking on undefeated WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman in a powerhouse 147-pound showdown in the main event of a PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Preceding the pay-per-view, FOX PBC Fight Night will feature undefeated IBF Super Middleweight World Champion Caleb “Sweethands” Plant making the first defense of his title against unbeaten contender Mike Lee in the main event, with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

STACKED CARD SUPPORTS MANNY PACQUIAO VS. KEITH THURMAN SHOWDOWN THAT HEADLINES PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS ON FOX SPORTS PAY-PER-VIEW EVENT SATURDAY, JULY 20 FROM THE MGM GRAND GARDEN ARENA IN LAS VEGAS

Unbeaten Former Champion Omar Figueroa Jr. Tangles with
Top Contender Yordenis Ugás in WBC Welterweight Title Eliminator

Hard-Hitting Former Champion Sergey Lipinets Clashes Against Rugged Veteran John Molina Jr. in Welterweight Duel

Former Champions Collide When Unbeaten Brawler Luis Nery Battles Crafty Juan Carlo Payano in Bantamweight Showdown
At 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT

LAS VEGAS (July 20, 2019) – Undefeated former world champion Omar “El Panterita” Figueroa Jr. takes on Yordenis Ugás in a 12-round WBC welterweight title eliminator highlighting a loaded undercard in support of the Manny Pacquaio vs. Keith Thurman battle for welterweight supremacy that headlines Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View on Saturday, July 20 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The action also features hard-hitting former world champion Sergey Lipinets going toe-to-toe against rugged veteran John “The Gladiator” Molina, Jr. in a 10-round welterweight match. The show opens with former world champions squaring-off as undefeated power-puncher Luis “Pantera” Nery takes on slick-boxing Juan Carlos Payano in a 12-round bantamweight bout at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

The stacked card is the perfect accompaniment for the summer’s biggest fight, which will pit boxing’s only eight-division world champion and Philippine Senator Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao against undefeated WBA Welterweight World Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman in a powerhouse 147-pound showdown in the main event. This high-stakes match will firmly give the winner a claim for the top spot in one of boxing’s deepest and most talented divisions.

Tickets for the event, which is promoted by MP Promotions, Mayweather Promotions and TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased online through AXS.com, charge by phone at 866-740-7711 or in person at any MGM Resorts International box office.

“MP Promotions is proud to be co-presenting this all-action undercard with PBC and FOX Sports,” said Sean Gibbons, President of MP Promotions. “It will be a historic night of boxing, spanning many platforms and this is the type of PPV undercard that is jam packed with top-flight boxers. When you look at the fighters involved in supporting what is the best biggest fight of the year – Pacquiao vs. Thurman – you can be assured that the night will be filled with non-stop action.’’

Figueroa (28-0-1, 19 KOs) is a come forward boxer-puncher who’s yet to meet an opponent who could slow down his relentless style. The 29-year-old from Weslaco, Texas, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over John Molina Jr. in February on FOX. A former lightweight world champion, Figueroa owns victories over former world champions including Robert Guerrero, Ricky Burns and Antonio DeMarco.

"I’m excited for this fight against a talented Olympian who’s very skilled,” said Figueroa. “I know he will be moving around the ring a lot, so I’m going to have to move with him and chase him all night. I’m going to have to be in really good shape and work hard on my conditioning. This fight has definitely raised the stakes for me, so I know I have to be ready. I’m going to have a good camp and come in with excellent preparation for July 20.”

The 32-year-old Ugás (23-4, 11 KOs) has been one of the busiest welterweight contenders in boxing the last two years, fighting three times in both 2017 and 2018. Ugás, who is from Santiago, Cuba and now lives in Miami, Florida, was on an eight-fight win streak before losing a narrow split-decision to Shawn Porter in a world title fight on FOX in March.

“I’m very excited to be on the biggest card of the year,’’ said Ugás. “Omar Figueroa Jr. is a tremendous fighter, and that’s the style I like to face. I’m an all-action fighter and the fans are going to be in for a full course meal before the actual main event. That I can promise. You don’t want to miss this event and you don’t want to miss this war. I’m grateful to FOX Sports and PBC for including me in an event of this magnitude.’’

The 30-year-old Lipinets (15-1, 11 KOs) made a successful debut at 147-pounds in March with a TKO victory over former two-division champion Lamont Peterson in a PBC on FS1 fight that is an early Fight of the Year frontrunner. Lipinets, who was born in Kazakhstan, grew up in Russia and now lives in Los Angeles, has only one loss on his record. He lost his 140-pound belt in a 2018 showdown against four-division champion Mikey Garcia.

“There’s no slowing down in my march to get that welterweight championship belt,’’ said Lipinets. “As always, I’m fighting a guy that is very dangerous and tough to the last bell. My title shot is right around the corner. I’m very excited to be part of a show like this and I’m grateful for these opportunities in my career and I promise that I’ll earn my keep. I’m looking forward to becoming a two-time world champion.’’

Molina (30-8, 24 KOs) is coming off a close unanimous decision loss to Omar Figueroa Jr. in February. A tough veteran brawler, Molina, of West Covina, California, has been in the ring with some of the top boxers at lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight. Over his 13-year career he’s been involved in multiple Fight of the Year contenders while picking up victories over Ruslan Provodnikov, Mickey Bey, Hank Lundy and Ivan Redkach.

"It's going to be another barnburner like every one of my fights," said Molina. "My opponent is tough and durable, so I know it is going to be another exciting fight for my fans. There's no surprises at this stage of the game for me. This is going to be a huge night from top to bottom and I can't wait."

Nery (29-0, 23 KOs) is a power puncher and has stopped his last 10 opponents and 14 of his last 15. He scored a TKO victory over Shinsuke Yamanaka for the world bantamweight title in 2018. The 24-year-old southpaw from Tijuana, Mexico is coming off a dominant stoppage victory over McJoe Arroyo on the March PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View.

“I am thrilled to be back on a PBC on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event and to be fighting on a card with my friend, Senator Manny Pacquiao,” said Nery. “To fight in Las Vegas has been a dream of mine since I turned professional. All the great Mexican fighters have fought in the fight capital of the world. My fight against Juan Carlos Payano is the last step to me getting my shot at the WBC championship and getting my belt back. Viva Mexico!''

Payano (21-2, 9 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over then-unbeaten Damien Vazquez in October on FS1. It was a bounce back victory from his loss to Naoya Inoue in a world title match last October. The only other loss in the career of the 35-year-old from La Vega, Dominican Republic came in another world title match, when he dropped a majority decision to Rau’shee Warren in 2016, after previously beating Warren for the title in 2015.

“Manny Pacquiao has been my favorite fighter since I’ve been a pro and I’m very excited to be fighting on this pay-per-view,’’ said Payano. “I even nicknamed myself ‘Baby Pacquiao,’ so this is a special honor. Fighting Luis Nery is also a great opportunity for me. Luis is a very hungry, strong fighter looking to regain his championship status. Unfortunately, he is not going to do that with me. I’m sure he will be ready and come for war, and so will I.’’

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