Daly City's Julaton defends belt against Alcanter


Daly City's Julaton defends belt against Alcanter

Feb. 25, 2011Ryan
Neither a questionable scale nor the absence of her world renowned trainer could deter WBO super bantamweight champion Ana Julaton from enjoying her Bay Area homecoming party, as the Daly City native earned a unanimous decision over Franchesca Alcanter on Friday night.A boisterous crowd packed Richmonds Craneway Pavilion to capacity as The Hurricane, normally a speedster by trade, surprisingly pressured the bigger Alcanter into the ropes and unleashed combinations that scored frequently.With four-time Trainer of the Year Freddie Roach stuck in Hollywood due to scheduling conflicts and a scale that peculiarly determined that Julaton weighed 116.5 poundsa staggering 5.5 under the 122-pound limitThe Hurricane was forced to adapt to the situation.Displaying the guile and heart that made her a champion, Julaton passed the test with flying colors.Some things may happen unexpectedly, said Julaton (8-2-1, 1 KO), whose black and orange trunks matched the Giants baseball jersey she donned in her ring entrance. Sometimes you just have to stick to the basics, put your head down, and go to work.We were prepared for the event that Freddie wouldnt be able to make it, added her advisor, Angelo Reyes, who assumed chief second duties in Roachs place. It even happened in the past with Manny Pacquiao when Freddie had prior commitments with other fighters. Ana was working with Freddie as late as Wednesday, and he gave us the right gameplan. We just had to execute it, and we did.Alcanter (18-10-1, 9 KOs), a former world title challenger at featherweight and junior lightweight, seemed to enjoy a natural size advantage, having weighed in a full two pounds heavier at 118.5. However, she was unable to utilize it as Julaton called on her superior speed and defense to avoid Alcanters vaunted right hand throughout the first six rounds.In the seventh round, a looping left from Julaton followed by a right cross down the pipe found Alcanters chin and elicited the crowds approval. By then, Julaton sensed her foe weakening and began to stalk Alcanter behind her signature stiff left jab.However, to Alcanters credit, the game fighter refused to fall. The challenger returned fire until the final bell, but it was not enough to take the belt away from a resolute Julaton.Scores were 96-94, 98-92, and 97-93 in favor of the defending champion.Were going to the Philippines for our next fight, said promoter Allan Tremblay. After that, well be back in North America for the summer.To give an idea of the treatment Julaton will receive for her next fight in the Asian archipelago, almost six million Filipinos tuned in to watch her two previous bouts. For this fight, estimates ran as high as 11 million viewers worldwide.Im looking forward to having a title fight in the Philippines in April, added the champ, who will enjoy yet another ticker-tape parade through the streets of Manila in the next few days. I just wanted to thank the fans in the Bay Area for coming out and supporting me.In the boxing undercard, San Carlos resident Mighty Bruno Escalante (2-0-1, 1 KO), notched a second round stoppage of Martin Sandoval, (0-1-0), an MMA veteran who was making his pugilistic debut. A short counter left hand from the southpaw Escalante floored Sandoval at the end of the first round. In the following frame, another left cross put Sandoval on the canvas a second time, prompting referee Ray Balewicz to call a halt to the bout at 1:05.I was just trying to set him up with the jab, said Escalante. I was able to hit him with a perfect shot both times.He only had ten minutes to glove up and get ready, but he executed the plan perfectly, added his trainer, Brian Schwartz. The show also featured three kickboxing bouts.Dee Al-Hadi outworked Marc Toledo en route to a 30-27 unanimous decision on all three scorecards.Gaston Bolanos stopped Ike Spears at 0:32 of the third round with a series of punishing kicks to the legs and body.Xavier Vigney knocked out Gary Grant at 1:40 of the first round to cap the fight portion of the evening, which was followed by musical performances from American Idol semifinalist Sway Peala, singer AJ Rafael, and rapper Nump Trump among others.

Why firing Ken Norton Jr. won't solve the Raiders' bigger, deeper problems

Why firing Ken Norton Jr. won't solve the Raiders' bigger, deeper problems

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was twice asked about making in-season changes at his Monday press conference.

He wouldn’t rule it out. Del Rio said he would do anything necessary to help the team “win now,” and later said "we're not getting into staff questions this week."

Then he fired Ken Norton Jr. the next day, hoping the dismissal will provide a spark.

It might. More likely, it might not do enough.

It is a shot across the bow at its base, a signal that subpar play won't be tolerated. 

“We played under our talent level,” defensive tackle Justin Ellis said, “Those things come with consequences.”

New play caller John Pagano has a unique style and knows how to bring creative pressure, disguise a simple play as complex and exploit weak links, but he won’t be using his system this season. He’ll still be working within Norton/Del Rio’s scheme and, more importantly, he’s still playing chess with existing, often inferior pieces. The Raiders understand that, and likely won't judge him on this final stretch alone. 

Why? The defense doesn’t have enough talent in the secondary, the interior defensive line or the inside linebacker corps. That’s not on Norton or Pagano.

Pagano can’t do a thing about an offense struggling mightily to catch passes, block consistently and let plays develop downfield.

The Raiders have some major talent problems, with rush and coverage rarely working together as desired. That, and some uninspired schematics, have produced awful statistics.

The Raiders don’t have an interception, and are the first team to go 10 games without a pick. They’re on track to have the second-worst opposing completion percentage (72.3) and passer rating (113.3) in NFL history, per the Associated Press.

They’re also last in sacks for the second straight year, with just 14 this season despite having reigning defensive player of the year Khalil Mack.

They're thin because last year's second and third round picks, Jihad Ward and Shilique Calhoun aren't contributing. This year's draft class had to make an immediate impact, but Gareon Conley played two games, Obi Melifonwu spent eight games on IR and Eddie Vanderdoes as underwhelmed after a promising start.

Highly paid free agents haven't performed well enough, and many could be shown the door.

It’s possible roughly half of the starting lineup doesn’t return next season, with Sean Smith, Reggie Nelson, Bruce Irvin and NaVorro Bowman likely out the door as free agents or roster cuts.

In sum, this isn’t all Norton’s fault.

He was, however, the easiest cut. You can’t fire players en masse during the year, and Pagano was an easy replacement without disrupting the position coaches. Pagano has extensive experience calling plays. He was the then-San Diego Chargers’ defensive coordinator from 2012-16.

Norton wasn’t an innovative play caller. He was passed over for coordinator jobs while serving as Seattle’s linebackers coach, after Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn were hired as head coaches. Del Rio, who played with Norton in Dallas back from 1989-91, hired Norton shortly after being hired by the Raiders.

The Raiders' defense has never been good under Norton/Del Rio, and Norton was on a hot seat most of last season. It was surprising when Pagano was hired that Norton was retained and allowed to continue despite underwhelming performance.

Norton was immensely popular in the locker room, especially with members of the front seven. Mack and Irvin in particular were Norton guys. Norton and Irvin go way back to Irvin’s Seattle days, where the coach helped the player get and stay on the right path.

That’s why this firing was deeply felt on Tuesday. The players were told in an afternoon meeting, following a walk-through focused on corrections from Sunday’s New England loss.

"The axe came down on everybody," free safety Reggie Nelson said. "Everybody felt it in this building. Players, we love Norton, regardless. Unfortunately, the production wasn't a high standard this year and it's a production league. He's not playing. We are.”

The Raiders are 4-6, and can’t afford to lose many more games. They might need to be perfect down the stretch to avoid a messy tiebreaker situation. That’s a tough ask for a team that’s been woefully inconsistent on both sides. This team was always expected to shoot for the middle defensively and have a potentially great offense score points by the bushel.

The offense has been most disappointing, performing far below its pay grade and talent level. There was no movement on that side of the ball. The Raiders hope, with fingers firmly crossed, this defensive change provide the spark necessary to create turnovers and quarterback pressure than has been lacking in a disastrous season to this point.

Playing in OKC is no longer a big deal for Durant: 'Just a regular game'


Playing in OKC is no longer a big deal for Durant: 'Just a regular game'

Kevin Durant in his first season with the Warriors faced three benchmark games, two of which were against the Cavaliers and, specifically, LeBron James. The third was his return to Oklahoma City, where Durant created his NBA legend.

With all eyes on him, Durant aced all three exams. He was individually better than LeBron, twice, and when he arrived in Oklahoma City last February, with thousands of emotionally wounded fans targeting him for ridicule, he ravaged his former team.

Durant totaled a team-high 34 points (12-of-21 shooting, including 3-of-6 from deep, 7-of-7 from the line), nine rebounds and three assists in a 130-114 rout.

So there will be no such dramatic backdrop Wednesday when Durant takes the floor at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and it is anticipated his sprained left ankle will have healed sufficiently enough to allow him to play. Regardless of whether he plays, hHs return this time simply will not generate the tremendous local turbulence it did last season.

“It was a pretty fun moment to be a part of,” Durant told reporters at practice Tuesday. “You always respect the players on the court. And the people that have stuff to say about what’s going on on the court, they really don’t matter.

“So I just tried to go out there and think about that. Just realize that the players on the court are the most important and I know if I don’t focus and lock in, I won’t play to the best of my ability. I tried to block out all the nonsense and the BS and just go out there and play.”

There should be considerably less BS and nonsense this time around, for this is a more evolved Durant and this is not the OKC team he left behind, shattered in a dozen little pieces scattered around a new solo act that was Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook now has two fellow All-Stars at his side. OKC general manager Sam Presti navigated offseason deals to acquire both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. There is a sense that the reloaded Thunder can make some playoff noise, and that matters in the wake of a steep drop last postseason.

Having spent most of a day interviewing locals in advance of the Warriors-Thunder game last season, it was apparent those folks were heartbroken by KD’s departure but perhaps more crestfallen about what little was left of their beloved team.

Durant, who remains connected to some of his personal causes in OKC, seems to recognize that. It’s enough to assuage any unease he may have felt for the fans that once adored him.

Asked Tuesday if there was any lingering sentiment about returning to the place where he spent eight seasons, Durant barely hesitated.

“No, it’s just a regular game for me now,” he said. “I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the b------t and just play. Just keep it at basketball and I’ll be all right.”

It has been 16 months since Durant woke up on the morning of July 4 and announced his decision to sign with the Warriors. Durant has adapted to the Bay Area. He drives the local streets, rides BART every so often and has his favorite spots. He has his hands all over the high-tech industry that drives so much of the energy here.

Durant has moved deeply into the next phase of his career and has his eyes on his post-career options. OKC was home for most of his NBA life, but he now lives elsewhere.

Kevin Durant is in a good place, in most every way, and he likes it.

“I’ve been in the league for this long and been in every situation as a basketball player: losing games, winning games, overtime games, winning a championship, losing a championship, MVP, coming in second in the MVP,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been through everything in the league as an individual player. All those experiences have given me knowledge and given me insight on the game and what it’s about.

“It’s pretty simple when you think about it. You work, you work, you work. You gain experience, you gain knowledge and when it’s time to give it to somebody else you do it. When it’s time to apply it to your game, you just apply it when you play. “

When KD steps on the floor Wednesday and sees George and Anthony behind Westbrook, he can’t help but feel the difference. He has moved on and so have the Thunder.

There is reason, good reason, to believe the man when he says going back this time is just another game.