Ward dominates Abraham, moves to Super 6 final


Ward dominates Abraham, moves to Super 6 final

May 14, 2011

(AP) CARSON -- Andre Ward felt like the road team in his home state when he walked to the open-air ring amid a chorus of boos while hundreds of Armenians waved red-blue-and-orange flags.Ward took the abuse and smiled. Arthur Abraham would have needed a white flag to stop Ward from steamrolling him on the way to the Super Six tournament final.Ward overwhelmed Abraham with power and speed in nearly every round of an unanimous decision victory Saturday night, defending his WBA super middleweight title in the Super Six semifinals. Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), the Olympic gold medalist from Oakland, Calif., put on another clinic in patient, tactical boxing while dismantling Abraham (32-3), the Armenian-born German who had a perfect record until losing three straight in the Super Six.The Los Angeles area's sizable Armenian population turned out in force for Abraham, but Ward had answers for all of them."We're going to the final, baby," Ward said. "Arthur is strong, and he's a hard hitter, (but) we showed that we can win in a way other than our original game plan."Ward is one fight away from the tournament title that should establish him as the 168-pound division's top fighter. England's Carl Froch is favored to beat Glen Johnson in the other Super Six semifinal bout in Atlantic City, N.J., on June 4, and the final is expected this fall.Ward felt even less at home when the referee wouldn't allow him to fight Abraham on the inside, repeatedly breaking up the fighters when the action got close. After Abraham managed a few lively exchanges during the early rounds, Ward took control with an excess of speed and precision, peppering Abraham with jabs and combinations.Abraham largely stopped throwing good punches when he realized he was hopelessly overmatched at Home Depot Center, just south of Los Angeles."I wish the ref had let me fight on the inside, because that's what I had planned for," Ward said. "But we made adjustments and got the win. ... I'm going to stay humble. I'm going to keep working hard. I want to be a champion for a long time and take the least amount of punishment possible."Judge Stanley Christodoulou scored it a 120-108 shutout for Ward, while German judge Ingo Barrabas and The Associated Press favored Ward 118-110. Dr. James Jen Kin gave it to Ward 118-111.Ward still hasn't lost since he was a 12-year-old amateur. The Bay Area fighter starred in Athens, winning the only U.S. boxing gold in the past three Olympics.Abraham had the fans' backing in just his third U.S. appearance. Hundreds of rowdy fans jeered Ward and chanted "Ar-Tur! Ar-Tur!", but Ward quickly quieted the crowd with another clinical display of his superior technical skill."I started well, and I thought I did good the first three rounds," Abraham said through a translator. "He didn't hit me, and I was blocking a lot of his shots. But then I tried for the knockout, and I couldn't do it. I cramped up, and I got too tense."Ward used his jab aggressively in the opening rounds, but Abraham showed more aggression than in his previous two bouts, even rattling Ward with a right hand behind his ear in the third round.Ward weathered those attacks and took charge. He never came close to stopping Abraham, but he battered Abraham into the ropes with an overhand right in the final minute of the 12th round.Ward threw 289 jabs over 12 rounds, landing 178 of his 444 total punches. Abraham got credit for more power punches and landed a similar percentage of total punches, but Ward landed all the blows that counted.Ward emerged as an elite pound-for-pound fighter while dominating the group stage of this now-ramshackle tournament matching the world's top 168-pounders outside of Canada's Lucian Bute, the likely challenger for the Super Six winner.Although injuries led to the withdrawal of half the original field, Ward earned one-sided victories over Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green to reach the semifinals against Abraham, who advanced despite losing twice.The Super Six hasn't worked out well for Abraham, an unbeaten middleweight champion and presumptive tourney co-favorite when it began.After knocking out Jermain Taylor in his first bout, he received his first career defeat when he was disqualified late in a fight he was losing to Andre Dirrell. Abraham then was trounced by Froch in his last bout, thoroughly unable to keep up with the English star.Earlier at the Home Depot Center, slimmed-down heavyweight contender Chris Arreola stopped Nagy Aguilera in the third round in an impressive performance. Arreola, who lost his title shot against Vitali Klitschko in September 2009, dedicated himself to conditioning before beating Aguilera, who lost when he couldn't defend himself on the ropes.

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly's offense with the 49ers is his slowest-paced version of his four NFL seasons.


“I think that’s what fits with this group of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said this week.

Kelly did not expound on that thought. But it could be safe to assume his thinking is the same reason why it does not make sense to enter a Ford Pinto to race against pro stock dragsters.

The 49ers’ offense is running more plays this season. The 49ers snap the ball every 24.4 seconds on offense. That’s down from 26.1 seconds last season, and 29.7 seconds in Jim Harbaugh’s final season in 2014.

Last season in Philadelphia, Kelly’s team snapped the ball every 22.6 seconds. In Kelly’s final season at Oregon in 2012, the Ducks snapped the ball every 20.5 seconds.

“I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back (to huddle). We’re saving seven yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it.

“We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton (Manning) was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

Kelly said part of the problem is that the 49ers are not converting third downs. The team has a 36.3 percent success rate on third downs, which is actually an improvement over the 30.5 percent success of last season.

But the 49ers’ overall lack of offensive success this season cannot be camouflaged.

The 49ers are averaging just 4.5 yards per play. The 49ers have not averaged fewer than 5 yards per play since 2007, when Alex Smith sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced by Trent Dilfer.

While the 49ers are running more offensive plays than it has in the past, so is the opposition. The 49ers have averaged 64.3 plays per game. The 49ers have defended 69.9 plays per game – only 2.3 more plays than last season but 8.1 more plays than in 2014.

The biggest problem for the offense has been its run defense. The league’s worst run defense has surrendered 185.1 yards per game and is on pace to give up 2,962 yards this season, which would be the most in the NFL since the 1980 New Orleans Saints yielded 3,106 rushing yards.

Anybody offering to help Mark Davis actually trying to help themselves

Anybody offering to help Mark Davis actually trying to help themselves

It’s usually a good day for anyone who holds a billion dollar asset. I mean, your day is not going to end sitting alone with a microwave dinner in a two-room apartment unless you’re the sort of life-battered misanthrope who prefers your day to end that way.

On the other hand, there’s Mark Davis, who desperately wants to upgrade the surroundings of his billion-dollar company but is finding out that (a) he can’t do it alone, and that (b) anyone willing to help him wants him to surrender his company in exchange.

Put another way, imagine that you want to upgrade your home and go to the bank for a home improvement loan, but the bank will only agree if it can have your kitchen and both bathrooms. Or pretend that you are a very good sprinter who wants to become world-class, but the only trainers who will work with you want you to saw off your right leg as collateral and convince you that hopping is the new Fosbury Flop.

We will now wait while you try to imagine what would have to happen for you to develop sympathy for Mark Davis.

Anyway, the latest shoe store to drop on him is the story that Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas billionaire who has pledged $650 million to the stadium that would house the Las Vegas Raiders, says he is willing to pull his money out of the deal because Davis wants too much (which is billionaire for “is willing to give up too little”).

This comes after the news from Oakland that Fortress Investment, a multi-billion dollar company which is allegedly bankrolling Ronnie Lott’s pitch to buy the Coliseum and (presumably) a piece of the Raiders, has presented a term sheet to Oakland and Alameda County that it would like to be rushed for presentation to the NFL owners.

In other words, Davis needs money to improve his team’s business profile, and anyone offering to help is going to want a significant piece of the business he is trying to improve in exchange. And that includes his fellow NFL owners, who have to vote to approve his move to Las Vegas – while the fee for their votes has not yet been expressed, you may rest assured that they aren’t doing him any favors for free.

Again, check your sympathy at the door. He inherited the business, thereby giving him a level of entitlement most people do not have.

But his options are as curious as they are varied, they all have a time element, and they all have pros and cons – the biggest con, of course, being that almost all of them end in him losing control of the team over time.

LAS VEGAS: Adelson clearly wants a piece of the team in exchange for his 33 percent contribution to the proposed $1.9 billion plant (he hasn’t said so, but nobody is buying any other version of the nature of his role). Davis needs 24 votes from his wealthier brethren, but their actions in the January vote that put the Rams in Inglewood and stopped the Chargers and Raiders from going to Carson showed where their respect for Davis truly lies. To allow him to move without strings is unthinkable for them, and what they seem to want most of Davis to divest himself, even incrementally, from day-to-day control.

INGLEWOOD: He still has the option to join Stan Kroenke in the Los Angeles venture if San Diego owner Dean Spanos either wins the hotel tax measure that would fund his new stadium or loses and declines the option he still holds on Inglewood. But Kroenke is a well-known squeezer of delicates (thus explaining the reason Spanos doesn’t want to join him) and would be the dominant figure in that relationship, both financially and tactically. He could conceivably hold his 40-plus percent control of the team (though Kroenke would not be above muscling in on that, too) but he would no longer be master of his domain.

OAKLAND: He could do business with Fortress, although the city and county seem unimpressed with the offer and their obligations within it, and Fortress would want its own piece of the franchise in exchange. Or he could stay in the Coliseum, as much as he may hate the place, and profit-take forever. He may be angry at the city for not rolling over for him, and he has tried to deflect blame for the current conditions on the city’s refusal to jump to his song, but Mayor Libby Schaaf has seen no compelling reason to worry about that – not even polling numbers. Her position is clearly, “If he stays, he stays, if he leaves, he leaves, and I’m good either way.”

In other words, there is no perfect scenario for Davis in any of these options. He gets a new home but loses a chunk of the only thing that makes him famous and/or rich, or he stays in a city whose power brokers are unmoved by his demands for better treatment, thus costing him the leverage he needs for the thing he says he wants most.

On the other hand, he still has a billion-dollar team that in the worst-case scenario he could sell for $2 billion-plus if he could slap Las Vegas or Los Angeles in front of the nickname. So no, there is no good reason why you should expend a moment’s pity toward him.

So he can either roll the dice and aim for the stars, knowing that anyone offering to help him is actually offering to help themselves to his belongings, or he can sit back and get comfortable with doing (and getting) nothing at all.

This, then, is what an NFL owner without leverage to get whatever he wants looks like. Think of it as you would a sighting of a great white elk – a once-in-a-lifetime thing that will stay within view for only a very short time. Bring binoculars and plenty of water. You’ll want stories for your grandchildren.