Yaqui Lopez would be a champion if classic fight happened in 2014

As a lifelong boxing fan, it was fascinating to research old fight footage while preparing to write the story which ran in Saturday’s edition of The Record about famed Stockton fighter Alvaro “Yaqui Lopez’s trip to attend the funeral of old friend and foe Matthew Saad Muhammad.

And I was left with the feeling that if their classic 1980 brawl happened today, Yaqui would very likely have won and been crowned WBC light-heavyweight champion.

The fight was selected as The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year and the eighth round was the Round of the Year. In the eight, Lopez hit Saad Muhammad with more than 20 unanswered punches. To his credit the Philadelphia fighter battled back, but this is a different sport now. Boxing officials are much more conscious of head injuries, and today the ref stops it in the 8th on a TKO.

The fight was also fought under the old 15-round rule for title bouts, instead of the current 12 rounds. Lopez dominated and faded late, but may have piled up enough points to win through the 12th. It would have been very close.

But the rules were the rules, and Yaqui certainly would never look for an excuse. He was stopped in the 14th round of that fight, and made a good friend out of the deal. So in a very real way, Yaqui did get a victory out of an historic night.

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Delta water polo signings

Delta water polo players sign with four-year institutions.

Pictured (left to right): Manuel Zorn, Carson Williamson, Jacob Castro and Cole Mahoney.

The Delta College Men’s Polo Team will have four athletes moving on to play polo at the university level.  Jacob Castro (Soph., Lincoln HS – Stockton) has accepted a water polo scholarship to play at UC San Diego, Cole Mahoney (Soph., Tokay HS – Lodi) has accepted a water polo scholarship at California Baptist,  Manuel Zorn (Soph., BG Gallus – Bregenz, Austria) has a water polo scholarship to Concordia University, and Carson Williamson received scholarships at Penn State – Lake Erie, and will compete in both swimming and water polo.

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Thunder finished because it couldn’t finish

It was a fine run by the Thunder in the playoffs, it played hard and swept a higher seed in the first round of the playoffs.

But it didn’t get out of the second round because it couldn’t close the deal when it had the lead against Bakersfield.

The Condors won 5-3 on Saturday, won the Western Conference semifinals in 5 games and move on to meet Alaska. Considering all the injuries the Thunder had to deal with, including the loss of captain Garet Hunt, it’s hard to be too tough on Stockton.

But what has to irk coach Rich Kromm and his players is that they had the lead in three of the games they lost. Stockton lead 2-0 in Game 1, and lost 3-2. It had a one-goal lead with less than eight minutes left in Game 4, and lost 2-1. And finally, the Thunder built a 3-0 advantage in Game 5, but went down 5-3.

That’s tough. The one that hurts the most is the opening game. Win that, and it’s a completely different series.

Give the Condors credit. They known how to rally, and should be congratulated. We’ll see if they can handle the high-powered Aces.

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Thunder has little time to shake off disheartening loss

The Thunder are in trouble. The only question is how it reacts to the situation.

There’s no doubt Friday’s 2-1 loss to Bakersfield stings. The Thunder had the lead with less than eight minutes to go, and now trail the series 3-1 and could be eliminated on Saturday. The Condors final goal was a terrible blow as Joel Broda just flung puck on net from 50 feet away, and it sailed past goaltender Brian Foster. It was a bitter finish to an outstanding performance by Foster, who turned away the Condors time after time through most of the game.

So the Thunder is in a big hole, and has several key players out with injuries. It’s a tough spot, but Stockton either deals with it or the season is over.

We’re about to see if the Thunder has one more big comeback in it.

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Special win for Thunder

Rich Kromm had his team work on its special teams skills for an extra 30 minutes on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday night’s game.

It could not have worked better for the Stockton Thunder who is right back in the ECHL Western Conference semifinals.

Stockton went 2 for 4 on the power play and James Henry had a crucial shorthanded score as it beat Bakersfield 6-2 and cut into the Condors’ lead in the best-of-seven series. Bakersfield is still up 2-1, but Stockton flexed its muscles and roughed up star goalie Laurent Brossoit a little bit.

It doesn’t mean it will happen again, but on Wednesday the hard work paid off.

The importance of Henry’s goal can not be overstated. The game was knotted at 1-1 late in the second period, with goalie Brian Foster keeping the Thunder right in it. A turnover gabve Henry an opportunity to challenge Brossoit, and he went top shelve with a hard shot into the net.

From there, the Thunder took over. But there could be some bad news out of a good night for Stockton.

Team captain Garet Hunt left the game in the third period with what appeared to be an injury to his torso. He didn’t return, and coach Rich Kromm declined to speculate on his condition aafter the game, saying Hunt was being examined.

Injuries have been a problem during this playoff run, with forward Jeremy Langlois and defensemen Andrey Pedan, Sean Escobedo and Lee Baldwin already missing time.

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Cooks anxious for draft next week

Lincoln graduate and Stockton native Brandin Cooks has been studied, prodded, poked and evaluated. He has met face-to-face with coaches, general managers and player personnel executives, people who will decide his immediate future.

It all comes with being one of the top receivers in this year’s NFL Draft class. Cooks, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top collegiate receiver after a record-setting junior season at Oregon State, will be in New York on May 8 with his family for the first day of the draft. Cooks is projected to go anywhere from the middle to the end of the first round.

He’s anxious for the draft and assuredly will be relieved when it’s over. Cooks said he has flown more in the past three months than he has his entire life. Recenly, a video showing him presenting his mother, Andrea, with a Mercedes Benz went viral. It was a priceless moment. Cooks has a big heart and is humble. And with all of the demands on his time these days, he’s taking classes in human development at Oregon State and will take finals in mid-June.

I’ll have more from my discussion with Brandin next week in The Record.


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Thunder-Reign, Game 4, 2nd period recap

From Record Correspondent George Alfano in Ontario.

With 2 minutes remaining in the second period, Ontario still leads Stockton, 1-0. Thunder captain Garet Hunt is assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Thunder kill the five-minute penalty without allowing a goal.

Stockton had a power play at 2:45 into the second period. It was the Thunder’s third power play of the game. Stockton looked pretty good on the first one, but weren’t good on the last two man-advantage situations. The Thunder converted 40 percent of their power-play goals in the first three games.

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Thunder-Reign, Game 4, 1st period recap

From Record stringer George Alfano in Ontario.

Ontario leads 1-0 after one period in Game 4. Yasin Cisse skated down the right side and slid a pass for Chris Crane, who put it in the net at 2:30 of the first period. The line of Cisse, Crane and Tyler Gron has played very well tonight, although Stockton contained them after the first goal.

The Reign look much sharper than they did in Game 3, and aren’t making as many mistakes in their defensive end. Stockton has been satisfactory on defense, but hasn’t been able to generate much offense.

Jussi Olkinuora replaces J. P. Anderson as the Ontario Reign goaltender for Game 4. Olkinuora allowed five goals in Stockton’s 5-3 victory in Game 2.

            The Thunder are in a good position. Let’s see how they come out in the second period.

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Thunder at Reign, Game 3, 1st period recap

 This report is courtesy of Record stringer George Alfano from Ontario

The Thunder started somewhat tentatively in the first three minutes of the game, but had the better of things after that.

            Ontario made some sloppy passes in their defensive zone, but it was a penalty against Matt Register which gave the Thunder a power-play opportunity.

            Alan Quine followed up a shot by Ryan Hayes and poked it by Ontario goaltender J. P. Anderson at 13:08 of the first period.

            Ontario picked up the pace after Quine’s goal, but Stockton netminder Brian Foster was up to the challenge. Foster turned aside 17 Ontario shots in the first period, the most notable in the last minute when he stuck his right arm out and stopped Gaspar Kopitar, who was right outside the crease.

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Let the hats fly

Jeremy Langlois admittedly got his hat trick a little late, but the fans still should have been able to celebrate it.

The Thunder beat the Ontario Reign 5-3 Saturday to take a 2-0 lead in its best-of-seven ECHL Western Conference playoff series. Laglois had a fabulous game, and the star rookie had a hat trick.

The problem was that one of his goals was originally credited to another player, and Langlois didn’t get credit until the the third period. When it was announced, some fans threw hats, but were ordered to stop under the threat of a minor penalty.

It was funny that someone threw a hat from the Ontario bench in a vain attempt to give Stockton the penalty. But really, let the fans throw their hats. It was well after the goal, sure. But it doesn’t take that long to throw some caps into a bag.

Let’s not be party poopers about this.

Of course, the crowd did have a good time watching Stockton take it to Ontario. Ryan Constant drew the biggest cheer of the night with a hard check which sent Everett Sheen flying into his own bench. Expect that play to show up on Youtube.

It was a great night for Stockton, which now heads for Ontario. The Reign still has its four home games in its pocket, but there has to be some concern about what happened in Stockton.

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